Buddy Guy, one of the last great blues men alive is still going strong as evidenced by this single that features James Taylor from his soon to be released latest record.
Another week in the books and things seem to be cranking. We were a bit skeptical when we heard that The Boss was putting out a Soul covers record, but holy Motown, by the sounds of this single that has leaked out it is going to be great.
Librarians with Hickeys have a new one out that is a Power Pop pleasure.
And, the Big Star, Badfinger devotees The Bablers tickle the ears with their new single “You Are The One For Me.”
Dead Daisies – Radiance
For those about to rock, we salute you. Here at Rock is the New Roll H.Q. we are big fans of Glen Hughes, next to David Coverdale our favorite Rock singe. And, by extension, we are cards to the middle of the table, all in, on the latest Dead Daisies record, Radiance.
Full of high-tone ‘70s rock swagger in the Deep Purple mold, this super group that consists of former Whitesnake guitarist David Aldrich, Glen Hughes, major-domo and bandleader David Lowy, and drummer for hire Brian Tichy, pull out all of the stops on a record that is full of heavy riffs, soaring vocals, and monster drumming.
Sure, the music is not very subtle and there is not much room for nuance, but if you like Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Rainbow, or Ronnie James Dio, then this record is right up your horns up street.
2nd Grade – Easy Listening
The Philadelphia five-piece that is 2nd Grade is poised for next-level greatness with their third proper full-length, Easy Listening.
The texture transitions from song to song that the band pulls off makes for not only an interesting listen, but also rewards the listener with new signature Nuggets to be unfurled with each successive spin.
The opener “Cover of Rolling Stone,” no not that one, is a short fuzz-laden, straight ahead rocker, and “Strung Out On You” is a Power Pop gem in the Weezer and Fountains of Wayne mold. And, believe it or not, there is a bit of James Gang essence on “Controlled Burn.”
“Wouldn’t It Be Nice To Let It Be” shows the band’s softer side as well as highlights their songwriting acumen, and “Keith and the Telecaster” has a bit of a Ramones feel to it.
Pound for pound one of the most eclectically cool records of the year, look for this one to show up on several best-of lists later in the year.
The Airport 77s – We Realize You Have A Choice
From the opening Journey by way of Night Ranger riffage on “One Good Thing About Summer” to the Cheap Trick if The Struts Luke Spiller fronted the band splendor of “Birthday Girl” the ears are tuned to coolness with this sophomore release of Airport 77s.
With the lyric, “He has a photo with Sammy Hagar and tattoo that says Aloha,” on “Losers Win,” you get a sense of the whimsical side of the band, and the soaring gang vocals imbedded in “Somebodies” is pure ‘80s rock that would make The Romantics proud.
Putting the power in Power Pop and the radio in Radio Friendly, this banger of a record might force you to change the needle on your turntable you will be playing it so much. And, yes, there is cowbell.
Buddy Guy – The Blues Don’t Lie
Blues man Buddy guy doesn’t stray too far from home here, but when you apply your craft so well, that is never a bad thing.
From the opener, “I Let My Guitar Do The Talking” it is abundantly clear that there is a lot left in the blues tank and Guy has lost nothing on his fastball, either vocally or instrumentally.
The title track is a poignant reflection on Sonny Boy Williamson that told Buddy that the blues never die when he left Chicago for Little Rock to die, and “The World Needs Love” is a slow burner with a message for the times.
The proceedings heat up in the back half of the record with guest turns from the likes of James Taylor, Elvis Costello and Bobby Rush. And the emotionally devastating “Gunsmoke Blues” with Jason Isbell lays bare the issue of gun control. And, for the record, the cover of The Beatles “I’ve Got a Feeling” presented here is epic.
The pristine production, careful curation of the contributors, and strength and tenor of his playing and his vocals combine to make this record one of the best albums the blues legend has put out on the last 10 years.
Alice Cooper – Live From The Astroturf
This 12th proper Alice Cooper live Alice Cooper record this one was recorded live in 2015 at Good Records Dallas, Tx.
Featuring mostly the original Cooper line up, Alice, Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce and Neil Smith with Ryan Roxie filling in for the late Glen Buxton, this intimate performance is notable in that stripped of the often over the top stage theatrics Cooper engages the audience with story telling stage banter that adds to the enjoyment level of the concert.
With songs focusing on the glory days of the band, “Be My Lover,” “I’m 18,” and “School’s Out” blast from your speakers as if these men of a certain age were playing them for the first time.
