Simply put, Willie Nelson is a national treasure. This one is from 1984.
Sometimes criticized for being to on the nose with their George and Garth sound, t our ears, that is not a bad thing. Here, is their latest video in advance of a new record to be coming out soon.
Holy mother of pearl, this is a great week for new music. If you don’t believe us, just check out the new single from The Lickerish Quartet, a band that features most of the iconic SF Bay area band, Jellyfish.
Or, expand your mind with the latest from Rock is the New Roll’s favorite’s, Cats in Space. “Poke The Witch” is an epic tune.
And, Delicate Steve is out with a sweet instrumental single, “Playing In A Band” that will be on his upcoming album. For Delicate Steve, it is all about his 1966 Stratocaster.
And, don’t change that channel. There are five really cool records worthy of your earphones this week.
Willie Nelson – A Beautiful Time
Hitting the streets on April 29, 2022, on Willie Nelson’s 89th birthday, the red-headed stranger once again teams up with producer Buddy Cannon on a set of songs that takes old age head-on and addresses his mortality. Taking on themes of life, death, and love from the opening song, co-written with Chris Stapleton and Rodney Crowell, “I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die” to the whimsical Willie at his humorous best, “I Don’t Go To Funerals,” where he professes to be not even going to his own funeral. The voice may be a bit frail and dusty, but the guitar work courtesy of Trigger is as strong as it has been on any record.
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to play in one of the legendary poker games at Willie’s home in Maui with Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson, you will get a seat at the table courtesy of “We’re Not Happy (Till You’re Not Happy).” They are there to shoot the bull and shoot tequila, play some cards and hide out from their wives. And on “Dusty Bottles” you will be able to sit down and have a beer with father time.
For someone who has put out as many records as Willie Nelson has, likely over 200, this one should go down in history as one of his best, maintaining a decade-long winning streak of quality performances.
Eli “Paperboy” Reed – Down Every Road
Mostly known for his R&B in the late ’60s to early ’70s Revivalism mold, Eli “Paperboy” Reed puts his blue-eyed soul stamp on a set of nicely curated Merle Haggard songs. The Haggard songbook runs the gamut from Country to Americana music to Jazz, always delivered with a whole lot of soul and, as such, is a perfect background for Reed to explore and interpret in his own style.
Playing it straight Like he does on “Mama Tried” and “Lonesome Fugitive” Reed brings out the soul of the song with the emotion of a Jerry Butler Ballad from back in the day. But, it is on the deeper Hag cuts where this record really shines. “It’s Not Love, But It’s Not Bad” reaches the depths of Sam Cooke’s soul, and “I’m Gonna Break Any Heart I Can” is Wilson Pickett-worthy.
A master class in how to curate a cover’s record, the juxtaposition of selections that walk the line of the original and those that share enough DNA that the essence of the song carries the day makes this one an eclectic listen that will garner multiple spins on your turntable.
Dianne Coffee – With People
Applying his trade with his side-piece band Diane Coffee between Foxygen gigs, Shaun Fleming has released his fourth record with the band, the first since 2019. Produced by Foxygen major-domo Jonathan Rado, on this one, Fleming strays away from the Glam-Pop of his main gig in favor of a more subtle ’70s and ’80s soft rock aesthetic.
From the opener, “Corrina From Colina,” there is a Southern California beach vibe laid down, sort of like a cross between Holland Era Beach boys and Hall and Oates. This is a song that will catch your attention and entice you to head to the beach and paddleboard out in the ocean to catch those bigger waves ahead.
“Our Love/The Run” would have been a perfect vehicle for Freddie Mercury and Queen most notably at the piano break with the repeated angry whisper “You don’t get to treat me this way.”
With Foxygen level pop bombast reached on “Sharks,” and “The Great Escape” that give the record a breezy pop feel, this record is a perfect album for the now, but put a pin in this one and bring it back around when the sounds of summer are ready to dominate the airwaves.
Thunder – Dopamine
Applying their trade going on 35 years now, U.K. rock provocateurs Thunder have released a double album of riff-ready rock and roll that reflects back to ‘70s era guitar rock in the Tesla, U.F.O, and Nazareth mold.
“The Dead City” has leader Danny Bowes channeling his inner Paul Rodgers Bad Company persona and on “Black,” the band takes glam-rock to new heights.
