Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (June 10, 2022)

The weather is starting to heat up and so is the tune-space

Amanda Shires, otherwise known as Mrs. Jason Isbell is out with a scorching new single, “Hawk For The Dove” in advance of her new record set to reach our shores later in the year.

Michael Monroe, ex of Hanoi Rocks proves once again that Rock is not dead with his latest record Dead, Jail or Rock and Roll.

And, Aussie siblings The Buckleys just might have released the hit of the summer with “Oops I Love You.”

And, hang loose everyone. On top of all that aural blissfulness, here are five hot-stepping records worthy of your ear-time.

Rust – The Resurrection of Rust

Rust was the name of a short-lived duo that consisted of Elvis Costello, then known as Declan MacManus, and singer songwriter Allan Mayes. Existing for approximately one year, the lads played the Liverpool pubs and coffee houses before Costello set out to find fame and fortune in London.

After connecting again in early 2021 to flesh out the idea of doing a one-off Rust reunion gig for charity, Elvis countered with a proposal to record a full-blown E.P.. and thus The Resurrection of Rust was born.

With a set list that harkens back to their pub rock days, every song on this set will strike a Rockpile chord. “Surrender To The Rhythm” is classic pub rock splendor circa 1962, and “Don’t Lose Your Grip On Love” would have been a perfect song for The Attractions to caress back in the day. But, it’s on “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere,” the Neil young staple, where the sun really shines and all is revealed as to why the duo got together in the first place.

Kelley Stoltz – The Stylist

Certainly on the medal stand of contemporary Power Pop mavens along with Brendan Benson and Matthew Sweet, weaving a tapestry of Rock, Folk Rock, Post Punk, and Power Pop, Kelley Stoltz proves, yet again, that he is simply incapable of making a bad record.

“We Grew So Far Apart” could have been a Standells Garage Rock Classic,” “It’s A Cold World” carries with it a bit of Harry Nilsson in the DNA, and on the opener, “Change,”Stoltz channels early ‘70s Steve Miller.

There are hooks everywhere on this record, “Wrong Number” even evokes the spirit of David Bowie. There is nary a miss-step anywhere on this one and it stands right up there with his best work.

American Aquarium – Chicamacomino

Almost twenty years into their career now and having produced two stellar records in the last five with Lamentations and Things Change, American Aquarium continues to play to their audience on their new record, Chicamacomico. A bit more stripped down and less edgy than their prior efforts, this one nevertheless has the band very much on-brand in telling working man stories from the perspective of the denizens of America’s heartland.

Death and mortality are the two centerpieces on display here, bookended by “The First Year,” a song that recalls the emotions that seem to be strongest the first year after a loved one’s death, and “Waking Up Echo’s,” a poignant tune that surfaces the ghosts brought about from a friend ending their life on their own terms.

The breezy first single, “All I Needed” is about as Country has things get on this album, and should be the most familiar to long-time fans of the band. And, “Wildfire” chronicles a relationship that goes from an ember to a forest fire at the flick of a match.

Make no mistake, the fact that Chicamacomico is a bit more of a sedate affair than you are used to hearing from BJ Barnham and the boys, the band has not lost their edge. They simply have found their groove.

The Dream Syndicate – Battle Hymns and True Confessions

Somewhat overlooked in the pantheon of ’80s Indie bands that have reunited, restructured themselves, etc, including The Pixies, The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr, among many others, The Dream Syndicate may be the most under the radar of them all. Growing up in the “Paisley Underground” scene, Steve Wynn and the band were mostly known for their stretched-out affairs with stylistic curves thrown at the listener from song to song on their albums. And, here on their latest, the fourth album since re-forming, equalling their 80’s output, the song generally remains the same.

On “Hard To Say Goodbye” the Velvet Underground influence and particularly the Lou Reed speak-sing vocal turn is somewhat difficult to hide, “Lesson Number One” is a bust-out rocker that has a bit of a Mark Lanegan despair about it, and “Every Time You Come Around” is a woozy Bowie evoking affair.

With Chris Cacavas, formerly of Green on Red on keyboards and now an official member of the group, there seems to be a more focused approach to the songs. This one is a timeless affair that can easily transport you back to 1985 and will have you pulling out those old Depeche Mode and Duran Duran CDS.

Florence Dore – Highways & RocketShips

An artist in the true sense of the word, Florence Dore is a professor of literature and creative writing at the university of North Carolina and has written a scholarly work entitled Novel Sounds drawing the link between Southern fiction in the Faulkner mold and Rock and roll.

Her latest, Highways and Rocket Ships, her first in four years, is a rollicking diverse affair. Part Country with a Mary Chapin Chapin Carpenter vibe, part Americana, and part Tom Petty, most strikingly on “Thundercloud (Fucking With Your Heart).”

With influences the likes of Lucinda Williams showing on “Rebel Debutante” and Steve Earle on the title track, which makes sense as her husband Will Rigby is Earle’s drummer, there is something for everyone on this record.

