Five Cool Ones: Some Rock With A Little Bit of Roll

Buckcherry – Gun

From Buckcherry’s ninth record Hellbound, the band is starting to take themselves more seriously. The killer harmonica intro and the Aerosmith-worthy grooves make this one a hip-shaking groover.

Houndmouth – Make It Midnight

The first single released from their upcoming record, Good For You, this one takes things low and slow on this Americana-tinged late-nite noir beauty.

Blurred Vision – Dear John

Released in support of the John Lennon War Child charity, “Dear John” features the UK/Canadian/Iranian prog-rockers alongside Peter Frampton and Mollie Mariott. This one evokes the spirit of John Lennon with more love than any we have heard in quite some time.

Starbenders – No One Listened

Carrying the torch for new wave glam rock, Starbenders are out with a new single and artistically cool video in advance of a proper release late in the year. Frontward Kimi Shelter puts her best Marc Bolan Ziggy Stadust foot forward on this one.

Ghost Hounds – Between Me and the Devil

Blending Blues, Soul, and Rock and Roll, Pittsburgh rockers Blues Hounds are as good as it gets. Just ask The Rolling Stones and ZZ Top, both bands inviting them out on the road in 2019.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Platters Released This Week (October 15, 2021)

Since everything is just a placeholder until the new Deep Purple record comes out later in the year, there is a chill in the air as a new Coldplay album hits our ear-waves this week. And, it’s not terrible.

The ironically monikered Southern groover Handsome Jack has a new song and video out with “Got You Where I Want To” that would make Doug Sahm proud.

If you were lucky enough to have Hayes Carll draft you a beer at The Acoustic Cafe in Galveston you would have known early on what an electric talent he is. For the rest of us, we get to bathe in his immense talent courtesy of this latest release, “Help Me Remember.”

And, there is great news on the horizon. The great collaboration of David Coverdale and Jimmy Page has four previously unreleased songs set to see the light of day later in the year. In the meantime, here is a bit of a blast from the MTV past. 

And, if all of that is not enough to tickle your musical fancy, here are some tasty morsels that we particularly love from this week’s batch of goodness.

TK & The Holy Know-Nothings – The Incredible Heat Machine

Don’t let the fact that Taylor Kingman, frontman and major-domo for TK & The Holy Know-Nothings, self glosses his band’s music as “psychedelic doom boogie” stop you from giving this one a couple of turns around the dance floor. 

From the opener, “Frankenstein” a Doug Sahm fronting Whiskeytown vibe grabs you and staples your ears to the speakers. “Serenity Prayer” is Steve Earl at his rebellious best, and “Laid Down and Cried” sounds like it comes from the outlaw spawn of Chris Stapleton and Merle Haggard. And, who among us hasn’t been too stoned to find their beer as lamented on “I Lost My Beer,” a song that would have been perfectly handled by Jerry Jeff Walker or Bobby Bare.

If you are looking for just one recent-vintage cosmic cowboy outlaw country circle of life album to place on your mantle, look no further than this Old 97’s by way of Jerry Jeff Walker-inspired gem.

Jason Isbell – Georgia

Inspired by his promise to record a tribute album to the state of Georgia should the election turn to a democratic blue, Jason Isbell puts politics aside to deliver a solid setlist that pays tribute to the songs and artists associated with his home state. 

Highlights abound on this one. The Drivin’ ‘N’ Cryin’ staple “Honeysuckle Blue” is perfect in the hands of Isbell and his 400 unit, and Brittney Spencer offers up a gender turnaround and slays “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”

The two R.E.M covers presented here, “Driver 8” and “Nightswimming,” as perfectly crafted as they are, seem to be minor cogs on a wheel of excellence. While the wildcard here is a Santana-tinged version of Allman’s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” the return of Brittney Spencer on “Midnight Train To Georgia” tells the tale the most poignantly.  

Sure, if you are inclined to pick nits, you can lament that “Georgia On My Mind” is not included in the set, but that would be short-sighted. By going deep with Cat Powers’ “Cross Bones Style” and “Kid Fears” by the Indigo Girls, there is no doubt that this album was passionately curated from the song selections to the choice of collaborators.

Joy Crookes – Skin

 A sure-fire candidate for debut record of the year Joy Crookes’ new record is a blend of Amy Winehouse neo-soul, Nina Simone sultry jazz, and the silky smooth vocals of Ella Fitzgerald.

Standouts “When You Are Mine” and “Wild Jasmine” offer more contemporary song diva fare, while “Poison,” along with the title track, is a girl and her piano offering up some late-night noir.

Especially powerful is “Unlearn You,” a song about the lasting effects of domestic violence. Give this one a spin or three on your turntable, and your ears and soul will be exponentially rewarded.

