Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (June 10, 2022)

The weather is starting to heat up and so is the tune-space

Amanda Shires, otherwise known as Mrs. Jason Isbell is out with a scorching new single, “Hawk For The Dove” in advance of her new record set to reach our shores later in the year.

Michael Monroe, ex of Hanoi Rocks proves once again that Rock is not dead with his latest record Dead, Jail or Rock and Roll.

And, Aussie siblings The Buckleys just might have released the hit of the summer with “Oops I Love You.”

And, hang loose everyone. On top of all that aural blissfulness, here are five hot-stepping records worthy of your ear-time.

Rust – The Resurrection of Rust

Rust was the name of a short-lived duo that consisted of Elvis Costello, then known as Declan MacManus, and singer songwriter Allan Mayes. Existing for approximately one year, the lads played the Liverpool pubs and coffee houses before Costello set out to find fame and fortune in London.

After connecting again in early 2021 to flesh out the idea of doing a one-off Rust reunion gig for charity, Elvis countered with a proposal to record a full-blown E.P.. and thus The Resurrection of Rust was born.

With a set list that harkens back to their pub rock days, every song on this set will strike a Rockpile chord. “Surrender To The Rhythm” is classic pub rock splendor circa 1962, and “Don’t Lose Your Grip On Love” would have been a perfect song for The Attractions to caress back in the day. But, it’s on “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere,” the Neil young staple, where the sun really shines and all is revealed as to why the duo got together in the first place.

Kelley Stoltz – The Stylist

Certainly on the medal stand of contemporary Power Pop mavens along with Brendan Benson and Matthew Sweet, weaving a tapestry of Rock, Folk Rock, Post Punk, and Power Pop, Kelley Stoltz proves, yet again, that he is simply incapable of making a bad record.

“We Grew So Far Apart” could have been a Standells Garage Rock Classic,” “It’s A Cold World” carries with it a bit of Harry Nilsson in the DNA, and on the opener, “Change,”Stoltz channels early ‘70s Steve Miller.

There are hooks everywhere on this record, “Wrong Number” even evokes the spirit of David Bowie. There is nary a miss-step anywhere on this one and it stands right up there with his best work.

American Aquarium – Chicamacomino

Almost twenty years into their career now and having produced two stellar records in the last five with Lamentations and Things Change, American Aquarium continues to play to their audience on their new record, Chicamacomico. A bit more stripped down and less edgy than their prior efforts, this one nevertheless has the band very much on-brand in telling working man stories from the perspective of the denizens of America’s heartland.

Death and mortality are the two centerpieces on display here, bookended by “The First Year,” a song that recalls the emotions that seem to be strongest the first year after a loved one’s death, and “Waking Up Echo’s,” a poignant tune that surfaces the ghosts brought about from a friend ending their life on their own terms.

The breezy first single, “All I Needed” is about as Country has things get on this album, and should be the most familiar to long-time fans of the band. And, “Wildfire” chronicles a relationship that goes from an ember to a forest fire at the flick of a match.

Make no mistake, the fact that Chicamacomico is a bit more of a sedate affair than you are used to hearing from BJ Barnham and the boys, the band has not lost their edge. They simply have found their groove.

The Dream Syndicate – Battle Hymns and True Confessions

Somewhat overlooked in the pantheon of ’80s Indie bands that have reunited, restructured themselves, etc, including The Pixies, The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr, among many others, The Dream Syndicate may be the most under the radar of them all. Growing up in the “Paisley Underground” scene, Steve Wynn and the band were mostly known for their stretched-out affairs with stylistic curves thrown at the listener from song to song on their albums. And, here on their latest, the fourth album since re-forming, equalling their 80’s output, the song generally remains the same.

On “Hard To Say Goodbye” the Velvet Underground influence and particularly the Lou Reed speak-sing vocal turn is somewhat difficult to hide, “Lesson Number One” is a bust-out rocker that has a bit of a Mark Lanegan despair about it, and “Every Time You Come Around” is a woozy Bowie evoking affair.

With Chris Cacavas, formerly of Green on Red on keyboards and now an official member of the group, there seems to be a more focused approach to the songs. This one is a timeless affair that can easily transport you back to 1985 and will have you pulling out those old Depeche Mode and Duran Duran CDS.

Florence Dore – Highways & RocketShips

An artist in the true sense of the word, Florence Dore is a professor of literature and creative writing at the university of North Carolina and has written a scholarly work entitled Novel Sounds drawing the link between Southern fiction in the Faulkner mold and Rock and roll.

Her latest, Highways and Rocket Ships, her first in four years, is a rollicking diverse affair. Part Country with a Mary Chapin Chapin Carpenter vibe, part Americana, and part Tom Petty, most strikingly on “Thundercloud (Fucking With Your Heart).”

With influences the likes of Lucinda Williams showing on “Rebel Debutante” and Steve Earle on the title track, which makes sense as her husband Will Rigby is Earle’s drummer, there is something for everyone on this record.

