With Bad Company and Free as primary touchstones here this is the most fun you can have without digging out your old bell bottom pants. The immense closer Living Live on the Edge is about as good as Classic Rock gets.
The weather is cooling off just about the same time that the music is getting hotter. Stay tuned for a barrage of music to be released into the wild in front of the Christmas season.
In the meantime, Miley Cyrus, Elton John, and Yo-Yo Ma team up on a collaboration with Metallica on “Nothing Else Matters.”
Greta Van Fleet, the band that tagged as the next big thing in Rock and Roll, is out with a primo new video for “Built By Nations” from their 2021 L.P. The Battle at Garden’s Gate.
And, Charlie Starr and the boys from Blackberry Smoke deliver on a sublime version of Aerosmith’s “Hangman Jury.”
And, of course, everything is just a placeholder until the new Billy Idol record comes out. Here are five new albums that are tickling our ears this week.
The Vaccines – Back In Love City
Once you get past the aural oddity that the opening refrain of the title track, “Back In Love City,” has a bit of “Built This City,” the Starship hit in its DNA, you can kick back with a power-pop gem of a song and an earworm of the highest order. And the hits, don’t just stop there.
“Alone Star” is a stadium rousing anthemic ear-de-force, and “Headphones Baby” shows off the band’s lyrical dexterity rhyming Thesaurus with Boris along with Americana and Nirvana on a song that is as euphoric as you will have heard all year.
Set against the fictional metropolis of love city, this one is an escapist record of the highest order and will be towards the top of any reputable end-of-the-year best-of list.
Daniel Romano – Cobra Poems
If there is such a thing as Pop-Swagger, Daniel Romano has it and then some. Along with his band, Daniel Romano’s Outfit, the prolific one, has released more than a dozen records spanning the genres from Matthew Sweet pop to country crooner, singer-songwriter, and beyond. Each one, seemingly better and more interesting than the last one.
Here, the band exercises all of its powers on a set of songs that range from the Marc Bolan T-Rex-inspired “Tragic Head” to the slow-burning Lynryd Skynyrd meets Elvis Costello aura of “Nocturne Child.” The low and slow road ballad, “The Motions,” a song featuring the band’s secret weapon, Julianna Riolina handling the vocal duties, is worth the price of admission alone.
Wrap your ears around this one and give it the care it deserves. To the listener go the spoils.
Colleen Green – Cool
There probably is not a better title that could have been chosen for this latest record by Collen Green than Cool. The pace is slow and collegial, with a meandering vibe that will take a few spins to hook you.
From the guitar-pop semi-swagger of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” that brings to the mids-ear just about every Sheryl Crow song to the slow burn of “Highway,” and the almost Krautrock drone of “Natural Chorus,” there is a sense of movement on this record that will drag you along for the ride.
Heartless Bastards – A Beautiful Life
The Heartless Bastards are a powerful Americana three-piece fronted by vocal powerhouse Erika Wennerstrom. Opening with the anti-gaslighting anthem “Revolution,” the band’s first album in six years, the song pulls no political punches and this Ying to the Yang of “How Low,” that comments on the depths folks will go to achieve what they want regardless of the impact on others.
The palate of songs presented here is about as diverse as you can get. “Photograph” is a cosmic cowboy, rambling masterpiece worthy of a Grateful Dead jam, “When I Was Younger” could have been a country-crooner classic from the ’70s, and “The River” featuring the violin of Andrew Bird is a swirling beauty.
If you like your Americana with a bit of realism mixed with psychedelic and atmospheric jams, then your ship has just come in.
Samantha Fish – Faster
The best female Blues guitarist this side of Bonnie Raitt, Samantha Fish, has officially delivered her freshest and most consistent record to date. Certainly leaning more towards the rock side of the blues-rock duality, the scorching opening title track sets a rocking mood that would make Lizzy Hale blush. The slinky and evocative “All Ice No Whiskey” veers toward the sensual side, and the closest she gets here to a ballad, “Imaginary War,” rings through like an Alanis Morisette lover scorned anthem. “Crowd Control” would be a perfect song for Bonnie Raitt to cover, and even the semi-reach here, the collaboration with Tech N9ne, is listenable even when the rap and the fury kick are on full display.
Blues, Rock, Pop, all are handled with equal aplomb here. The varied textures displayed along the journey make this a nuanced listen that will check off many favorable Boxes.
From their highly cool latest release, Death of a Cheerleader, this frisky version shares more DNA with the Joan Jett single than it does with the Tommy James original.
The fourth track from their 2020 release, Saint Cloud. An inspiring song expressing the need to take care of yourself.