Pokey LaFarge – In The Blossom of Their Shade

Breezy Americana is the order of the day on this, the seventh and latest record from Pokey LaFarge, In The Blossom of Their Shade. With a bit of an old-timey New Orleans vibe, the music takes you down a country road swerving to avoid cows and trying not to miss a turn causing you to drive into an alligator-infested swamp.

Even when he visits Holland as he does on “Rotterdam,” we get the city of his imagination instead of the real thing. “Drink of You” has the delicate aroma of a Rufus Wainwright song, and “Yo-Yo” has a Caribbean tilt to it that would be best served on the beach next to a fire. 

With touchstones that include Western cinemascope, 50’s exotica, 60’s doo-wop, and 40’s big band, it is a wonder that LaFarge can meld these disparate styles into a contemporary tapestry the way he does on this record. If you are up for a road trip the likes of which you likely have not experienced since riding with Ryan and Tatum O’Neill in Paper moon, it’s time to begin your journey.

The Courettes – Back In Mono

What year is it? Is it time to put on my ascot and get ready for Austin Powers’ bachelor party? Yes, on all fronts, courtesy of The Courettes and their latest release, Back In Mono, a record that is the grooviest album of the year, or of recent years for that matter.

With the ghost of Phil Spector dancing all over the mixing boards, this Danish and Brazilian garage rock combo inhabit rather than imitate the Shangri-La spirit of every girl group you have ever heard from The Supremes to the Runaways. From the intensely clever “Want You! Like A Cigarette” to the Ramones evoking “Night Time (The Boy of Mine)” every song delivered to your ears is go-go club cool.

Don’t sleep on “R.I.N.G.O.” as a novelty song soul sucker. It might very well be, but strangely, it works. “Until You’re Mine” is a late-night voodoo hip-shaker, and “Trash Can Honey” will remind you of “Big Girls Don’t Cry” with a Flamin Groovies makeover. And, once the Duane Eddy guitar fuzz kicks in on “Hop The Twig,” it’s game on, everyone on the dance floor!

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (October 1, 2021)

Hold on to your ears, fall is here, and we are about to enter into the best time of the year when artists pool their resources and release music for the holiday season. And, of course, everything is just a placeholder until the new Elvis Costello record comes out.

In the meantime, Elton John and Stevie Wonder have collaborated on a single in advance of Elton’s collabo-heavy record to be released later in the year. 

Sleaze rockers ’80s Bush have a new video, “Sleazy, Dirty, Rock ‘n Roll,” from their latest single.

And, Rock is the new Roll favorite Jason Isbell has released a terrific version of “Midnight Train To Georgia” from his upcoming sure-to-be spectacular album, Georgia Blue. Amanda Shires, Mrs. Jason Isbell commands the song as if she wrote it.

And, if all of that is not enough, here are five albums that we think are cool that were released this week.

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga – Love For Sale

With what will likely be Tony Bennet’s final album, the King of San Francisco revisits the partnership with Lady Gaga that was forged back in 2014 with their stellar album, Cheek to Cheek.

There is no new ground trailed on this one, the songs selected here are all reliable standards, but that’s not the point. Tony Bennett is a national treasure, and if this is the last hurrah, he will be going off to the sunset on a very high note, with one of his best albums in several years under his belt.

The arrangements and production value put forth here are pretty much perfect. The string and instrumental interludes show up in just the right places at just the right time. And Bennet’s voice, if it is even possible, seems even in better form than he demonstrated on his last proper record, 2018’s Love Is Here To Stay with Diana Krall. 

With nothing mailed in on this record, this one is for fans of ’50’s cocktail jazz, standards, classic crooners, and lovers everywhere.

Illuminati hotties – Let Me Do One More

Sarah Tudzin, the singer, songwriter, producer, and overall girl-genius behind the Illuminati Hotties, delivers a solid set of pop-punk tunes that is eccentric, off-kilter at times, and altogether refreshing.

Self glossed as “tenderpunk,” the blend of punk, Indie Rock, Desert Psych, and Pop seems to provide a perfect siren for those late-twenties young adults that are leaving their childhood behind and blasting into full-fledged adulthood.

The bouncy opener “Pool Hopping” is a proper introduction to the band and their genre-hopping ways. “Cheap Shoes” sounds like it could have been a Replacements tune, and “KickFlip” is an aggressively atmospheric doozy.

Pay attention to this record. It has top five of the year written all over it.

Ducks Ltd. – Modern Fiction

All of the cool-band touchstones are present and account for when it comes to the Toronto-based duo, Ducks Ltd. Big Star-worthy jangle-pop chords, Replacements ramshackle splendor, and Indie Rock grandiosity that could have appeared on the Pixies Doolittle record are all represented on this record.

