Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (January 27, 2023)

Of course, everything is just a placeholder while waiting for the new Metallica album to hit our shores, but in the meantime, there are a lot of new records to hit our earbuds.

The Power Pop splendor of The Push Puppets is a refreshing new find.

Sunset Strip retro rockers Backstreet Girls are out with a Sleaze-Glam rocker, “Too Cool For You.”

And, Golden Richards, a Power Pop band with hooks-a-million in the Fountains of Wayne and Cheap Trick mold has a cool new single out with “Shake Your Hair.”

But, enough of the pre-game hype. We do the work so you don’t have to. Here are five choice cuts to savor this week.

The Shang Hi Los – Aces Eights & Heartbreaks

That rare band with dueling male-female singers, Dan Kopko and Jen Angora, The Shang Hi-Los, create a beautiful noise mixing Phils Spector girl group and Cheap Trick by way of Blondie Power Pop into a mai-tai blender of semi-retro coolness.

Hailing from Boston, filling out the band with maestros from the area music scene, there is nary a dud inherent in this set of firecracker tunes. The opener, “Takes One To Know You” is Cheap trick with a Badfinger sensibility, “Monsieur Valentine” would have gone over well at CB GB’s in the ’80s with Debbie Harry behind the microphone, and “Plymouth Rock” has a bit of a Pretenders scent wafting in the air. And then there’s “Billy” with its over-the-top mariachi horns a song that is perfect Tarantanio-noir fare.

This record is a blast of a new find worth your extended ear time. Hard to believe, but it’s true. This cool album actually lives up to the cool band name.

White Reaper – Asking For A Ride

To our ears, the Rock album of the year may have just self-presented with White Reapers’ fourth proper record, Asking For A Ride. Over three years past their breakthrough single “Might Be Right,” with this one the band may have just painted their masterpiece.

Part Zenyatta Mondatta era police, part Black Sabbath, with a dose of the MC-5 and The Ramones for good measure, from the opening salvo of the title track you are hit between the ears with an aural blast of atomic energy that is as transformative as music can get without landing you in jail.

From “Asking For A Ride” and on to “Bozo” and “Fog Machine” the guitar and drum attack is relentless, and it is not until four songs in with “Getting Into Trouble W/The Boss” that the poppier side of the band shows through. And, with the Oasis evoking “Heaven or Not” it is clear that the time spent between records honing their craft and curating their sound has the band coming out the other side with a solid release that should stand the test of time.

The Foreign Films – Magic Shadows

With “Midnight Movies,” the opening track of the new album from Bill Majoros, dba The Foreign Films, the tone-setting begins with a dose of Kinksian butterfly splendor in the Schoolboys In Disgrace mold. And, once the second track kicks in with the All Things Must Pass George Harrison vibe on “Rain Clouds (Sunshine In Your Heart)” your minds-ear will be setting the coordinates directly towards cool.

With “Perfect Future,” a song that could have been on any David Bowie Dogs era record, and once the hippy-dippy Donovan dusted “Sparks In the Dark (Merry-Go-Round)” kicks in you will be left hoping that the time machine that took you back to 1965 has enough volts left in the tank to get you home.

Speaking of time machines, the song “Time Machine” will have you yearning for the days of The Dave Clark Five, and there is more than a little bit of Electric Light Orchestra landing on “Cinema Girl (Magic Shadows).” Pound for pound greta, this record, with its textured and fluid Joie-de-vie tickling your ears, will likely resurface once the end-of-the-year lists hit the presses.

David Ronaldo – Tunes For A Dime

A bit too country to be classified as Rock, not quite outlaw enough to ride the wind with Waylon and Jamey Johnston, David Ronaldo, with his new record, Tunes For A Dime, David lands right there in the Sturgill Simpson, Steve Earle universe with Tennesee whiskey, reefers, and wine the order of the day.

Deftly mixing Rock, Barroom Blues, and Country in equal measures, it is hard to imagine the driving ZZ Top adjacent “Laid-Back & Easy” not being a crowd-pleaser in any, pick-your-poison, juke joint where Ronaldo might be playing.

Sure, there is a miss-step along the way here, most notably on “Shadows Walking,” A song that is much too close to the Bon Jovi “Wanted Dead Or Alive” bone, and the environmental challenge of “What Have You Really Done” where the music doesn’t really fit the lyrics, but overall this is a solid listen with over the top guitar work that scorches the earth with a double bill of ZZ Top and Delbert McClinton evoking splendor.

The Arcs – Electrophonic Chronic

The Arcs, the side-piece band for the Black Keys singer-songwriter and Easy Eye Sound major-domo Dan Auerbach, are out with one of the more eclictically cool records of the year with Electrophonic Chronic.

With shades of R&B with “Heaven is a Place,” the yacht rock-adjacent Hall and Oates vibe of “Keep On Dreaming,” and the “Crimson and Clover” dusting on the intro to “Eyes” there is a warm familiarity to the proceedings here that makes this one sound vintage and fresh at the same time, a gift that is Auerbach’s superpower.

Making full use of the instruments available to him at Easy Eye, “River” has a old-school soul organ sound that comes acrsoss like Leon Bridges covering “Take Me To The Water,” and the piano-pop wondermint of “Sunshine” floats along like early era Bee-Gees. Once you get to “A Man Will Do Know Wrong” it is clear that the studio is a co-conspirator on this record taking on a life of its own much in the way that Muscle Shoals was the co-star for all those Soul albums back in the day.

Listen to this one once, twice, then thrice. A new experience will unfold with each subsequent tracking, and they are all glorious to behold.

Five Cool Ones – Five New Albums Released this week (January 20, 2023)

Now we’re rolling, the month is careening into high gear with a bevy of fine morsels to savor.

The fine folks at Big Stir records are out with “Anchors Away,” a nautical video that features Maple Mars from their highly excellent 2022 release, Someone’s Got To Listen.

And, speaking of Rock is the New Roll favorites, Easy Eye Sound, their latest entry, The Velveteers, have a snarling new video out with “Choking.”

And, if all of that is not enough, retro popster Nick Waterhouse throws down his 60’s crooner vibes on “Hide and Seek.”

Of course, it’s all foreplay in anticipation of the main event and the five choice nuggets released this week.

Maneskin – Rush

With the slow burn rush of singles that were dribbled out to the masses, Maneskin, depending on your point of view, is either a guilty pleasure, or the next big thing.

Combining the eclectic glam mix of Queen, Abba, The Struts, Sweet, and the Village People, the vibe us all fun all of the time. Perfectly framed for the festival circuit, whether your jam is “Gossip,” a song that features Tom Morello, or “Supermodel” the entirety of this record is an E-Ticket Disney ride of the highest order.

Don’t sleep on “Mammamia,” a song released earlier in the year, but equally bombastic. There is not a cut on this record that is not a glam-stomper.

The Baboon Show – God Bless You All

This Swedish rock and roll band that features the dynamic lead singer Cecilia Bostrom is not so quietly establishing themselves as one of the best live acts on the planet. The opening track of their latest L.P., “Made Up My Mind” is definitely a case in point.

Ten records, in The Baboon Show is still a rock and roll show on a platter. Cecilia’s vocals are a somewhat an acquired taste, picture Axl Rose, Meatloaf, and Cherie Curie in your minds ear, but once the familiarity settles in, the uniqueness becomes an asset.

