Of course, everything is just a placeholder while waiting for the new Metallica album to hit our shores, but in the meantime, there are a lot of new records to hit our earbuds.
The Power Pop splendor of The Push Puppets is a refreshing new find.
Sunset Strip retro rockers Backstreet Girls are out with a Sleaze-Glam rocker, “Too Cool For You.”
And, Golden Richards, a Power Pop band with hooks-a-million in the Fountains of Wayne and Cheap Trick mold has a cool new single out with “Shake Your Hair.”
But, enough of the pre-game hype. We do the work so you don’t have to. Here are five choice cuts to savor this week.
The Shang Hi Los – Aces Eights & Heartbreaks
That rare band with dueling male-female singers, Dan Kopko and Jen Angora, The Shang Hi-Los, create a beautiful noise mixing Phils Spector girl group and Cheap Trick by way of Blondie Power Pop into a mai-tai blender of semi-retro coolness.
Hailing from Boston, filling out the band with maestros from the area music scene, there is nary a dud inherent in this set of firecracker tunes. The opener, “Takes One To Know You” is Cheap trick with a Badfinger sensibility, “Monsieur Valentine” would have gone over well at CB GB’s in the ’80s with Debbie Harry behind the microphone, and “Plymouth Rock” has a bit of a Pretenders scent wafting in the air. And then there’s “Billy” with its over-the-top mariachi horns a song that is perfect Tarantanio-noir fare.
This record is a blast of a new find worth your extended ear time. Hard to believe, but it’s true. This cool album actually lives up to the cool band name.
White Reaper – Asking For A Ride
To our ears, the Rock album of the year may have just self-presented with White Reapers’ fourth proper record, Asking For A Ride. Over three years past their breakthrough single “Might Be Right,” with this one the band may have just painted their masterpiece.
Part Zenyatta Mondatta era police, part Black Sabbath, with a dose of the MC-5 and The Ramones for good measure, from the opening salvo of the title track you are hit between the ears with an aural blast of atomic energy that is as transformative as music can get without landing you in jail.
From “Asking For A Ride” and on to “Bozo” and “Fog Machine” the guitar and drum attack is relentless, and it is not until four songs in with “Getting Into Trouble W/The Boss” that the poppier side of the band shows through. And, with the Oasis evoking “Heaven or Not” it is clear that the time spent between records honing their craft and curating their sound has the band coming out the other side with a solid release that should stand the test of time.
The Foreign Films – Magic Shadows
With “Midnight Movies,” the opening track of the new album from Bill Majoros, dba The Foreign Films, the tone-setting begins with a dose of Kinksian butterfly splendor in the Schoolboys In Disgrace mold. And, once the second track kicks in with the All Things Must Pass George Harrison vibe on “Rain Clouds (Sunshine In Your Heart)” your minds-ear will be setting the coordinates directly towards cool.
With “Perfect Future,” a song that could have been on any David Bowie Dogs era record, and once the hippy-dippy Donovan dusted “Sparks In the Dark (Merry-Go-Round)” kicks in you will be left hoping that the time machine that took you back to 1965 has enough volts left in the tank to get you home.
Speaking of time machines, the song “Time Machine” will have you yearning for the days of The Dave Clark Five, and there is more than a little bit of Electric Light Orchestra landing on “Cinema Girl (Magic Shadows).” Pound for pound greta, this record, with its textured and fluid Joie-de-vie tickling your ears, will likely resurface once the end-of-the-year lists hit the presses.
David Ronaldo – Tunes For A Dime
A bit too country to be classified as Rock, not quite outlaw enough to ride the wind with Waylon and Jamey Johnston, David Ronaldo, with his new record, Tunes For A Dime, David lands right there in the Sturgill Simpson, Steve Earle universe with Tennesee whiskey, reefers, and wine the order of the day.
Deftly mixing Rock, Barroom Blues, and Country in equal measures, it is hard to imagine the driving ZZ Top adjacent “Laid-Back & Easy” not being a crowd-pleaser in any, pick-your-poison, juke joint where Ronaldo might be playing.
Sure, there is a miss-step along the way here, most notably on “Shadows Walking,” A song that is much too close to the Bon Jovi “Wanted Dead Or Alive” bone, and the environmental challenge of “What Have You Really Done” where the music doesn’t really fit the lyrics, but overall this is a solid listen with over the top guitar work that scorches the earth with a double bill of ZZ Top and Delbert McClinton evoking splendor.
The Arcs – Electrophonic Chronic
The Arcs, the side-piece band for the Black Keys singer-songwriter and Easy Eye Sound major-domo Dan Auerbach, are out with one of the more eclictically cool records of the year with Electrophonic Chronic.
With shades of R&B with “Heaven is a Place,” the yacht rock-adjacent Hall and Oates vibe of “Keep On Dreaming,” and the “Crimson and Clover” dusting on the intro to “Eyes” there is a warm familiarity to the proceedings here that makes this one sound vintage and fresh at the same time, a gift that is Auerbach’s superpower.
Making full use of the instruments available to him at Easy Eye, “River” has a old-school soul organ sound that comes acrsoss like Leon Bridges covering “Take Me To The Water,” and the piano-pop wondermint of “Sunshine” floats along like early era Bee-Gees. Once you get to “A Man Will Do Know Wrong” it is clear that the studio is a co-conspirator on this record taking on a life of its own much in the way that Muscle Shoals was the co-star for all those Soul albums back in the day.
Listen to this one once, twice, then thrice. A new experience will unfold with each subsequent tracking, and they are all glorious to behold.