The opener “How Lonely Are You” hits on all cylinders while “Sullen Learning Hope” puts the jangle in jangle pop. “18 Cigarettes” is a slow-burning corker that would have been quite neighborly with The Replacements Let It Be album, and “Twere Ever Thus” has a bit of an Elvis Costello flair in its DNA.

This top-notch listen should put Ducks Ltd. squarely on your Indie Rock Radar as a new band to watch.

Doobie Brothers – Brothers of Liberte

The best thing about Liberte, the new record from The Doobie Brothers, is that they still sound like the Doobie Brothers. The better thing is that they sound like the pre-Michael Mcdonald Doobie Brothers. 

Three of the core members are present and accounted for on this one. Tom Johnston, Pat McFee, and Pat Simmons are all in fine form, singing and playing like it was 1979.

“Oh Mexico” is a lilting country rocker that would fit in quite nicely on a Blackberry Smoke record, “Easy” is pure, vintage Fandango era Doobies, and “Amen Old Friends” will be added to my circle of life playlist to be played at my funeral.

If you were a fan of the band before Takin’ It To The Streets was released, this record is a must-hear for you.

Brandi Carlile – In These Silent Days

In These Silent Days, the latest from Brandi Carlile is quite simply a tour-de-force. With elements of 70’s singer-songwriter along with a genre-defying sensibility courtesy of producers Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings, it wouldn’t be a stretch if we were to find out that Carlile is actually the love child of Elton John and Joni Mitchell.

“This Time Tomorrow” is a beautiful ode to better days, while “Broken Horses” flips the script back to the days of mid-era Dolly Parton, and is a powerful song that might be the best of the set. 

With a voice that floats somewhere South of k.d. Lang and North of Susan Tedeschi with songwriting chops to match, it is a good thing that Carlile has taken time off from riding with the Highwomen and resurrecting Tanya Tucker’s career to deliver one of the best albums of the year.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 24, 2021)

Of course, everything is just a placeholder until the new Robert Plant Alison Krause record is released. In the meantime, The Darkness is ready to roll with their new single, yet another riff on Rick Springfield, Jessie’s Girl. “Jussy’s Girl.” 

Rock is the new Roll favorites Impfstoff & Children have released an intoxicating new single, “Cest La Vie” (Ich nehm dich in ‘Arm.”) We have no idea what this means, but we can’t stop listening to the song or watching the video.

And Colin Hay, the lead singer for Men at Work, delivers an at-home acoustic version of “Wichita Lineman.”

On top of all of that, don’t put your ears away just yet. Give a listen to five new albums that have been delivered for your listening pleasure this week.

The Lathums – How Beautiful Life Can Be

With a sound that will bring to the ear the essence of the Smiths, the Kooks, or the Arctic Monkeys, the Lathums deliver a brand of Jangly indie-pop that is both current and two decades past nostalgic at the same time.

While not forging any new guitar ground here, the infectious “Fight On” has a bit of a Duran Duran undertone to it, while the title track, “How Beautiful Life Can Be,” carries on much like a Stone Roses single. “I’ll Never Forget The Time I Spent With You” is a lost-love tome of the highest order, and there is a whiff of The Dexy’s on “The Great Escape.”

This record won’t solve all of the world’s problems, but if you are looking for a melodic mood setter for a pleasant listen, this might be your jam.

Jesse Malin – Sad and Beautiful World

Taking over from Lou Reed as the king of New York, Jesse Malin has so much to say that he felt he needed a double album to fit it all in. Fifteen songs of all killer, no filler, the first two sides have a gentle American tilt while the last part of the record rocks things up a bit CBGB style. And, both sides of the musical coin are terrific.

“Dance With The System” is a political rocker that would have fit in nicely on a Neil Young and Crazy Horse record, “Before You Go” is an ode to looking after one another, and “Dance on My Grave” is about as good of a losing end of a love story song as you will find all year.

Given that the record was written and recorded in a somewhat fragmented fashion due to various Covid-19 protocols inherent in the recording process, it is surprising that there is a continuous feel flow to the album. “Todd Youth” for our ears is the best cut on the record, but a time investment of just under one hour on this one will make you a better person.

The Shivas Feels So Good//Feels So Bad

As a scorching live band, The Shivas turned their creative juices to the studio since they have not been able to tour since 2019. 

With founding members Jared Molyneaux as singer and Guitarist, along with Kristin Leonard on drums as co-conspirator songwriters, the resulting vibe is contemporary psychedelic, vintage-cool, and go-go worthy hip, sometimes all in the same song.

“Rock Me Baby” has a girl group backed by the Troggs vibe, “Don’t Go” highlights Leonards immense vocal prowess, and “Tell Me That You Love Me” could have been the song played for the first dance at Austin Powers’ wedding. The gang vocals on “If I Could Choose” are worth the price of admission alone.