There is beauty in diversity to be found everywhere on this record. “Is Anybody Out there” starts off as a Billy Joel-worthy ballad before it morphs itself into a mid-era Journey via way of Elton John stunner, and “Last Orders” meanders from Pink Floyd to Led Zeppelin with the aplomb of a best in class driving song.
For a record that has Rock album of the year written all over it, this one should settle the rock is dead controversy once and for all.
Trombone Shorty – Lifted
Practically born to be a musician, Trombone Shorty was playing the trombone going back to the days when the instrument was bigger than he was. Mentored by the Marsalis family and close family friends with Dr. John, Lifted Troy Andrews’s latest record has injected all of these New Orleans bloodlines into his veins on his latest record.
A gumbo of R&B, Soul, Funk, and New Orleans Brass, is served on every cut of this impressive piece of work. “I’m Standing here” could have easily been a Lenny Kravitz smash hit in the “Are You Gonna Go My Way” mold, “Everybody in the World” has that Harry Connick Jr. jazz vibe about it, and the opener “Come Back” lays it down like the best of Earth Wind and Fire.
With the single “Lie To Me,” a song that takes second-line gospel chants and melds them with Santana Band vibes and Preservation Hall local color with trumpet and trombones taking center stage, the message is clear. Trombone Shorty is in it to love it.
Plenty of choice music that is ear worthy this week as we are closing in on the summer months. Marcus King has us excited for the release of his proper full-length scheduled later in the year with “Hard Working Man,” and yes, there is cowbell.
The Rock band Stinger doesn’t shy away from their love for Bon Scott era AC/DC with the new release, “Rollercoaster.”
And even Willie Nelson joined the party on 4/20, of course, with another single, “Dusty Bottles.”
But don’t stop at those choice nuggets. Here are five new records that are getting plenty of airplay in the offices of Rock is the New Roll H.Q.
Dale Watson – Jukebox Fury
Pound for pound, pompadour for pompadour, Dale Watson remains one of the premier torchbearers for the Honky Tonk. Whether he is on stage during his frequent Memphis residencies, performing at tiny clubs like the Acoustic Cafe in Galveston, Tx, or traveling around the state fair circuit, from his boots to his meticulously coifed mane, he is a classic country artist all the way.
And here, on his latest, Watson pulls in friends Steve Cropper, Linda Gail Lewis, Lorrie Morgan, and the Hillbilly Moon Explosion to help him completely inhabitant a set of eclectically diverse cover songs.
Fans of Rock is the New Roll will likely find the songs presented here in their own personal top ten list. Watson’s take on Seger’s “Turn The Page” is performed close to the vest for sure, but is nonetheless cool, and the world didn’t really need to hear “A Horse With No Name” ever again, but this version falls somewhere to the right of lame.
“The Gambler” is another back in the day over-played earworm that could have been left off. but, his sparkling takes on “For What It’s Worth,” “Treat Her Right,” a song that features Steve Cropper, and the revved-up swamp-boogie of “Polk Salad Annie” makes this one a ride well worth taking.
Railroad Earth – All For The Song
Named after a Jack Kerouac poem, the band Railroad Earth is that rare combination of listenable bluegrass and subtle Americana with a rock and roll spirit. Their first record since 2019’s Railroad Earth: The John Denver Letters, All For The Song was produced by Anders Osbourne and recorded in New Orleans.
With hints of The Band as well as Old Crow Medicine Show overtones, the songs on this set pick up on the Big Easy spirit with blues harmonica, horns, and rock tempos giving the proceedings a feel-good vibe that is a slight departure from the Jam Band syle long-time Railroad fans might be used to.
“Runnin’ Wild” could have been a Tom Petty mid-tempo rocker from the Wildflowers era, “It’s So Good” is a positive song that celebrates the joy and importance of getting together with good friends, and “My Favorite Spot” expounds on the joys of finding your favorite spot, climbing the mountain, and letting the wind blow in your hair while you still have time. And, the title track, “All For the Song,” a tune that strays heavily into Gram Parsons territory, is worth the price of admission alone.
This is a contemplative record that is best digested alone with only your thoughts to keep you company.