The opener, “Made Up My Mind” is a propulsive rocker and” Have a Party With Me” mixes things up a bit with guitar player and main songwriter Hakan Sorle jumping in on the vocals.

Not for the faint of heart, but if you are looking for one hell of a party record you wouldn’t be too wrong turning up the dials on The Baboon Show.

Black Star Riders – Wrong Side of Paradise

With Wrong Side of Paradise former Thin Lizzy ax player Ricky Warwick leads his Black Star Riders through another master class in rock and roll on this, their fifth proper record.

Throwing down an anthemic blend of ferocious guitars and thundering drums, most notably on the Thin Lizzy pitch perfect vibes of “Better Than Saturday Night,” and the 60’s garage rock splendor of “Pay Dirt,” there is nary a miss-step here, unless, of course you choose to throw shade on the questionable choice to include “Crazy Horses,” an Osmond Brothers cover, in the set.

The Black Star Riders with their singular mission to preserve all that is good in rock and roll have definitely scored another winner here.

Butch Walker – Butch Walker as … Glenn

Adopting the persona of piano man Glenn, singer, songwriter, producer Butch Walker adopts the role of a piano player regulated to applying his trade in dive bars playing for half-listening drunk patrons. A sequel of sorts to Billy Joel’s character on “Piano Man.”

That’s not to say that these are simply a set of snoozer tunes, every song presented here is pretty stellar. “Roll Away (Like a Stone)” could have been a Boz Scaggs “Lido” B side, “Tell Me I’m Pretty (Bethamphetamine Pt 2)” rolls out like a Springsteen rager, while “State Line Fireworks” has the pastiche of the great Jim Steinman and Meatloaf.

Overall, Butch Walker as … Glenn is a semi-easy listening gem that will have a definite appeal to those ears of a certain age.

The Bad Ends – The Power and the Glory

It would be reaching a bit to call this band a supergroup given the only legitimate universally known member of the band is R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry with the rest of the band filled out by stellar talent from the Athens, Ga music scene present and past.

With a solid mix of college rock, back in the day, evoking tunes and pathos driven tender ballads, this record definitely was made for these times as the band grapples with loss, change, and decay offering up an antidote to doom scrolling and negative vibes.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (January 13, 2023)

Back in the saddle and ready to roll for 2023, Bernie Sparrow, Jeremy Wren, Jimmy the Finch, Cletus Crow, Nigel Owl, and the rest of the staff at Rock is the new Roll is gearing up for another great year of good music and good vibes.

Rock is the New Roll favorite Indie popster Brett Dennen is out front and center with his ode to the new year with “This Is Going To Be The Year.”

The Nude party is gearing up for a new record later in the year with the infectious new sing “Ride On” where they deftly and without a net rhyme Mexico, a vaquero named Alfredo, and Mexico.

And, if you are not hip to the Nervous Eaters, take this opportunity to check out this band that combines the Velvets with 80’s Loverboy vibes on their latest “Last Chance.”

But, enough of all that, here are five new records to savor this week.

CVC – Get Real

CVC, Church Village Collective, is a Welsh band that favors tight CSN harmonies, breeze-pop tunes, and yacht rock adjacent melodies. With this, their first proper record following up on 2022’s Real to Real.

From the opening salvo courtesy of “Hail Mary” the sonic palate of ’80s influenced AOR widescreen classic rock is front and center with its Christopher Cross by way of America vibe, while “Knock Knock” takes you on a trip into Little River Band territory.

The band was heavily influenced by their parent’s respective record collections, most notably, Wings, Neil Young, and REO Speedwagon. With the song “Anogo,” try picturing in your minds ear the Electric Light Orchestra singing doo-wop, and you will get a sense of how cool and eclectic this record is.

Margo Price – Strays

Opening this song-set by proclaiming that she has been to the mountain and back is a strong declaration that Margo Price is back and better than ever once again shape shifting her sound, this time into a cross of the Pretenders Chrissie Hynde backed by Crazy Horse, and indeed it is cool.

Not as confessional as you might think it would be, she saves that for her memoir, here she embarks on a set of story songs including “Light Me Up,” with an assist from Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, and “Radio” with Sharon Van Etten that takes the ears for a ride to the glory days of AOR radio on a song that could have been a Fleetwood Mac single back in the day.

Often times, subtle mood-shifts and turns are the sign of a confident artist that is in control of her own art, and that is certainly the case here. The flow from breezy to contemplative to downright fun will have you returning to this record for months to come.

Whitehorse – I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying

On their latest record I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying, Whitehorse, the husband-and-wife duo named after the Capital of Yukon, Canada, channel the best of the ’60s Country male-female partnerships in the George and Tammy mold to sublime perfection.

Transported quickly to your favorite honkytonk from the opening lap-steel teer in your beer beauty “If The Loneliness Don’t Kill Me” to the mournful “I Might Get Over This (But I Won’t Stop Loving You)” this set puts the classic in classic country.

Belle and Sebastian – Late Developers

Indie pop heroes Belle and Sebastian are fresh out of the box with another pristine record of power pop goodness.

Stylistically, few bands blend musical tones and textures better than this band, and here case in point, “Give A Little Time,” a bouncy up-tempo wonderment that even features a dusting of a Thin Lizzy influence. “Will I Tell You A Secret” would make Donovan blush, and “So In The Moment” is the first great driving tune of 2023.

With songs as strong as the “Juliet Naked,” and the semi-funk “When You’re Not With Me,” we are calling our shot now. This record will be in contention for record of the year. It’s that good.

The Subways – Uncertain Joys

For those not in the know, The Subways are a British rock band from Welwyn Garden city that is influenced by Oasis, AC/DC, T Rex, The Ramones, the Beatles, and The Carpenters.

With touches of the Smiths on “Waiting On You,” boy band Brit-pop on the title track, and Black Sabbath by way of Billy Idol all over “Incantation” this record is about as eclectically cool as it can get.

“Black Wax” wears a Depeche Mode mood ring, and the semi-ballad “Amelie” is pure Oasis, love it or loathe it at your own discretions.

This band is definitely a fresh find worthy of your ear-time.

Five Cool Ones: Five Reasons Rock Is Not Dead (2022 Edition)

Way back in 2017, the band Greta Van Fleet hit the scene and was widely lauded as the next big thing in Rock and Roll. Truth be told, these young whippersnappers from Frankenmuth, Michigan were just a bit too Led Zeppelin-adjacent, and in most musical circles their sound was considered to be simply an esoteric listen. Yet, they were considered to be the next great thing in Rock and Roll.

The truth is, there are many high-caliber Rock bands that are putting out great Classic Rock inspired high-octane rock music. Whether it be Glam Rock in the T Rex, early David Bowie mold, AOR (Yacht) Rock treading the waters of the Little River Band, or straight-up Sunset Strip good-time jams, the spiritual progeny of the bands those of a certain age were weaned upon are making the current scene in all of their spectral glory.

Here are five songs from five bands that will have you digging out your old black light posters and turning on your lava lamps.

“Heart Stopping Kinda Show” – DeWolff

This Hammond B-3-centric band from the Dutch province of Limburg combines ’70s Psychedelic flair with Southern Rock tendencies in the Wet Willie and James Gang mold. Look for the new record Love, Death & In Between to be released in February 2023.