Given this cauldron of smart, literate songwriting mixed in with a Cracker Jack band with Hootie and The Blowfish, R.E.M., Steve Earle, and Son Volt pedigrees, it should come as no surprise that this one should be a contender for top 10 billing when the best Americana album of the year lists start to roll around.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (May 6, 2022)

Time keeps rolling along, and as the year progresses, the hits are starting to pile up.

’90s vintage Country dwellers Midland are once again summoning the ghosts of Garth Brooks and George Strait with their latest, “Longneck Way To Go.

The Afghan Whigs have released “The Getaway” in advance of a new album to be released on September 9.

And, the Waterboys are out with another album that sounds like The Waterboys. That is great.

But wait, that’s not all. There was a bevy of prime musical cuts to select from this week, so many that we had a tough time paring the list down to five albums this week. But, we did the work so you don’t have to. Here are five groovy platters spinning at Rock is the New Roll HQ this week.

AWOLNATION – My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers & Me

Sometimes, when there is really no legitimate reason for a band to cover a certain song or the song is such an earworm that our ears can’t comprehend anyone but the artist performing it, there can be magic in the air when it is done well. And, that is certainly the case with My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers & Me, the latest missive from AWOLNATION.

With a playlist that is as tight as the skin on an apple, every song presented here is a nostalgic trip down top 40 memory lane from the days that radio play actually meant something. The rendition presented here of “Maniac,” from the movie Flashdance, has enough curves to make this a different listening experience from the original, and the Scorpion’s iconic “Wind of Change”, with a guest turn from Incubus and Portugal. The Man, shouldn’t work, but it does quite well.

Were not sure that there ever has been an attempt at covering Alan Parson’s “Eye In The Sky,” and although this version paints pretty much between the lines, the guest turn from Beck is pretty cool. “Flagpole Sitta” is worthy of some ear time simply because you likely have not heard the song in a while and Elohim very much does it justice, “Alone Again (Naturally),” yes that one, shouldn’t really work either, but in this context with Retro-Country dudes, Midland sitting in it works quite well. If you have never heard the tune with a pedal steel guitar give this one a try.

And, once you add the anthemic “Beds Are Burning,” ABBA’s “Take A Chance On Me,” and the Cars’ “Drive” what you are left with is a highly polished, exquisitely curated set of songs that just might come together as the best covers album of the year when all is said and done.

Chateau Chateau – Grow Up

With the punk attitude of Blondie along with the buoyant energy of The Bangles, Chateau Chateau is a loose-knit collective of Tucson-based musicians that self describe themselves as making cathartic indie pop for weirdos, outcasts, queer folks, and anyone else who needs it.

Grow Up, the band’s sophomore record is a concept record of sorts detailing the various relationships that frontperson Bleu has maintained, both good and bad, throughout her life. “I Don’t Love You Anymore” is a CBGB-worthy rocker with Phil Spector girl group interludes that rails against her abusive father, and “Converted” walks the ground once traveled with a narcissistic ex.

“Push Your Luck” would have been a superb Pretenders single back in the day, and the ‘Til Tuesday Indie Rock classic “Voices Carry” is a perfect cover version to bring out the versatility of the band.

After a couple of spins of this record, especially on the song “Pray,” the specialness of individuality surfaces and is celebrated in its truest form.

Luke Winslow King – If These Walls Could Talk

Recorded in Memphis, New Orleans-based Luke Winslow King with the release of If These Walls Could Talk represents his most pleasingly diverse set of songs to date. From the peppy “Slow Sunday, June,” a song that has them sitting in the shade under a banyan tree on a sultry New Orleans Sunday afternoon to “Love At First Sight” that will transport you to a stroll down Bourbon Street.

Proving he can rock with the best of them, the Jonny Lang evoking “Have A Ball” is pure Blues-Rock Big Easy Style. The title track is a somber look at a relationship that is ebbing away, and “Leaves Turn Brown” is a perfect winsome closer.

Proving that he is no vintage Country and Jazz one-trick pony, this mostly settled down affair will reward the soul wit multiple spins on the turntable.

The Coffis Brothers – Turn My Radio Up

With the very appropriate album title, Turn My Radio Up is perfect Laurel Canyon, Pacific Coast Highway, peaceful easy feeling fare. Produced by Tim Bluhm, frontman for The Mother Hips, the record gives a definite nod to the radio dial harkening back to the late ‘70s, when radio still mattered.

The opener, “One That Got Away” could have been a Timothy B. Schmidt vocal-led single from an early Eagles record, and the single “Turn My Radio” up would have been perfect on a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers record.

“Ramona” travels into Flying Burrito’s Cosmic Cowboy territory, and “Two of a Kind” brings to mind Jackson Browne in his Running On Empty days.

Growing up in the Santa Cruz mountains in California seems to have been the perfect backdrop for brothers Jamie and Kellen Coffis to hone their craft using Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers as influences to craft one of the best album releases of the year so far.