Given this cauldron of smart, literate songwriting mixed in with a Cracker Jack band with Hootie and The Blowfish, R.E.M., Steve Earle, and Son Volt pedigrees, it should come as no surprise that this one should be a contender for top 10 billing when the best Americana album of the year lists start to roll around.

Five Cool Ones: Five Cool Records Released This week (February 25, 2022)

We are just about ready to round the quarter pole, and there is a lot of new music for our ears to digest. New Easy Eye Sound stablemates, Ceramic Animals have a new record coming out soon and have released the new single, “Valerie.”

Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider has released a video, “Stand,” as a tribute to those that lost their lives in the tragic fire at The Station in Rhode Island during a Great White concert.

And, hold on to your ears for this one, Taj Majall and Ry Cooder collaborate from a living room on “I Shall Not Be Moved.”

And, of course, on top of everything, we have five sweet records to savor this week.

Band of Heathens – Remote Transmissions, Vol. 1

Already in heavy rotation in the offices of Rock is the New Roll H.Q., The Band of Horses have turned the coolness up several notches with the release of Remote Transmissions, Vol. 1.

 With time on their hands and their professional lives on hold during the pandemic, every Tuesday night, the band would gather together a loose-knit collective of artists via Zoom to host a 90-minute fun time session called The Good Time Supper Club. Ultimately, as part of the shows, the band would sit down and interview the guest artists, and following the show, they recorded cover songs with each of them in a segment they called Radio Transmissions. 

All killer, no filler, the song selections for this record are perfectly complementary to our ears, the artists selected might as well have been culled from our vinyl library, and the pairing of the two is all hit and no miss.

The Ray Wylie Hubbard version of “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” shouldn’t work, but it does, and brilliantly so. The Rolling Stones cover of “You Got The Silver with blackberry smoker Charlie Starr is Keith Richards endorsement worthy, and “L.A. Freeway” is perfect.

Lock it in as the covers record of the year has already announced itself. And, if you still are not a believer, listen to “Tumbling Dice with Nicki Bluhm.

Tears For Fears – The Tipping Point

It should come as no surprise that after the passing of over forty years since the band originated and almost two decades away from their last record, Tears For Fears has released a new album. The headline here is that Roland Orzabel and Curt Smith have set aside artistic differences and petty personal squabbles in creating a song cycle that stands right up there next to the iconic “Songs From The Big Chair.”

With the possible exception of “My Demons,” the anthemic side of the duo does not rear its head which is a good thing as the boys generally stay in their vocal lane. Lyrically, this is a sign of the times record without being overtly political, with “River of Mercy” being about as topical as it could be right now.

With “End Of Night” blasting vintage Tears For Fears like it’s 1985 all over again, stick a pin in this one and resurface it once the end of the year best-of lists roll around.

Superchunk – Wild Loneliness

Longevity being the order of the day, it has been 32 years since Superchunk released their debut self-titled album. And, based on their sparkling new album, Wild Loneliness, it’s almost like no time has passed at all.

Sparkling Jangle Pop of the highest order, Big Star influences abound with touches of Jelly Fish here and Cheap Trick, there. “This Night” is a gang-chorus standout, “Endless Summer” has a scent of the melodic side of The Replacements in the DNA, and “Refraction” has Punk-Pop energy that is contagious.

There is no logical reason for this album to be as good as it is, but there is not a bad song on this surprisingly excellent record from one of the hip bands of the ’90s.

Diamond Dogs – Slap Bang Blue Rendezvous

From the name alone, you pretty much know what you are getting with Diamond Dogs and their new record, Slap Bang Blue Rendevous. 

Hailing from Sweden, their brand of incendiary Rock and Roll touches on David Bowie Glam, but their mojo goes much deeper than that. With touches of Aussie Rock in the Angels, Cold Chisel mode, and the essence of the Velvet Underground or Mott the Hoople respective oeuvres, this is a yellow brick road-worthy journey down the trail of Classic Rock coolness.

“Golden Wheel” Is Cheap Trick if they had come around ten years earlier than they did. We had to do a double-take to make sure that “Makeup Boogie” wasn’t on the T-Rex Electric Warrior album, and “You Shouldn’t Be Lonely On a Saturday Night” could have been a Status Quo special back in the day.

All in all, this is a true-spirited Rock and Roll record. Lighters Lit!

Sophie & The Broken Things – Delusions of Grandeur

A stunning debut record, Delusions of Grandeur, brought to you by Sophie & The Broken Things, is as good an Americana record as you are likely to find this year. With a vocal range that floats along like the love-child of Lucinda and Emmylou, Sophie Gault is the real deal. When you combine influences like Bonnie Raitt and Neko Case, along with a band that can switch from a mournful ballad to a country-tonk stomper at the blink of a stetson, all of the ingredients are in place for a classic listen.

