Five Cool Ones: Five Cool Records Released This Week (October 16, 2020)

Things are kickin’ on the music front this week. Plenty of musicians have released songs into the atmosphere in advance of albums to be released in the next 45 days or so, there are a lot of pandemic-centric tunes hitting the streets, and old favorites are reminding us why they are great.

Sir Elton continues to dribble songs we have not previously heard, this time with “Here’s to the Next Time” a song that was originally written with Bernie Taupin in 1967 from his recently released Jewels E.P.

Lana Del Rey takes things low and mostly slow with her ode to lovemaking with “Love Me Like A Woman.”

And, Rock is the New Roll favorite Dave Alvin is back, front and center with a scorching version of Highway 61 Revisited in his own unique Roots Rock fashion.

Here are five really cool records our ears are getting jiggy with this week.

The Struts – Strange Days

Ears, down our favorite real and true Rock and Roll band in the last five years, Luke Spiller along with his band The Struts are back and as Glam-fastic as ever. Wearing the Queen, Def Leppard, and AC/DC crown with honor, this new record dials down the showmanship and dials up the guitar riffs most noticeably on “Cool” and “Wild Child,” a song that features Tom Morello. This is a band that is maturing before our very ears, heck they even throw in an “Angie” style ballad that is part Rolling Stones and part Black Crowes. Strap your ears on and enjoy. Just start on song number two and skip the title track that features Robbie Williams. But the literal call-in from Def Leppard’s Joe Eliot on “I Hate How Much I Want You” on the chorus is wicked fun.

Low Cut Connie – Private Lives

One of our favorite bands of recent vintage has released one of our favorite records of the year. Becoming known as one of the bands on President Obama’s personal playlist as well as for their incendiary live shows and over the top quarantine sessions, Andrew Weiner and his bandmates are delivering piano rock to the masses the likes of which we haven’t seen since the early Leon Russell days. Favorites are sprinkled all over this thing with standouts that include the title track, the slow burn of “Help Me,” a song we all need to help us hang in there during troubled times, and the almost Dawes evoking “Take A Little Ride Downtown.” This is a terrific set of tunes that deserve to have more ears sent their way.

Herbie Mann: It’s A Funky Thing: The Very Best of Herbie Mann

Taking a walk on the Jazzy side of the fence, the great Flautist Herbie Mann is out with the greatest hits package that is perfect for the Jazz aficionado, lovers of the mojo vibe of the ’60s, or just folks that like great music in general. Spit polished with enhanced quality versions of the classics, every song on this one is a classic must-hear magic carpet ride. Not quite like the originals in some cases, there are several versions and renditions on this that feature vocalists including Tamiko Jones on “A Man and a Woman,” Carmen McRae on “Live For Life,”  and Cissy Houston on Cajun Moon. The song “Push Push Pt. 1” presented here is worth the price of admission alone and “Respect Yourself” is perfectly sublime.

Seaway – Big Vibe

With more hooks than an episode of Dangerous Catch Canadian Pop-Funk outfit Seaway offers up an anthemic brand of Festival Rock that is as exuberant as it is hooky. The ’80’s Power Pop influences are floating around this one for sure, but ’90’s Indie-Punk in the Green Day mold may be a better touchpoint.” Still Blue” is a festival-ready, if festivals ever become a thing again, romper, “Sweet Sugar” takes things a bit slower and even has a scent of The Cars, and “Peach” could easily have been an ’80s Cheap Trick tune. This one is the ’80’s Teen movie soundtrack from a film that was never made.