This one is a must-have for fans of Alice Cooper and a definite peek into the glory days of rock and roll. For extra credit there is a documentary of this event that includes Q&A’s with the band members.
Proving that your blues does not always need to be gritty and grimy, here Joanne Taylor Shaw lays down some smooth blues with this Joe Bonamassa produced gem.
Another week has gone by and another really cool music week to enjoy. A feast for the ears for sure.
Hank Williams Jr. has signed on with Easy Eye Sound releasing “.44 Special Blues” in advance of a new record to be released later in the year.
Rockers Sweet Crisis is out with a stellar version of Free’s classic “I’ll Be Creepin”.
And, proving again that Easy Eye sound can do no wrong, Velveteers make their presence known in advance of a proper full-length later in the year.
And, why wait until record store day, here are five more ear-tickling nuggets to tingle the ears and soothe the soul.
Blackberry Smoke – Stoned
A digital drop of the 2021 Record store day release, this Blackberry Smoke Rolling Stones tribute was recorded, mixed, and mastered live in one take on November 6, 2020.
Featuring songs from the ‘70s pulling heavily from Exile on Main Street and Sticky Fingers, the less is more approach that super-producer Dave Cobb gives to the project gives it the loose feel magic that many of those mid-era stones carried back in the day.
Charlie Starr and Blackberry Smoke were born to inhabit the soul of “Sway,” and “Street Fighting Man” stays a bit too close to the vest to be actually cool.
But, you have a right to be pissed if you bought the vinyl because you were a Blackberry Smoke fan and you never thought this record would see the light of ear on your favorite digital platform.
Kurt Vile – (watch my moves)
Always flirting with the fringes of pop, adding a fuzz guitar there, a psychedelic interlude there, Kurt Vile consistently delivers a unique brand of Rock and Roll that while it can be a bit fried and sizzled at times, is always eclectically cool. And his latest, (watch my moves), is certainly no exception.
From the opener, “Going on a Plane Today,” Vile has plans to chug a beer, listen to Neil Young Young, and reflect on his younger self, setting the stage for a set of songs that wander stealthily through the garden as a perfect accompaniment for chilling on a bench reading Raymond Carver short stories.
The Lou Reed speak-sing lilt of “Flyin (like a fast train)” has a way of washing over you at first listen and completely enveloping you with multiple spins. And, the single “Like Exploding Stones” will have you going woo woo for the rest of the day.
This is a winner of a record that will require multiple spins on the turntable for the hook to set. But when it does, you will be a better person for listening to it. Certainly, a more advanced one.
Edgar Winter – Brother Johnny
Ultimately dying from fierce heroin addiction in 2014, Johnny Winter was one of the first white Blues-Rock virtuosos, a trailblazing precursor to Jonny Lang, Joe Bonamassa, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, and many more. And here, on Brother Johnny, his brother Edgar has gathered a who’s who of guitar slingers to pay tribute covering many of the songs that are part of the Johnny Winter canon over the years.
The list of artists that contributed here is ridiculously cool including Billy Gibbons, Joe Bonamassa, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Keb’ Mo’, Derek Trucks, Joe Walsh, David Grissom, Steve Lukather, Doyle Bramhall II, Warren Haynes, Bobby Rush, and Robben Ford. Can I get an Amen?
With each song uniquely produced to match the style of the guest artist, each song, while having been heard thousands of times the tunes come out of the speakers as a wholly new entity. Highlights are many including the scorching “I’m Yours and I’m Hers” with Billy Gibbons and Derek Trucks going fret for fret, and “Highway 61 Revisited” featuring Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
As ringleader, Edgar Winter does a masterful job of playing and producing this record with the notable exception of adding Michael McDonald to the cast of cronies on “Stranger.”
And, on what was one of his last non-Foo Fighter appearances, Taylor Hawkins provides the drumming and backing vocals on the prescient “Guess I’ll Go Away.”
Kaitlin Butts – What Else Can She Do
Put a pin in this date of your musical listening history as you will likely want to remember the first time that up-and-coming Americana singer Kaitlin Butts hit your ear waves. With a voice that floats somewhere between Kacey Musgraves and Margo Price and a cowgirl rebel attitude that could rival Nikki Lane, there is a certain Lydia Loveless aura sounding her latest record, “What Else Can She Do.”
From the opening night-noir refrains from “It Won’t Always Be This Way,” the pure class of the songwriting demonstrated here is readily apparent.
