It’s March already, the weather is getting warm and the music even hotter. This week, we get a break from the old standbys and have some fresh cut, new blood to savor.
Rosalie Cunningham starts things off with her Glam, Rock, Folk masterpiece Two-Piece Puzzle with the stellar “Duet” as a clear-cut favorite that would have been a brilliant Queen song.
The Hoodoo Gurus are coming out from a self-imposed hibernation after ten years. And, the verdict is in. They’re still great.
And, Texas treasure Ray Wylie Hubbard is out with yet another single, “Stone Wild Horses,” from his upcoming record, this time featuring Willie Nelson.
Jeremy Ivey – Invisible Pictures
Quickly shedding his image as Mr. Margo Price, Jeremy Ivey is hitched to his own star on his latest long player, Invisible Pictures. With his low-key charm and Americana – Pop sensibilities, the record seems to bounce along like Snoopy and Woodstock running through a field on a sunny Day.
The opener “Orphan Child” has a bit of Daniel Romano’s eclectic DNA in its core. “Keep Me High” has a delicate Traveling Wilbury’s by way of Fountains of Wayne vibe, and “Trial By Fire” slows the pace and exposes some stellar songwriting.
With lush strings and pastoral production complementing in the pocket vocals and catchy melodies, this is a perfect placeholder while you are waiting for Spring to arrive.
The Mysterines – Reeling
As debut albums go, Reeling, the sparkling, bombastic record from Liverpool rockers The Mysterines at the end of the year, might well be considered for one of the best.
With a DIY feel to the songs along with aggressive production value, the garage punk-pop songs seem to burst from the speakers. Recorded live to capture the dynamics inherent in their incendiary live shows, from the opening salvo of “Life’s A Bitch (And I Like It So Much),” you are transformed in your hot tub time machine to a mid-‘80s mosh pit at CBGB’s.
And, things only get cooler from there. “On The Run” is a bit of a curve baller with an ever so slight Americana tint to it, and “Under Your Skin” slams on the breaks with an edge that would be quite comfortable on any of the mid-era Doors records.
This album is liking finding a rare rookie card in a packet of baseball cards. This won’t be the last we will be hearing from this cracking new rock and roll band.
WICKED – The Last American Rock Band
Rochester, NY rockers Wicked certainly give it a go to live up to the albums name with their latest long-player, The Last American Rock Band.
The audio template here is pure unfiltered, high energy Rock & Roll drawing influences from the classic Sunset Strip era, back to 80’s Def Leppard, Bon Jovi arena rock, and beyond. And, yes there’s cowbell, most spectacularly on “Hooligans,” a song that could have been ripped right from the cover of Cream magazine.
From the opener, “American Rock Rock n’ Roller” there is a visceral, euphoric mood changer that will envelope you once the gang vocals kick in and the aural vision of Night Ranger by way of The Romantics is sugar-bombed into your brain.
Once the closer, “Hot Stage Lights,” a perfect song for Luke Spiller and The Struts, to cover, finishes, the lighters are lit awaiting the power ballad that never arrives.
Bryan Adams – So Happy It Hurts
You likely would have to go back to 1984 to come up with the last time that Bryan Adams and John Mellencamp released quality records in the same year, but with the release of So Happy It Hurts following on the heels of Mellencamp’s Strictly a One-Eyed Jack released earlier in the year, your ship has come in.
Right from the opening title track, it might as well be the summer of ‘69 all over again. The Tom Waits-lite rasp is more whiskey soaked than ever, the radio- friendly cruise with the top down anthems are all in place, and if you are looking for a summer jam in the middle of March you have been to the right place.
With expectations low and subsequently shattered with this record, unlike reruns of All In The Family, Bryan Adams has aged remarkably well. Virtually every song here could have snuggled in quite nicely next to 83/84’s records Cuts Like A Knife or Reckless. And, that pretty much is all you need to know about this sparkling record from an artist that you had forgotten that you missed very much.
Matt North – Bullies In The Backyard
Matt North is one the consummate musician session player artists. While he might not be a household name just yet, he has been on stage drumming with the likes of Maria McKee, Peter Case, and a slew of others.
Here, on his own proper solo record, Bullies In The Backyard, he further stretches his singing and songwriting chops with a warm set of songs that range from Americana to roadhouse boogie at the drop of a whiskey glass. “Hollywood Forever” is a mariachi tinged wonder in the Springsteen “Glory Days” mold, “Trophy Case” is a girl on the prowl Jesse Dayton-worthy story song, and “Stay On The Outside” has a Tom Petty “Breakdown” essence about it.
With an Outlaw Country Americana vibe that would make The Highwaymen proud, this new find deserves some heavy play in your musical rotation.