Joey Molland – Be True To Yourself

As the sole remaining member of Badfinger and 1 of only 2 members of the band that did not commit suicide, Pete Ham died in 1975 and Tom Evans passed away in 1983, Joey Molland is keeping the spirit of one of the best Power Pop Bands ever to strum a chord very much alive in 2020. Lush and Beatlesque to the core, just like Badfinger, this record is a bit of a throw-back with a lot of present-day spit and polish thrown in for good measure. Produced by Mark Hudson, of the Hudson Brothers’ fame along with serving as part of The Boneyard Boys a group of songwriters that wrote a bunch of the latter-day Aerosmith hits, Hudson produced records for Neil Diamond and Ringo Starr among others. An extremely likable listen,  there are elements of Ringo and George Harrison solo efforts here as well as a whiff of Jeff Lynn and Electric Light Orchestra thrown in for good measure. “Better Tomorrow” is a G. Harrison inspired highlight as is the E.L.O. measured tones of “All I Want To Do.”

We certainly can’t have Badfinger Back, but mad props to an artist that had gone through hell and back again for the sake of his art.

 

 

What We’re Listening To Sunday (October 11, 2020)

The wheels are turning and the tunes are spinning sometimes faster than we can keep up. So many great bands, so little time. Here are some of the bands and artists we have been checking out this week.

Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts

Ever since his band broke up over record company legal wrangling ex Biters frontman Tuk Smith has been plotting his return to the big time with the formation of his new band The Restless Hearts. Luckily, we are treated with a few little breadcrumbs in the form of some sweet singles as an appetizer to the main course to be delivered early 2021.

Christopher Shayne – Pour the Bottle

Sort of a devil hybrid of Guns ‘N’ Roses and ZZ Top, this guy throws down hard-edged Southern Rock with an edge that would make Blackberry Smoke blush.

Carla Bruni – Rien Que L’extase

Translated from French as “Nothing But Extasy we would say that description is pretty spot-on in describing this va-voom live video from chanteuse Carla Bruni’s latest record, Carla Bruni. Just to see the sleeves cut-off Harley T she is sporting is worth the price of admission alone on this one.

Haybaby – Get Down

Sort of Grunge Pop this slow build anthem to being comfortable in your own skin reaches deep into the soul and stays there for a while.

Goat Girl – Sad Cowboy

This lose yourself swirling Techno-Pop beauty is in advance of a new record, On All Fours, coming out later in the year.

 

Five Cool Ones: Five (More) Reasons Rock Is Not Dead

Proving once again that Rock is not dead, you just have to look a bit harder to find it, here are five artists that are waiving the Rock and Roll flag.

JJ Wilde – Ruthless

At the tender age of 26, rocker JJ Wilde quit the three jobs she was working and sold her soul for Rock and Roll. Self-describing her style as raw, rough, and full of honesty her latest record Ruthless shimmers, smolders, and burns like a female Jack White.

The Glorious Sons – A War On Everything

Already an arena-ready band when they first hit our ear-waves, The Glorious Sons is a timeless, taut slice of Rock and Roll heaven. Meandering from straight-ahead Rock and Roll one moment to low and slow-burning in the Bad Company mold the next, with songs as tight as “Spirit To Break” along with the gloriousness of the title track from 2019’s A War On Everything it’s a real wonder why these guys are not more well known.

The Luka State – Rooms On Fire

There may not be a better-monikered album in 2020 than The Luka States latest record, Rooms on Fire. Hailing from Chesire, England these young cats are announcing themselves quite nicely with their mini-album, 7 songs clocking in at just under 22 minutes. There is no time to rest here as each song seems to build on the last with the intensity and bombast increasing incrementally. From the stunning “[Insert Girls Name Here]” to the euphoric “Feel It” if this one doesn’t make you feel alive there is something wrong with you.

The Blue Stones – Let It Ride

The Blue Stones, essentially Tarak Jafar on lead vocals and guitar along with Justin Tessier (drums and backing vocals). are slow-walking their first proper record to be released later in the year with a succession of highly listenable Rock and Roll Nuggets leaving us most definitely wanting more. “Let It Ride” is a Black Keys style rocker, and “Careless” has more of an R&B flair to it.

The Blinders – Fantasies of A Stay At Home Psychopath

Already scorching the earth as one of the bands that should restore your faith in Rock and Roll, The Blinders have already taken over their adopted home town of Manchester and are poised to take over the rest of the world. With a visceral Post-Punk attitude their unique approach to their craft almost deserves its own genre, Punk-Adelic would pretty much fit the bill.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (October 9, 2020)

What the selections lack in quantity this week they are more than making things up with the subtle nuances inherent in many of the releases. Given that the Christmas release blackout period is right around the corner lets try to savor some gems while we can.