Pink Mountaintops – Peacock Pools

With their first record in 8 years, Stephen McBean and his collective Pink Mountaintops weave a magical mystery tour of a record, Peacock Pools.

Full of neo-psychedelic turns around every corner, this record combines early Kinks with Pink Floyd and Alan Parsons if your ears can grasp all of that coolness in one sitting.

Playing it mostly straight on the tender “Nikki Go Sudden,” a tribute to the late Post-Punk icon Nikki Sudden, the rest of the album seems to be in constant motion with “Shake The Dust” propelling down the road with a bit of Kraftwerk in its DNA, and “Miss Sundown” summoning the ghost of early “Jean Genie” David Bowie.

As is the case with most really good records, this takes you down a different Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole with every turn of the groove.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week: April 29, 2022

Holy mother of pearl, this is a great week for new music. If you don’t believe us, just check out the new single from The Lickerish Quartet, a band that features most of the iconic SF Bay area band, Jellyfish.

Or, expand your mind with the latest from Rock is the New Roll’s favorite’s, Cats in Space. “Poke The Witch” is an epic tune.

And, Delicate Steve is out with a sweet instrumental single, “Playing In A Band” that will be on his upcoming album. For Delicate Steve, it is all about his 1966 Stratocaster.

And, don’t change that channel. There are five really cool records worthy of your earphones this week.

Willie Nelson – A Beautiful Time

Hitting the streets on April 29, 2022, on Willie Nelson’s 89th birthday, the red-headed stranger once again teams up with producer Buddy Cannon on a set of songs that takes old age head-on and addresses his mortality. Taking on themes of life, death, and love from the opening song, co-written with Chris Stapleton and Rodney Crowell, “I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die” to the whimsical Willie at his humorous best, “I Don’t Go To Funerals,” where he professes to be not even going to his own funeral. The voice may be a bit frail and dusty, but the guitar work courtesy of Trigger is as strong as it has been on any record. 

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to play in one of the legendary poker games at Willie’s home in Maui with Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson, you will get a seat at the table courtesy of “We’re Not Happy (Till You’re Not Happy).” They are there to shoot the bull and shoot tequila, play some cards and hide out from their wives. And on “Dusty Bottles” you will be able to sit down and have a beer with father time.

For someone who has put out as many records as Willie Nelson has, likely over 200, this one should go down in history as one of his best, maintaining a decade-long winning streak of quality performances.

Eli “Paperboy” Reed – Down Every Road

Mostly known for his R&B in the late ’60s to early ’70s Revivalism mold, Eli “Paperboy” Reed puts his blue-eyed soul stamp on a set of nicely curated Merle Haggard songs. The Haggard songbook runs the gamut from Country to Americana music to Jazz, always delivered with a whole lot of soul and, as such, is a perfect background for Reed to explore and interpret in his own style.

Playing it straight Like he does on “Mama Tried” and “Lonesome Fugitive” Reed brings out the soul of the song with the emotion of a Jerry Butler Ballad from back in the day. But, it is on the deeper Hag cuts where this record really shines. “It’s Not Love, But It’s Not Bad” reaches the depths of Sam Cooke’s soul, and “I’m Gonna Break Any Heart I Can” is Wilson Pickett-worthy.

A master class in how to curate a cover’s record, the juxtaposition of selections that walk the line of the original and those that share enough DNA that the essence of the song carries the day makes this one an eclectic listen that will garner multiple spins on your turntable.

Dianne Coffee – With People

Applying his trade with his side-piece band Diane Coffee between Foxygen gigs, Shaun Fleming has released his fourth record with the band, the first since 2019. Produced by Foxygen major-domo Jonathan Rado, on this one, Fleming strays away from the Glam-Pop of his main gig in favor of a more subtle ’70s and ’80s soft rock aesthetic.

From the opener, “Corrina From Colina,” there is a Southern California beach vibe laid down, sort of like a cross between Holland Era Beach boys and Hall and Oates. This is a song that will catch your attention and entice you to head to the beach and paddleboard out in the ocean to catch those bigger waves ahead.

“Our Love/The Run” would have been a perfect vehicle for Freddie Mercury and Queen most notably at the piano break with the repeated angry whisper “You don’t get to treat me this way.”

With Foxygen level pop bombast reached on “Sharks,” and “The Great Escape” that give the record a breezy pop feel, this record is a perfect album for the now, but put a pin in this one and bring it back around when the sounds of summer are ready to dominate the airwaves.

Thunder – Dopamine

Applying their trade going on 35 years now, U.K. rock provocateurs Thunder have released a double album of riff-ready rock and roll that reflects back to ‘70s era guitar rock in the Tesla, U.F.O, and Nazareth mold.

“The Dead City” has leader Danny Bowes channeling his inner Paul Rodgers Bad Company persona and on “Black,” the band takes glam-rock to new heights.

