Welcome to our new feature her at Rock is the New Roll. We will be featuring random songs we are listening to here at RitNR. Most of the songs will have a category assigned so you can look up all the songs in that category as we build the inventory. First up, a murder ballad courtesy of Charlie Crocket.
It was there that he shot her where the lovers were embraced with the bullet he intended for the man that took his place.
Summer will be here before we know it, but things are heating up on the music front already. The Ruen brothers are beginning to come out of hibernation with the release of “Seasons Change,” the latest single from their upcoming long-player, Ten Paces.
The mighty Winger will take you back to your rock and roll youth with their latest release, “Proud Desperado.”
And if Tiki music and Tiki drinks are part of your vibe, The Tikiyaki Orchestra and “South Pacific Sojourn” will stir your Mai Tai.
But, enough of the preamble, here are five records that your ears should digest this week.
The Nude Party – Rides On
With their first self-produced affair, The Nude Party rides on with their Classic Rock adjacent retro sound that never fails to put an extra stride in the step and honey-drenched nectar in your ears.
Searching for an early ’70s Blues-Rock feel in the Sticky Fingers mode, one doesn’t have to stray much further past the opener “Word Gets Around” for audible evidence that the mission was definitely accomplished on this song that combines Rolling Stones swagger with T-Rev grooves.
The vocal prowess of singer Patton Magee which seems to channel the devil spawn of Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan carries the day whether he is kicking out the jams on the cowbell swirling, organ magnificence of “Hey Monet,” a song that would have fit in perfectly in the canon of The Flamin’ Groovies back in the day, or laying back on the Phil Spector inspired “Cherry Red Boots.”
Once the first couple of lines of the Velvet’s inspired almost title track “Ride On” hits your ears, the sales pitch is in, and the deal is closed on a record that will remain in heavy rotation well into the summer and beyond.
The Cold Stares – Voices
Blues Rock is back and better than over, case in point, is Voices, the latest from Indiana’s own The Cold Stares. Bringing to the minds-ear other back-in-the-day trios, The Jimi Hendrix Experience on “Come For Me,” Stevie Ray and Double Trouble on the opener “Nothing But The Blues,” and ZZ Top on “Got No Right.”
The semi-funky “Lights Out” is a festival and arena-ready anthem, and while “Waiting For The Rain Again” might ride the rails entering into Kenny Wayne Sheppard or Jonny Lang guitar slinger territory, the muscular drive of the band, locked in the groove, carries the day.
If there is a miss-step here, it might be “Sorry I Was Late.” The Whitesnake meets Night Ranger ballad certainly highlights the vocal prowess of singer Chriss Tapp, for much of the song it sounds like the band is trying to work out the intro to “Stairway To Heaven.”
Overall, this record rocks hard where it needs to and allows time for reflection right at the very time that it is needed.
The Panhandlers – Tough Country
If you ever wanted to experience what it would be like cruising the Texas backroads going from Honky Tonk to Honky Tonk listening to red dirt music the way it was meant to be played, then The Panhandlers and Tough Country is your perfect hill country jam.
Originally coming together as a tribute to the legendary trio The Flatlanders, a band consisting of Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock, The Panhandlers are younger gun Texans, Josh Abbott, John Baumann, William Clark Green, along with Cleto Cordero of Flatland Calvary.
Standing on their own, the Panhandlers celebrate everything Texas on this record. Whether they are celebrating the real Texas on “West Texas Is The Best Texas,” lamenting the hipster take-over of Dallas and Austin, or languishing in the Marfa lights like they are doing on “Moonlight In Marfa,” it sounds like picking up some screw-top wine and a case of beer at the 7-11 and stepping out to the “Midland” Jamboree would be a perfect end to a perfect day spent with this record and the Panhandlers.
Matt Andersen – The Big Bottle of Joy
Rock and Soul is the order of the day on Matt Andersen’s new album, the aptly named The Big Bottle of Joy. From the opening Hammond B-3 riffage of “Let It Slide” the cathartic joyful noise is palpable.
