Don’t look now but the year is almost half over. And, so far, it has been a semi-spectacular five months on the musical scene. Many of our favorite and soon-to-be favorite artists are getting back in the studio and starting to crank up their tour dates. It won’t be long before we are back to normal and attending concerts will be a thing once again.
The Tea Party (no not that one) is 0ut with the scorcher “Summertime”, a song that deserves to be on your upcoming summer playlist.
The Damn Truth is telling just that with their new record Now or Nowhere featuring singer Lee-La Baum’s Beth Hart worthy vocals and the high-voltage single “This Is Who We Are Now.”
And, Swedish Glam rockers Velvet Insane get their full Glam on with “Backstreet Liberace.” Don’t look now, but it is 1973 all over again.
And, on top of those tasty morsels here are five new records that are worthy of your ear-time this week.
Blackberry Smoke – You Hear Georgia
For their latest effort, Charlie Starr and the boys jump right on the horse that brought ’em, that is a good-time Southern Rock that is part Allman Brothers, part Black Oak Arkansas, and entirely cool. From the opening salvo by way of “Live It Down” to the easy flow of “Ain’t the Same” the entire record goes down easy like a good bottle of bourbon.
With a couple of guest turns courtesy of Jamey Johnson on “Lonesome For A Livin'” and Warren Haynes bringing up the guitars a notch on “All Rise again,” the formula might not be changing but when Southern Rock is played with this much genuine purpose and passion, case in point the driving anthem “All Over The Road,” if it ain’t broke, don’t fix.
Texas – Hi
Semi-named after the classic noir film Paris, Texas, the Glasgow band Texas and lead singer Sharleen Spiteri has released their first album since 2017’s Jump On Board, and it’s a good one. The genre-bending title track featuring a collaboration with Wu-Tang Clan is quite good, “Sound of My Voice” could have been a Bangles single back in the day, and “Moonstar” could have been a hit for Lucinda Williams.
Largely unknown on one side of the pond, the radio-friendly semi-retro sounds from a Band that has been around for more than 30 years deserve a better listener fate. If you like The Pretenders, you will love this little band from Scotland.
Mojothunder – Hymns From The Electric Church
An early contender for Rock and Roll record of the year, the latest and hopefully breakthrough album by Kentucky-based four-piece Mojo Thunder covers all the touchpoints. Uplifting anthems, vocals that melt like butter, gang harmony, check-check-check this one has got it all.
The best comparison here would be Bad Company by way of the Black Crowes most notably on the Hook-laden “Fill me up” and the slow burn lighter inducing “Soul.” The best contemporary Southern Rock band this side of Blackberry Smoke, there is not a bad song to be savored here. “Blackbird” comes close to Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Untitled #69 is Jimi by way of The James Gang.
Move over Rival Sons and Greta Van Fleet, the bandwagon to save Rock and Roll is filling up fast and these guys are right on your heels.
Britton Patrick Morgan – I Wanna Start A Band
Britton Patrick Morgan, another one of the fine artists hailing from Kentucky, conceived this record around his childhood fantasy around around starting an all-star band. And, based on the title track of the record it would be one hell of a band. He’s got Levon Helm on drums with Emmylou backing, Derek Trucks playing slide for Marvin Gaye with Professor Longhair on piano. Joni Mitchell and Stevie Ray are also band members of this team terrific.
With a style that brings to mind the vocals of Tony Joe White and the songwriting of John Prine virtually every song on this record will please your ears. “When I Think About You” is vintage whimsical Prine, “Baxter. KY” is a travelogue love ode to his hometown complete with the old man at the Dairy Queen cutting cards and telling lies, and “Southern Gothic Love Story” is the next great murder ballad.
Sugar Candy Mountain – Impression
Drawing comparisons to Os Mutantes, the Flaming Lips, and even Brian Wilson in some quarters Sugar Candy Mountain produces vintage-sounding throw-back Rock blending ’60s West Coast psychedelia with Folk and contemporary Pop influences. With strong Jellyfish as well as Donovon inspirations “Sally Ballerina” grooves and sways like Sonny and Cher on a date night, “In a Flash” is a hazy tripped out lava lamp ride worthy of a Keith Moon lost weekend binge, and “No One Can See” has singer Ash Reiter doing her best Grace Slick spirit dance.
Good old-fashioned escapism is in short order these days and sorely needed. “The End” will have you going down the rabbit hole with Alice, and “The Love Between” has some Tropicallia mojo about it that will have you reaching for a Mai Tai.
Best enjoyed with an outside stimulant of your choosing in the safety of your own home. Start with the hazy hipster “Gussie” or “A Window Is Opened and work your way around this instant Psychedelic classic.