If you were asking yourself if we needed another Elton John greatest hits re-packaging like we are getting in his latest hits-fest, Diamonds, the answer would be a resounding “heck no, enough already.” But, if living with this excess means we get to hear the psychedelic splendor of a never before released John/Taupin composition called “Regimental Sgt. Zippo,” color us all in.

And, if that is not cool enough for your delicate ears, AC/DC is back with the prodigal son Brian Johnson returning to the fold in fine vocal form. Their new record, Power Up, will blast your ears off in November.

And, if you are looking for a little more musical diversity, there’s always room on the Jazz train and the Big Band of Brothers celebration of all things Allman Brothers.

Here are five particular cool nuggets our ears were hip to this week.

Blue Oyster Cult – The Symbol Remains

Even though they never really have stopped touring, Blue Oyster Cult’s latest record The Symbol Remains is the band’s first proper record since 2001’s Curse of the Hidden Mirror. And, what a record this one is. With only two members remaining from the classic lineup in Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom, there is still a lot of rock in the roll energy exuded on virtually every track. Careening between classic hard rock, blues boogie, AOR, stadium anthems, and even rootsy garage rockers, the album is almost a track by track historical tour of the band’s entire career.

The lead-off single “That Was Me” could have easily snuggled in there on Agents of Fortune right there between “True Confessionals” and “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” “Box In My Head” is a perfect complement that belongs in the Secret Treaties era, and “Stand and Fight” is a perfectly framed biker anthem. Favorites include the Jon Lord organ inflected “The Return of St. Cecile” that has sort of a “Boy’s Are Back In Town” vibe, and “Train True (Lennie’s Song) is a high-stepping rockabilly rave-up.

Recorded and mixed mostly during a pandemic the production value is first-rate, the mixing polished as tight as the skin on an apple, and the sequencing and tempo changes are as ear-pleasing as you can get. I am not sure if Blue Oyster Cult has anything left in the tank after this magnificent effort, but unlike some of their ’70s rock peers including recently Tesla, Def Leppard, and Black Oak Arkansas, all releasing tepid album versions of their former selves, this new record rivals some of the bands best work, era be damned.

Bahamas – Sad Hunk

Sad Hunk is the fifth studio record that Afie Jurnaven has recorded under his moniker Bahamas making us glad that this Canadian artist has stepped out from backing the likes of Feist and Jason Collett to wander into his own space. Flowing like a bit more amped up Jack Johnson there is even a bit of the spirit of Prince in the two opening songs “Trick To Happy” and “Own Alone.” There is a spirited ’70s Folk-Rock soul on “Done Me No Good” and “Can’t” complain evokes the ghost of Cat Stevens. The song “Less Than Love” would have fit in quite nicely on Boz’ Silk Degrees. This one is the sorely needed escapist chill vibing beautiful noise you need in your life right now.

The Budos Band – Long in the Tooth

As referenced in the album title itself, this Staten Island-based horn-centric band has been around a long time, and yet still seem to be as vibrant as ever. Blending African rhythms, N.O. style second-line horns, funky organs, and psychedelic swirls into an eclectic mix of groovy soundscapes. The song “Sixth Hammer” has a baritone sax solo that will rattle your skeleton, “Snake Hawk” could have been used as the soundtrack for any ’60s science fiction movie, and “Dusterado” is a classic spaghetti Western gunfight in the middle of main street fare. Brevity is the order of the day on this record with no song exceeding 4:00 and most of them in the 3:00 or less range giving less room for expanded riffing and provides for a more textured and varied listen.