This textured listen will put your ears on notice that they are about to embark on a most enjoyable time travel journey from days gone by to the present and beyond. 

Mickey Guyton – Remember Her Name

As one of the few women of color to make a name for herself in country music, Mickey Guyton is an overnight sensation ten years in the making. And, it should only take one quick listen of “Remember Her Name,” the opening track from her debut album, to realize that she is a powerhouse, genre be-damned.

The messaging inherent in recognizing differences and embracing who you are is delivered brilliantly in “Love My Hair,” “Black Like Me” is autobiographically stunning, and “Smoke” could have been a woman on fire Tanya Tucker anthem from the ’60s. There is even a drinking song thrown in for good measure with “Rose'” ‘my kind of drink, pretty in pink.’

This album is a vital record from an artist that will be around for a very long time.

Third Eye Blind – Our Bande Apart

Third Eye Blind, yes, the Third Eye Blind of “Semi-Charmed Life” fame has a new record out. And, it is pretty darn good. With this incarnation, their first new record since 2019’s “Screamer,” only singer Stephan Jenkins and drummer Brad Hargreaves remain from the original line-up.

While their latest record doesn’t carry the ear-worm gravitas of their 1997 monster of a debut album, there is no shame in their updated game. Case in point, the wordsmithing wonderment of “Silverlake Neophyte” and the breezy lilt of the opening salvo, Goodbye To The Days of Ladies and Gentlemen.”

Long time fans of the band will not be surprised that this record is a keeper, they have put out eight solid records since 1997, but the joy of reuniting with an old friend to revisit past times and reckless days is where this one goes from nostalgia to sublime reflection in the blink of an ear.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (September 17, 2021)

With a corker of a week, this year is looking to be one of the best in recent memory on the new album front.

Perrenial favorites My Morning Jacket are front and center with a steller song and video, “Love, Love, Love.”

Wet Leg is a band on the rise with their ear-worm-worthy song, “Chaise Lounge.”

And, rockers Dangereens bring out their inner Mott the Hoople and T Rex on the scorching “Thieves.”

The Felice Brothers – From Dreams To Dust

Light and Breezy, From Dreams To Dust, is the first record released by The Felice Brothers since the critically acclaimed Undress in 2019. Leading off with “Jazz on the Autobahn,” a tune that is in contention for song of the year, to the mildly political “To-Do,” the story nuggets on display here are a bit on the eccentric side with a deep affinity for Richmond Fontaine and Deslondes real-life-noir storytelling.

Bringing to mind a slightly less verbose Bob Dylan or a distant relative of James McMurtry, the breezy stroll that the brothers Felice take you on will alter your mind. And, after listening to “Inferno,” you might feel differently about Kurt Cobain.

Charley Crockett – Music City USA

On the shortlist for classic country album of the year, Charley Crockett’s Music City USA covers all of the bases, including George George, Hank Williams, all the way to Bill Withers and beyond.

With the songwriting perfectly complementing his syrupy voice, “Are We Lonesome Yet,” and “The World Just Broke My Heart” are at the head of the class as standout tearjerkers.

The title track harkens back to Hank Sr., and the cover of “Skip A Rope” presented here wanders slightly into murder ballad territory, while “I’m Working” has a bit of New Orleans Jazz tilt. Whether it is Texas Swing, Classic Country, ’80s George Strait, or ’70s Outlaw Country, Charley Crockett can do it all.

Jose Gonzales – Local Valley

Local Valley, his first proper album since 2015’s Vestiges and Claws, spotlights Jose Gonzales at his pastoral best. Part Nick Drake, part Jim James, the virtuoso Lyndsey Buckingham style guitar work against the hushed vocals and textured production make this one a sipping an Americano in the garden listen.

Melodic and existential, “Valle Local” is hypnotic escapism at its best, “Lilla G” has a Belafonte rhythm to it, and the garden vibe of “Honey Honey” is about as calming as a song can get. 

Spend some solitude time with this soul-inspiring, heart-enhancing beauty of a record.

The Delevantes – A Thousand Turns

The Devalantes, brothers Bob and Mike Delevante, offer close-knit, skin-tight harmonies against a backdrop of infectious melodies, taut songwriting, and sparkling musicianship.

Sharing DNA with Neil Young and Tom Petty by way of The Bodeans, “Little By Little” is perfect mid-era Neil Young, “Come and Go” could have been on a 90’s John Hiatt record, and “If You Let It” brings the Everly Brothers into the mix.

There is no bad song on this record. A contemporary ear-guide might be Ray LaMontagne, but every tune presented here seems to sit on its own mantle, each one more tuneful than the last. “Junk Man” is downright Dylanesque, and “A Lot of My Mind” could have been on any of the early Byrds records. This exciting new find will be getting a lot of ear-play for many months to come.