Everything is just fun and games, of course, until the new Kanye West record comes out. In the meantime, there is still a slew of new music to tickle our earlobes. Newcomers Cruel Hearts Club is out with a new song, “Sink Low,” that evokes the spirit of Lizzy Hale fronting T Rex.
If you like your rock with a side of ’70s swirling organ and swagger to spare, then Jail Job Eve and “Mid-Flight” will most likely be your jam.
And, the band Sweet Crisis brings their brand of Classic Rock Inspired pathos to your ears with “Ain’t Got Soul” from their latest record, Tricks On My Mind.
And, don’t go away just yet. Here are five more musical nuggets for your ears to enjoy.
Brian Setzer – Gotta Have The Rumble
This cat does not stray too far from the Rockabilly tracks on this, his latest album, Gotta Have The Rumble. Taking a break at home in the twin cities during the pandemic, Setzer recorded this album in new-school style. Brian was in Minneapolis, the drummer was in Nashville, and the bass player was in Memphis. It wasn’t ex-Stay Cat Lee Rocker.
There is joy and buoyancy to every track on this one, with songwriting depth lacking on a typical Cats record. “Smash Up On Highway One” is a ghostly noir tune that can be quite relatable to anyone who has driven that particular stretch of the PCH in Southern California. “The Cat With Nine Lives” is a typical rockabilly inspired tune that will bring to mind “Seven Nights to Rock,” the scorcher “Turn You On, Turn Me On” is as close as you will find to a love song on this one. Spoiler alert, the song is about a car.
Southern Avenue – Be The Love That You Want
As Nashville gets more and more overrun by hipsters, in an attempt to reclaim their musical soul, many artists find themselves migrating to Memphis, a city known for Elvis, Al Green, and Isaac Hayes. Southern Avenue, a band in the Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings tradition, features a blend of Southern soul, R&B, with a touch of Delta blues that is pleasing to the ear and life-affirming to the soul.
With Tiernii Jackson on vocal duties, “Heathen Hearts” is a gospel marvel to the ears, and the title track is a topical call to arms.
Produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, his presence is everywhere, bringing the Soul-Funk to “Love You Nice and Slow” and “Let’s Get It Together” most particularly. Spend some time with this one. It will brighten your day and make you a better person.
Robert Ellis Orrall – 467 Surf and Gun Club
Named after the physical address of Infinity Cat Recordings, the song “Welcome to Paradise,” featuring a guest vocal from the late-great Leon Russell, is worth the price of admission alone. Putting forth a laid-back Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello vibe Robert Ellis Orall seems to be the person that enters your life when you need him most. Whether he is singing about just hanging out after hours in the studio as he does on “Anthem 47” or channels his inner beach boy on the Pop-terrific song, “Iceberg,” there is something delicious and bacon-wrapped to digest around every tune.
After all, who wouldn’t want to jump in on his party that includes rib-eyes, a case of Millers, and a few Fat Tire brews, with some implied herbs thrown in for good measure “Here in Our Backyard.” And if you need a break from listening to the new Beach Boys deluxe edition of Feel Flows, a few listens of the title track “467 Surf and Gun Club” will be just what the doctor ordered.
Tim Easton – You Don’t Really Know Me
Pulling your ears back somewhere between John Hiatt and Bob Dylan, roots rocker Tim Easton delivers a wanderlust record reflecting on life, the joys of slowing down, and dealing with life at the crossroads.
The opener “You Don’t Really Know Me” could have been on the latest John Hiatt record, “Voice on the Radio” evokes the ghost of John Prine, and Speed Limit is an uptempo number reminiscent of prime Tom Petty.
Play this one late at night with a glass of bourbon and an engaging heart. Soul sufficiently cleansed, play it again. This one’s that good.
Shinyribs – Late Night TV Gold
The band Shinyribs is that cool uncle that comes to visit, gets you drunk, introduces you to all of the great music, and leaves your parents to clean up the mess and get you back on the good foot. Their latest, “Late Night TV Gold,” hits in all of the right spots with the horn adorned “Party While You Still Can” causing an involuntary movement of the feet and “Rhythm of the Night” evoking the “have another one after the last one” spirit of avoiding the last call.
The kiss-off anthem “24 Hours From Tulsa” is pure Shinyribs fare, and the title track “Late Nite TV Gold” takes yet another swerve into the land of Tom Waits. Eclectic, in the best of ways, a new record from Shinyribs may not be life-changing, but it might be as close as you are going to get for a while.
On August 6 the mighty Night Ranger will release their 12th record, ATBPO, also known as And The Band Played On. As we are typically skeptical about legacy bands putting out quality material, this one should be a notable exception as Jack Blades, Brad Gillis, and Kelly Keagy are. still with the band. If “Bring It All Home To Me” is an indicator we will be starting to rock like it is 1985 all over again.