“Churches & Bars” is Americana song of the year-worthy, “Dashboard” is an epic road trip song that finds Sophie getting in her car driving down the road putting some John on the cd player. And, on “Heavy-Metal,” the band gets to stretch a bit on this ode to traveling down the road cranking that heavy metal heading to bar to be with her black Slayer t-shirt wearing tribe.

This is a new find well worth checking out.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (January 21, 2022)

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.

Five Cool Ones – Five (More) Reasons That Pop Matters

It is no secret that here at Rock is the new Roll we love Pop music in any form. Whether it is Power Pop, Indie Pop, Pop-Punk, or Paul Simon and “Kodachrome” 70’s Pop we will be giving it a spin on our turntables. Here are 5 top-flight pop nuggets that hit our ears this past year.

The Lickerish Quartet – Threesome, Vol. 2

Formed from the ashes of famed S.F. Bay Area pop icons Jelly Fish, Eric Dover, Roger Manning, and Tim Smith are carrying the pop torch with their band, The Lickerish Quartet. Named after the Randy Metzger 1970 erotic drama, the band released a pair of stunning records over the last 18 months with Threesome, Vol. 1, and Threesome Vol. 2.

Roller Disco Combo – The Sun After The Rain

With their new e.p., Barcelona popsters Roller Disco Combo offers up Teenage Fanclub on “Indonesian Breakfast,” and a bit of a Laurel Canyon vibe courtesy of “Holes on the Grass.” In its entirety, The Sun After The Rain is a five-song e.p. that will have you yearning for more.

Sorrows – Love Too Late … The Real Album

This re-recording of a record that was originally released in the ’80s is a solid combination of Cheap Trick Power Pop, British invasion Garage Rock, and ’60s Rock and Roll with the cover of the Kinks “Tired of Waiting for You” a stellar standout. The back-to-back sound flurry of “Love Too Late” and “Crying Time” have the essence of The Knack Meets the Specials.

Bros. Vol. 2

BROS, the sidepiece band for Ewan and Shamus Currie from the ’70s throwback band The Sheepdogs deliver on a set of tunes that will have you reaching for your old KC and the Sunshine Band records. Never Gonna Stop is Hall and Oates meets The Greg Kihn Band, and Hesitationg is The Little River Band if they were just a wee bit cooler.

Radio Days -Rave On

Big Star with a bit of Replacements danger vibe is the cocktail of the day served on the latest L.P. from Radio Days, Rave On. Early Elvis Costello is also an appropriate touch-point for this record should cover all of your musical bases.

Five Cool Ones: Five (More) Reasons Rock Is Not Dead – Best of 2021

Rock and Roll is alive and most definitely alive and well heading into 2022. Here are five bands that your ears should wrap themselves around heading into the new year.

Kim Melville – Mr. My Man

Throwing herself fully into the ring after delivering choice covers of Larkin Poe and Led Zeppelin tunes, Paris-based chanteuse Kim Melville will be transforming herself from an under-the-radar artist to center stage in no time.

Dust Coda – Limbo Man

These Londoners deliver the swagger of The Struts and the riffage of Greta Van Fleet on a bed of ’80s sunset strip glam. Crank this one while driving.

Chris Catalyst – King Of Everything

If Pop-Rock is an actual genre, “King Of Everything” from the Eureka Machines frontman Chris Catalyst would be among the best of the lot. Festival ready call and response chorus, jangle pop guitar splendor, this Cheap Trick inspired cut has it all.

Sheepdogs – No Simple Thing

If you long for the days of Three Dog Night, Dr. Hook, and Fanny, to get your ’70s mojo going, jump on the Sheepdogs bandwagon post-haste.

Sweet Crisis – Ain’t Got Soul

Straight out of Cambridge, this epic starts out as a bond theme and quickly morphs into some sort of slinky Led Zeppelin by way of The Cult anthem that would make Rival Sons blush.

The Darkness – Motorheart

A perfect fit for one of those early Queen records, Justin Hawkins and The Darkness has his band kicking it on all cylinders. This one is like going to see Rush opening up for Queen at the Cow Palace back in the day.

Video of the Day: Murray A. Lightburn – To The Top

Murray A. Lightburn as the lead singer of the Montreal Chamber-Pop band The Dears has released what might be the Soul album of the year with his latest solo effort Hear Me Out. With his street corner vocal style and an expressive voice that at times brings to mind Bryan Wilson and at other times Scott Walker to complement his Curtis Mayfield vibe, a new star is forming before your very ears.

Song of the Day: St. Paul Peterson – You Got To Love

St. Paul Peterson is best known as the keyboard player that replaced Jimmy Jam for Morris Day and the time. Discovered by Prince as a teenager, Peterson is know a much in demand session player having tickled the ivories for the likes of Steve Miller, Stevie Wonder, Boy George, Lionel Richie and many others.

Live Video of the Day: Hootie and the Blowfish – I Only Wanna Be With You (The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon)

After a highly successful crossover career Darius Rucker, aka Hootie, has reassembled his band The Blowfish and will be releasing an album in early 2019.