Garcia Peoples – Nightcap at Wits End

When a jam band decides to focus a bit more and write songs for those of us that don’t have the attention span to listen to 18-minute open-ended twin-guitar wranglings the results can be pretty ear-pleasing. Here, New Jersey’s own Garcia Peoples have distilled their sound into a less is more set of tunes that provides the listener with a perfect representation of the band in 12 songs weighing in at just under 49 minutes.

The through-line stretching out from from the  Prog-lite of “Altered Times,” the Grateful Dead-inspired psychedelic inspiration of “Painting a Vision That Carries,” along with the Jefferson Airplane by way of Krautrock drone of “A Reckoning” will give you a glimpse of an immensely talented band that certainly will garner more ears into the fold with this set of highly digestible and enormously addicting tunes.

Brothers Osborne – Skeleton

As much as I have been really trying not to like Brothers Osborne with the Nashville hits-factory stench we rightly or wrongly associate with brothers John and T.J. Osborne, my ears won’t fail me now and with their latest long-player, Skeleton, they have suckered me back in. Here, on their third album the Rock and Boogie is amped up a bit more and the Honky Tonk vibe takes on more of an Outlaw Country flavor with a bit of Rock and a little bit of Roll thrown in for good measure. The opener “Lighten Up” is an out and out rocker and should be a terrific festival anthem, “All Night” is a bit of Bro-Country, but when done this earnestly that is not such a bad thing, and the spirit of Mighty Merle even joins the party on “Back on the Bottle.”

Throw in “Dead Man’s Curve,” definitely no relation to the Jan and Dean song, a burning tune of redemption as long as you make it through dead man’s curve, along with the gentle glide of “High Note” and what you have here is a band that blends Country, Pop, Rock, and Americana better than pretty much anyone in the business. And that is a beautiful thing and a feast for the ears.

 

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (10/2/2020)

The gems are out there this week, for sure, but you just need to dig a bit deeper. Bon Jovi is out with yet another record, The Drive-By Truckers show up, and there’s even a hint of Brian Johnson making a comeback with AC/DC. Rock is the New Roll favorite Glen Hughes and his band The Dead Daisies are out with yet another single from the new record, c’mon boys, release the album already.

Orianthi is proving she does her best work without her ball and chain Bon Jovi’s Richie Sambora.

And, Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown are returning us to Rock and Roll sanity with their new Covic-19 burst of energy.

And, if that’s not enough, here are five records our ears have been hipped to this week.

Dawes – Good Luck With Whatever

Dawes is one of those bands that is a bit like your favorite sweater. It has been around a while, is supremely comfortable, and you know just where to find it when you need a little warmth in your life. And, Good Luck With Whatever the seventh album from Laurel Canyon rockers Dawes is pretty much what everybody needs right about now. Never straying too far from the Dawes California cool by way of Jackson Browne vibe there are nuggets everywhere to enjoy. “Still Feel Like a Kid” provides the health advice that it is ok to age but try not to get old, “St. Augustine At Night” celebrates the simple life and the simple joys and familiarity one’s home-town, and “Who Do You Think You’re Talking To” breezes along in a “Somebody’s Baby” sort of way Jackson Browne way. Recorded at the historic RCA studios in Nashville and produced by super knob-twirler Dave Cobb, this is Dawes at the absolute height of their powers.

The Nude Party – Midnight Manor

Over the last couple of years, Rock and Roll bands like Rookie, White Reaper, and Massive Wagons have announced themselves as one of the torch-bearers of good old-fashioned feel-good Rock and Roll. And, the boys in Nude Party with their latest record Midnight Manor as exhibit A, certainly deserve to be mentioned in that Pantheon. It is not often that a sophomore record can outshine a stellar debut, but here, in this case, the band has definitely stepped their game up several musical notches. Sure there are touch-points plenty, The Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, T-Rex, just to name a trio of them, but make no mistake, this band is their own unique animal. The opener, “Lonely Heather” shares some DNA with Mott’s “All The Way From Memphis,” “Shine Your Light” will bring to mind Todd Rundgren, and “Thirsty Drinking Blues” is epic-era Jagger and the Stones. “Pardon Me Satan” even has a bit of a Latin tinge to it to add even more diversity to a record that satisfies at every turn. Don’t be surprised if this one gets some best album votes when the end of the year rolls around.