Bonnie Raitt – Just Like That…
When you sit down and listen to “Down The Hall,” the last track on Bonnie Raitt’s exquisite new record, you can immediately tell that even going on 50 years since her debut record was released, she hasn’t missed a songwriting beat. A somber ending it may be, but the song, narrated by a murderer that is in jail working in the cancer ward of the prison trying to find meaning to a life well wasted checks every John Prine box and is as good of a song from a writing standpoint that has been released so far this year.
And, the album only gets better from there. A fitting follow-up to Dig in Deep in 2016 and Slipstream going back to 2016, “Livin’ For the Ones” is a Rolling Stones rocker that laments friends gone too soon, “Here Comes Love” has an appealing Rikki Lee Jones vibe about it, and “Love So Strong,” the Toots Hibbert song, follows in the tradition of “Need You Tonight” and “Right Down The Line” as make the song her own, carefully curated covers included on her albums.
Production polished as tight as the skin on an apple, every song flows to the next with the ease of a breezy drive on the autobahn. It is great to hear that Bonnie Raitt has more whiskey in the barrel delivering a bottle that is aged to perfection.
Joshua Headley – Neon Blue
The ghost of the late ’80s and early 90’s Country music is back and his name is Joshua Headley. Evoking the spirit of Alan Jackson, Joe Diffie, Garth Brooks, and King George Strait on his new record Neon Blue, Joshua Headly has made the perfect record for your next pontoon party.
From the Alan Jackson and “Chattahoochie” vibing “Broke Again” and the Garth-supreme nod to the Honky Tonk on the title track “Neon Blue,” all the way to the Randy Travis wink on “Found In A Bar,” the sincerity that comes across on this record is palpable, paying homage to the era instead of simply imitating a genre and a musical time-in-place that has been somewhat maligned in certain circles.
Sure, loyalty for this record will be in direct proportion to how much you listened to Brooks and Dunn, Clint Black, and the rest of the pack back in the day, but don’t overthink things. This is a fun record that will entice you to drag that old turntable out of the garage and start spinning some vinyl.
The Lazy Eyes – SongBook
Proving once again that there is a lot of cool listening to be had down under in Australia, The Lazy Eyes, with their debut album are making their presence known alongside fellow Aussies, Tame Impala, Pond, and King Grizzard & The Lizard Wizzard. Swirling psychedelia is the order of the day with this four-piece that could quite easily get the gig as the house band for Austin Powers’ bachelor party, or as artists in residence at Erik Von Zipper’s beach bar.
Not quite a sit and listen to sort of record, this one will take you places you never thought you wanted to go, but might not want to ever leave. “Hippo” is a whirling dervish slow build psych-jam, “Fuzz Jam” is a woozy Ty Seagall worthy gypsy-dance trance with a Michael Jackson “Beat It” mid-song interlude that sounds strange but actually works, and “Imaginary Girl” could have been a ’60s Small Faces track.
The best of the song-lot here just might be “Starting Over.” The song ear-melds Revolver era Beatles with French Pop in the mold of Air’s Moon Safari L.P. Savor this record in a dark room with plenty of lava lamps and groovy blacklight posters for maximum effect.
Proving once again that the great Willie Nelson is one of the great nuanced song interpreters of our time. Here, he completely owns the Leonard Cohen classic.
The boys from Midland do their own Texas quarantine spin on the Simple Minds classic.
Dan Auerbach with Easy Eye Sound is quickly becoming the new Rick Rubin. Here is the latest song and video from the New John Anderson record to be released later in the year. Trust us, it is going to be a good one.
Their version of Classic Country goes down as smooth as a glass of Bourbon. The good stuff.
Dan Auerbach with Easy Eye Sound, right before our very ears, is about to resurrect John Anderson’s career. Here is the second single to be released in advance of the upcoming album.
The Hot Country Knights have one stated mission and that is to bring 90’s Country back to the mainstream. Why you ask? We have no idea. But, if lead singer Douglas Douglason and Keytar player Terry Dvoraczekynski have anything to say about things these guys will be here to stay. The jury is still out as to whether these guys just have their collective tongues planted firmly in their cheeks or if they are the countrified version of Steel Panther. Only time will tell. Here, the guys play the role for all its worth with 90’s Country legend Travis Tritt.