What We’re Listening To – The Jellyfish Edition (May 17, 2020)

Jellyfish/The Lickerish Quartet/Imperial Drag/Foxygen/Foxy Shazam

Jellyfish

Jellyfish was a SanFranciso based band that was unapologetically retro in all the best ways of ways. With a Pop sensibility that brings to the minds-ear XTC, Badfinger and The Zombies, the band, formed around singer-songwriter Andy Sturmer, keyboard player Roger Manning along with Jason Falkner, crashed and burned mostly due to musical differences after two spectacularly immaculate records, Bellybutton and Spilt Milk.

Imperial Drag

Born from the ashes of Jellyfish was the band Imperial Drag that featured Jellyfish alum Roger Manning, singer Eric Dover, and drummer Andy Sturmer. The band was one and done. The Grunge obsessed fans of the mid-’90s were never a nuanced bunch and killed the group before it ever really got started.  Never the less, their Glam-forward self-titled record was an exercise in perfect Power Pop with that little bit of extra edge that made them really cool.

The Lickerish Quartet

And now, The Lickerish Quartet is playing it forward with their new record, Threesome, Vol. 1, a four-song E.P. that features Eric Dover, Roger Manning, and Tim Smith former members of the legendary band Jellyfish getting together for the first time since 1994. If you miss Slade, Queen and Marc Bolan you will love this band.

Foxygen

Foxygen and their 2013 album We are the 21st Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, along being with clear disciples of Jellyfish and Glam rock are another one of the bands that are not ashamed to wear the retro-rock tag with great honor. If Lou Reed and David Bowie had a love child the resulting spawn would be Foxygen. Unfortunately, having crashed and burned mostly due to the over the top LSS (Lead Singer Syndrome) affliction Sam France was dealing with, or maybe they ran out of money hiring a full symphony orchestra for their 2016 release Hang, in any case, the band is now on an indefinite hiatus.

Foxy Shazam

Another one of those backward-looking retro rocking bands that seem to have crashed and burned far too quickly, for our tastes anyway. With their intoxicating blend of rock and roll theatrics, a maniacal mix of double-kickdrum percussion, and howling vocals, maybe after lighting the sky on fire with 2012’s The Church of Rock and Roll maybe it is best for a band like this to die young and leave a good looking corpse.

— Jeremy Wren —

 

 

 

What We’re Listening To (May 15, 2020)

Sure we’re a bit gutted here at Rock is the New Roll that there is a bit of a delay on the new Chuck Prophet record, but hey, we will get over it. Here are some of the fine records we are listening to here in The Falcon’s Nest.

Dion – I Got Nothin’ 

On this true blues song from Dion where he collaborates with Van Morrison and Joe Louis Walker on this classic Blues tune that sounds like it could have come right out of the Allman brothers, actually, the best is yet to come.

The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary

In a somewhat obscure musical moment, a local sports talk show fellow was describing a back in the day bar hopping expedition in College Station when there was a busker in front of a bar of playing random songs. He said his band was playing in town and they were just going to jam in this local Texas  A&M bar before the gig playing only cover songs. The dude said his name was Ian Anderson and his famous song was “She Sells Sanctuary.” I immediately tweeted the dude as he was on air and told him I wasn’t aware that Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson ever stood in for Ian Astbury as lead singer for the Cult. He corrected himself, giving me a shout out, and all was well.  This, of course, sent me down a Cult rabbit hole.

There are, of course, a zillion versions of “She Sells Sanctuary out there, but this one from the Rock Show House of Strombo is one of our favorites.

Tesla – Signs

Here at Rock is the New Roll we have more than a few Rock and Roll guilty pleasures and Tesla is one of them. And, with the latest live Tesla record recorded at Abbey Road front and center in our skulls, we embarked on a journey to find the original version of the song that was set to vinyl. Here is the 2019 version.

And, here is the version from 1990 live from The Trocadero as it was meant to be heard on the Five Man Acoustical Jam.

Metallica – Blackened 2020

From the And Justice For All Metallica album, here\, the members of Metallica do a Quarantune version of the song updated for 2020.

Brothers Osbourne – All Night/Paul Cauthen – Cocaine Country Dancing

Sure, we accept and can handle the heat we get from Loving the over the top Retro-Sleaze of The Cadillac Three. So, it should come as no surprise that “All Night” from The Brothers Osbourne is right up our street.  with lyrics like “I got the good if you got the time/I got the Moon, you got the shine/ I got the back if you got the beat /Got the solid gold 33 on repeat” what is there not to like?

And then, there’s the remix of Paul Cauthen’s “Cocaine Country Dancing” featuring Electrophunk. Don’t tell me most of you have not been there.

 

 

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (May 15, 2020)

Another week where we lament what could have been including some stellar records that were supposed to be released today including the new Chuck Prophet, Weezer, and the great Bon Jovi New album, all widely anticipated records that did not see the light of day today. Here are five nice records that are rocking our hedgerow this week.