“What’s On My Mind” is a ripped-from-the-headlines plea to get along with one another, and “Rollin’ Down the Road” is taken right from the J.J. Cale songbook. “Only an Island” takes things a bit low and slow in the Joe Cocker Mold, and the closer “Shoes” puts a poignant pin on an album of reflection and joy.
Doolin’ – Circus Boy
Festival favorites on both sides of the pond, the band Doolin’ is a French Celtic supergroup of sorts combining traditional Celtic influences with Creole, French Pop, and Folk inspirations to create a smorgasbord of sounds that transcend boundaries.
“Man Smart (Woman Smarter)” is the band’s New Orleans-style take on the King Radio, made famous by Harry Belafonte, calypso classic, “When I’m Done” has a bit of a Waterboys pathos to it, and the title track “Circus Boy” has a bit of a Kevin Rowland by way of Dawes vibe to the deal.
The “Darkest Day” breaks down like a Lumineers epic ode, and “A Place Where We Belong” could have been on a Bono solo record, if he ever were to record one that is.
Given the disparate influences on this record, it would have been easy to stray away from the core and lack cohesion. Such is not the case on this artistic tour-de-force mostly due to the collaborations from Ashley Davis (The Chieftans), Celtic band Screaming Orphans, and Niahm Gallagher (Lord of the Dance). This is a band that is clearly stretching boundaries and having fun. And, in the end, isn’t that what playing music is supposed to be about?
The roll continues to rock this week with some intrinsically cool nuggets perfect for palate cleansing.
The mighty Luke Spiller and The Struts are out with an outstanding E.P., Unplugged at East West.
Americana OG’s The Long Ryders are out with a new video and single in advance of their upcoming record.
And, Brian Dunne, a newcomer we are starting to get behind, has released the single, “It’s A Miracle,” in advance of his soon-to-be-released long player, Loser On The Ropes.
But, enough with the foreplay. Here are five carefully curated selections to please the senses and tickle the earbuds.
Shamus – The Shepherd and the Wolf
Springing from the retro-rockers Sheepdogs collective, a stable that includes The Sheepdogs, the band BROS, and now Shamus, The Shepherd and the Wolf, is the latest project of band member and multi-instrumentalist Shamus Currie. With heavy 1970s influences throughout, the record is a concept album centered around a world of fantasy and adventure.
A rock opera of sorts, there are enough progressive rock touches to satisfy the faithful, leaving the edges to be rounded out with healthy doses of rock and roll. Think of a Jethro Tull without the flute.
From the opening “Days of High Adventure,” the stage is set for an aural journey that will shape-shift your mood back to the days when the music was intelligent and escapism the order of the day. With musical muses the likes of Thin Lizzy, Early Steve Miller, Moody Blues, and King Krimson, the prog riffs are there for sure but are contained to the mini opus level.
Meant to be digested as an entire entity in one sitting, this is a journey worth taking.
Jenny O. – Spectra
Opening with the mighty Hammond B-3 organ on “Pleasure In Function,” Jenny O. introduces us to her newest record which is stylistically a bit of a departure with more indie pop than we may be used to from her.
“You Are Loved Eternally” floats on a George Harrison solo-years cloud, “Prism” is a floater that comes across a bit like Suzanne Vega, while “Advise at A Dinner Party,” a song that reminds us that we get better as we age, has a Bangles dance party vibe about it.
You won’t find yourself passing over any tracks on this record and while Jenny O. might not seem to be as edgy as she was back in her Automechanic Days, this more laid-back introspective version is pretty much perfect for our ears.
Lucero – Should’ve Learned By Now
Having curated a sound that has evolved from Southern rock to Americana, Stax soul and beyond, Lucero continues to release quality music that lifts the spirit and soothes the soul.
