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?