Ronnie Wood & Friends – Mr. Luck: A Tribute to Jimmy Reed (Live at the Royal Albert Hall)

In the second installment of his live album trilogy, Ron Wood and his band released a tribute to Chuck Berry in 2019, now immortalizes Jimmy Reed, one of the founding fathers of the electric blues scene. Recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, this scorching album also features Mick Taylor, Mick Hucknall, Bobby Womack, and Paul Weller.

Sure, the guests are great here, but they never overwhelm the proceedings. The songs, rightly so, are played pretty close to the vest, and it doesn’t take long to hear the influence that Jimmy Reed had on The Rolling Stones. The highlights are many, most notably “Good Lover,” “Rock and Roll Rhumba,” and Paul Weller’s turn on “Shame Shame Shame.”

The solos are electrifying here with guest Mick Taylor, who Ron Wood replaced in the Rolling Stones, swapping licks, and the greasy harmonica will take you back to the delta. 

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 10, 2021)

The weather is cooling off just about the same time that the music is getting hotter. Stay tuned for a barrage of music to be released into the wild in front of the Christmas season.

In the meantime, Miley Cyrus, Elton John, and Yo-Yo Ma team up on a collaboration with Metallica on “Nothing Else Matters.”

Greta Van Fleet, the band that tagged as the next big thing in Rock and Roll, is out with a primo new video for “Built By Nations” from their 2021 L.P. The Battle at Garden’s Gate.

And, Charlie Starr and the boys from Blackberry Smoke deliver on a sublime version of Aerosmith’s “Hangman Jury.”

And, of course, everything is just a placeholder until the new Billy Idol record comes out. Here are five new albums that are tickling our ears this week.

The Vaccines – Back In Love City

Once you get past the aural oddity that the opening refrain of the title track, “Back In Love City,” has a bit of “Built This City,” the Starship hit in its DNA, you can kick back with a power-pop gem of a song and an earworm of the highest order. And the hits, don’t just stop there. 

“Alone Star” is a stadium rousing anthemic ear-de-force, and “Headphones Baby” shows off the band’s lyrical dexterity rhyming Thesaurus with Boris along with Americana and Nirvana on a song that is as euphoric as you will have heard all year.

Set against the fictional metropolis of love city, this one is an escapist record of the highest order and will be towards the top of any reputable end-of-the-year best-of list.

Daniel Romano – Cobra Poems

If there is such a thing as Pop-Swagger, Daniel Romano has it and then some. Along with his band, Daniel Romano’s Outfit, the prolific one, has released more than a dozen records spanning the genres from Matthew Sweet pop to country crooner, singer-songwriter, and beyond. Each one, seemingly better and more interesting than the last one. 

Here, the band exercises all of its powers on a set of songs that range from the Marc Bolan T-Rex-inspired “Tragic Head” to the slow-burning Lynryd Skynyrd meets Elvis Costello aura of “Nocturne Child.” The low and slow road ballad, “The Motions,” a song featuring the band’s secret weapon, Julianna Riolina handling the vocal duties, is worth the price of admission alone. 

Wrap your ears around this one and give it the care it deserves. To the listener go the spoils.

Colleen Green – Cool

There probably is not a better title that could have been chosen for this latest record by Collen Green than Cool. The pace is slow and collegial, with a meandering vibe that will take a few spins to hook you.

From the guitar-pop semi-swagger of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” that brings to the mids-ear just about every Sheryl Crow song to the slow burn of “Highway,” and the almost Krautrock drone of “Natural Chorus,” there is a sense of movement on this record that will drag you along for the ride. 

Heartless Bastards – A Beautiful Life

The Heartless Bastards are a powerful Americana three-piece fronted by vocal powerhouse Erika Wennerstrom. Opening with the anti-gaslighting anthem “Revolution,” the band’s first album in six years, the song pulls no political punches and this Ying to the Yang of “How Low,” that comments on the depths folks will go to achieve what they want regardless of the impact on others. 

The palate of songs presented here is about as diverse as you can get. “Photograph” is a cosmic cowboy, rambling masterpiece worthy of a Grateful Dead jam, “When I Was Younger” could have been a country-crooner classic from the ’70s, and “The River” featuring the violin of Andrew Bird is a swirling beauty.

If you like your Americana with a bit of realism mixed with psychedelic and atmospheric jams, then your ship has just come in.

Samantha Fish – Faster

The best female Blues guitarist this side of Bonnie Raitt, Samantha Fish, has officially delivered her freshest and most consistent record to date. Certainly leaning more towards the rock side of the blues-rock duality, the scorching opening title track sets a rocking mood that would make Lizzy Hale blush. The slinky and evocative “All Ice No Whiskey” veers toward the sensual side, and the closest she gets here to a ballad, “Imaginary War,” rings through like an Alanis Morisette lover scorned anthem. “Crowd Control” would be a perfect song for Bonnie Raitt to cover, and even the semi-reach here, the collaboration with Tech N9ne, is listenable even when the rap and the fury kick are on full display.