From the cowbell declaration of the opener, “One Last F.U.,” the ears perk up, and the train starts rolling, soundtracking a morality tale anthem that would make Tom Waits cringe. Veering away from the Southern-goth imagery, on this, the band’s twelfth record, they return to the barrooms and the bar-rock roots already well-traveled by The Hold Steady, The National, or the Drive-By Tuckers.
Essentially an album about drinking, “Macon If We Make It” is about waiting out a storm in a backwoods watering hole, “At The Show” espouses the youthful exuberance of waiting for your friends trying to figure out how to get into the bar where your favorite band is playing, and “Drunken Moon” speaks for itself.
Overall, Should’ve Learned By Now should stand up in the upper tier of the band’s canon, and for a band that has put out quality work for more than 20 years with essentially the same band members, that is saying a lot.
The Shootouts – Stampede
Coming quickly on the heels of their last record, Bullseye, the timeline for the follow-up shortened once Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson expressed an interest in working with the band. With Stampede, the band’s third long player, the musical template remains the same, Western swing with heavy doses of classic country and Americana thrown in for good measure.
With guest turns from Mary Stuart on “Better Things We Do,” Buddy Miller on “Anywhere But Here,” and the underrated Jim Lauderdale on “Tomorrow’s Knockin’,” the album at times takes on the collaborative feel of a Willie Nelson picnic.
If Bob Wills is the king of Western Swing, then Ray Benson is the crown prince, case in point, “One Step Forward” as presented here. And, if all of that fails to scratch your honky tonk itch, “I’ll Never Need Anyone More,” with Raul Malo pitching in, should have you heading for the dance floor post haste.
En Attendant Ana – Principia
With a vibe that flows somewhere between Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kate Bush, and the chanteuse go-go boots era, the Parisian combo En Attende Ana will hot tub time machine you back to a simpler time when your television had rabbit ears.
Hipster, stopping just short of being shoegaze, the opener, “Principia,” mood-sets the rest of the record with the jangle-adjacent guitar, echo chamber production, and floating Delores O’Riordan-style vocal textures.
“Ada, Mary, Diane,” while a bit more contemporary sounding than much of the record, is nonetheless a compelling jam, “Black Morning” is a bouncy pop tune that would have fit in quite nicely in Melanies’ canon back in the day, and “Wonder” is a vulnerable piece of art with the evocative lyric, “I’m a good human being, my mama said, I hope she’s right,” is a song right from the Aimee Mann playbook.
A groovy listen from start to finish, with the subtle horns, vintage organs, and selective use of the mellotron all coalescing to take you back to a simpler time while keeping your feet planted in the present.
The second single to be released from their upcoming record, Mess of Everything. This band from Springfield, Illinois travels the Power Pop edges of the Wilco, Cheap Trock universe with splinters of Tom Petty to soften out the edges. Look for the new record on March 17.
Nude Party – Sold Out Of Love
We are not sure of what is going on at camp Nude Party, but in the last couple of weeks they have put out a lot of content, and for the record, we here at Rock is the New Roll are quite pleased. This one, “Sold Out of Love” has a bit of a “Wild Horses” scent about it.
Ashley McBryde – Light On In The Kitchen
One of the shining lights on the Country/Americana scene, with her new single Ashley McBryde sings about the simple pleasures of life, pancakes that taste better after midnight, and a dose of local honey.
Angel – It’s Alright
If you were to ask RITNR senior contributor Bernie Sparrow there has been no decent rock music since 1977. This means this freshly minted single that features original Angel members Frank Dimino, Punky Meadows, and Danny Farrow will be on heavy rotation in the halls of Rock is the New Roll H.Q. And, god help us when the new record comes out on April 21st, via Cleopatra Records.
The National – New Order T-Shirt
The second pre-release single from their upcoming ninth proper release, Two Pages of Frankenstein.
When he is not applying his trade with the Foo Fighters is making music with his own Americana-adjacent band. Here, he enlists the help of John Osborne and Jaren Johnstone of The Cadillac Three on this country stomper.
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.