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.