The yearly musical hiatus seems to be over. Artists that have been waiting in the wings for the right time to elicit maximum exposure for their music are back and ready to entertain us once again hanging on to the hopes that they will be able to get back on the road very soon. In the meantime, Rock is the New Roll favorites Moon Taxi performs “Stay” a song from their upcoming album to be released later in the year looking pretty lonely at a Tennessee Titans playoff game.
The Last Internationale with frontwoman Dilila Paz for some reason dressed like Zorro delivering a beautiful socially aware song and video with “Modern Man.”
The Power Pop mavens Radio Days bring joy to the world with their Big Star meets the Rubinoos “I Got A Love.”
Here are five new records that are tickling our ears, touching our soul, and are making the world a better place.
Kurt Vile – Speed, Sound, Lonely KV
Mostly known for his Slacker Rock vibe, here, Kurt Vile leans into the Country and Americana side of life with an impressive 5 song E.P. that serves to pay tribute to his hero John Prine, having toured with the songwriter just before he passed away in 2020. Vile’s handling of Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” is hero-worthy and floats into Gram Parsons territory, the version of Cowboy Jack Clement’s “Gone Girl” could have been on a Steve Earle record, and the gemstone of the record, “How Lucky,” a duet with Prine himself is worth the price of admission alone.
One of the shorter Kurt Vile efforts we have heard in a while, his records typically go one hour or more, here, less is more as this short-stack of sublime tunes is pretty much perfect.
Beach Bunny – Blame Game
The E.P. is all the musical rage these days as artists are floating out little nuggets of wonderfulness as they raft the COVID waters waiting to release a full album until they can hit the stage and entertain the troops live and in person.
Here, in a short burst of perfectly hooky teenage-anthems the Pop-Punk burst of energy from the opener “Good Girls (Don’t Get Used)” as well as the closer “Blame Game” will have you firmly convinced that the problems of the world may finally be solved.
Pearl Charles – Magic Mirror
Already earmarked for the 2021 top album list, Pearl Charles has finally found her voice. After experimenting with Garage and Psychedelia, here, she definitely sticks the landing with a laid back blend of Southern California Beach Soul and late ’70s Country Pop in the Bobbi Gentry mold.
The sun-warmed touchstones are in abundance right from the ABBA inpired opener “Only For Tonight.” From there, she takes a left turn toward the coast with the Fleetwood Mac evoking “What I Need,” a song that brings to the ear “Baker Street” as well, with “Imposter” she delivers Dr. Hook without the eyepatch vibes, and The Carpenters make an appearance on “Don’t Like Myself.” The spot-on production value is highlighted on the George Harrison-esque “Sweet Sunshine Wine” and don’t sleep on the Helen Reddy loveliness of “Take Your Time.”
Vintage sounding while still being fresh, this record will stay in your rotation on into the summer when it will be the perfect time to pick it up once again and bathe in its dandelion glory.
Matthew Sweet – Catspaw
With Catspaw, his third record since joining the mass exodus out of Los Angeles, Matthew Sweet has returned to the studio in his home town of Nebraska on another set of Power Pop Wizardy. Turning the guitar dials up just a bit, a-la Crazy Horse, this record has a raw sound with a bit more of an edge than we may be used to from the Fuzz-Pop maestro.
Sweet plays all of the instruments with the exception of the drums here and does so impecibly well. Rooted firmly in ’70s inspired rock, songs Like “Driftwood” have a Sweetheart of the Radio era Byrdsian vibe to them, “Stars Exlode” could have been on any mid-era Neil Young record, and “Challenge The Gods” is Tom Petty fronting Big Star.
Bring out the good stuff and warmly embrace and old friend.
Midnight Sister – Painting the Roses
There is no sophomore slump going on here with Painting the Roses, the fine new record from the Stylized-Pop mavens, Midnight Sister. Delicately mood setting from the sultry “Satellite” on to the disco dancefloor worthy “Limousine” calling for you to put on your Sunday Dancing shoes there is nary a miss-step on this one. “Wednesday’s Baby” is a love song to a dog, and the opener “Doctor Says” is a great string-laden introudiction to the album and to a band that deserves more attention.