“White Buffalo” – Crown Lands

A Juno award winner for the best-emerging band, Ontario-based Crown Lands combines the most digestible flavors of Progressive Rock with Led Zeppelin’s over-the-top bombast. Picture in your mind’s ear Robert Plant fronting Rush on one of their most accessible songs and you pretty much will have nailed the template for their single from 2022’s breakthrough record, Discover Crown Lands.

“I Wanna Know You” – The Sheepdogs

Having hit the scene after being featured on the cover of Rolling Stone as one of the new-face bands in Rock and roll, these road warriors apply their trade somewhere between Foreigner and The Guess Who. Their most recent record, Outta Sight will evoke all of your favorite ’70s Rock and Roll bands without sounding pastiche. With this band, it is all about the songs. And, they are stellar.

“Girls On The East Side Of Town” – Tuk Smith

Standing right up there with The Struts Luke Spiller, and Justin Hawkins from The Darkness, Tuk Smith is on the medal stand of top present-day Rock and Roll front-men. His 2022 record, Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts is as good a guitar-based rock record as you will have heard all year. For extra credit, go back and check out his work with his old band, The Biters, but stay for this Thin Lizzy adjacent tour deforce.

“Going Back To Hoonsville”- Datura4

Given that the Aussie band, Datura4 takes its name from a stretch of Western Australia highway, it should come as no surprise that the band has released the number one driving song of 2022 in “Going Back To Hoonsville”. This Psychedelic, organ-centric, Blues Boogie makes ZZ Top blush, and could very well be calling Radar Love its bitch.

100 Cool Ones – The Top 100 Albums of 2022 (49-1)

049. The Lone Bellow – Love Songs For Losers

Morphing themselves from a Roots-Americana sound to a more Indie Rock AOR vibe that brings to Mind Fleetwood Mac, the resulting output may sound like an entirely new band, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

048. The Vandoliers – Vandoliers

This raucus Texas band pays tribute to traditional Irish pub songs on their latest record of Texican Rock and Roll Swagger. “Too Drunk To Drink” and “Wise County Friday Night” are two sides of the same Honky Tonk coin.

047. Sheepdogs – Outta Site

The best new band to hit our earholes in the last 5 years. These guys are what the James Gang could have been having if they stayed together long enough to be fully formed.

046. Sundowners – Pulling Back The Night

With Paul Weller and members of The Coral collaborating there can be nothing less than gorgeous harmonies and Laurel Canyon vibes.

045. Miranda Lambert – Palomino

15 tales of love and chasing the American dream as only Miranda Lambert can deliver. Palomino represents an artist that is maturing before our very ears.

044. Kurt Vile – (watch my moves)

With spit-shined lyrics and Pop sensibilities that would make Matthew Sweet blush, this set of laid-back missives will swirl around in your head long after the last note is played.

043. Ceramic Animal – Sweet Unknown

Another fine effort from Easy Eye Sound, Ceramic Animal lays down a palate of T-Rex, Todd Rundgren, with Tame Impala thrown in for those that like their musical touchstones less dated. A fresh record with a vintage feel.

042. Goodbye June – See Where The Night Goes

Rock and Roll is not dead, and neither is Lynyrd Skynyrd despite a plane crash it seems. Come for the Southern Rock vibes and stay for the AC/DC bombast of the opening track, “Step Aside.”

041. Classless Act – Welcome To The Show

No inhibitions are spared with this Sunset Strip-worthy record. All your favorite bands are spirited here in unfiltered, lighter-waving style.

040. Simon McBride – The Fighter

This Blues-Rock guitar slinger from The Emerald Isle channels Paul Rodgers and Bad Company with the best of them. Just listen to the opening track, “Don’t Dare,” and tell us we’re wrong. And, things only get better from there.

039. Banditos – Right On

Mary Beth Richardson is the secret sauce behind Banditos, an eclectic band with touches of Los Lobos, Lone Justice, and the backing band for the Titty Twister bar in Tarantino’s From Dusk Til Dawn.

038. The Coffis Brothers – Turn The Radio Up

Seemingly hailing from Woodstock, laying down tracks that easily could have been songs from From The Big Pink, with Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers as the backing band, this is an Americana treasure.

037. The Fernweh – Torschlusspanik!

T-Rex meets ‘80s Brit Pop with a lot of Classic Rock nuances sprinkled in is the order of the day on this fine sophomore release. Listen for Paul McCartney and Harry Nilsson touchstones as well.

036. April March – In Cinerama

Truly, a cinematic wonder to behold April March walks that delicate line between the sultriness of Dusty Springfield and the bombast of Shirley Bassey. The French Pop arrangements sprinkled in only serve to enhance an already eclectic listen.

035. Mike Campbell and the Dirty Knobs – External Combustion

A bit more rock than you might expect from the guitar player for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but that definitely is not a bad thing on this set of Midwest-rooted, Americana-tinged, tunes. Guest turns from Margo Price and Ian Hunter make this one even cooler.

034. Dr. John – Things Happen That Way

Things Happen That Way, the posthumous release from New Orleans icon Dr. John is a goodbye letter to his home city and a special gift for the rest of us. Recorded in the months prior to his death from a heart condition in 2019, bringing this one across the finish line as the good doctor’s health was deteriorating was a challenge that producer Shane Theriot seems to have met with aplomb.

033. Michael Rault – Michael Rault

Fully entrenched in the studio wizardry of the ‘60s and the ’70s, this is a delicious throwback melding of ‘70s FM rock, pop, and soul.

032. Live Forever: A Tribute To Billy Joe Shaver

Ask any Texan who should stand on the medal stand of Texas songwriters and the likely consensus would be Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Billy Joe Shaver. And, here, with an all-star line-up of artists that have been influenced by him, this fitting tribute to Billy Joe Joe Shaver is a close-to-the-bone

031. Smut – How The Light Felt

Lousy name, great band, Smut will bring to the minds ear the best of Mazzy Star or Natalie Merchant and the 10,000 Maniacs.

030. Larkin Poe – Blood Harmony

Blood Harmony, the latest from the Americana-Blues duo Larkin Poe, is about as close as you can get to Southern Noir this side of a Faulkner novel or an episode of Justified.

029. Sloan – Steady

One of the more underrated and under-the-radar bands, Sloan is out with another banger of a set that merges alternative rock and power pop with equal aplomb.

028. The Cult – Under The Midnight Sun

It seems that a band that has been around for over 40 years should have more than 11 albums under their belt, but here, Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy, and the rest of the band clearly know the formula that works for them as their latest record, Under The Midnight Sun, represents the band at the top of their game.

027. Rhett Miller – The Misfit

Rhett Miller, the head man of The Old 97’s doesn’t come out to play solo very often, his last effort was way back in 2018 with The Messenger, but when he does, the results are typically outstanding as is the case with The Misfit.

026. Kendell Marvel – Come On Sunshine

Outlaw Country, Swamp Blues, and Country Rock are all represented Waylon Jennings style on a palate of hopeful post-pandemic songs where the freedom to be left alone seems to be an underrated gift.

025. The Orchids – Dreaming Kind

Back and better than ever after reforming in 2020, Scottish popsters Orchids with their new record features everything that you love about the band, Meandering guitar melodies, emotive vocals, and songs that go from beauty to sadness at the drop of a note are the order of the day.