“Speak of the devil, in he walks. It’s like his ears burn when I talk. Pushed in a gutter, stuck in a rut, waiting for the next turn of the knife in my gut.”
And it only gets better than there. “What Else Can She Do” has a definite Tanya Tucker by way of Shelby Lynne vibe, while “Jackson” is a dangerous spin on the original that namechecks Johnny and June. Spoiler alert, they never make it to Jackson.
At a tidy 7 songs in just under 32 minutes in length, this record should be digested in one bourbon-filled sitting not stopping until the closing Leadbelly staple “In The Pines” completes its mournful wail and floats away from your speakers.
A riveting turn from an artist that knows what it’s like to live on the knife’s edge without cutting herself and wants to tell us all about it.
Jewel – Freewheelin’ Woman
Seven years removed from her last attempt to reinvent herself, Picking Up The Pieces, Jewel has returned to the scene of the scene with the Pop-Soul centric Freewheelin’ Woman.
“Living With Your Memory” is pure Muscle Shoals bombast, “No More Tears” is a dramatic turn with an assist from Darius Rucker, and “Half-Life” could have been a hit song in the ‘70s by any number of the female country crooners.
You would be hard-pressed to find a more life-affirming song recorded this year than “Dance Sing Laugh Love,” the centerpiece of a record that might not put Jewel firmly back on the radar, but a visit from an old friend you haven’t heard from in a while is always welcome.
Boom goes the dynamite this week with a ton of really cool music to delight the ears and tickle your sonar system.
Rock is the New Role super faves, retro ‘70s rockers The Sheepdogs, are out with a really hip new single and video with “Find The Truth.
The latest Beach Bunny single, “Fire Escape” straddles the Pop Punk, Indie Rock line.
And, Dawes delivers a mighty fine live video from their upcoming release, Live from the Rooftop, With a sparkling long-form rendition of “Somewhere Along the Way.”
But, wait. Don’t give the party the Irish exit just yet. Here are five ear-worthy records carefully curated this week for your listening pleasure.
Albert Cummings – Ten
One of those underrated consummate musicians you will find, Albert Cummings very much needs to be on your radar if he is not already. With a vibe that walks the back alleys of B.B. King and Delbert McClinton, every song on his latest record, Ten, is a Blues Rock banger.
While the single “Need Somebody” strays into rock territory on the Blues-Rock spectrum, Albert’s ability to pen a honky tonk rabble-rouser of a tune is on full display thanks to the songs “Too Old To Grow Up,” along with the “you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here anthem” “Last Call,” featuring a Vince Gill vocal turn.
“Beautiful Bride” should become the next great wedding song, and “Sounds Like The Road” is a paean to the pull of life on the road for a working musician. If you haven’t been in a proper roadhouse since Patrick Swayze was the bouncer, spend some time with this record and it will be as if you never left.
Jack Broadbent – Ride
Growing up in Lincolnshire, England tagging along with his father on open mic nights, Jack Broadbent absorbed the scene ultimately playing drums in his father’s band while learning to be a Nashville-class slide guitar player.
With his latest record, Ride, Broadbent channels his Tony Joe White by way of Lou Reed vocal style into a set of songs that will take you way down the alleyways of New Orleans and off into the horizons.
The opener, “Ride” eulogizes the path of ghosts left behind, and the delicate balance in knowing when to leave before it is past time to go, while “New Orleans” may be the destination and a love letter to his favorite city as well.
Spend some time with the jaunty “I Love Your Rock ‘n’ Roll” as it earworms itself way into your brain, while “Midnight Radio” will have you drinking French 75’s with Tony Joe White on Bourbon Street.
Romero – Turn It On
It is no secret that some of the best vibrant, electrified, pure Rock and Roll currently is generated down under, in this case, Melbourne Australia. Turn It On, the debut record from the Band Romero is, simply put, a party on a platter.
With Blondie fronting The Undertones in the DNA of this band, the punk-laced Power Pop presented here is confident, brazen, and timeless. “Honey” is the Go Go’s on steroids, the opener “Talk About” an air blast of energy, is a tightly constructed stunner, and yes, there is cowbell. “Crossing Lines could have been a Siouxsie Sue hit song, if she ever had one that is, and “Turn It On” is another cowbell-infused classic.
For a debut record, this one represents a band that is fully formed and ready to scorch the earth on the festival circuits this summer.