Hailing from Rome, Ga. The Georgia Thunderbolts specialize in raw Blues-Rock. Think of the Black Crowes with a bit of a harder edge, or a slightly more blues oriented Blackberry Smoke. Either way this band deserves to be on your radar.
There is the scent of Rock and Roll wafting through the halls of Rock is the New Roll this week as all ears start to turn towards the summer when Rock is king and good times are sure to be the order of the day.
Ayron Jones not only has a strong set of pipes but doesn’t sleep on the dude’s guitar skills. Here, with his latest single “Take Your Time” he delivers the ballad in full “Wind Cries Mary” mold.
And Speaking of Stevie Ray, here, with his band Cardinal Black, Chris Buck has returned with his version of Texas Blues, Welsh style.
Never one to shy away from a good power ballad, here the Picturebooks team up with the bombastic Lizzy Hale of Halestorm fame on a slow burn of a song that will shake rattle and roll you.
Billy Gibbons is priming his retro fueled car and getting ready to launch a new record. Here, on the video from “My Lucky Card” Billy heads to the Joshua Tree Desert Honky-Tonk Pappy & Harriets barbeque restaurant and music venue most probably visiting the ghost of Gram Parsons while he is there.
And, since we are huge fans of the over-the-top Survivor Roller disco sound of Night Flight Orchestra their new single “White Jeans” had to make our list.
Ears-down the best week of the year so far on the music front, things are heating up. The fantastic B-52 imaging band Hayley and the Crushers are scorching the earth.
RISTN favorite ’70s vintage rock band The Sheepdogs are starting to come out of hibernation having released a fine Bay City Rollers worthy single with “Keep On Loving You.”
And Yola is primed and ready to go wearing her diamond-studded shoes in advance of her new album.
Here are five particular ear-gems we are grooving to this week.
Teenage Fanclub – Endless Arcade
With their 11th album and first without founding member Gerard Love, Teenage Fanclub may have dialed down the jangle from their Jangle-Pop formula just a tad, but fear not, the melodic maestros are still very much at the top of their game.
From the Folk-Rock Psychedelic splendor of “Come To Me” to the Zombies evoking gang harmonies on “Back In The Day” Endless Arcade is a relaxed and inspiring listen. “The Sun won’t Shine on Me” bridges the gap between Vintage-Pop and contemporary issues-based songwriting quite nicely and “Living With You” plays the Byrds formula and signature Fanclub sound to perfection.
Spend some time with this one then drift your ears back to the early classic albums Songs From Northern Britain, Bandwagonesque, or even Thirteen. Sure, they may have been gone for a while, but with this new record, it’s like they never left.
The Coral – Coral Island
Should you not be familiar with The Coral and their oeuvre, get with the plan, man. The band pretty much mines all of the genres that your ears hold sacred including but not limited to Garage Rock, AOR, Psychedelia, Post-Punk, and Power Pop. A semi-concept album based on the band’s collective experiences at various seaside resorts on the West coast of England, the songs on Coral Island weave together beautifully with brief spoken-word interludes that serve to give Coral Island a real first-person point in time feel.
Lengthy but never burdensome, at 54 minutes the sheer brilliance and texture changes presented on the record will keep your rapt attention. Highlights are many including the carnival game atmosphere of “Golden Age,” the Melanchology sadness of “Old Photographs,” and the welcome to the pleasuredome optimism of “Change Your Mind.”
Three listens in with this record I can’t help thinking it would be cool to visit the seaside resorts brought to life in these brilliant character studies. But somehow, much like Playland at the Beach in San Francisco, The Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, or N.Y.’s Coney Island, the myth is more than likely vastly more satisfying than the reality.
Or, as Scotland’s own Stevie Dal says more eloquently than I ever could:
This one has taken me by surprise. The Corals new album is an utter gem, I never knew they had it in them but there you go, it’s a funny old world.
It’s a double album, a concept album, set in an old rundown seaside town, washed up and all but abandoned by the tourists, populated only by the characters left behind as the young ‘uns bailed out. Memories and nostalgia, lost and broken dreams, first and unrequited loves etc etc.
This is the band’s spin on classic albums like Ogdens Nut Gone Flake ( Small Faces) and Village Green Preservation Society ( The Kinks) and, while obviously not at that level, it’s a brave and wonderful attempt. If you love effortless guitar pop and glorious tunes you will be onboard. A serious contender for Album of 2021.
All of the above having been said this might be the leader in the clubhouse for best album of the year.
