Don’t look now, but summer is right around the corner. The music is getting brighter, bands are getting back in the studio and are heading back out on the road, and the Rock is definitely rolling as the weather gets warmer.
The Scottish band Texas is getting ready to release a record later in the year on the strength of their ABBA-inspired “Mr. Haze.”
One for the ladies, Michael Buble is releasing songs from his Live From Tour Stop 148 DVD with the word on the streets that he is prepping for a tour in the very near future.
And, Sweden’s own Rock Band Eclipse, with a sound sort of like a very heavy Bon Jovi, have come up with the best Saturday night party anthem to hit our ears in quite some time with “Saturday Night (Hallelujah).”
And, yes, of course, there’s more. Here are five particularly cool records that we are spending some ear-time with.
Robert Finley – Sharecroppers Son
Sure, we really didn’t even need to listen to this given that it is a Dan Auerbach Easy Eye Sound production to put this one on the list, but then we would have missed out on a really great Blues record. Showcasing his voice and immense slide guitar talents to knob-twirling perfection, the album combines, Blues, Rock, Soul, and Gospel to detail 10 ten songs that tell the story of a life hard-lived. From life in the city streets to life in jail and the cottonfields, Finley and Auerbach take you deep down into that world weary well.
Scorching the earth more than Blues men half his age on “Make Me Feel Alright,” and laying his life bare on “My Story” there is never a doubt that you are listening to an artist that has scrapped along for whatever success he is having and is highly appreciative.
Hitting the high notes on the uplifting “Starting To See” and taking it low and slow on the pathos-driven “I Can Feel Your Pain” I will stand on The Black Keys coffee table and proclaim Sharecroppers Son the best Blues album of 2021.
Pink Chameleons – Peace & Love
Picture yourself in a dark, dank basement in the middle of SOHO in New York attending a Ramones after-party, and you pretty much have a bead on what is going on here. Short, semi-fuzzy Garage Rock Psychedelic nuggets that drill into your chest cavity and swirl around your years. Sort of MC-5 meets Blue Cheer.
A retro, in all the best of ways, listen, the Psych-romper “Hot Dog” is a revelation, the opener “Death By Bliss” is a great introduction to the core values of the band, and even the semi-out of character instrumental “Horsewalk” is a groovy way to catch your breath.
The Reverend Shawn Amos – The Cause of it All
Should you not be overly familiar with The Reverend Shawn Amos and his oeuvre, the son of Famous Amos is a terrific Blues singer in the Keb ‘Mo mold. His latest, The Cause of it All,” is a stripped-down affair with mostly Amos an acoustic guitar, and an occasional harmonica as accompaniment.
The version here of “Baby, Please Don’t Go is not to be missed, and “I’m Ready” is delivered with a voice coming from someone who has earned it. Somewhat of a departure from his prior records that have more of an Americana bent featuring members of Crazy Horse as well as The Jayhawks, this latest album takes you back to the roots with a passionate take on “Hoochie Coochie Man” as exhibit A.
Trapper Schoepp – May Day
Trapper Schoepp, a band not a person, delivers Gram Parsons-inspired Alt-County songs like it’s California in the ’70s or Austin in the late ’90s. Sort of The Replacements meets Uncle Tupelo with a big batch of Old ’97s thrown in for good measure, there is not a bad song on this record.
“I Am a Rider” is a highlight taking you back to the Ryan Adams Gold days, “Paris Syndrome” displays fine sibling harmonies in the Everly’s mold, and “Yellow Moon” could have been a Dawes song. This one will be on heavy rotation for you with subsequent listens and is already ear-marked for top ten album honors.
Marinero – Hella Love
With Hella Love, Jess Sylveste performing as Marinero has delivered a love letter to not only his sailor father, Marinero means sailor in Spanish, as well as his Mexican American mother, while at the same time bidding a fond adieu to his home city of San Francisco as he moves his home base to Los Angeles.
Blending and wrapping Serge Gainsbourg, Ennio Morricone, and Burt Bacharach textures around sometimes Pet Sound worthy vintage production techniques on songs like “Outerlands,” many San Francisco landmarks are name-checked here including the rainbow tunnel between S.F. and Marin County as you enter or leave the Golden Gate Bridge, and “Minuet for the Mission” that honors the Mission District the Mexican American section of the city where his mother was raised. And, of course, no tribute to the city by the bay without a mention of the ever-present fog that prompted Irish actor James Quin to proclaim “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco” would be complete, and here the jazzy “Through the Fog” fits the bill quite nicely.
A gorgeous record on every level.