Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 18, 2020)

Like a rolling stone, a complete unknown, the hits keep coming with some really sneaky good music released as the year of the pandemic rolls along. The band Dawes is throwing down the breadcrumbs that will eventually lead us to a proper release later in the year.

The great Yusuf/Cat Stevens essentially does a duet with his older self on the newly recorded Tea For The Tillerman release.

And Rock is the New Roll favorites The Nude Party are releasing some gems wetting our beaks for their October 2nd record.

So, in short, it’s a great time for real music. Here are five newly minted coins that we really like this week.

Ace Frehley – Origins Vol.2

Never one to shun the limelight the spaceman, Ace Frehley, is back with a sequel of cover songs that once again demonstrate where his roots come and the Rock and Roll that influenced him. The Deep Purple epic “Space Truckin'” is a clear stand-out, and even his take on the Kinks “Lola” seems to work on some level. No atom-splitting here, but first, it is glad to see that Ace is still alive, and second, we all need a bit of old school Rock and Roll in our lives.

Matt Berry – Phantom Birds

There is a bit of a cosmic cowboy Americana vibe thrown heavily into the mix of Matt Berry’s highly likable new record, Phantom Birds. There are more than a few nods to Gram Parsons, most notably on “Where’s My Love” with a subtle lap steel whispering in the background, and, “You Danced All Night” carries the day. If he keeps putting out material like this Matt Berry may be less known as an actor currently starring in the television series What We Do In The Shadows and become more widely recognized as the great singer-songwriter that he actually is.

Babylon Circus – State of Emergency

There is nothing like a French Alternative Rock band to perk the ears and move the feet. Hailing from Lyon, France these poly maths cite their influences as The Clash, Toots & The Maytalls, Madness, and The Specials, and it shows on every eclectic track. Singing in both French and English, singer David Baruchel leads his group through the exotic landscapes of Ska, Django Jazz, and Gypsy Swing with enough coolness to cleanse the musical palate and send your ears on a journey to the center of your mind. “Monster” is a special feet moving epic that refers to a monster on the dance floor, and “Les Ouiseaux de Passage” will have you almost literally srtolling walking down the alleyways of Paris in the 30’s. This is mind-escaping stuff.

Cults – Host

With a cooly understated blend of Indie Rock and lo-fi Indie Pop, Cults, led by singer and multi-instrumentalist Madeline Follin have a certain charm about them that lies just underneath their brooding semi-dark musical exterior. The sound is expansive and intimate at the same time, if that’s even possible. The vibe is almost a less sexual Berlin on qualudes which may sound strange, but spend a little time with this record and tell us that we’re wrong.

Jealous of the Birds – Peninsula

Jealous of the Birds is essentially the nomme-de-plume of Northern Ireland’s Naomi Hamilton. Stradelling that delicate balance between anthemic and sublimeness to perfection, “Shiloh Chandra” is a subtle beauty and the soaring “Pendulum” stands out as a slow burn drive with a left turn on to the autobahn.



Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 11, 2020)

Sure, this week on the new album front might things be a little on the slow side but that doesn’t mean it is lacking in quality. Our peeps in Low Cut Connie are continuing to please our ears with their on-going quarantine series, Tough Cookies.

The band Pretenders are joining the mix with a stone-cold classic from their glory days as part of the BBC Radio-2 backyard series.

And, the sublime Ondara, previously know as JS Ondara, is continuing to make a splash with his Covid-19 inspired tune, “Lock Down on Date Night Tuesday.”

On top of all that, here are five ear-pleasing nuggets released this week for your listening pleasure.

Delta Spirit – What Is There

Moving away from his recent burst of solo records, Lead singer Matthew Logan Vasquez is back with his band Delta Spirit with their first proper release since 2014’s Into The Wide. And, it seems, this six-year musical hiatus is just what the musical doctor ordered. Fresh and invigorating in places and dark and semi-brooding in others this is a record that is perfectly crafted for these days living through a pandemic. “How Bout It”  is a murder ballad about gambling addiction, album opener “The Pressure ” sounds like a Dawes song on steroids, and “Better Now” is a modern-love love song. There is not a squeaker on this belter of an album.

Matt Costa – Yellow Coat

There is a pleasant David Gray vibe wafting in the air on Matt Costa’s refreshingly cool new record, Yellow Coat, his second for Dangerbird Records and sixth overall. Highlights abound, most notably on the reverb-drenched and Motown inspired Savannah and the Sam Cook inspired “Slow.” Even on the slower more thoughtful tunes such as “Last Love Song,” a song that could rightly have been a long lost Elliott Smith outtake, Costa manages to shine. With every song carrying a slightly different DNA, this is a record that rewards multiple visits to the well.

Elizabeth Cook – Aftermath

Make no mistake, despite her highly popular side-piece gig as a radio host for Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country, Elizabeth Cook, at her core, is pure Rock and Roll. Produced by Butch Walker, her latest effort, Aftermath, is brash, bold, and propulsive in places and lean and mean in others. The opener “Bones” announces her presence in bombastic style, and the closer, “Mary, The Submissive Years” is a talk-sing nod to the late great John Prine. Thank you, Sturgill Simpson, for breaking down the Country, Rock and Roll barriers.