Blues, Rock, Pop, all are handled with equal aplomb here. The varied textures displayed along the journey make this a nuanced listen that will check off many favorable Boxes. 

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 3, 2021)

In the ebb and flow of the weekly new records reaching our ears, this week, albeit a little slow, has garnered a few happy hour gems to enjoy. And, after all, everything is just a placeholder until the new Robert Plant Alison Krause record comes out.

With a new E.P. in the works, Bastette is out with a new single in the Halestorm Pretty Reckless mold.

Amythyst Kiah continues to impress, delivering her unique blend of Soul Americana on this performance of “Firewater” from her recently released Wary + Strange record.

And, speaking of horrible band names, Temple Balls are out with their new single and video “Bad, Bad, Bad.”

And if that is not enough, here are five new albums that are getting heavy airplay in the halls of Rock is the new Roll.

Lady Blackbird – Black Acid Soul

A stunning fresh voice, Black Acid Soul, the debut album from Lady Blackbird (Marley Munroe), is a sparsely elegant masterpiece. Accompanied mainly by Deron Johnson, the go-to piano player for Miles Davis, the singer delivers a haunting set of Nina Simone-inspired tunes that could have been released in the ’60s instead of in the present and produced in the legendary Studio B in Sunset Sound.

Reflecting influences as diverse as Billie Holiday, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight, the version of Nina’s “Blackbird” delivered here is a nuanced gem, and “Five Feet Tall” is a torch song with a touch of Amy Winehouse DNA in it. The instrumental title track, as a closer, is a perfect way to wrap up an album that will be considered one for the ages.

Motorists – Surrounded 

Meshing together the irreverent pop-centric qualities of Camper Van Beethoven along with the controlled ramshackle energy of The Replacements, Toronto band Motorists will bring to mind many of your favorite ’80s college-rock bands.

“Vangloirous” has a bit of early REM dusting about it, “Latent Space” throws some krautrock in the mix, and “Walled Garden” has a “Radio Free Europe” vibe going for it. “Turn It Around” even as a Jarvis Cocker and Orange Juice aura that is refreshing to hear. 

This one is about as solid a debut record as we have heard in quite some time.

Pearl & The Oysters – Flowerland

You don’t have to go much past the opener “Soft Science” to figure out the Joire de vie on Flowerland, the latest psychedelic wonder from Pearl & The Oysters.

’60’s French Pop, space-age ’90s pop, and Austin Powers fab-mojo all come together to create a nostalgically forward sounding record that seems lost in time. While Syd Barrett, mid-era Beach Boys, and Jellyfish might be accurate touchpoints for this band, these guys are their very own unicorns. Rather than pick out a single song, this record is better digested as an entire entity. Put the needle down on the opener and let the rest of the album wash over you, enhancing your spirit and adding some soul inspiration to your life.

David Ferguson – Nashville No More

An Americana stalwart, David Ferguson has collaborated with everyone on the scene, including Sturgill Simpson, Charley Pride, Johnny Cash, John Prine, and Cowboy Jack Clement. Now, stepping out on his own with Nashville No More, he delivers on a solid set of tunes that highlight his skills as a singer songwriter in his own right.

Recruiting several of his Nashville pals on this new record, Margo Price joins him on “Chardonnay,” and bluegrass maestro Sierra Hull helps out on “Hard Times Come Again No More.” The cover of “Four Strong Winds” presented here is as good as a version gets, and the Jerry Jeff Walker vocal touch on “Boats to Build” is a homespun-sounding gem.

Gerry Rafferty – Resit in Blue

Collecting a series of demos, some going back as far as 1970, Gerry Rafferty’s daughter Martha has curated a set of songs that focus more on Rafferty vocals than delivering Stealers Wheel B-sides. Deep-cut Rafferty fans will love this record. The foreshadowing opener, “Still in Denial,” is a confessional of sorts as Rafferty died of liver disease in 2011. And, the version of “Dirty Old Town,” as presented here, is as good as it gets.

The song “Lost Highway” would have fit in nicely on any of the ’70s Rafferty solo albums, and, spoiler alert, there is a semi-demo version of “Stuck in the Middle With You,” of course.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (August 21, 2021)

As we barrel toward the end of the year and begin putting together our lists of the best albums of the year, the new releases seem to be regressing to the mean a bit in anticipation of the pre-holiday surge coming up in October.

Rock is the New Roll favorite Valerie June is out with a first-rate video for “Why The Bright Stars Glow” from her recent L.P., The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers.