Paul Cauthen – Country Coming Down
A member in good standing of the younger gun Outlaw Country movement along with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Cody Jinks, and Sturgill Simpson, Paul Cauthen has released a record that to many ears might be his best effort to date.
With a vocal timber that goes deep into the Waylon Jennings well, the songs presented here range from honky tonk worthy staples to glint in the eye semi bro-country tunes.
“High Heels” is a perfect song for that hour of preparation time while you wait for your lady to get ready for a night on the town. “Champagne & A Limo” ironically states the case for becoming rich, and “Country as F**k” is a subversive middle finger raised to the establishment.
One gets the sense that Pail Cauthen had a lot of fun making this record. The fact that he doesn’t take himself too seriously makes this one a good listen for a poolside margarita party.
Calexico – El Mirador
From the opening horn-centric Babalu worthy refrains of “El Mirador,” the lead-off track from the eclectically groovy latest record of the same name from Calexico, the stage is set for a fantastical listening journey.
From the Tarantino-noir vibes of “Harness The Wind,” a tune that would like fit in quite nicely in the middle of any of the once upon a time in … [insert location here] movies, to the corner of Hollywood & Vine Tom Waits vibing “El Paso,” there is a surprise around every musical corner. Mixing Spanish language mariachi-lite with English, as the band is known to do, seamlessly accents the listening experience with varied song textures cut after cut.
Fully realizing we are just barely past the quarter pole in this race, it is not simply hyperbole to declare this one a candidate for album of the year.
Wet Leg – Wet Leg
It has been quite a while since a record hit the halls of Rock is the New Roll H.Q. that carried the hype that the band Wet Leg brings to their self-titled release.
Once the most non-sensical first single “Chaise Lounge” ear-wormed itself into our skulls, you either hated the song, or you reveled in the post-punk Ty Seagall evoking, French disco-inspired, Joie de vie of the whole experience. For some, they landed squarely in the camp of the former, and after several carefully curated, semi-sober listening sessions, color us, chips to the center of the table, all in with this record as well as this band.
Picture Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, and Suzi Quattro as members of the Go Go’s, and you get a real minds-ear view of what this band sounds like. Tight, harmonic, aggressive CBGB mini anthems from the perspective of a 20-something duo, Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers.
Mixing the buoyant risqué-ness of “Wet Dream,” a song that name-checks the Christina Ricci cult classic film Buffalo 66, with the swooning Florence and the Machine inspired “Convincing,” with a side order of “Loving You,” a song that could be a long lost Abba single, what you are left with is a roller coaster ride that is well worth taking.
“Made Up Mind,” the first Bonnie Raitt single to be seen in the wild for some time sounds just like Bonnie Raitt should sound. And, that is a very good thing.
Sure, the week is a little slow on the new release front, but we are doing the work so you don’t have to in order to deliver to your ears some choice musical nuggets.
The Mysterines are barely out of their teens, have yet to release a proper album, yet these Liverpool rockers are set to take over the world two ears at a time.
Pretty much the only thing you need to know about Ceramic Animal is that the Black Keys and Easy Eye Records major-domo Dan Auerbach is twirling the knobs producing their upcoming album. The blend of classic ’70s countrypolitan splendor on this one will have you riding through a desert on a horse with no name.
The Canadian band The Damn Truth is setting stages on fire in support of their 2021 record, Now or Nowhere. All you really need to know about these guys is that they have opened for ZZ Top, Metallica, as well as Rival Sons and their latest record was produced by Bob Rock. “Only Love” opens up like a Bon Jovi lighters lit anthem and quickly morphs into a Heart Wilson sisters rocker at the blink of an ear courtesy of Lee-La Baum and her back of the barroom vocals.
And, yes there’s more. Here are five new records that are nibbling at our ear lobes this week.
John Mellencamp – Strictly A One-Eyed Jack
It’s hard to believe that it has been forty years since John Mellencamp was telling us to “hold on to 16 as long as you can.” Here, on his latest, Strictly A One-Eyed Jack we find the singer fully shedding his Springsteen lite midwest rocker overalls in favor of a Leonard Cohen worthy coat of paint.
The voice is rough and battle-scarred, somewhere North of Lemmy and South of Tom Waits, a result of decades of chainsmoking, but it still sounds great and is perfectly suited for the spare storytelling fare that he presents on this one.
Two songs, “Did You Say Such A Thing” and “Wasted Days” feature The Boss himself on guest vocals, are particularly great. And, the piano-sparse “Gone So Soon” could have easily been the last cut on any one of the early Tom Waits records.