Texas – Southside Demo’s

Formed in Glasgow, Scotland and inspired by Wim Wender’s Movie “Paris Texas,” Texas, the band Texas is a must check-out if you are not already in the know. Singer Sharleen Spiteri carries the day on this, a set of outtakes from their highly excellent record Southside released way back in the day, 1989.

Gasoline Lollipops – All The Misery Money Can Buy

Come for the cool band name, stay for thor ultra-cool self-glossed genre, Bleeding Rock and Roll. From the opener and title track “All The Misery Money Can Buy” with the driving rhythm and Muscle Shoals inspired background singers it is clear that this band is not fooling around. When a sharp turn is taken on “Dying Young” with its “Tuesday’s Gone Feel” and the diversity of the singer is on full display as frontman Clay Rose goes all Raul Malo on the song, the die is cast for us calling shotgun for the rest of the road trip. Rockabilly, Roots Rock, Americana, Jam, this Boulder, Co. based band covers all of the cool bases your ears know and love. This new Gas Pops record is already on heavy rotation here in the offices of Rock is the new Roll.


Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 4, 2020)

Things are starting to heat up, from the singles front at least, which bodes well for a killer September and beyond for new records to be released. Our favorite song of the week is the Beach Boy fun in the sun vibe of “California Girl” from the upcoming Cayucos album that looks to be their best yet.

When the scions on an Allman and a Betts get together to form their own band the apple shouldn’t fall too far from the tree and it certainly doesn’t here on the first single from their new record, Bless Your Heart.

Here are five groovy tidbits that are taken up some ear tiume in our heads this week.

Pineapple Thief – Versions of the Truth

If your ears have not had the pleasure of listening to the Pineapple Thiefs 2008 record Tightly Unwound, give them a treat and check that one out. With elements of Radiohead, Elbow, and Muse ever-present in their music their latest effort blends global political messaging with rich Talking Heads style polyrhythms. The opener, the title track “Versions of the Truth” outlines the struggles many of us are going through when oftentimes things are not quite as clear as they may seem.

Declan McKenna – Zeros

It would be short-sighted to classify this English singer/songwriter as an Ed Sheeran clone of an artist, this bloke has some serious mojo about him that could break him out this year. His new one, Zeros, is more like a completely different record than a follow-up to his 2017 debut, What Do You Think About The Car. Citing Crosby, Stills & Nash as influences on this new one, recording the record in Nashville with Wallflowers producer Jay Joyce gives the record an Indie Pop sheen that is completely ear-pleasing.

Hayes Carll – Alone Together Sessions

Using the unexpected time he has on his hands during the pandemic Hayes Carll is using the time off quite wisely with this release of some of his old songs reimagined in an acoustic model that may be quite different than when the tunes originally saw the light of day. Going back as far back as 2002’s “Arkansas Blues” and the co-write, “Drunken Poet’s Dream” with a drop-in by the drunken poet himself, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Hayes also throws in a Lefty Frizell cover, “That’s The Way Love Goes.” With the harder edges softened a bit courtesy of the harmonies of wife Allison Moorer, this is an appealingly intimate record.

San Cisco – Between You And Me

Paired down to a trio, Australian Indie-Pop band Cisco may just have recorded the best album of their career. Entering into their 30’s now, the band is much more reflective in their songwriting and much more polished in their approach to the production on the highly addictive ear-worm of a record, Between You And Me. From the almost ABBA sounds of “Reasons” and California breeze energy of the semi-break up “On The Line” there are no miss-steps to be heard. If you are looking for a record to take you to a beach in Mexico with the wind blowing through your hair, this might be your jam. Fully inspired by Western Americana music, the Phil Spector sounding “Gone” is worth the price of admission alone.

Grant-Lee Phillips – Lightning, Show Us Your Stuff

Not hardly as politically bombastic as 2018’s Widdershins, Grant-Lee Phillips has found his introspective soul with his latest, Lightning, Show Us Your Stuff. Focusing on the larger stuff in life most notably on “Sometimes You Wake Up In Charleston” and the smaller stuff on “Walking in My Sleep” the smooth soulful tone of his voice is a calming influence in a troubled world.




Five Cool Ones: Five Songs To Make Your Mind Wander

Quarantine, Riots, Politics, Civil Unrest, there are a lot of crazy things going on in the world so much so that we need music in our lives now more than ever. Here are five tunes designed to float the mind, soothe the soul, and sail away on that mystery ship.

Ryan Hamilton And The Harlequin Ghosts – Oh No (feat. Kay Hanley)

This new-school Texas Troubadour ha a goal in mind to make the world a better place one song at a time. Here, he asks that we don’t change his Rock & Roll as he namechecks many of the albums that are in most of our libraries. From Purple Rain, Private Dancer, Who’s Next, Hunky Dory and beyond. This is a fun as hell listen that will bring back a lot of memories.