The ever-prolific Daniel Romano is back delivering his distinct brand of ode to joy with his single “Motions.”

And, the venerable Rolling Stones have released a new song taken from the Tatoo You sessions that present the band at their snarly best.

And if that is not enough, here are five new albums that are tickling our earbuds this week.

Shannon & The Clams – Year of the Spider

Twelve records in, the punk, garage, surf-noir ’60s vibe for Shannon and her clams seems as freshly restored as a ’65 Mustang convertible. And, just as fun. With Dan Auerbach and his band of knob twirlers at Easy Eye Sound once again at the helm on this one, the arrangements seem more robust, and the songwriting is the band’s best to date. The entire package seems to be another step forward in establishing the band as more than a vintage novelty act.

“Mary Don’t Go” shimmers with a surf by way of a girl group vibe, “Leaves Fall Again” has the DNA of a Morricone Western theme, and when Cody Blanchard takes the microphone on “Flowers Will Return,” the results are no less impressive. Multiple listens of this one will yield other-worldly results.

All in, this is a terrific listen with plenty of texture and surprises around every corner to keep things interesting and exotic.

James McMurtry – The Horses and the Hounds

In what might be his best to date, Larry McMurtry, with his latest record, The Horses and the Hounds, shows that the ability to craft a memorable story with believable characters doesn’t fall far from the artistic tree. Every tune on this one is a short story in a song. Whether he is singing about reclaiming a 30-year long-lost love as he does on the opener “Canola Fields” or when he is pondering a friend’s death on “Vaquero,” the passion and intricate feelings of each protagonist is palpable.

There is not a bad song within this set. If you like your short stories with an Americana bent and more than a touch of Rock and Roll, this is your jam.

Lorde – Solar Power

With a calmer and gentler Lorde, less is more for the New Zealand star on her new album, Solar Power. From the title track, a song that would go down perfectly lying in a hammock, the vibe is more like Jack Johnson than Lady Gaga. The exquisitely monikered “Stoned at the Nail Salon” is first-class songwriting, and “Oceanic Feeling” is an escapist lover’s dream.

With a few more albums like this under her belt, Lorde will be exposing herself to an entirely new audience following in Taylor Swift’s footsteps.

Martha Wainwright – Love Will Be Reborn

Here in the offices of Rock is the New Roll, we will stand on Donny and Marie’s coffee table and declare that Rufus and Martha Wainwright are the most talented sibling duo in the singer-songwriter game today. With this, her fifth proper full-length record, Martha lays herself bare with a song cycle coming from a year dealing with loneliness, despair, and a global pandemic. 

There is hope around every turn, however, most notably on “Middle of the Lake,” and “Report Card,” and “Body and Soul.” The production is lush and atmospheric, sufficiently moody where it needs to be and elegiac throughout.

Chrissie Hynde – Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan

Technically released on digital platforms in May, Chrissie Hynde’s tribute to Bod Dylan hit the shelves in physical form this week. Charting the deeper waters of the Dylan Canon, the Pretenders frontwoman wraps herself completely around “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” floats like a butterfly in the petals of the story song “Blind Willie McTell,” and begins the parade with a Pretenders worthy version of “In the Summertime” from the somewhat obscure Dylan album, Shot of Love.

With a prolific display of Dylan tribute records of late, this one stands apart given how deep into the well this one goes and the fact that when you close your eyes and listen to her voice on “You’re A Big Girl Now” in particular, you’d swear you were listening to Bob’s sister.

Five Cool Ones: Five Rockin’ Mind Movers

Time to lose yourself and escape from reality courtesy of these five new Rock and Roll gems.

Ryan Hamilton – Personal Holiday

Another slice of summery pop from Ryan Hamilton in advance of a more fully formed collection to be released later in the year. Written about escaping the day-to-day nightmares of battling through a mental illness, realizing a ride down a highway to paradise would be what the doctor ordered.

Sweet Crisis – Ain’t Got Soul

If you haven’t already done so, take a moment to add these ’70s Cambridge rockers to your hot list of bands to watch. Their latest, “Ain’t Got Soul,” features Pink Floyd guitars, driving grooves, and catchy melodies. In short, everything you love about music all in one song.

Crazy Lixx – Anthem For America

Sleeze-Glam maestros Crazy Lixx are back again celebrating America as only they can. This one will take you right back to Guns ‘N’ Roses era Sunset Strip in the blink of an ear. Don’t over think this one, simply enjoy.

The Temperance Movement – You Fool No One

With Deep long-time Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice sitting in, there is a hint of early Cram on this song that bodes well for a proper full-length record later in the year.