There is beauty in diversity to be found everywhere on this record. “Is Anybody Out there” starts off as a Billy Joel-worthy ballad before it morphs itself into a mid-era Journey via way of Elton John stunner, and “Last Orders” meanders from Pink Floyd to Led Zeppelin with the aplomb of a best in class driving song.

For a record that has Rock album of the year written all over it, this one should settle the rock is dead controversy once and for all.

Trombone Shorty – Lifted

Practically born to be a musician, Trombone Shorty was playing the trombone going back to the days when the instrument was bigger than he was. Mentored by the Marsalis family and close family friends with Dr. John, Lifted Troy Andrews’s latest record has injected all of these New Orleans bloodlines into his veins on his latest record.

A gumbo of R&B, Soul, Funk, and New Orleans Brass, is served on every cut of this impressive piece of work. “I’m Standing here” could have easily been a Lenny Kravitz smash hit in the “Are You Gonna Go My Way” mold, “Everybody in the World” has that Harry Connick Jr. jazz vibe about it, and the opener “Come Back” lays it down like the best of Earth Wind and Fire.

With the single “Lie To Me,” a song that takes second-line gospel chants and melds them with Santana Band vibes and Preservation Hall local color with trumpet and trombones taking center stage, the message is clear. Trombone Shorty is in it to love it.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (April 8, 2022)

Boom goes the dynamite this week with a ton of really cool music to delight the ears and tickle your sonar system.

Rock is the New Role super faves, retro ‘70s rockers The Sheepdogs, are out with a really hip new single and video with “Find The Truth.

The latest Beach Bunny single, “Fire Escape” straddles the Pop Punk, Indie Rock line.

And, Dawes delivers a mighty fine live video from their upcoming release, Live from the Rooftop, With a sparkling long-form rendition of “Somewhere Along the Way.”

But, wait. Don’t give the party the Irish exit just yet. Here are five ear-worthy records carefully curated this week for your listening pleasure.

Albert Cummings – Ten

One of those underrated consummate musicians you will find, Albert Cummings very much needs to be on your radar if he is not already. With a vibe that walks the back alleys of B.B. King and Delbert McClinton, every song on his latest record, Ten, is a Blues Rock banger.

While the single “Need Somebody” strays into rock territory on the Blues-Rock spectrum, Albert’s ability to pen a honky tonk rabble-rouser of a tune is on full display thanks to the songs “Too Old To Grow Up,” along with the “you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here anthem” “Last Call,” featuring a Vince Gill vocal turn.

“Beautiful Bride” should become the next great wedding song, and “Sounds Like The Road” is a paean to the pull of life on the road for a working musician. If you haven’t been in a proper roadhouse since Patrick Swayze was the bouncer, spend some time with this record and it will be as if you never left.

Jack Broadbent – Ride

Growing up in Lincolnshire, England tagging along with his father on open mic nights, Jack Broadbent absorbed the scene ultimately playing drums in his father’s band while learning to be a Nashville-class slide guitar player.

With his latest record, Ride, Broadbent channels his Tony Joe White by way of Lou Reed vocal style into a set of songs that will take you way down the alleyways of New Orleans and off into the horizons.

The opener, “Ride” eulogizes the path of ghosts left behind, and the delicate balance in knowing when to leave before it is past time to go, while “New Orleans” may be the destination and a love letter to his favorite city as well.

Spend some time with the jaunty “I Love Your Rock ‘n’ Roll” as it earworms itself way into your brain, while “Midnight Radio” will have you drinking French 75’s with Tony Joe White on Bourbon Street.

Romero – Turn It On

It is no secret that some of the best vibrant, electrified, pure Rock and Roll currently is generated down under, in this case, Melbourne Australia. Turn It On, the debut record from the Band Romero is, simply put, a party on a platter.

With Blondie fronting The Undertones in the DNA of this band, the punk-laced Power Pop presented here is confident, brazen, and timeless. “Honey” is the Go Go’s on steroids, the opener “Talk About” an air blast of energy, is a tightly constructed stunner, and yes, there is cowbell. “Crossing Lines could have been a Siouxsie Sue hit song, if she ever had one that is, and “Turn It On” is another cowbell-infused classic.

For a debut record, this one represents a band that is fully formed and ready to scorch the earth on the festival circuits this summer.

Paul Cauthen – Country Coming Down

A member in good standing of the younger gun Outlaw Country movement along with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Cody Jinks, and Sturgill Simpson, Paul Cauthen has released a record that to many ears might be his best effort to date.

With a vocal timber that goes deep into the Waylon Jennings well, the songs presented here range from honky tonk worthy staples to glint in the eye semi bro-country tunes.

“High Heels” is a perfect song for that hour of preparation time while you wait for your lady to get ready for a night on the town. “Champagne & A Limo” ironically states the case for becoming rich, and “Country as F**k” is a subversive middle finger raised to the establishment.

