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.