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.

Best Albums of 2022: Color Green – Color Green

Color Green consists of the Los Angeles-based duo Noah Kohll and Corey Madden. 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.

“Bell of Silence” has a psychedelic aura about it that would make Pink Floyd proud, “Ill Fitting Suit” is The Grateful Dead by way of Gram Parsons era Burrito Brothers, and “Ruby” slinks along like a classic Doors Song.

And, whatever you do, don’t miss the astral head trip journey that “Verdolaga Dreams” will take you on. Stopping just short of genre-hopping the eclectic mix of Americana, Cosmic Cowboy, and Funk-lite makes this one a platter worthy of multiple spins on your turntable for the rest of the year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rust – The Resurrection of Rust

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

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

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

Kelley Stoltz – The Stylist

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

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

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

American Aquarium – Chicamacomino

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

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

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

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

The Dream Syndicate – Battle Hymns and True Confessions

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

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

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

Florence Dore – Highways & RocketShips

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

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

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

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