One gets the sense that Pail Cauthen had a lot of fun making this record. The fact that he doesn’t take himself too seriously makes this one a good listen for a poolside margarita party.

Calexico – El Mirador

From the opening horn-centric Babalu worthy refrains of “El Mirador,” the lead-off track from the eclectically groovy latest record of the same name from Calexico, the stage is set for a fantastical listening journey.

From the Tarantino-noir vibes of “Harness The Wind,” a tune that would like fit in quite nicely in the middle of any of the once upon a time in … [insert location here] movies, to the corner of Hollywood & Vine Tom Waits vibing “El Paso,” there is a surprise around every musical corner. Mixing Spanish language mariachi-lite with English, as the band is known to do, seamlessly accents the listening experience with varied song textures cut after cut.

Fully realizing we are just barely past the quarter pole in this race, it is not simply hyperbole to declare this one a candidate for album of the year.

Wet Leg – Wet Leg

It has been quite a while since a record hit the halls of Rock is the New Roll H.Q. that carried the hype that the band Wet Leg brings to their self-titled release.

Once the most non-sensical first single “Chaise Lounge” ear-wormed itself into our skulls, you either hated the song, or you reveled in the post-punk Ty Seagall evoking, French disco-inspired, Joie de vie of the whole experience. For some, they landed squarely in the camp of the former, and after several carefully curated, semi-sober listening sessions, color us, chips to the center of the table, all in with this record as well as this band.

Picture Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, and Suzi Quattro as members of the Go Go’s, and you get a real minds-ear view of what this band sounds like. Tight, harmonic, aggressive CBGB mini anthems from the perspective of a 20-something duo, Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers.

Mixing the buoyant risqué-ness of “Wet Dream,” a song that name-checks the Christina Ricci cult classic film Buffalo 66, with the swooning Florence and the Machine inspired “Convincing,” with a side order of “Loving You,” a song that could be a long lost Abba single, what you are left with is a roller coaster ride that is well worth taking.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (March 18, 2022)

There seems to be a bit of a lull on the new music front as the heavy lifting is underway in preparation for the summer releases. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few gems to be mined.

Jukebox The Ghost have released a bouncy new pop song, “Wasted.”

Rock is the New Roll stalwarts Ducks Ltd. are back with a rollicking collaboration with the Illuminati Hotties.

And, the band Lucius has collaborated with Brandi Carlile and Sheryl Crow on a bouncy new single, “Dance Around It.”

But, don’t spend all of your lunch money just yet. Here are five new records that were released this week for you to digest.

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Co-Starring Too

No need to mix words here. Ray Wylie Hubbard is a bonafide Texas outlaw legend. Here in the sequel to Co-Starring, with Co-Starting Too, Hubbard is back in true collaboration glory spinning to include Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, and Hayes Carll along with harder rockers John 5 and Lzzy Hale. And yes, Hubbard BFF Ringo Starr is invited back to the party on “Ride or Die – Montar O Morir.”

There are no slips here, after all Ray Wylie is incapable of penning a bad song, but a clear standout is “Groove,” a song that name checks among others J.J. Cale, Tony Joe White, and Delaney and Bonnie.

If blues is your thing, if Rock is your jam, don’t blame it on the boogie, get in with the groove and this fine sequel. This one’s for cowboys, old drunks, paramours, and thieves.

April March – In Cinerama

It is best not to overthink things when it comes to, In Cinerama, the spectacularly cool new album courtesy of April March. Pretty much every genre that you hold dear to your ears is represented within the the pages of this record. Beach Boys sunshine, surf rock, French pop, Spector girl group, Tarantino – Noir, you name it, it’s here.

“Open Your Window Romeo” is a a great Parisian-Pop tune that would have played quite nicely in the recent vintage One Upon A Time in Los Angeles movie, “Ride or Divide” would have been a perfect song for Diana Ross and The Supremes to cover, and “Down the Line” has has a contemporary sunshine swing that would make Bethany Constantino and her band Best Coast blush.

And, if all of that doesn’t want you to staple your ears directly to the speakers, “Stand in the Sun,” and “Rolla Rolla” will take you back to your favorite ‘60s vintage hipster a-go-go.

Chip Z’Nuff – Perfectly Imperfect

As bass player and major-domo for the power pop band Enuff’s Z’Nuff, Chip Z’Nuff and his band have always stood in the shadow of Cheap Trick and have been criminally ignored in the realm of Classic Rock heroes.

As the only remaining member from the stalwart band, Chip gives a master class in Power Pop that delivers on a set that includes the gang-harmony splendor of “Heaven in a Bottle,” the pulsating virility “3 Way,” and the hooks-a-plenty “Honaloochie Boogie” that has Fountains of Wayne meets Weezer in the DNA.

Give this one multiple spins and as Chip and guest artist Joel Hoekstra would say two songs in, “Welcome to the Party.”

