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

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

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

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

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

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

The Vaccines – Back In Love City

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

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

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

Daniel Romano – Cobra Poems

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

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

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

Colleen Green – Cool

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

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

Heartless Bastards – A Beautiful Life

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

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

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

Samantha Fish – Faster

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

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

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (August 27, 2021)

Everything is just fun and games, of course, until the new Kanye West record comes out. In the meantime, there is still a slew of new music to tickle our earlobes. Newcomers Cruel Hearts Club is out with a new song, “Sink Low,” that evokes the spirit of Lizzy Hale fronting T Rex.

If you like your rock with a side of ’70s swirling organ and swagger to spare, then Jail Job Eve and “Mid-Flight” will most likely be your jam.

And, the band Sweet Crisis brings their brand of Classic Rock Inspired pathos to your ears with “Ain’t Got Soul” from their latest record, Tricks On My Mind.

And, don’t go away just yet. Here are five more musical nuggets for your ears to enjoy.

Brian Setzer – Gotta Have The Rumble

This cat does not stray too far from the Rockabilly tracks on this, his latest album, Gotta Have The Rumble. Taking a break at home in the twin cities during the pandemic, Setzer recorded this album in new-school style. Brian was in Minneapolis, the drummer was in Nashville, and the bass player was in Memphis. It wasn’t ex-Stay Cat Lee Rocker.

There is joy and buoyancy to every track on this one, with songwriting depth lacking on a typical Cats record. “Smash Up On Highway One” is a ghostly noir tune that can be quite relatable to anyone who has driven that particular stretch of the PCH in Southern California. “The Cat With Nine Lives” is a typical rockabilly inspired tune that will bring to mind “Seven Nights to Rock,” the scorcher “Turn You On, Turn Me On” is as close as you will find to a love song on this one. Spoiler alert, the song is about a car.

Southern Avenue – Be The Love That You Want

As Nashville gets more and more overrun by hipsters, in an attempt to reclaim their musical soul, many artists find themselves migrating to Memphis, a city known for Elvis, Al Green, and Isaac Hayes. Southern Avenue, a band in the Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings tradition, features a blend of Southern soul, R&B, with a touch of Delta blues that is pleasing to the ear and life-affirming to the soul.

With Tiernii Jackson on vocal duties, “Heathen Hearts” is a gospel marvel to the ears, and the title track is a topical call to arms.

Produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, his presence is everywhere, bringing the Soul-Funk to “Love You Nice and Slow” and “Let’s Get It Together” most particularly. Spend some time with this one. It will brighten your day and make you a better person.

Robert Ellis Orrall – 467 Surf and Gun Club

Named after the physical address of Infinity Cat Recordings, the song “Welcome to Paradise,” featuring a guest vocal from the late-great Leon Russell, is worth the price of admission alone. Putting forth a laid-back Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello vibe Robert Ellis Orall seems to be the person that enters your life when you need him most. Whether he is singing about just hanging out after hours in the studio as he does on “Anthem 47” or channels his inner beach boy on the Pop-terrific song, “Iceberg,” there is something delicious and bacon-wrapped to digest around every tune.

After all, who wouldn’t want to jump in on his party that includes rib-eyes, a case of Millers, and a few Fat Tire brews, with some implied herbs thrown in for good measure “Here in Our Backyard.” And if you need a break from listening to the new Beach Boys deluxe edition of Feel Flows, a few listens of the title track “467 Surf and Gun Club” will be just what the doctor ordered. 

Tim Easton – You Don’t Really Know Me

Pulling your ears back somewhere between John Hiatt and Bob Dylan, roots rocker Tim Easton delivers a wanderlust record reflecting on life, the joys of slowing down, and dealing with life at the crossroads.

The opener “You Don’t Really Know Me” could have been on the latest John Hiatt record, “Voice on the Radio” evokes the ghost of John Prine, and Speed Limit is an uptempo number reminiscent of prime Tom Petty.

Play this one late at night with a glass of bourbon and an engaging heart. Soul sufficiently cleansed, play it again. This one’s that good.

Shinyribs – Late Night TV Gold

The band Shinyribs is that cool uncle that comes to visit, gets you drunk, introduces you to all of the great music, and leaves your parents to clean up the mess and get you back on the good foot. Their latest, “Late Night TV Gold,” hits in all of the right spots with the horn adorned “Party While You Still Can” causing an involuntary movement of the feet and “Rhythm of the Night” evoking the “have another one after the last one” spirit of avoiding the last call. 

The kiss-off anthem “24 Hours From Tulsa” is pure Shinyribs fare, and the title track “Late Nite TV Gold” takes yet another swerve into the land of Tom Waits. Eclectic, in the best of ways, a new record from Shinyribs may not be life-changing, but it might be as close as you are going to get for a while.

Five Cool Ones: Five Rockin’ Mind Movers

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

Ryan Hamilton – Personal Holiday

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

Sweet Crisis – Ain’t Got Soul

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

Crazy Lixx – Anthem For America

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

The Temperance Movement – You Fool No One

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

Hayley and the Crushers – She Drives

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