Five Cool Ones: Five Cool Bands On Our Radar

5Gringo Star

Don’t sleep on these guys despite their eclectically cool band name. The sound is a bit vintage, and they are very proud of this fact. Swirling guitars, hazy vocals, and a very laid back approach make this band unique. Thin Feist and Cat Power here, but only if they grew up listening to Buddy Holly, The Kinks, or The Animals. Their new record is called Back to the City and is well worth a listen.

Gold Star

Power Pop is alive and well in 2018, Gold Star is carrying the torch quite nicely. Also known as Marlon Rabenreither, his given name, his latest record Uppers & Downers was recorded at historic Valentine Studios in Los Angeles. At it’s poppiest the record has a real Greg Kihn or Bodeans vibe to it. When he takes it lower and slower like he does on “Chinatown,” a song that was inspired by the spirit of a recently deceased friend, he evokes the ghost of Elliot Smith or the spirit of Paul Westerberg.

Dan Mangan

Dan Mangan is one of those guys that should be a lot more famous than he is. Toiling pretty much in anonymity North of the border in Vancouver, Mangan is a two-time JUNO (Canadian Grammy)  winner and is a several time nominee for the coveted Polaris award. A couple of singles he has released ahead of his new record shows an artist that is ready to break through in a big way.

Slothrust

Slothrust is songwriter, singer, guitar player, and all around cool Rock Chick Leah Wellbaum along with drummer Will Gorin and bassist Kyle Bann. Their new record that comes out on September 14th hits you between the ears with the fierceness of a wolverine. Think Patti Smith if she wasn’t o depressed back in the 70’s.

River Whyless

River Whyless is a should be on your radar from Asheville, North Carolina. Having started as a more traditional folk band, on their new record, Kindness, A Rebel, they lay on a psychedelic landscape with some Fleetwood Mac style harmonies to create a wholly unique sound that will wash over you like a dip in a cold spring on a hot day.

Album of the Day: Richard Swift – Dressed Up For The Let Down

richardswifftOften times, a very good way to expose yourself to new artists is to select a band that you like, find out who produced a particular record that you enjoy and follow it through down the rabbit hole of great music. In this case, with Richard Swift, there is a lot to enjoy. Not only was Swift the bass player for The Black Keys and the drummer for Dan Auerbach’s side piece band The Arcs, he also twirled the knobs as producer for Foxygen, Kevin Morby, and Damien Jurado, all great acts that we have been following over the last couple of years.

In addition to his production work, Richard put out a series of solo records that never really resonated with the mainstream although they were all nuanced gems with the best of the lot, Dressed Up For The Letdown, a stone cold masterpiece. Released in 2007, the record features stellar songwriting that would Do Randy Newman Proud, Pop sensibilities that would make Paul McCartney envious, and a production effort worthy of Burt Bacharach. Full of self-deprecating songs including the title track along with “P.S. It All Falls Down,” and “The Songs of National Freedom” the record pretty much lays out front and center an artist that is suffering from depression along with the dependencies and addictions that come from trying to self-medicate the disease. The lyric “I made my way into the spotlight/Just to realize it’s not what I want,” pretty much describes the state of mind in play when this record was made.

Unfortunately on July 3, 2018 Richard Swift passed away. His family released a statement saying the musician’s demise had been due to “complications from hepatitas, as well as liver and kidney distress.” Thankfully, a genius of a musical legacy was behind as Swift wraps things up quite nicely on the song A&R Man. “My name will go missing but the songs’ll be here.”