Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (February 19, 2020)

As the weather turns cold things are heating up here in the offices of Rock is the New Roll. Robin Thicke is back and nobody cares, Real Rock and Roll is better represented than ever with Whitesnake releasing the third record in their Love, Rock, Blues anthology series.

The mighty Kings of Leon are in fine form getting ready for the release of their new record as demonstrated here on Later…With Jools Holland.

And, the great Moon Taxi is out with a life-affirming new video for their recently released new single “Say.”

Here are five new albums that should be ticking your earlobes this week.

The Hold Steady – Open Door Policy

After returning to action in 2019 and now returning in relatively short order with their latest, Open Door Policy, the cinemascope aural landscapes the band is famous for are front and center from the opening bell with the opening salvo of “The Feelers,” a story-noir song that will drag you into a world of wheelers dealers and faith healers. The streets and alleyways Craig Finn leads us through don’t necessarily interconnect with one another, but rather they stand alone brilliantly as self-portraits and short stories. 

As per usual the spirit of Springsteen is summoned both with Finn’s vocal style as well as the songwriting most notably on “Lanyards” where the opening line “When you’re stuck out in the middle you just figure that there’s something you’re missing” would have been well placed on Darkness On The Edge Of Town. Like any great short story collection, the tomes presented here will allow you to fill in between the lines using your imagination to bring the characters and the scenes to life whether you are hanging out backstage with the horn inflected “Hanover Camera” or Having an “Unpleasant Breakfast” while you are walking down to the waters edge watching seagulls eat cigarettes. 

Joanna Connor – 4801 South Indiana Avenue

With 14 records now under her belt, it is ear-boggling that if you are like us, her latest, 4801 South Indiana Avenue is the first exposure you may be having to an artist that just might be the reigning queen of Chicago Blues sitting on the throne right there next to King Buddy Guy. Co-produced in Nashville by Joe Bonammasa and Josh Smith, The album’s title was the street address of the legendary South-side bar, Theresa’s Lounge, the record is raw and unruly in all the best of ways bringing together Hound Dog Taylor and George Thorogood house-rocking aesthetics into a burn the barn down scorcher of a record. 

“Destination” is a Jimmy Thackery tune that is enhanced mightily by the greasy organ playing of the great Reese Wynans, the back of the bar vocals on the belting “I Feel So Good” are glass shattering, and the slippery slide she lays down on Luther Allison’s “Bad News” is life-affirming.

If South-Side Boogie is your cup of tea then this early candidate for Blues album of the year is definitely your jam.

Hayley and The Crushers – Fun Sized

One part snarly Pop-Punk, another part Surf Rock with a sound that can be best described as poolside glitter trash, this 6 song E.P. could have easily been the set played at Erik Von Zippers’ home bar Big Daddy’s in any of the Bikini Beach movies. “Kiss Me If You Can” is pure Bangles-inspired glory, “Jacaranda” is early Suzi Quatro meets The Ramones, and “Suzi is a Headbanger” is about as close as you are going to come to a ballad on this one. Pure blissful escapism at its finest.

Hearty Har – Radio Astro

Certainly, if listen close, you will catch a bit of John Fogerty DNA here which makes perfect since two of the band members are actual Fogerty’s with brothers Shane and Tyler Fogerty leading the band, but this terrific set of Psychedelic, Classic Rock and vintage synth sounds is a stand-alone work of musical art that is already destined to hold a high ranking position once our best albums of the year are selected.

Full of slinky and hooky songs “Scream and Shout” could be the soundtrack of a new Addams Family movie and features a ’60s vintage spooky organ alongside a less hokey than it sounds bubbling cauldron, “Radio Man ’56” is Tom Petty on acid and is one of the best singles of the year so far, and the closest the boys get to choogling might be on the highly infectious “Calling You Out.”

Every song on this one is next-level cool. The dance-worthy “Get Down” is a particular highlight and “Canyon of the Banshee” is a pleasant curveball of a Western-Noir instrumental.

This one is the new leader in the clubhouse for the album of the year.

John Paul Keith – The Rhythm of the City

Inspired as he was walking the streets of Memphis and heard Al Green’s “Love and Happiness,” a song that was recorded only a few blocks away from where he was standing blasting from a car stereo, John Paul Keith set to work creating a soundscape that would embody the spirit along with the musical textures of beloved city of Memphis. 

Walking that magical sweet-spot between Sun Records Blues, Stax Soul, and smooth R&B every song has Beale street soul embedded very deep in the DNA that pours out with every guitar chord, horn riff, and gospel refrain. “Love Love Love” sounds like it could have been recorded around the corner at “Sun Records,” “The Sun’s Gonna Shine Again” could have been produced by Al Green,” and ‘Ain’t Done Loving You Yet” could have been a back in the day Roy Orbison single. 

If John Paul White’s goal was to capture the many sounds and textures of the City of Memphis, mission firmly accomplished.


Author: falconi5

A place for musically minded folk to get together and share ideas, reviews, and basically spread the word.

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