Grave Flowers Bongo Band – Strength of Spring
The riff-laden epicness of this Psychedelic Rock album from Grave Flowers Bongo Band was in heavy rotation at Rock is the New Roll H.Q. this week. “Animal Lord” almost blew the roof off the building with its Black Sabbath if fronted by Marc Bolan brilliance, and the lumbering groove of “Smile” will bust your chest open and make you feel alive.
Gabe Flores weaves his guitar around this set of songs walking that melodic in a hurricane line quite nicely never amping it up to overkill territory while at the same time laying the cosmic pedal down fully to the ground. “Down Man” is like riding an out-of-control rickety wooden roller coaster and “Outer Bongolia” is a freaked-out instrumental that would have fit right in at Austin Powers’ bachelor party.
Dropkick Murphy’s – Turn Up That Dial
Proving that these guys aren’t just a band to be enjoyed on St. Patrick’s day, The Murphy’s perform as advertised and turn up the dial with their latest set of rabble-rousing anthems with their latest, Turn Up The Dial.
The “Queen of Suffolk County” pays tribute to wild women everywhere and is worth the price of admission alone, and you will automatically become Irish after a listen or two of the title track. And, just to prove they can do it, the band slows things down somewhat less than ear-splitting on the poignant and beautiful “I Wish You Were Here.”
If you don’t feel alive after listening to this record at close to full volume then you are more than likely already dead.
No-No Boy – 1975
No-No Boy is the latest nome de plume for multimedia artist and Asian studies scholar Julian Saporiti. On this record, Saporiti explores WW-2 Asian American internment sites, present-day immigrant detention facilities, and refugee camps.
While the entire set is thought-provoking, the centerpiece here is the song “The Best God Damn Band in Wyoming.” Inspired by a visit to a museum in his home state of Wyoming where he noticed a picture of a large swing band with Asian faces much like his staring at him from behind a fenced-in prison yard. After getting over the stunning visual of this unicorn-worthy picture of an Asian swing band that here-to-fore he never knew existed, No-No Boy proceeded to learn more about the inspirational photograph. As it turns out, the photo is of a group of Asian Americans that were interred in a detention camp in Wyoming during the Second World War. Forming a collective of like-minded musicians behind prison walls the swing band would play for local proms and VFW halls in the area and then were returned to prison once the performance was over.
No-No Boy approaches his subject matter using a template of Traditional Folk, Rock, and Americana to take us on a journey that is not always comfortable, but always revelatory.
With a lot of feathers ruffling and playlist debates at Rock is the new Roll HQ, despite our recent Rock jag we have been into we have been able to come up with a consensus this week. As such, here are our jams for “what we’re listening to Wednesday.”
John Hiatt and The Jerry Douglas Band – Long Black Electric Cadillac
The song, not to be confused with the 1958 song “Long Black Cadillac”, is updated for the modern age with a Cadillac that can go 1,000 miles on a single charge. John Hiatt’s latest version with The Jerry Douglas Band will set you up quite nicely as a centerpiece in your next road trip playlist. Hiatt’s new record Leftover Feelings comes out on May 21st.
GospelbeacH – Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’
This one popped up while we were going down a rabbit hole of Good Lovin’ versions from the Rascals. While we did come up with an extraordinarily excellent version by The Grateful Dead from the album Shakedown Street,
the real jewel of a find here was this pseudo-cover, “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin” the ’60’s song from Bubble Gum rockers Crazy Elephant performed by RITNR hall of Famers GospelbeacH.
Lee Aaron – Whatcha Do To My Body
The latest book circulating among the members of the Rock is the New Roll book club is Nothin’ But A Good Time, which chronicles the rise and the post-Grunge fall of Sunset Strip Rock and Roll. The discussions about the book led us to current bands that bring the energy and vibe of the Hair Metal days and are playing the Raunch and Roll of the Sunset Strip forward. Rocker Lee Aaron, a bit more amped-up version of Suzi Quatro, fits the bill quite nicely and is a staple on Rock and Roll Saturday nights in The Falcon’s Nest.
The Legal Matters – Light Up The Sky
The first single to be released in advance of their soon-to-be-released third album, Chapter 3, set to be released on May 30. The record is pretty much pre-ordained to be a stunner if this Pet Sounds worthy cut is any indication.
Rainmakers – Ashes
Growing up in the same waters that spawned Samantha Fish and The Temperance Movement, British rockers Rainmakers have a mid-era Zeppelin vibe to them along with a Bad Company essence wafting in the air as well. We have our ears tuned to these guys and are convinced that glory days are ahead for this band. “Ashes is a straight-ahead Blues-Rocker.
And, “Forgotten Child” is a Paul Rodgers fronting Led Zeppelin epic of a tune.