024. Dawes – Misadventures of a Doomscroller

Somehow, everything is right with the world when a new Dawes record hits the streets. And, this one, is clearly, one of their most focused to date.

023. Nick Dittmeier and the Sawdusters – Heavy Denim

One of those bands that built their chops on touring with a Grateful Dead-worthy road dog mentality, and if you would be so lucky as to stumble into a bar where they happened to be playing. The songs presented here are gritty and character-driven.

022. Tijuana Panthers – Halfway To Eighty

Any band that blends Post Punk, Garage, Surf, and Rock, all with a distinctly low-fi edge, is very worthy of some of our ear time. With a bit of Devo and a Dash of Green Day in the DNA of this record, the production value seems to have a bit of Lee And Nancy’s “Summer Wine” aura about it, most notably on “Take Back Time.” Stray Cats come to mind on “False Equivalent,” and “Man of Dust” has Link Wray written all over it.

021. Supersonic Blues Machine – Voodoo Nation

A loose collective of a Blues Boogie band curated by Toto’s Steve Lukather. prior incarnations of the band have included Billy Gibbons, Slash, Steve Vai, and John Mellencamp’s drummer Kenny Aronoff.

This time around, the curation includes some newer-gun guitar slingers including Sonny Landreth, Eric Gales, Charlie Starr, and Kris Barras carrying most of the vocal duties.

020. Marcus King – Youngblood

This blues rocker should cement Marcus King’s reputation as one of the young gun guitar slingers along with Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Sheppard.

019. Steve Earle & The Dukes – Jerry Jeff

Having moved to Nashville and serving as his designated driver, Steve Earle’s love and respect for fellow troubadour Jerry Jeff Walker runs deep. His fourth tribute record following Townes, a tribute to Townes Van Zant, Guy, a nodding of the chapeau to Guy Clark, and JT, the heartbreaking memorial to his own son, Justin Townes Earle, on Jerry Jeff the songs remain the same with a choice curation of widely known hits alongside lesser-known gems.

018. Weyes Blood – And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

The pristine production value only helps accent the lo-fi approach to this beauty of an album. The piano-driven pop songs seem to be a mantra for holding on in troubled times with the celebration of treasuring the small moments of beauty.

017. 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.

016. Nikki Lane – Denim and Diamonds

Road warrior Nikki Lane is back after a brief hiatus and period of self-reflection that brought her all the way back to the highways and hillbillies that she left on 2017’s “Highway Queen.”

015. Librarians With Hickeys – Handclaps & Tambourines

From the opening blast of “I Better Get Home” from Handclaps and Tambourines, the latest album from Librarians with Hickeys, you will think you have been time-warped all the way back to the middle of the groove line at Austin Powers’ wedding reception. This record is that cool.

014. Calexico El Mirador

Forced to stay home, these tour dogs made good use of their pandemic-induced isolation to produce this Desert-Noir classic.

013. Bruce Springsteen – Only The Strong Survive

Certainly, a bit dubious after hearing about a new Bruce Springsteen album that consisted of only Soul covers, as it turns out this is an eclectically curated set of songs that perfectly complements Springsteen’s barrel-aged voice.

012. Charley Crockett – Lil G.L. Presents: Jukebox Charley

With two stellar l.P.s released in 2022 along with The Man From Waco, easily both of the records could have made the list, but Jukebox Charley is a clear leader in the clubhouse. Tear in your beer, my baby left me, and gunfighter ballad, this one has it all.

011. Black Keys – Dropout Boogie

Following quickly on the heels of Delta Kreame, the 2921 deep blues cover, album, this layered record is more loose and lively with a lot of Blues-Boogie to savor. “Baby, I’m coming home” gives a nod to The Allman Brothers “Midnight Rider,” Kings of Leon’s Angelo Petraglia lends a hand on “Wild Child,” and the king of Boogie himself, Billy Gibbons even makes an appearance.

010. Bye Bye Blackbirds – August Lightning Complex

With Lenny Gill back and better than ever, Bye Bye Blackbirds have released their best record to date, which is saying a lot since 2020’s Boxer at Rest was an instant classic. Blending REM, Big Star, and the more listenable aspects of The Replacements, this record is rich in diversity, tones, and texture with first-class songwriting courtesy of bandleader Bradley Skaught who delivers a set of vocal turns that veer between Elvis Costello, lost weekend-era John Lennon, and Alex Chilton.

009. Hurray For The Riff Raff – Life On Earth

Best described as Folk Blues Punk, Alynda Seggara and the rest of the Riff Raff deliver a thoughtful set of songs that seem to reflect their newfound outlook on life with a fresh perspective and a less jaded worldview.

008. Band of Horses — Things Are Great

Another raggedly glorious effort from The Band of Horses, this one is a bit of a return to form. Back to their Indie Rock roots, with a bit more jangle in their step than demonstrated on their previous two albums, Bill Barnwell and his latest band of horses deliver on one of the better Americana releases of the year.

007. The Americans – Stand True

With no less than musical Sensei Rick Rubin in their corner, L.A.-based band, The Americans, are blazing a new Americana trail by putting one fret firmly in the here and now while placing another clearly in the past. If your Jam is Springsteen, Mellencamp, or Petty, these fellas will wet your whistle just fine.

006. Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band – Dear Scott

A perfect follow-up to 2017’s Adios Senor Pussycat, here, Head delivers a set of perfectly crafted songcraft.

005. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers – Nightroamer

Pedal steel-era country-tinged Rock and Roll. Sarah Shook will make you want to drink, dance, or fight in whatever order you choose.

004. Wet Leg – Wet Leg

Hailed as the saviors of post-pandemic guitar rock, their song “Chaise Lounge” may very be the earworm of the year.

003. Spoon – 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. On the standout track “The Hardest Cut,” the band lays down a ZZ Top groove on top of a T-Rex boogie that would make Ty Seagall blush.

002. The Delines – The Sea Drift

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.

001. First Aid Kit – Palomino

With their signature Fleetwood Mac meets Kate Bush sound still intact with songs as brilliantly constructed as “Wild Horses II” with the stellar line, you prefer The Rolling Stones, and I like Gram, their songwriting prowess has jumped to the next level.

100 Cool Ones – The Top 100 Albums of 2022 (100-50)

100. The Moon City Masters – The Famous Moon City Masters

A throwback in all the best of ways, the opener, “Takin’ It Back” from the latest Moon City Masters record will take you all the way back to the James Gang ‘70s, bell-bottoms, cowbell and all. “Spinning Wheels” is pure Toulouse Street Doobie Brothers, and their cover of the Beatle’s “I’ve Got A Feeling” has a Bad Company vibe to it, and is one of the best songs we have heard all year.

099. Smut – How The Light Felt

Lousy name, great band, Smut will bring to the minds ear the best of Mazzy Star or Natalie Merchant and the 10,000 Maniacs.

Seemingly perfect for a teen angst soundtrack in the Princess Diaries or Lizzie McGuire mold, “Janeway” could have been a Bangles hit if the Bangles had been just a tad bit cooler, and ”Supersolar” would have been perfect John Hughes movie placement back in the day.