Queen + Adam Lambert – Live Around the World

Putting aside that there will be those that will not give this record, or this version of the band, the ear-time of day, here at Rock is the New Roll we have always felt that putting Freddie’s Olympian vocal prowess aside, Queen was always been about the masterful songwriting and the next-level musicianship courtesy mostly of guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. And here, Queen fans get to experience the absolute power of a fully formed Queen concert in front of their very ears. On this set, concert footage from all parts of the globe including Brazil, England, Australia, and beyond has been compiled into a greatest hits package that will blow your ears away and soothe your rock and roll soul. Personal highlights are the scorched-earth version of “Hammer to Fall,” the now-iconic recreation of the Live-Aid performance of “Radio Ga Ga,” and the anthemic “We Will Rock You”/”We Are The Champions” that fittingly brings the record to a climactic conclusion.

Hello Forever – Whatever It Is

Pay close attention to this band. In an era where it seems to be cool to jump in the studio, cut 12 songs in 3 days, and release a record to the unsuspecting public, this Psych-Pop group tracked their debut record, Hello Forever, over 200 individual recording sessions, time very much well spent based on the pristine production and attention to detail that is on full display on virtually every song of this fine album. The Brian Wilson soaring and background harmony influence is definitely a call-out here as is Vampire Weekend and Electric Light Orchestra. And, the elongated vocal runs courtesy of lead singer and songwriter Samuel Joseph are definitely Freddie Mercurian. If you like Doo-Wop, Soul, Arena Rock, or even West Coast Folk-Rock, then this highly polished record is your go-to jam.

The Jaded Hearts Club – You’ve Always Been There

What do you get when putting together a band that consists of front-men from two different bands, Miles Kane (Last Shadow Puppets) and Nic Cester (Jet), along with various members of Blur, Muse, and The Zutons? One hell of a covers, and more band, that’s what. Chock full of semi-obscure Motown covers and semi-known rock classics you will know by ear if not by name, this record will take you on a drive down nostalgia avenue in a convertible with the roof down. Most of these tunes fully stick the landing, most notably the version of The Four Tops “Reach Out “I’ll Be There” and Screaming Jay’s “I Put A Spell On You.” But, speaking truth to power, “Fever” is best left unheard and Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again” that starts things out as a sort of introduction weighing in at just under one minute could have easily been left out. And realistically, does anyone want to hear any rendition of “Money, That’s What I Want” in this day and age?

Five Cool Ones: Five (More) Reasons Rock Is Not Dead

Ok, after having embarked on a little bit of a Tesla and Whitesnake binge of late I am firmly convinced that real Rock and Roll is definitely not dead. You just need to know where to look.

Austin Gold – You Got It All

One of the up and coming Arena Rock bands making music right now. Austin Gold is a sort of Foo Fighters Bad Company Hybrid.

Brother Firetribe – Night Drive

Pretty much, by definition, the coolest driving song of 2020, this one is from the bands 2020 release Feel The Burn, a Melodic Roc classic in the Night Ranger mold.

White Dog – Abandon Ship

A good Old fashioned Rock and Roll Band in the James Gang Mold. Don’t sleep on these guys, they are the real Rock and Roll deal.

Taylor Locke – Dying Up Here

Having played with Sparks and co-founded the band Rooney, there should be no questioning Taylor Locke’s Rock and Roll credentials.

Dirty Princess Band – The Man Vs. The Chevy Van

This audacious debut from this bnand has been described as the Shangri-La’s on ecstasy. And hey, who’s to say they’re wrong.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (September 25, 2020) we

I know, it’s pretty hard to believe but there are only 12 more weeks of ear savoring music to enjoy before the end of the year. Heck, it’s almost time to start working on our world-famous end of the year list.

The Rolling Stones have a newly remastered, and very expensive, Steel Wheels Live package out that is really cool.

Blue Oyster Cult is back and even better than ever with a new record to be released in October.