Hayley and the Crushers – She Drives

Part Punk-Pop and part surf band Hayley and the Crushers would have been a perfect band in any of the ’60s beach movies.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (July 30,2021)

Bring out the dancing horses, reach up for the top-shelf bottles, party like it’s 2021. Hear that gong, that’s the sound proclaiming that this is the best week of album releases so far, and the new Jason Isbell record hasn’t even come out yet.

The Black Keys are back with a video from their blues-centric latest Delta Kream.

Rock is the New Roll favorites, Georgia Thunderbolts are coyly teasing our ears with a new single, “Take It Slow.”

And, if you are in the mood for some careening down-the highway head-a banging monster energy, give a spin to this one from Lord Bishop Rocks, a song that features Vernon Reid with a killer guitar solo.

And, don’t bail out on that wave just yet. There’s more. Here are five epic records that are spinning in the offices of Rock is the new Roll this week.

Yola – Stand For Myself

Never shy about extolling the virtues about what they are doing at Easy Eye Sound down there in Nashville, it seems we feature one of their records every week, this time they may have come out with their best of the year with Yola’s new one, Stand For Myself. Building on the foundation of her debut record, Walk Through The Fire, released in 2019, this time out she displays her chops as a first-class songwriter along with all of her other skills,

Blending Americana, Pop, and soul as effortlessly as a bird in flight this time she blends classic ’70s R&B, horns, and vintage organ to create a sound that is vintage-cool while at the same time polished and smooth. The break-out single “Diamond Studded Shoes” evokes Tina at her snarling best, the title track is a burning every-person anthem. The Donna Summer disco splendor of “Dancing Away The Tears” shows off the sonic splendor of a perfect artist-producer pairing the likes of which we haven’t seen since George Martin was in the sandbox with his mates.

Quite possibly the best sophomore release from any artist in recent memory, this one is a keeper that just might be the best Soul record released in the last 10 years.

Bleachers – Take The Sadness Out of Saturday Night

With the band self-professing that this album captures that tipping point when joy finally shoves desperation out of the way, after listening to the ebullient anthem “Don’t Go Dark,” who are we to disagree. Coming in at a tight 33 minutes with the vibe going from low-fi to medium fi at the blink of an ear, the record brings to mind “Pink Floyd” in places, mid-career Bruce Springsteen in others, and The Talking Heads on the catchy “Stop Making This Hurt.”

And, what self-respecting New Jersey band could release a record without a fly-bye from The Boss himself? Here, “Chinatown” would have fit in quite nicely on the Working On A Dream sessions. And, oh yeah before we forget, “Secret Life” features a seductive guest turn from Lana Del Rey.

Durand Jones & The Indications – Private Space

Yet another soul-stirrer of a record from Durand Jones and his band featuring a two-headed monster on vocal duties with Jones and Aaron Frazier handling the hi-low harmonies. Whether you are a new school or old school R&B fan, this one will be right up your street.

“Witchoo” parties down like “Rappers Delight,” “Love Will Work It Out would make Barry White Blush, and “More Than Ever” is a silky-smooth wonder. If Donny Hathaway and Prince were the twin sons of Stevie Wonder and the family formed a trio, their million-selling record would sound like Private Space. If you have been looking for love in all the wrong places, your ship has just come in.

Various Artists – Choctaw Ridge (New Fables of the American South 1968-1973)

This various artists’ compilation mines the country sound that emerged following Bobbie Gentry’s Southern-noir classic “Ode To Billie Joe” her number one hit from 1967.

Riding the type of deep-woods storytelling that could be found between the pages of a Faulkner novel, singers like Jimmy Webb, Lee Hazlewood, and Michael Nesmith took their Nashville outsider status to the deep South to pen tunes that amounted to darker edged boy meets girl songs set on the “other side” of the other side of the tracks.

The song titles pretty much tell it all here whether it is on “The Back Side of Dallas, “Mr. Jackson’s Got Nothing To Do,” or “Chris Gantry’s”If Only She Had Stayed,” every selection has a foreboding of doom and despair right around the corner. 

Selecting a favorite from this lot would be a fools ending, however, if you were to hold a gun to our head during a game of Russian Roulette, feast your ears on “Why Can’t I Come Home” or “Saunders Ferry Lane.”

Nobody’s Girl – Nobody’s Girl

An Austin Americana supergroup of sorts, Nobody’s girl, named after a Bonnie Raitt song, is Betty Soo, Rebecca Loebe, and Grace Pettis. Playing it forward with a vibe that floats somewhere between Fleetwood Mac and Mary Chapin Carpenter the album is a polished gem that never misses a beat over 11 compelling tracks.

“Beauty Way,” a song that could have been on the Tusk record displays guitar player Charlie Sexton prominently, “What’ll I Do”  has a distinct ’80s Ladies dusting to it, good stuff indeed. Dismiss the thought that this may be too slickly produced or too radio-friendly and lose yourself in this wonderfully atmospheric Americana record.