Colin Hay – Now and Evermore

Colin Hay, the former frontman for Men at Work, is still at work with the release of his first solo album since 2016. Having relocated to Los Angeles, where this record was recorded between L.A. and Nashville, the songs have a distinct Americana feel to them that is both comforting and inspiring.

“Where Does The End Begin” finds a man at peace with his life’s journey, and the title track features Ringo Starr. The song “Undertow” is a perfect lamentation of life’s ups and downs, and “All I See Is You” is an Irish tinged coming home to you love song.

This is a perfectly uplifting record for these times that are not so uplifting.

Duke Robillard – They Called It Rhythm & Blues

Amazingly, They Called It Rhythm & Blues is Duke Robillard’s first record that is pure vintage-style danceable blues, and as such this collection of R&B, Blues, and jazz covers is a treat for the ears.

The swing is the thing right from jump street with “Here I’m Is,” a treatise in jump blues. Sue Foley add’s some grace to the proceedings on “No Good Lover,” and the horn-centric party anthem “In The Wee Wee Hours” is house-boogie perfection.

Even when the vibes drop low and slow like they do on “Someday After A While,” with a stellar vocal turn courtesy of the Fabulous Thunderbird Kim Wilson, the results are captivatingly cool.

With boogie blues classics “Eat Where You Slept Last Night” and the organ drenched “Swingin’ For Four Bills” instrumental closing down the party, one can sense that this was a one in a lifetime passion project for all involved.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (March 11, 2022)

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.

Album Review: The Bye Bye Blackbirds – August Lightning Complex

Any attempt to apply a genre to the Bye Bye Blackbirds in general, or their sparkling new record, August Lightning Complex in particular, is a fool’s errand the likes of which would make Don Quixote give up tilting at windmills and try his hand at miniature golf.

With touches of early Byrds, mid-era R.E.M. along with a gentle wafting of The Replacements and heavy doses of the cooler side of Big Star, the song cycle has more unexpected turns than a formula one road track.

Recorded and mixed in Oakland and the San Francisco bay area, the opening track, “Want Show As Young,” will set the stage and level set your expectations for the rest of the album. Should you be fortunate enough to be listening to the record on vinyl with a proper system, the song almost literally pops out of your speakers. With the initial guitar salvo from Lenny Gill, it is safe to say that he is back and better than ever. And, once the majordomo and bandleader, Bradley Skaught, joins the party sounding like the devil-spawn of Tom Petty and Elvis Costello, it’s time to take this flight tonight.

“Mechanics” has a definite “Radio Free Europe” groove going for it, which is never a bad thing, especially here, when the band’s not-so-secret weapon, Kelly Atkins, gets her twenty feet from stardom moment, applying her “Gimme Shelter” worthy backup vocals to what might be the best song on the record.

Meandering down the river that is side one, the song “Something From The Old World” presents itself. It is here that we pull our canoe over to the side of the river and reflect on the lyrics. While not quite going full-on “Bernie and Elton,” it is clear that a certain Sympatico is going on between the band and the lyricist. The Jackson Browne feel to the song is like musical comfort food for the soul. Several props to the artistic team that decided to include the lyric sheet with the vinyl version.

Once the record is turned over to the flip side, the amazing journey truly begins. “We Got Lost (Reprise)” starts things out with a psychedelic jam that comes somewhere north of Sid Barrett and South of very early Who. And, the binder in the cigar wrapper, “We Got Lost,” followed by “Favorite Stars,” seems to bring the ying and yang of the two sides of the record together in exquisite fashion.

And then, there’s the song “Marching.” Weighing in at about ten minutes or so, to our ears, it is here that the Bye Bye Blackbirds have painted their masterpiece. The band, the production, the mournful trumpet, courtesy of Bill Swan, everything on this song simply works to perfection. David Bowie meets Iggy Pop and Pink Floyd performed in the quintessential Bye Bye Blackbirds style springs to the minds-ear on this one.

And, once the final reprise has been written on this record with the closer, “Don’t Wait,” we are left with the realization that this album may be among the select masterpieces where the title song is also an instrumental. Simon and Garfunkel’s Bookends opening track comes to mind as one of the rare examples. 

And, come to think of it, if one must apply a genre to this zenith of a record delivered by the Bye Bye Blackbirds, cosmically cool, and Bookends worthy might be a great place to start. 

Five Cool Ones: Five Cool Records Released This week (February 25, 2022)

We are just about ready to round the quarter pole, and there is a lot of new music for our ears to digest. New Easy Eye Sound stablemates, Ceramic Animals have a new record coming out soon and have released the new single, “Valerie.”

Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider has released a video, “Stand,” as a tribute to those that lost their lives in the tragic fire at The Station in Rhode Island during a Great White concert.

And, hold on to your ears for this one, Taj Majall and Ry Cooder collaborate from a living room on “I Shall Not Be Moved.”

And, of course, on top of everything, we have five sweet records to savor this week.