Ruthie Foster – Live at the Paramount

Texas Blues legend Ruthie Foster is out front and center with a very strong set from her performance at The Paramount in Austin. Sprinkled in with her stellar original material are several really choice cover versions of “The Ghetto,” “Ring of Fire,” and “Mack The Knife.” Several listens in, the overall sentiment in the halls of Rock is the New Roll is that Ruthie Foster should really be much more famous than she is.

Jason Isbell – Reunions

As expected, the new Jason Isbell record is spectacular. His band, The Four Hundred Unit is one of the cracker-jack units in the business, and this one might surpass Southeastern as the best album in the Jason Isbell canon given enough listening time. Extra credit to Jason for releasing the album exclusively to independent record stores one week in advance of delivering the finished product to the unwashed masses.

Gretchen Peters – The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury

Mickey Newbury is one of those songwriters that wrote a lot of songs that you really love that you will be surprised to hear that Mickey wrote them. Here, Gretchen Peters approaches each song with reverence and love in an understated manner that is perfect for a late-night listen. “Just Dropped in (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” is broken down to the core of its elements, “San Francisco Mabel Joy” is sung with such precision that in your minds-ear you might as well be watching a movie and “She Even Woke Me To Say Goodbye” is even more of a tear-jerker with the delicate interpretation that Gretchen gives it.

The Lickerish Quartet – Threesome, Vol 1.

Anytime that two members of the iconic Bay Area band Jellyfish come together to form a band, color us all in. Here, with Eric Dover and Joseph Manning Jr. coming together with the rest of The Lickerish Quartet it is an event celebrating in Psychedelic Rock heaven even if it’s only an E.P.

Willie Nile – New York at Night

It’s official, with the release of his latest, New York at Night, Willie Nile has taken the mantle from Lou Reed as the King of New York. Having been doing his thing from the late ’70’s Nile comes across his love for the city naturally. Here, with “New York Is Rocking,” “The Backstreet Slide,” and “New York at Night” the new Pope of Greenwich Village is more than alive and well.

What We’re Listening To (May 10, 2020)

Datura4

In the blink of an ear, these guys from Western Australia have transformed themselves from an on-fire Blues-Boogie band to one of the best Psychedelic Rock bands on the planet.

Their earlier albums including Blessed is the Boogie were pretty much straight-ahead Blues Rock affairs with occasional mid-song jams to display their immense musical chops. Now, with their latest release, West Coast Highway Cosmic, the band has turned the Psychedelic Rock up to 11, so much so that they would make the 13th-floor elevators blush. The album steps on the gas and stretches out the jams on the “Highway Star ” influenced title track, turns up the Steppenwolf vibes on “Wolfman Woogie,” and meanders its way through the desert-noir of “You’re The Only One”

Grace Potter Monday Night Twilight Hour

Grace Potter is using her quarantine time wisely by putting together a weekly YouTube video series to share music with her fans. Typically, it is just her and her piano, but here, she enlists help from her band on an excellent version of the Zeppelin classic “Whole Lotta Love.”

Margo Price – Twinkle Twinkle

By all rights, we should be listening to, That’s How Rumors Get Started, the new record from Margo Price that was supposed to come out this past Friday. But, it is Corona delayed, so we get the next best thing, a song, and accompanying video to wet the whistle until we are able to hear the entire thing in all its glory.

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Outlaw Blood

The mighty Texas Troubadour Ray Wylie Hubbard has a new album in the can and it is almost ready to hit the streets. The record features a dazzling array of guests including, Ringo Starr, Don Was, Chris Robinson, The Cadillac Three, Joe Walsh, Pam Tillis, Paula Nelson, Elizabeth Cook, Tyler Bryant, Ashley McBryde, Larkin Poe, Peter Rowan, and Ronnie Dunn. Just to name them all.

Paul Weller – Nick Lowe

Both of these blokes have a record coming out later in the year and to say we are looking forward to it is a bit like saying we are looking forward to happy hour.

Nick Lowe does a particularly excellent imitation of the cool uncle and elder statesman as he as grown into over the last several albums with “Lay It On Me Baby.”

Albert King – Funky London

A little blues 12-bar workout from Albert Kings’ Funky London. The title track and the instrumental cover of JB’s “Cold Sweat” are worth the price of admission alone on this one.

Elton John – Tonight (Live From Moscow ’79)

For our ears, the Elton John w/Ray Cooper 1979 live album has passed over 17-11-70, or 11-17-70 if your on this side of the pond, as the best live record in the Elton John canon. Side one is just Elton and his piano where he tickles the ivories like his life depended on it, especially so on his scorching rendition of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.” And, things get even cooler when percussionist Ray Copper joins Elton on stage kicking things off with “Funeral For A Friend” followed by the best version you will ever hear of “Tonight.”

