Boom goes the dynamite this week as records are starting to hit the ear-waves that will be heard from again once the end of the year lists come around.
Ray Wylie Hubbard continues to blur the Rock, Blues, Americana lines with “Naturally Wild,” his most recent cool collaboration with Lizzy Hale and John Five.
Seratones are bringing the sunshine with their R&B and gospel-tinged feel-good tune, Good Day.
And, of course, one for the ladies with Valentine’s Day around the corner with Michael Buble and “My Valentine.”
But wait, don’t turn that dial. Here are five really cool records to share with your ears this week.
Spoon – Lucifer On The Sofa
With an uncanny ability to slightly reinvent themselves without losing themselves to the ether, Spoon is back with their first proper record in five years, Lucifer On The Sofa.
Full of sway and swagger, the record is made all the better with the return of Britt Daniel leaving the glitz and fake glamour of Los Angeles behind in favor of his hometown of Austin. The opener, a cover of the Smog song Held, sets the stage bringing a Blues-Rock White Stripes worthy semi-psychedelic opus feeling to the proceedings. And, on “The Hardest Cut,” one of the standout tracks on the record, the band lays down a ZZ Top groove on top of a T-Rex boogie that would make Ty Seagall blush.
Giving the guitars a more primo position in the mix than on some of their more synth-laden recent releases seems to serve the project very well, most succinctly on the highly excellent “The Devil & Mr. Jones.” And, there is a definite INXS vibe on the anthemic “Wild.”
With the chips going all-in to the middle of the table, let’s go on record in calling our shot early with this one as one of the best albums of the year. So far, anyway.
Delvon Lamar Organ Trio – Cold as Weiss
The dirty little secret in the halls of Rock is the New Roll HQ is that we are all closet Jazz fans, and in fact, we are lovers of the Hammond B-3 in the Dr. Lonnie Smith, Lee Michales mold. And, the latest record from the Delman Lamarr Organ Trio, Cold As Weiss, checks off all of the Jimmy Smith boxes. And, then some.
With the addition of drummer Dan Weiss to the band, the swing is the thing. The sound is pure seventies jazz-funk, psychedelic soul-jazz. The dials are set firmly to groove-city on the Stevie Wonder worthy “I Wanna Be Where You Are,” “Pull Your Pants Up” features the tight as Scrooge McDuck interplay between Weiss and the guitar player Jimmy James, and the spooky atmosphere of the closer, “This Is How It Is” throws things back to the Booker T and the MG glory days.
Swing it baby, swing it!
Night Shop – Forever Night
With Forever Night, Justin Sullivan, doing business as Night Shop, spins a record just a little West of Laurel Canyon, a tiny bit South of Bob Dylan, and straight to the heart of Conor Oberst, Brett Dennen territory.
“The End of Time” could have been one of the later-era Bright Eyes Conor Oberst reclamation projects, “Slow Dancing at the Wax Museum” could easily be a Beck tune, and “Pensacola, Florida” is an old school singer-songwriter type song that would have been epic sounding in the hands of Jerry Jeff Walker.
The semi-rocker “Let Me Let It Go” has a bit of a Chuck Prophet mantra about it, and the lilting “Midnight” is a contemplating wonder. “Let Me Begin” is pure mid-era Dylan.
There is no new territory being blazed on this one, but the influences are so tightly sewn here this record will only get better with multiple listens.
The Delines – The Sea Drift
If like many of us, while you were supremely enjoying reading Willy Vlautin’s novels and savoring his work with his Post-Punk band Fontaines, D.C., it is brilliant that his side-piece band, The Delines, have released their first album in over three years, The Sea Drift, and he is back to making music.
With singer Amy Boone making a mostly complete recovery from a near-fatal auto accident, the band is in fine late-night noir form. Inspired and centered around The California Northern coast, the song cycle came into being once Amy asked Willy to write a song like Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night In Georgia.”
The familiar Southern-Gothic ambiance that is the core of this record with each song a cinematic screenplay in its own right will bring to mind Bobbie Gentry as well as the mid-sixties murder ballad records in the Porter Wagoner Cold Hard Facts of Life mold.
“Little Earl” could be a Faulkner penned short story, Kid Codeine should have been implanted in an episode of True Detective, and “Hold Me Slow” should be your soundtrack for Valentine’s day.
The Cactus Blossoms – One Day
A bit more upbeat than their semi-dour 2019 release, Easy Way, their latest, One Day, finds the Cactus Blossoms chaneling their inner Everly Brothers and outer Ricky Nelson in all the best of ways.
The opener, “Hey Baby” is a perfect demonstration of the pop sensibility that J.D. Mcpherson brings to the record as the producer, and on “Is It Over” the ghost of Tom Petty in his Byrds cloak of many colors comes out to play.
The collaboration with Jenny Lewis on the semi-spectacular “Everybody” wanders into Gram and Emmy on the synchronicity scale, and “I Could Almost Cry sounds like a Tom Russell penned song as sung by Mark Knopfler.
If this record was released in the mid-seventies it would have been a huge hit among the Sweethearts of the Rodeo Crowd. The fact that it is released now makes it even better.