And, Rock is the New Roll favorites First Aid Kit has released a Swedish language version of their song “Come Give Me Love.”

On top of all that, here are five new records that demand some ear-time.

The Buckleys – Daydream 

The Buckleys are a sibling trio from Byron Bay, Australia. Ranging in age from 17 to 20, Sarah Grace, Lachlan, and Molly have firmly entrenched themselves in the Nashville music machine resulting in their debut record Daydream that is as spit-polished to a fine sheen as you would expect. Despite the mostly mainstream scent on this record, the 80’s ladies country vibe is pleasing to the ear. “Crazy Like You” even rocks it up a bit and “Woodstock69” is fast becoming one of our favorite songs of the year. Who wouldn’t want to dance like a hippy beneath a full moon?

The Band of Heathens – Stranger

With Band of Heathens, not since The Alice Cooper Band has there been a band that is nothing like the image that their moniker might imply. This time out there is not a lot of straying from their normal template with various brands of lone star Blues, country-tinged Americana, Roots Rock, Southern Rock and good old-fashioned Rock and Roll all on full display. There is even a cowbell front and center on the song “Dare.” With just the right mix of storytelling alongside political commentary it is clear that if the goal was to one-up themselves following their highly excellent 2017 release Duende, then, mission fully accomplished.

Bette Smith – The Good, The Bad and the Bette

With her career a bit delayed by her father who felt that a musical career outside the church was wrong, Bette was mentored by Squirell Nut Zipper Jimbo Mathis who encouraged her to come down to Mississippi with him to record her debut record, 2017’s Jetlagger. Returning to the scene of the crime with Mathis once again in tow, this time out Patterson Hood and the rest of the Drive-By Truckers were engaged as producers giving a bit of a roots-rock edge to the Country Soul sound. “Fistfull of Dollars” is a mojo in the dojo ’60s romp, “Signs and Wonders” evokes a bit of Tina Turner, and the closing tear-jerker “Don’t Skip out on Me” tells the story of a couple just trying to keep things together. Mariachi horns and all.

Cayucos – Blue Summer

The allure of the surf and the sand is definitely calling your name the very instant that you drop the needle down on Blue Summer, the latest Surf-Pop extravaganza from L.A. sunshine band Cayucos. Beach Boys touch-points are obvious for sure, but this one goes a bit deeper than that. The tones, textures, harmonies, and knob twirling are varied and all-in ear-pleasing. And the twin brothers at the core of this band Zach and Ben Yudin, never really take themselves too seriously. “Malibu ’79 Long” is a clever homage to “Good Vibrations,””From the Rafters” is full-on “Surfin U.S.A.,” and “California Girl” is most probably the convertible top-down driving song of the year. This is the love letter to summer that you really need right now.

Lydia Loveless – Daughter 
Lydia Loveless has always had that perfect mix of country smooth and Rock and Roll swagger. And now, she is back and better than ever with her latest record, Daughter. Clearly wearing here life well lived heart on her sleeve, this time out she shows a bit more of her vulnerable side most notably on the opener “Dead Writer.” Having made a love-following move from her native Ohio to North Carolina after a tumultuous couple of years since 2016’s Real, Loveless appears to have come out the other side as feisty and no-nonsense as she has been her entire career.

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

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

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

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

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

Ace Frehley – Origins Vol.2

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

Matt Berry – Phantom Birds

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

Babylon Circus – State of Emergency

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

Cults – Host

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

Jealous of the Birds – Peninsula

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Delta Spirit – What Is There

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

Matt Costa – Yellow Coat

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

Elizabeth Cook – Aftermath

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

Texas – Southside Demo’s

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

Gasoline Lollipops – All The Misery Money Can Buy

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

 

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

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

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

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

Pineapple Thief – Versions of the Truth

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

Declan McKenna – Zeros

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

Hayes Carll – Alone Together Sessions

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

San Cisco – Between You And Me

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

Grant-Lee Phillips – Lightning, Show Us Your Stuff

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