Band of Heathens – Remote Transmissions, Vol. 1

Already in heavy rotation in the offices of Rock is the New Roll H.Q., The Band of Horses have turned the coolness up several notches with the release of Remote Transmissions, Vol. 1.

 With time on their hands and their professional lives on hold during the pandemic, every Tuesday night, the band would gather together a loose-knit collective of artists via Zoom to host a 90-minute fun time session called The Good Time Supper Club. Ultimately, as part of the shows, the band would sit down and interview the guest artists, and following the show, they recorded cover songs with each of them in a segment they called Radio Transmissions. 

All killer, no filler, the song selections for this record are perfectly complementary to our ears, the artists selected might as well have been culled from our vinyl library, and the pairing of the two is all hit and no miss.

The Ray Wylie Hubbard version of “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” shouldn’t work, but it does, and brilliantly so. The Rolling Stones cover of “You Got The Silver with blackberry smoker Charlie Starr is Keith Richards endorsement worthy, and “L.A. Freeway” is perfect.

Lock it in as the covers record of the year has already announced itself. And, if you still are not a believer, listen to “Tumbling Dice with Nicki Bluhm.

Tears For Fears – The Tipping Point

It should come as no surprise that after the passing of over forty years since the band originated and almost two decades away from their last record, Tears For Fears has released a new album. The headline here is that Roland Orzabel and Curt Smith have set aside artistic differences and petty personal squabbles in creating a song cycle that stands right up there next to the iconic “Songs From The Big Chair.”

With the possible exception of “My Demons,” the anthemic side of the duo does not rear its head which is a good thing as the boys generally stay in their vocal lane. Lyrically, this is a sign of the times record without being overtly political, with “River of Mercy” being about as topical as it could be right now.

With “End Of Night” blasting vintage Tears For Fears like it’s 1985 all over again, stick a pin in this one and resurface it once the end of the year best-of lists roll around.

Superchunk – Wild Loneliness

Longevity being the order of the day, it has been 32 years since Superchunk released their debut self-titled album. And, based on their sparkling new album, Wild Loneliness, it’s almost like no time has passed at all.

Sparkling Jangle Pop of the highest order, Big Star influences abound with touches of Jelly Fish here and Cheap Trick, there. “This Night” is a gang-chorus standout, “Endless Summer” has a scent of the melodic side of The Replacements in the DNA, and “Refraction” has Punk-Pop energy that is contagious.

There is no logical reason for this album to be as good as it is, but there is not a bad song on this surprisingly excellent record from one of the hip bands of the ’90s.

Diamond Dogs – Slap Bang Blue Rendezvous

From the name alone, you pretty much know what you are getting with Diamond Dogs and their new record, Slap Bang Blue Rendevous. 

Hailing from Sweden, their brand of incendiary Rock and Roll touches on David Bowie Glam, but their mojo goes much deeper than that. With touches of Aussie Rock in the Angels, Cold Chisel mode, and the essence of the Velvet Underground or Mott the Hoople respective oeuvres, this is a yellow brick road-worthy journey down the trail of Classic Rock coolness.

“Golden Wheel” Is Cheap Trick if they had come around ten years earlier than they did. We had to do a double-take to make sure that “Makeup Boogie” wasn’t on the T-Rex Electric Warrior album, and “You Shouldn’t Be Lonely On a Saturday Night” could have been a Status Quo special back in the day.

All in all, this is a true-spirited Rock and Roll record. Lighters Lit!

Sophie & The Broken Things – Delusions of Grandeur

A stunning debut record, Delusions of Grandeur, brought to you by Sophie & The Broken Things, is as good an Americana record as you are likely to find this year. With a vocal range that floats along like the love-child of Lucinda and Emmylou, Sophie Gault is the real deal. When you combine influences like Bonnie Raitt and Neko Case, along with a band that can switch from a mournful ballad to a country-tonk stomper at the blink of a stetson, all of the ingredients are in place for a classic listen.

“Churches & Bars” is Americana song of the year-worthy, “Dashboard” is an epic road trip song that finds Sophie getting in her car driving down the road putting some John on the cd player. And, on “Heavy-Metal,” the band gets to stretch a bit on this ode to traveling down the road cranking that heavy metal heading to bar to be with her black Slayer t-shirt wearing tribe.

This is a new find well worth checking out.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (February 18, 2022)

A sneaky-cool week is brewing, with a couple of our favorites showing their musical wares. There is a groundswell of Rock and Roll in the air, and the Americana music brigade is out in force. And, if all of that is not enough.

We have our ears peeled for the upcoming release of their new record, and if “Devil’s Lullaby,” courtesy of the band Bad Day is any indication, it’s going to be a doozy.

The guns ‘N’ Roses riffing song driven by South of Eden, “Lone Rider’s,” will take you right back to the Sunset Strip.

And, straight out of Nashville, The Nobility, gallop, almost literally, their way into your airwaves with the highly infectious Western-Pop swagger of “No Doubts.”