098. Shooter Jennings and Yelawolf – Sometimes Y

Shooter Jennings, son of Waylon, is on quite a roll of late with his production credits for Brandi Carlile and Tanya Tucker. And, here he teams up with Yelawolf on a highly polished genre departure with the anthemic, Indie Pop Americana -Noir leaning Sometimes Y.

097. Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts – Ballad of a Misspent Youth

Back to the ‘70s in the Hot Tub Time Machine, Tuk Smith rises from the ashes of his tumultuous period with the Biters to lay down an energetic, set of pure rock and roll the way it was meant to be played.

096. Brant Bjork – Bouganvillea Suite

Digging deep into the 60’s era Psychedelic Rock think Iron Butterfly by way of The Doors on Brant Bjork’s latest, Bougainvillea Suite.

095. Drugdealer – Hiding in Plain Sight

Yacht Rock is back, and it’s like it never left. With equal parts Hall and Oates, Little River Band, and, for those in the know, Pablo Cruise. Hiding In Plain Site, the latest from Drugdealer is a time-warp affair that will take you back to the days before kids, jobs, and responsibilities pretty much killed the vibe.

094. Uni Boys – Do It All Next Week

This California quintet could have been time machined from the summer of 1977 with teenage hooks, sun-baked choruses, and Power Pop with a razor edge. “You Worry About Me” is perfect a.m. radio fare.

093. The Mellons … Introducing The Mellons

Channeling the essence of Brian Wilson and the mid-era Electric Light Orchestra, The anthemic opener sets the table for a psychedelic fun-fest that The Zombies would envy.

092. Beach Bugs – Beach Bugs

Coming to your ears all the way from Limoges, France, this Pop-Punk band delivers waves of surf rock and Power Pop in equal measures. “Sugar Ocean” could have been the flip side to Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” and “On a Bike” would have made a nice Buzzcocks single.

091. Dropkick Murphy’s – This Machine Still Kills Fascists

Some previously unseen Woody Guthrie lyrics pair well with the acoustic side of The Dropkick Murphy’s. The aggression is still there along with the messaging.

090. Babe Rainbow – The Organic Band

With album number five, the stoned mellowness of the Aussie band is still front and center, but here they are more Neil Young than Brian Wilson.

089. 2nd Grade – Easy Listening

The Philadelphia five-piece that is 2nd Grade is poised for next-level greatness with their third proper full-length, Easy Listening.

The texture transitions from song to song that the band pulls off make for not only an enjoyable listen but also reward the listener with new signature Nuggets to be unfurled with each successive spin.

088. Miko Marks and the Resurrectors – Feel Like Going Home

From the opening buzz of the lead-off song as well as the title track, you get an immediate sense that Miko Marks is on to something special. Aretha Franklin with a side of Bonnie Raitt is the vibe presented here with the overall band stepping in with an energy that would make the Tedeschi-Trucks band blush.

087. Cory Branan – When I Go I Ghost

Cory Branan is one of those under-the-radar artists that gets little play in the mainstream but those who know definitely know.

His latest, When I Go I Ghost is definitely a must-hear. From the opening salvo of “When In Rome, When in Memphis,” the sonic boom is palpable with his Steve Earle by way of James McMurty vibe hitting you between the ears.

086. The Chesterfields – New Modern Homes

Framed up with a Kinks by way of Big Star foundation, this one glistens with a Pop sheen that would make Weezer proud.

085. Crown Lands – Discover Crown Lands

The opener, “White Buffalo” would be what Rush would have sounded like if Robert Plant fronted them. And, “Howlin’ Back Again” could be Greta Van Fleet reinvented as a delta blues band. Retro-cool in all the best of ways, one of the best retro-stompers of the year.

084. Sonic Flower – Me And My Bellbottom Blues

Definite truth in advertising with this set of’70s rock-riff-inspired jams. MC-5 meets Black Sabbath on this set of tunes that will inspire you to get out your old black lights and lava lamps.

083. Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott – N.K-Pop

As close to a perfect pop record that your ears will have savored this year, the chemistry and lyric sparring skills that booth artists have on display here are complementary sides of the same coin. “Good Times” is a bouncy and ebullient opener, “I drove her away with my tears” is a perfectly constructed Brit-Pop single, and “Baby It’s Cold Inside” is a poignant juxtaposition of the original classic.

082. Silverbacks – Archive Material

There is more than a hint of The Talking Heads in the DNA of this Irish five-piece. The melodies are catchy with a post-punk flair that will bring to mind Devo.

081. Angel Olsen – Big Time

Much less symphonic and much more introspective, the new Angel Olson L.P. is a study in restraint. Going down like the last call at a honky tonk bar, the subtle arrangements and dreamy pedal steel coalesce with Olson’s dream weaver vocals to create a perfect antidote for a poisoned world.

081. Bonnie Raitt – Just Like That

When you sit down and listen to “Down The Hall,” the last track on Bonnie Raitt’s exquisite new record, you can immediately tell that even going on 50 years since her debut record was released, she hasn’t missed a songwriting beat. A somber ending it may be, but the song, narrated by a murderer that is in jail working in the cancer ward in prison trying to find meaning to a life well wasted checks every John Prine box and is as good of a song from a writing standpoint that has been released this year.

080. F.M. – Thirteen

Think Foreigner or Night Ranger with a slice of Toto on this AOR guilty pleasure melodic masterpiece.

079. Whiskey Myers – Tornillo

Their best yet, Tornillo presents all that is good in the Americana World. Barroom rocking, and Southern Rock ethos with slices of gospel and soul, are all represented on this dazzler.

078. Elvis Costello – The Boy If

With this follow-up to 2020s Hey Clockface, Elvis Costello shows no signs of slowing down. From the scorcher of an opener, “Farewell, OK,” Costello and his band, The Imposters, kick things into gear and party like it’s 1977 and they are living in the My Aim Is True glory days. The voice hasn’t changed too much, Elvis never was one for stretching out the high notes, and, here, he stays very much within his range with his delivery that is pure E.C. vocal splendor.

077. 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.

076. The Bobby Lee’s – Bellevue

This high-energy, furnace blast of a record puts the post in Post-Punk. As frenetic as the Ramones before Phil Spector got a hold of them, the Bobby Lees are all about blasting through the status quo, in short, sometimes off-kilter blasts of sub 2:00 CBGB-worthy glory.

075. Gymnasium – Hansen’s Pop ‘N’ Rock Music ’22

A who’s who of the Boston music scene pitch in on this robustly energized set of 22 songs that will rekindle your love for Power Pop. The Cheap Trick-induced “Tavern at the End of the World” is worth the price of admission alone, and the ghosts of Pink Floyd that make an appearance on “Down to a Glimmer” will leave you wanting more.

074. Gyasi – Pronounced Jah See

Glittering bombast of rock and roll excess, shades of T-Rex, early David Bowie, and all the glam you can fit in one record, Gyasi will be your next favorite guilty pleasure.

073. Courtney Marie Andrews – Loose Future

A much more introspective record than prior efforts, the album was mostly written while Andrews was searching for the center of her soul in a beach shack on Cape Cod. The songs are well-crafted, plain-spoken, and some of the best work in her career.

072. Cat Power – Covers

It only took 12 years for Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall to come up with the follow-up to her 2010 release, The Covers Record, the album that featured her seminal version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” This time out, she covers songs by Bob Seger, The Replacements, and Billie Holiday among others in her own style making the songs almost recognizable but no less glorious.