Five Cool Ones: Five Cool Records Released This Week (May 8, 2020)

Under normal circumstances, when the second week in May rolls around, the release year would be hitting the sweet spot. If you want your record to be semi-fresh in the minds-ear of music fans for the end of the year polls May to July is the definite place to release your album and you get the added benefit of having your earworm of a single added to the soundtrack of the summer.

The bad news, though is that several big-time artists including Norah Jones, Margo, Price, Haim, and The 1975 are delaying the birth of their record until later in the year.

But fear not, there are still a few savory sounds to enjoy this week.

Steve Forbert – Early Morning Rain

The distinct somewhat warbling voice that brought you the terrific “Romeo’s Tune” brings you a mostly solid set of cover songs curated nicely for the range and genre identity of an artist that is pretty much criminally ignored when it comes to mainstream success. The highlights here include Americana versions of The Dead’s “Box of Rain,” “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down,” and the spectacular “Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues,” where it sounds as if the song was written for Steve to sing. The lowlights, well, do your ears a favor and just skip “Your Song.” Only Leon Russell should be allowed to do a cover of this one.

Mark Lanegan – Straight Songs of Sorrow

Mark Lanegan has a dark poetic sensibility that brings to mind Nick Cave or Scott Walker. His latest record coming on the heels of the release of his no holds barred bare-knuckle autobiography features guest turns from the likes of John Paul Jones, Greg Dulli, and Ed Harcourt.

Hayley Williams – Petals For Armor

As the frontwoman for decades now with her band Paramore, it is a bit surprising that Petals For Armor is her debut release as a solo artist. With touches of Baroque Pop in the Kate Bush and Tori Amos mold, Haley Williams delivers a deeply personal song-set that covers a tumultuous period in her life that includes marriage, divorce, and her mother’s life-altering injury.

David Myles – Leave Tonight

There is a bit of a timeless quality in the ten song-set that David Myles delivers on Leave Tonight. With a slight nod of the fedora to the ’50s crooners of days gone by along with a West Coast Jazz and Laurel Canyon vibe, the resulting collection paints a picture that a collaboration between Joao Gilberto might have generated.

Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen – Hold My Beer, Vol. 2

Carrying the torch for the lighter side of Country songs, Texas Honky Tonk legends Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen partner up once again for a deliciously fun set of tunes that laments losing a woman to a rodeo clown instead of the Marlboro man, pays tribute to Mighty Merle on “Let Merle Be Merle,” and gets their bar-fight on with the title track, “Hold My Beer.” If you are looking for that mid-set joy of throwing your head back and guzzling a couple of long-necks at warp speed, then this is your honky-tonk jam.

 

What We’re Listening To (May 3, 2020)

It’s not all work and no play for the contributors at Rock is the new Roll HQ (Bernie Sparrow, Jeremey Wren, Cletus Crowe, Nigel Owl), sometimes,  we stroll over to The Falcon’s Nest Bar and grill, hang out and listen to music for music’s sake.

Here is what we’re listening to right now.

Brendan Benson – Dear Life

Pound for pound Brendan Benson, along with Matthew Sweet, is one of the most criminally underrated purveyors of Power Pop that has ever picked up a six-string. He’s not very prolific if you don’t count is appearances with Jack White’s sidebands including The Raconteurs, but everything he touches turns into Power Pop Gold. His new record, Dear Life, is most definitely his best work since the 1996 classic, One Mississippi.

Chicano Batman – I Know It

Sure they have one of the best band names to come around in recent years, but our muso-love for Chicano Batman. Their Psych Soul sound is right up our street and their new record, Invisible People happens to be on heavy rotation in The Falcon’s Nest.

Dexy’s Midnight Runners

On this unwashed side of the pond the band Dexy’s Midnight Runners are known for virtually one song and, of course, it is “Come On Eileen,”  a song that in these parts is virtually unlistenable at this point, unless, of course, your name happens to be Eileen. The reality is, however, is that Kevin Rowland and his band that mixes Irish Folk with Northern Soul are a pretty great group that is well worth spending some deep-dive ear-time to get to know them better.

Their album, Don’t Stand me Down, has several high energy anthemic tracks including “Listen To This,” and “One of Those Things,” and “Geno” their tribute to American Soul singer Geno Washington was number one in the U.K. but released to cits in the U.S., and criminally so.

Always a scorching Live band, their version of “Jackie Wilson Said” is right up there with the best covers of the Van Morrison staple. Here, Kevin Rowland and company take the song to new heights with this low and slow version.

Even if the album, Too Rye Ay 1982 did not include “Come On Eileen” this 1982 release would still be considered a bangin’ record. “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile is on it, the opener “The Celtic Soul Brothers” is a great party song, and “All In All (This One Last Waltz), slows things down a bit quite nicely and shows off the range that Kevin Rowland possesses. All in all, this is a really great record.