And, of course, if all of that is not enough to satisfy your earbuds, here are five new records that are getting some serious play in the halls of Rock is the New Roll H.Q.

Goodbye June – See Where The Night Goes

The pride of Nashville, Goodbye June, has been flying under the rock and roll radar for almost a decade. But now, with their latest record, See Where The Night Goes, their current opening act gigs should be turning into headlining tours in short order. Goodbye group van, hello tour bus.

From the early guitar chords and instant Brian Johnson era AC/DC vocals on the opener “Step Aside,” it’s game on, lighters lit. Next in line is “See Where The Night Goes,” still a scorcher but a bit more melodic with killer hooks and even sweeter melodies that will whip the audiences into a frenzy during the upcoming festival season. And, things get more head-banging in all the best of ways from there.

Sure the band and the songs are a bit formulaic with an “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” approach to their rock and roll. But, when a band goes about their business with such exuberance and delivers the quality riffs song to song as they do on this one, imitation turns into emulation in the blink of a power ballad.

Sarah Shook & The Disarmers – Nightroamer

Sarah Shook and her Disarmers step over and cross back again, that line between Americana and Rock and Roll with the ease of A Wallenda sibling tightrope walking across the Grand Canyon. With their latest record, Nightroamer, Sarah seems to be shedding her image as the younger sister who waters down her parent’s vodka, climbs out of her bedroom window, and sneaks out to sing a few tunes for a Hank III tribute band. Now, with her late-era Tanya Tucker vibe, her music is more contemporary posh than cow-punk with a classic country flair in just the right places. 

The stellar “Talking To Myself” is Sheryl Crow Meets Joan Jett, “If It’s Poison” has a ’50s country lilt to it complete with a lap-steel guitar, and “I Got This” is a biographical piece that carries some Melissa Etheridge DNA in its core. “No Mistakes” could have been a Billy Joe Shaver penned outlaw country tune.

Still worn weary with a well-earned lifetime expressed with every syllable she sings, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers have been there, done that, so you don’t have to.

Foxy Shazam – The Heart Behead You

If like us, you know exactly where you were the first time you heard the glam-glorious band Foxy Shazam, you are in luck, and your musical ship has arrived at the dock. Going back to their epic breakthrough record, The Church of Rock and Roll, a classic that is ten years old now, the band has never has failed to deliver on their psychedelic, glam, power pop template that brings to the minds-ear the classic S.F. based band Jellyfish. Until perhaps now, that is.

Certainly not their best, the production seems a bit fuzzy in the mix and does not sparkle as bright as a Foxy Shazam diamond should. And, the band is trying a bit too hard to be clever in their wordplay, case in point is the attempt to rhyme china (the tableware) and a part of a woman’s anatomy with a straight face. 

The opener, “I’m In Love,” is pure soaring, bombastic Foxy Shazam, “Fall Into The Night” is a dance-hall worthy call and response feet-mover, and “Love Rush Ecstacy” would be a wonderment if, as mentioned above, the production was crisper and cleaner.

Not their best effort, this one might be among the worst in their oeuvre, but much like when a skunk comes home for Thanksgiving with his family, gets drunk, and accidentally lets out a little spray, he will still be invited over for Christmas dinner.

Hurray For The Riff Raff – Life On Earth

Alynda Segarra, doing business as Hurray For The Riff Raff, is out with her typically a per-usual stellar record, Life On Earth. As part of a collective of New Orleans musicians, the new album, self-described as “nature-punk,” is centered around the theme of survival in a turned-around world.

“All stunners, no bummers” is the order of the day on this one. “Pierced Arrows” floats in the ether like Florence and the Machine’s younger sister performing on a side stage at Bonnaroo, “Jupiters Dance,” has a wafting of a Kate Bush Spirit Dance, and the exquisitely horned “Rosemary Tears” is the essence of New Orleans pathos in a song. The “deep in the soul” rendering of “My Sweet Lord” is life-affirming.

While this new record doesn’t quite live up to the majesty of its predecessor, The Navigator, it is a sterling example of an artist in progress that is one of the shining lights working today.

Dana Cooper – I Can Face The Truth

Dana Cooper is an Americana treasure that you likely have never heard. Roaming the country from Kansas City, Los Angeles, Nashville, to Texas and beyond, teaming up with Shake Russell on several records, Cooper is a dues-paying road-weary musician of the highest order. And, on his latest, I Can Face The Truth, the truth is out there.

With a version of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” that is as honest as you will ever hear along with the Thelma and Louise road-tripping with your BFF vibe of “Old Friends,” the stage is set for the circle to be unbroken. “Laughing and Crying” might be a fitting metaphor for the present times, and “Summer in America” is a “lovers in wartime” protest anthem with a satisfying ending.

If you are not previously hip to the Dana Cooper scene, use this opportunity to right a grievous wrong.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (February 11, 2022)

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.