071. Ari Roar – Made To Never Use

Ari Roar is the name that singer/songwriter Caleb Campbell uses for his self-released projects. With a Ben Folds by way of Wilco vibe, the songs are all Indie-Pop bangers that you will be able to digest in short 2-3 minute jangly bursts. “Take Me Over” is Jack Johnson by way of John Lennon, and “Far From The Rest” could have been a Replacements with a slight Police vibe.

070. Autoramas – Autointitulado

Mainstays on the Brazilian independent music scene, the Autoramas blend Punk Rock, nuggets style Garage Rock, and New Wave Pop into a blender of coolness. Part Devo, plenty of The Ramones, with a side order of Dick Dale, are all incorporated into the sound. And, regardless of your language of choice, the vocals presented here, exclusively in Spanish, will be easily recognizable and chorus-worthy after a few listens.

069. 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.

068. 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 channeling their inner Everly Brothers and outer Ricky Nelson in all the best of ways.

067. 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 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.

066. 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 next to the iconic “Songs From The Big Chair.”

065. 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.

064. 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 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.

063. Bryan Adams – So Happy It Hurts

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 all in place, and if you are looking for a summer jam you have come to the right place.

062. 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’s BFF Ringo Starr is invited back to the party on “Ride or Die – Montar O Morir.”

061. 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.

060. 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.

059. Tami Neilson – Kingmaker

Don’t let the Bond-theme swagger of “Kingmaker” the title track on Tami Neilson’s eclectically pleasing latest release sway your opinion. Shirley Bassey Bombast aside, there is a dangerous curve around every corner on this one. “Careless Woman” has a bit of R&B girl-group gravitas while “Baby, You’re A Gun” would be perfect fare for Kill Bill 3 should Tarrantino ever design to make another one.

058. Jon Pardi – Mr. Saturday Night

Coming out of the gates with another dose of Honky Tonk ennui much in the same vein as 2019’s Heartache Medication, Vol. 2, Mr. Saturday Night walks that delicate line between Bro Country, Midland vintage Nudie Suit Country, and traditional Honky Tonk.

057. Crossword Smiles – Pressed & Ironed

As debut albums go, Pressed & Ironed, delivered by Crossword Smiles, is as great a debut record that you are likely to have heard all year. From the breezy Little River Band adjacent “October Leaves” to the calmer side of The Replacements on “…Where’s The Sense,” and sliding into the early Who evoking wonderment of “The Girl With a Penchant For Yellow,” on this one, all of the coolest touchstones coalesce into a pool of power pop perfection.

056. Starcrawler – She Said

With front-woman Arrow De Wilde and their new record She Said, the band Starcrawler is in full-throttle mode to continue their assault on rock and roll supremacy.

With a style that brings to mind John Doe and his band X, The Distillers, along with the sleazier side of The Rolling Stones, it is no wonder that they count Jack White, Dave Grohl, And Iggy Pop in the fold as super fans.

055. Dead Daisies – Radiance

Full of high-tone ‘70s rock swagger in the Deep Purple mold, this super group that consists of former Whitesnake guitarist David Aldrich, Glen Hughes, major-domo, and bandleader David Lowy, and drummer for hire Brian Tichy, pull out all of the stops on a record that is full of heavy riffs, soaring vocals, and monster drumming.

054. 2nd Grade – Easy Listening

The Philadelphia five-piece that is 2nd Grade is poised for next-level greatness with their third proper full-length, Easy Listening.

The texture transitions from song to song that the band pulls off make for not only an interesting listen but also rewards the listener with new signature Nuggets to be unfurled with each successive spin.

053. The Airport 77s – We Realize You Have A Choice

From the opening Journey by way of Night Ranger riffage on “One Good Thing About Summer” to the Cheap Trick if The Struts Luke Spiller fronted the band splendor of “Birthday Girl” the ears are tuned to coolness with this sophomore release of Airport 77s.

052. The Mahones – Jameson Street

It is rare when an album comes out that is the perfect salve for a point in time that desperately calls out for a set of anthems the likes of which are presented here. All of the familiar Emerald Isle touch-points are front and center from The Waterboys to Thin Lizzy, The Chieftains, and beyond.

051. Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners – Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners

The Country rock and 70’s rock interplay on this record are refreshingly eclectic, and the cover songs curated here in The Georgia Satellite’s “Six Years Gone,” as well as the Status Quo classic “Dirty Water” represents a band that is at the top of their game.

050. Color Green – Color Green

Brought together on a shared love of Laurel Canyon-tinged Americana, there is a wafting of Grateful Dead, free-form Allman Brothers, and The Byrds throughout their eponymous debut record.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (November 4, 2022)

Halloween is over, the Christmas season is here and the last real week of album releases is still a fortnight away. But, in the meantime there are a lot of new releases to savor.

The Electric Mob are out with a rock-stomper and their single, “By The Name (nanana).

Indie rockers Sloan are back and bubbling up with their new single, Dream It All Over Again.)

And, newcomer Felix Weaver is scorching the earth with his new record.

But, wait, don’t put down those head phones just yet. Here are five new albums to tickle the earbuds this week.

The Lone Bellow – Love Songs For Losers

Morphing themselves from a Roots-Americana sound to a more Indie Rock AOR vibe that brings to Mind Fleetwood Mac, the resulting output may sound like an entirely new band, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The opener, “Honey” could have been a “Big Love” B side from Tango In The Night, “Gold” is a smartly written song that blasts across the speakers with the flair of Joshua Tree era U2, and “Wherever Your Heart Is” hits the ears like Dawes guesting on a Paul Simon single.

You might be familiar with the single “Homesick” as the song is used in the renovation series The Williams Family Cabin. And, “Caught Me Thinking” adds some horns and R&B tones spicing up an already eclectically delicious brew.

Moon City Masters – The Famous Moon City Masters

A throw back in all the best of ways, the opener, “Takin’ It Back” from the latest Moon City Masters record will take you all the way back to the James Gang ‘70s, bell-bottoms, cowbell and all. “”Spinning Wheels” is pure Toulouse Street Doobie Brothers, and their cover of the Beatles “I’ve Got A Feeling” has a Bad Company vibe to it and is one of the best songs we have heard all year.

Firmly riding in the neo-classic rock genre, Moon City Masters are painting their own soundscapes making fresh an otherwise tired genre.

Classic Rock Magazine says that their music is full of heart, harmonies, and rays of California sunshine. And, who are we to disagree.

Glen Phillips – There Is So Much Here

As the lead singer and major-domo of Toad The Wet Sprocket, Glen Phillips knows his way around a pop song. On his own since 2001, Phillips may not have surpassed the dizzying heights of the “Walk On The Ocean” days, but ignore at your own peril, his solo work is pretty great.

The opener, “Stone Throat” lays down the palate quite nicely with a breezy tempo on a layer of sparkling guitars. “Other Birds of Prey” has a Tom Petty feel to it, and “Center of the Circle” reminds us all to seek our better angels.

As the title might suggest, there is so much to see here. This one is pure pop for pure people.

Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts – Ballad of a Misspent Yourh

Back to the ‘70s in the Hot Tub Time Machine, Tuk Smith rises from the ashes of his tumultuous period with the Biters to lay down an energetic, set of pure rock and roll the way it was meant to be played.

