The year is pretty much half over and while the team here at Rock is the New Roll is diligently pouring over all of the fine records released so far we still found time to secure for you some really fine new records that your ears should be excited about.
In the meantime, the highly underrated and below-the-radar Rich Ragany & The Digressions release their inner Tom Petty Meets Elvis Costello on “Heartbreakers Don’t Try.”
The Daybreakers are banging out the Blues Rock in the Sabbath and Uriah Heep mold, and that is never a bad thing.
And, Hanson, yes the “MMMMMM Bop” Hanson’s, is back with a nice slice of Cheap Trick evoking Power Pop. with a tune that features Rick Nielson on the track and also on the video. Our ears are tuned for more to come from this camp.
And, on top of all of that here are five new albums that are rocking our world this week.
Kings of Convenience – Peace Or Love
Even though they never really went away, individually they have been playing on a lot of other people’s projects, the Norwegian acoustic duo Kings of Convenience has not released a proper record in about 12 years. And, musically, as well as aesthetically nary a beat was skipped with the release of Peace Or Love.
Sophisticated harmonies, lush intricate guitar interplay, and wistful Indie Pop is the order of the day. The two songs that feature a guest turn from Feist are perfectly complementary to the nuances of the album as a whole with “Love is A Lonely” thing as sparse as you might think given the song title.
This is a good gentle mood setting of a record that would serve nicely as an afternoon-listen precursor to kicking out the jams later in the evening. If you are a fan of the new Brothers Brother record or the latest from Catus Blossoms, then The Kings of Convenience is your new mellow jam.
Husband – Cut The Light
There is not an awful lot to be found in terms of an on-line presence regarding this U.K.-based band that seems to specialize in stylistic anthems with a lead singer that floats somewhere between Bono and Iggy Pop. The songwriting is smart and evocative and the arrangements are sometimes brood-ridden and pulsating, often in the same song.
Cut The Light is their debut record, yet it sounds like the product of a band that has spent many years honing their craft. Introduce yourself with a first-listen of “What A World,” a song that has a bit of a mid-era Bowie quality to it, and work your way through “Cages,” an epic crescendo of a song that will take you on a journey in a taut, brilliantly constructed 3:04 that will leave you wanting to learn more about this enigmatic band.
Styx – Crash of the Crown
Crash of the Crown is the 17th proper Styx studio album and even after all these years under the bridge the band still sounds like Styx. And, that is a very good thing. With the core of the OG band, James Young, Tommy Shaw, and Chuck Pannoza present and accounted for going strong and sounding great, and the gang vocals led by Dennis DeYoung’s extremely able replacement Lawrence Gowen are Stirling vintage Styx.
“Our Wonderful Lives” could have been from the Grand Illusion sessions, “Reveries” has a bit of a rock savoir-faire inherent in the song that would have fit in nicely on Pieces of Eight, and “Monster” could have even come from the Equinox days.
Starting from the Queen sounding opener “The Flight of Our Lives” to the closing refrains of “Stream” This a great record by a once, now, and future great band.
The Tremelo Beer Gut – You Can’t Handle …. The Tremelo Beer Gut
Sort of the Danish version of Los Straitjackets, the capsule bio of the band that declares “If you were to listen to just one Danish instrumental, Spaghetti Western, surf band influenced by Dick Dale, Duane Eddy and Ennio Morricone, who has been intermittently making music since 1998, make it The Tremolo Beer Gut” pretty much tells you all you need to know about these Surf-Noir rockers.
This new release coming 13 years after their last proper long-player is another rousing slab of retro rockers that are tight, surf-inspired originals that stand on the shoulders of Dick and Duane but also maintain a personality all their of their own thanks to the bobbing and weaving of the textures with different nuances exposed song to song. The relaxed swing of the bluesy “Date at the Slow Club” would be among the slower songs in the set with the Spy-Noir of “Codename Tremstar” ramping up the Austin Powers vibe several notches.
With Jon Spencer along with his wife Cristina making an appearance on the Surf-Western influenced “Hey Hello,” The stage is set to light up the Tiki torches, crank up The Mai Tais, and party like it’s 1959.
Amy Helm – What the Flood Leaves Behind
Returning to her dad’s studio built in Levon’s Woodstock home, Amy Helm delivers a set of gospel-tinged beauties that bring the funk with “Breathing,” plays it forward with Dad’s mandolin on “Are We Running Out of Love,” and professes true love on “Terminal B.”
With every song ringing true and honest with clear vocals in the Mary Chapin Carpenter mold along with a set of songs that seem to embrace the past while at the same time setting the dials towards an optimistic future.
“Sweet Mama” may be one of the best songs that your ears enjoy all year.