As we scramble to put together the best albums of the year (so far) list there are still a ton of really good records to digest. For the Rockers out there Kiss has released a from the soundboard live album from 2001, and we are not sure why, and Black Sabbath have remastered their 1972 album sabotage.
Billy F. Gibbons has a new video out and, yes there are girls and cars front and center as you would expect from the ZZ Top frontman.
Sir Tom Jones paid a visit to the NPR Tiny Desk for a performance of cuts from his latest record. “Another Cup of Coffee” is worth the price of admission alone.
And, Rich Ragany & The Digressions bring their Elvis Costello meets Tom Petty stylings to the front of the line with their new song that celebrates the challenge of just taking on the day.
On top of all that there is a bevy of new tune-slices to savor this week. Here are five of them we particularly like.
Sleater-Kinney – Path of Wellness
Going a bit back to their roots with Path of Wellness, Sleater-Kinney’s latest release, and the first in quite some time without drummer Janet Weiss is a rocker of a record that takes textures of the best of ’90’s girl-power Rock and Roll.
There is more than a little Patti Smith dusting in “Down The Line,” “Complex Female Characters” is a powerful snarling anthem, and “Bring Mercy” could have been a protest anthem from the seventies.
For a band that never really breaks up but seems to disappear for years at a time, the beauty in their art is that they seem to come back around at the exact time when they are sorely needed.
Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend
One of the more anticipated records of the year, Wolf Alice after teasing us with several singles is finally out with their new record, Blue Weekend.
Much more dialed back here than the back of the arena howl of 2017’s Vision of Life, this set of songs were designed to be played in more intimate settings perhaps even on the set of …Later With Jools Holland. That’s not to say that there is not a lot to like here, there certainly is. “Delicious Things” is a swooping Florence and the Machine-worthy anthem, “Lipstick on the Glass” is exquisite Dream-Pop escapism, and “How Can I Make It Ok” is Ellie Rowsell and the band’s version of a power ballad.
Sandwiching the entire set between the opening slow burn of “The Beach” and the end of the evening whirling dervish beauty of the closer “The Beach II” tells us that trying to figure out what is around the corner for this band might be very much a fool’s errand.
Brad Marino – Looking For Trouble
With more than a little Greg Kihn in the DNA of Brad Marino and his latest record Looking For Trouble, if you are looking for a record that will make you smile and take you back to the carefree no-responsibility days of your youth this is your jam.
There is a tinge of slightly less frenetic Flamin’ Groovies on “Looking For Trouble,” a dusting of Devo by way of The Knack on “Something For Nothing,” and The Ramones as produced by Phil Spector come to mind with a listen of “What Do You Know.”
With more hooks than an episode of “dangerous catch,” there is not a bad song in this batch of Power Pop perfection. This is Rock and Roll at its accessible best. If You love Rockpile, The Romantics, The Greg Kihn Band, or even The Georgia Satellites, you will love this record.
Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real – A Few Stars Apart
Generously prolific during his year in lockdown Lukas Nelson, son of Willie, turns off the news and gets a bit more philosophical on his latest record, A Few Stars Apart.
Where Willie the elder starts and Lukas begins is an ever-present question on this album with “We’ll Be Alright” a perfect touchstone that could have easily been a hit single on Dad’s Red Headed Stranger and is a tune that will likely turn up on our top songs of the year list.
The song “Wildest Dreams” could have been a Tom Petty song, and the perfectly placed closer “Smile” has Lukas smiling and contemplating acceptance and forgiveness while he lays out in the sun. Sounds like a great thing to do.
Aquarian Blood – Bending The Golden Hour
An intoxicating new find here in the halls of Rock is the New Roll, Aquarian Blood is a Memphis husband-and-wife-duo that blends Country, Americana, and Psychedelic Folk into a blender that is uniquely mysterious as well as highly listenable.
“Waited” sounds like it could have been recorded in Joshua Tree State Park with the coyotes howling instead of their home studio in Memphis, “Alabama Daughter” has an eerie low-fi vibe that grabs your ears and drags them close to the speaker, while “Night Train” is a spooky noir sounding tune that would fit in quite nicely as the theme song for a new season of True Detective.
Not their first album, but clearly their most ambitious. 43 songs were ultimately recorded for these sessions before the “Sophie’s Choice” selection process whittled them down to 17, clearly indicating there may be another record hitting our shores in the relatively near future. And, that is a very good thing.