Part glam in the Sweet mold, part Thin Lizzy, most notably with the “Boys are Back In Town” spirit that “Girls on the East Side Of Town” Inhabits, every song in this set seems to be a festival-worthy anthem.

“Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead” is an interesting take on “Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down and Out), and “Love Sick City” is a Motley Crue worthy anthem.

First Aid Kit – Palomino

With Palomino, their fifth proper long player, Swedish siblings Klara and Johanna Soderberg, collectively known as First Aid Kit, have certainly hit their stride.

With their signature Fleetwood Mac meets Kate Bush sound still intact with songs as brilliantly constructed as “Wild Horses II” with the stellar line, you prefer The Rolling Stones, and I like Gram, their songwriting prowess has jumped to to the next level.

The song “29 Palms Highway” is perfect late night drive fare, “Ready to Run” could have been yet another hit on Jagged Little Pill, and “Angel” could have been on any Fleetwood Mac album.

Considering the mix of Indie Folk, Fleetwood Mac Pop, and Everly Brothers harmonies along with Simon & Garfunkel worthy production techniques presented here, with Palomino, First Aid Kit may have just painted their masterpiece.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (October 7, 2022)

Albeit, if we are being honest, this week is a bit tepid on the new release front. But fear not gentle readers as we are doing the work so you don’t have to.

The excitement is building in Rock is the New Roll HQ with the new single and video “Turning Onto You” from First Aid Kit. Look for a new album in early 2023.

New Skynyrd loving Southern Rock favorites Black Stone Cherry are releasing songs from their Live From The Royal Albert Hall album, this time featuring “Peace Is Free.”

And, Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts are out with one of the best songs they have ever put out. Part Cheap Trick, some Jellyfish with a bit of Queen thrown in, and all cool.

But wait, that’s not all. Here are five voice albums to tickle the earbuds this week.

The Mahones – Paint The Town Red

This Celtic-centric band from Kingston, Ontario Canada is the real deal. And, with this record, Paint The Town Red, the band having been around since 1993 is at the top of their game.

It is rare when an album comes out that is the perfect salve for a point in time that desperately calls out for a set of anthems the likes of which are presented here. All of the familiar Emerald Isle touch points are front and center from The Waterboys to This Lizzy, The Chieftains and beyond.

Devil in the bottle is the requisite drinking song that would make the Dropkick Murphys blush, “Rise Up (Be Strong) comes rolling down the rails like some devil hybrid of The Dexy’s and U2 with even a bit of a ramshackle Replacements vibe, and the propulsive base line on the lead track, “Paint the Town Red,” is the most purely Irish sounding song in the set and prepares the palate just perfectly for what is to come.

A nuanced listen for sure, this one is a lot of gold at the end of a listening rainbow for sure.

Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners – Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners

Mostly known for his rock and roll side with his band The Wildhearts, with this incarnation as Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners there is an Americana bent to the music much in the mold of his work Jason and the Scorchers.

The Country rock and ‘70’s rock interplay on this record is refreshingly eclectic on this record and the cover songs curated here in The Georgia Satellite’s “Six Years Gone,” as well as the Status Quo classic “Dirty Water” represents a band that is at the top of their game.

The opener “Wasted Times” is best consumed with the top down rolling down the Pacific Coast Highway, and “Code of the Road,” a song that provides a glimpse behind the scenes at what life on the road with a touring band is like would have made for a perfect Dr. Hook song back in the day.

The Cult – Under The Midnight Sun

It seems that a band that has been around for over 40 years should have more than 11 albums under their belt, but here, Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy and the rest of the band clearly know the formula that works for them as their latest record, Under The Midnight Sun, represents the band at the top of their game.

The vocals are soaring throughout particularly on “Vendetta X” where Astbury rings to the cheap seats of the stadium with a vocal that would make Bono proud, and “Outer Heaven” is as swirling a powerhouse of a rock song that the band as ever laid own. And, “Knife Through Butterfly Heart” could have been on any of the early Doors records.

The most fulfilling aspect of this record is that the band really seems to enjoy playing together with a spark an energy that is palpable on every song. Don’t look now, but the rock album of the year may have just mad it’s presence known.

The Bobby Lee’s – Bellevue

This high energy, furnace blast of a record puts the post in Post-Punk. As frenetic as the Ramones before Phil Spector got a hold of them, the Bobby Lee’s are all about blasting through the status quo in short, sometimes off-kilter blasts of sub 2:00 CBGB worthy glory.

“Ma Likes To Drink” has a B-52’s “Rock Lobster” in its DNA, and “Death Train” roars down the tracks as if Ty Segall was a member of Van Halen, and the band even stretches things out a bit on the lower and slower slow burn of “Strange Days” with the song weighing in at 2:43.

Nuanced where it needs to be and perfectly apoplectic in spots, this is a record that will bring out the secret punk rocker that resides in all of us.

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott – N.K-Pop

Having been part of the Housemartins in the ‘80’s and The Beautiful South in the ‘90’s, Paul Heaton definitely knows his way around a pop song. And, here with N.K-Pop, his with Jacqui Abbott, we have exhibit A.

As close to a perfect pop record that your ears will savor this year, the chemistry and lyric sparring skills that booth artists have on display here are complementary sides of the same coin. “Good Times” is a bouncy and ebullient opener, “I drove her away with my tears” is a perfectly constructed Brit-Pop single, and “Baby It’s Cold Inside” is a poignant juxtaposition of the original classic.

And, as if you needed another reason to admire Paul Heaton, to celebrate his 60th birthday he left 1,000 pounds behind the bar in 60 random pubs throughout the U..K.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 30, 2022)

Another week in the books and things seem to be cranking. We were a bit skeptical when we heard that The Boss was putting out a Soul covers record, but holy Motown, by the sounds of this single that has leaked out it is going to be great.

Librarians with Hickeys have a new one out that is a Power Pop pleasure.

And, the Big Star, Badfinger devotees The Bablers tickle the ears with their new single “You Are The One For Me.”

Dead Daisies – Radiance

For those about to rock, we salute you. Here at Rock is the New Roll H.Q. we are big fans of Glen Hughes, next to David Coverdale our favorite Rock singe. And, by extension, we are cards to the middle of the table, all in, on the latest Dead Daisies record, Radiance.

Full of high-tone ‘70s rock swagger in the Deep Purple mold, this super group that consists of former Whitesnake guitarist David Aldrich, Glen Hughes, major-domo and bandleader David Lowy, and drummer for hire Brian Tichy, pull out all of the stops on a record that is full of heavy riffs, soaring vocals, and monster drumming.

Sure, the music is not very subtle and there is not much room for nuance, but if you like Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Rainbow, or Ronnie James Dio, then this record is right up your horns up street.

2nd Grade – Easy Listening

The Philadelphia five-piece that is 2nd Grade is poised for next-level greatness with their third proper full-length, Easy Listening.

The texture transitions from song to song that the band pulls off makes for not only an interesting listen, but also rewards the listener with new signature Nuggets to be unfurled with each successive spin.

The opener “Cover of Rolling Stone,” no not that one, is a short fuzz-laden, straight ahead rocker, and “Strung Out On You” is a Power Pop gem in the Weezer and Fountains of Wayne mold. And, believe it or not, there is a bit of James Gang essence on “Controlled Burn.”