If you haven’t spent any time with John Mellencamp since the “Pink Houses Days” allow yourself a visit, He is aging quite nicely.
Keb Mo’ – Good To Be …
After refurbishing his childhood home in Compton and alternating residences between California and Nashville, Kevin Morris, aka Keb Mo’ continues to reside deep in the pocket of what has become practically his own musical genre with a fusion of Delta Blues, Contemporary Country, Americana, and Soul.
“The Medicine Man” is a gospel stomper with Old Crow Medicine Show providing authentic hillbilly sensibility to an otherwise politically tinged tune, “Good To Be (Home Again)” proves once and for all that you can go home again, and you need to stick a pin in “Sunny And Warm” and dust it off for the summer hammock and sipping season.
There is a feel-good ebb and flow on this record that is inspired and soul-stirring. Feel free to walk on by the closing track “Quiet Moments.” This Lionel Richie ’80s ballad song could have been left off the record, all for the better.
The Whitmore Sisters – Ghost Stories
Sure, this may be the debut record under the name Whitmore Sisters, but if you are hip to the Americana scene at all you have heard both Bonnie and Eleanor Whitmore in various musical configurations over the last decade. Bonnie has four solo albums under her belt, Eleanor is a member of The Mastersons with Chris Masterson, and they are both card-carrying members of Steve Earles’ band, The Dukes.
Here, with Ghost Stories, the sisters Whitmore definitely seem to have found their niche. The opener “Learn To Fly” is a harmony-laden splendor that would make First Aid Kit blush, “The Ballad of Sissy & Porter” is a cross between “Jack and Diane” and “The Road Goes On Forever,” and the closer “Greek Tragedy” is a weeper made even more emotionally heartfelt with the blending on the sisterly voices.
This one is a grower that should grow onto many of the top ten lists when the end of the year rolls around.
Tinsley Ellis – Devil May Care
Tinsley Ellis has long stepped out from the shadow of Stevie Ray Vaughan and is still going strong. And now, 20 albums in, he is just as fresh, vibrant, and relevant as ever. On Devil May Care Ellis pays tribute to The Allman Brothers on ten tightly wound tunes culled from a batch of 200 songs written during a pandemic induced creative burst of energy. From the opening Allman’s “No Way Out” inspired salvo all systems are go as Tinsley’s leathery, whiskey soaked voice takes over and joins the party with the band kicking in creating a joyful Eat A Peach worthy noise.
Using overdubs of his own lead and slide playing to recreate the Almann’s signature sound with added musical texture courtesy of the presence of a trumpet and saxophone player in the band, the players are tight and in-step as any band you will find this side of Muscle Shoals.
Whether he is wandering the back alleys with the late night subtle blues of “Don’t Bury Our Love,” jumping center stage on the Hendrix chanelling “Step Up,” or taking the “Slow Train to Hell” like he does on the closer that owes more than a little debt to ZZ Top’s “Blue Jean Blues,” Tinsley Ellis may have just released the Blues record of the year. And, it’s only January.
Miles Kane – Change The Show
As co-frontman with Alex Turner in The Last Shadow Puppets, Miles Kane is known for his tightly constructed symphonic melodies in the Paul Weller Mold. And here, with his fourth record, he has hit his stride as a solo artist.
Chanelling Marc Bolan on the opener “Tears Are Falling” Kane somehow manages to rhyme orchestrator and cocktail maker on a song that could have been in the ether somewhere in the late ‘6os. The ghost of “Wah-Wah” era George Harisson surfaces on “See Ya When I See Yah,” and on the effortlessly ebullient “Coming of Age” he lyrically outkicks his coverage with the line “whisk me off to Sicily, we’ll pretend we know history.”
Putting forth nostalgic influences front and center is nothing new for an artist that moves from Beatles to Pop to Motown, and on to Phil Spector, with many time machine stops along the way, with the ease of a member of the Wallenda family walking a tightrope with a bicycle on their shoulder.
Blues guitar player Joe Bonamassa continues to shift-shape himself, bending the blues continuum to his will. Here he expresses the Rock side of Blues Rock with this anthemic cut from his latest, Time Clocks.
With Joe Bonamassa taking him under his wing twirling the knobs on his upcoming album, Crown, Eric Gales delivers a swaggering cut that will bring to the minds-ear Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B. King.
Samantha Fish is one of those rare artists that release live versions of the songs they put out from the studio cuts. This one is a blues scorcher.