The Struts – Another Hit Of Showmanship

Our favorite Rock is not dead du jour, The Struts and Luke Spiller are out with another belter of an anthem. Here’s hoping that they will be starting a new record in the very near future.

Waterboys – Hey, Soul Singer

Mike Scott and his Waterboys are in fine form this up-tempo song loosely tributing James Brown.

The Middlenight Men – Rat Star

Riding on the slightly harder rock side of the fence The Middlenight Men provides raucous Rock and Roll with inter-changing lead vocals and one hell of a hook and groovy chorus. Looking forward to seeing what these guys have in store for the future.

Biffy Clyro – Tiny Indoor Fireworks

These guys come to you direct from Scotland tailor-made for the festival curcuit, should there ever be one again.





Five Cool Ones: Five Albums Released Today (August 28, 2020)

Another banner week for new tunes music peeps. There are a couple of Master Class covers records most notably Molly Tuttle and her complete ownership of the songs on …but i’d rather be with you alongside the Betty LaVette jawbreaker giving us her great album Blackbirds.

Dawes is teasing our ears with a couple of dribbles of new stuff including the latest single “Still Feel Like A Kid,” and The Struts Luke Spiller is preening around the stage showing off  with the appropriately named “Another Hit of Showmanship.” And, needless to say, we can’t wait for the proper album.

And, when the dust settled this week here are five ear-pleasing uncut gems to spend some ear time with.

Zephaniah Ohara – Listening To The Music

It has been two-plus long years since we have heard from Zephaniah Ohara and in album release years these days, that is a very long time. But fear not, it is clear that in the intervening time since his last record This Highway was released way back in 2017 he has been touring, honing his craft, and most importantly he has been Listening to the Music, the title of his latest release.

With a voice that blends Mighty Merle with Waylon Jennings, this troubadour plays like Lefty Frizell, tells stories like Johnny Cash and Tom T. Hall, and wears the road on his boots like Woody Guthrie. Whether he goes into “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” territory like he does on “Living Too Long” or whether he is lamenting the boarding up more of his old haunts each time he goes into the city on “Riding That Train” there is a purity in his voice that we haven’t heard since Glen Campbell.

Tim Bowness – Late Night Laments

Tim Bowness is a bit of an under-the-radar artist, to say the least. A frequent collaborator with Steven Wilson and Roxy Music’s Robert Fripp, his new solo record Latenight Laments is an understated atmospheric gem. There are more than a few shades of David Bowie on “Darkline,” and “The Hitman Who Missed” would have fit quite nicely on any Leonard Cohen record. This one is perfectly suited for a nighttime listen accompanied by a whiskey and a cigar.

The Empty Hearts – The Second Album

When you have four blokes like these with the Rock and Roll pedigree that they have, at worst this record should be worth a listen, and at best it will be great. And it is great. With Wally Pamar, the voice that brought you “Talking In Your Sleep and “What I Like About You” when he was with the Romantics, Eliot Easton from The Cars, Clem Burke of Blondie, and throwing Andy Babiuk bass player for the Chesterfield Kings in the mix for good measure all pogo-sticking throughout the album, you have one heck of a Power Pop Gem in the making. Heck, even Ringo Starr makes another appearance here on the Kinks evoking “Remember Days Like These.” The ex-Beatle is seemingly everywhere these days having popped up on Ray Wylie Hubbard’s latest as well as Dion’s. Earworm highlights are everywhere here most notably “The Best That I Can,” “Jonathan Harker’s Journal,” and “Coat-Tailer, a song the beckons the early days of The Who.

International Teachers of Pop – Pop Gossip

If you are averse to fun times, not down with breaking out your best legs akimbo dance moves, and are generally a Debby-Downer, by all means, skip this record. A blast from all genres past, Pop Gossip is quite simply the bounciest record of the year this side of the Lemon Twigs. Part Goldfrapp, Part Saturday Night Fever soundtrack with even a little Laura Brannigan mixed in on “Prince (The Last Wheelie)” there is a lot of bubble gum fun to be chewed here. Stay for the “Blinded By Science” Vibe of “Beats Working For a Living (For Martin),” and party like you are in the dance club back in 1999 with “The Red Dots (Dirty Mind.) This is a listen that requires an open mind and happy feet to enjoy at its fullest.

Toots and The Maytals – Got To Be Tough

With Cyril Neville and Sly Dunbar punching things up Toots and his latest bunch of Maytals are still moving and grooving even at the tender age of 77. With a couple tracks in the mix that barely pass as Reggae most notably the Soul touch that he lays down on “Good Thing That You Call” one gets the feeling that there may well be the cross over appeal he is going for to get his name in the hat for best Reggae album come Grammy voting time. In any case, it is good to be back in the universe of Toots. “Three Little Birds” is performed with gusto courtesy of an assist from Ziggy Marley, and “Freedom Train” is a stark reminder of the times. The only nit to pick with this one is that the boogie anthem “Having a Party” should have been moved to the end of the record. Then, after we listened to the call to action anthem “Struggle” we would be ready to light one up and join him.