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice To Let It Be” shows the band’s softer side as well as highlights their songwriting acumen, and “Keith and the Telecaster” has a bit of a Ramones feel to it.

Pound for pound one of the most eclectically cool records of the year, look for this one to show up on several best-of lists later in the year.

The Airport 77s – We Realize You Have A Choice

From the opening Journey by way of Night Ranger riffage on “One Good Thing About Summer” to the Cheap Trick if The Struts Luke Spiller fronted the band splendor of “Birthday Girl” the ears are tuned to coolness with this sophomore release of Airport 77s.

With the lyric, “He has a photo with Sammy Hagar and tattoo that says Aloha,” on “Losers Win,” you get a sense of the whimsical side of the band, and the soaring gang vocals imbedded in “Somebodies” is pure ‘80s rock that would make The Romantics proud.

Putting the power in Power Pop and the radio in Radio Friendly, this banger of a record might force you to change the needle on your turntable you will be playing it so much. And, yes, there is cowbell.

Buddy Guy – The Blues Don’t Lie

Blues man Buddy guy doesn’t stray too far from home here, but when you apply your craft so well, that is never a bad thing.

From the opener, “I Let My Guitar Do The Talking” it is abundantly clear that there is a lot left in the blues tank and Guy has lost nothing on his fastball, either vocally or instrumentally.

The title track is a poignant reflection on Sonny Boy Williamson that told Buddy that the blues never die when he left Chicago for Little Rock to die, and “The World Needs Love” is a slow burner with a message for the times.

The proceedings heat up in the back half of the record with guest turns from the likes of James Taylor, Elvis Costello and Bobby Rush. And the emotionally devastating “Gunsmoke Blues” with Jason Isbell lays bare the issue of gun control. And, for the record, the cover of The Beatles “I’ve Got a Feeling” presented here is epic.

The pristine production, careful curation of the contributors, and strength and tenor of his playing and his vocals combine to make this record one of the best albums the blues legend has put out on the last 10 years.

Alice Cooper – Live From The Astroturf

This 12th proper Alice Cooper live Alice Cooper record this one was recorded live in 2015 at Good Records Dallas, Tx.

Featuring mostly the original Cooper line up, Alice, Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce and Neil Smith with Ryan Roxie filling in for the late Glen Buxton, this intimate performance is notable in that stripped of the often over the top stage theatrics Cooper engages the audience with story telling stage banter that adds to the enjoyment level of the concert.

With songs focusing on the glory days of the band, “Be My Lover,” “I’m 18,” and “School’s Out” blast from your speakers as if these men of a certain age were playing them for the first time.

This one is a must-have for fans of Alice Cooper and a definite peek into the glory days of rock and roll. For extra credit there is a documentary of this event that includes Q&A’s with the band members.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 23, 2022)

Of, course, everything is just a placeholder until the release of a rumored new Springsteen record, albeit a Soul covers album, sometime in November.

Courtney Marie Andrews has a delicately sublime tune out in the ether with the single “These are the good old days.“

Kentucky’s favorite Southern rock mavens Black Stone Cherry are scorching the earth with their Lynyrd Skynyrd on steroids bombast with “White Trash Millionaire” from their live record Live From The Royal Albert Hall released in June.

And, Power Pop maestro Kai Danzberg name checks The Beatles and Jellyfish with his stunningly cool new surprise single Welcome to the Show.

But wait, there’s more. Here are 5 new full length albums released this week.

Billy Idol – The Cage E.P.

Billy Idol’s current release pattern seems to be in the form of a series of four song sprints with each tune a single in its own right, and an overall arching spirit that leaves you wanting more, it is refreshingly cool that an artist that has been around so long is still mostly at the top of his game.

The opener “Cage” opens up with a Jessie’s Girl vibe and mid chorus blasts into “Rebel Yell Territory, “Running from the Ghost” announce long time Idol collaborator and guitarist Steve Stevens in fine fashion, and “Rebel Like You” rings true with the whiskey with a side order of a pack of Camels voice that Billy sports these days going down smooth.

Finally, “Miss Nobody” blasts out of the speakers in vintage ‘8os Rock style. Lay this one down next to the equally cool 4 song set from 2021’s Roadhouse and you have a proper full-length album of rebel coolness.

Dr. John – Things Happen That Way

Things Happen That Way, the posthumous release from New Orleans icon Dr. John is a goodby letter to his home city and a special gift for the rest of us. Recorded in the months prior to his death from a heart condition in 2019, bringing this one across the finish line as the good doctor’s health was deteriorating was a challenge that producer Shane Theriot seems to have met with aplomb.

The opener, “Funny How Time Slips Away” is delivered with the hush tones of a dying man, and is likely one of the songs recorded at his home as he was too ill to go to the studio, and the classic “I Walk on Gilded Splinters” takes on a spooky and funk-filled groove with Lucas Nelson and the Promise of the Real sitting in.

The version of “End of the Line,” the Traveling Wilbury’s single, is presented here with Aaron Neville and Katie Pruitt ably providing vocal assistance.

Given that contractual issues with Dr. John’s estate prevented the release of Rickie Lee Jones’ contributions to this set on three songs, its hard to imagine there could have been anything that could have made this almost perfect eulogy any better.

Kendell Marvel – Come On Sunshine

Based just outside of Nashville, Kendell Marvel migrated to Texas to make his latest record, Come On Sunshine.

Outlaw Country, Swamp Blues, and Country Rock are all represented Waylon Jennings-style on a palate of hopeful post-pandemic songs where the freedom to be left alone seems to be an underrated gift.

“Don’t’ Tell Me How To Drink” with Chris Stapleton is deep Waylon Jennings, Jamey Johnson, while “Hell Bent on Hard Times” would have fit in quietly among the Merle Haggard canon, and the title track is an eerie bottom of the bottle stunner.

Upping his game with every release, Kendell Marvell is carrying the Outlaw Country torch quite nicely.

Nikki Lane – Denim and Diamonds

Road warrior Nikki Lane is back after a brief hiatus and period of self-reflection that brought her all the way back to the highways and hillbillies that she left on 2017’s “Highway Queen.”

Not reinventing the Nikki Lane wheel, the opener “First High” tells you all you need to know about Lane as she name-checks Springsteen and leaves the beauty queens behind to join the boys at the bar. “Born Tough” is a good place holder take on her autobiography until she releases her own proper memoir, and “Live/Love” pretty sums up her way of life in a song.

A country record with a rock and roll ethos courtesy of Queens of the Stone Age majordomo Josh Homme in the production booth, Nicki Kane is indeed back and better than ever.

The Smithereens – The Lost Album

Sometime in the fall of 1993 and between record contracts, The Smithereens ensconced themselves in a N.Y. studio and recorded two albums worth of material. The first set released under the title A Date With The Smithereens was released in 1994 and now the remainder of the session has seen the light of ear under the title The Lost Album.

And, spoiler alert, they sound just like the Smithereens. The Opener “Out of This World” is Cheap Trick by way of Badfinger, on “I’m Sexy” the reason that Kurt Cobain cited The Smithereens as a major influence is clearly evident, and the band channels their inner Elvis Costello on “Pretty Little Lies.”

When one of your favorite bands comes out with “new” music and drops a long lost album, it is a glorious day indeed.