Time keeps rolling along, and as the year progresses, the hits are starting to pile up.
’90s vintage Country dwellers Midland are once again summoning the ghosts of Garth Brooks and George Strait with their latest, “Longneck Way To Go.
The Afghan Whigs have released “The Getaway” in advance of a new album to be released on September 9.
And, the Waterboys are out with another album that sounds like The Waterboys. That is great.
But wait, that’s not all. There was a bevy of prime musical cuts to select from this week, so many that we had a tough time paring the list down to five albums this week. But, we did the work so you don’t have to. Here are five groovy platters spinning at Rock is the New Roll HQ this week.
AWOLNATION – My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers & Me
Sometimes, when there is really no legitimate reason for a band to cover a certain song or the song is such an earworm that our ears can’t comprehend anyone but the artist performing it, there can be magic in the air when it is done well. And, that is certainly the case with My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers & Me, the latest missive from AWOLNATION.
With a playlist that is as tight as the skin on an apple, every song presented here is a nostalgic trip down top 40 memory lane from the days that radio play actually meant something. The rendition presented here of “Maniac,” from the movie Flashdance, has enough curves to make this a different listening experience from the original, and the Scorpion’s iconic “Wind of Change”, with a guest turn from Incubus and Portugal. The Man, shouldn’t work, but it does quite well.
Were not sure that there ever has been an attempt at covering Alan Parson’s “Eye In The Sky,” and although this version paints pretty much between the lines, the guest turn from Beck is pretty cool. “Flagpole Sitta” is worthy of some ear time simply because you likely have not heard the song in a while and Elohim very much does it justice, “Alone Again (Naturally),” yes that one, shouldn’t really work either, but in this context with Retro-Country dudes, Midland sitting in it works quite well. If you have never heard the tune with a pedal steel guitar give this one a try.
And, once you add the anthemic “Beds Are Burning,” ABBA’s “Take A Chance On Me,” and the Cars’ “Drive” what you are left with is a highly polished, exquisitely curated set of songs that just might come together as the best covers album of the year when all is said and done.
Chateau Chateau – Grow Up
With the punk attitude of Blondie along with the buoyant energy of The Bangles, Chateau Chateau is a loose-knit collective of Tucson-based musicians that self describe themselves as making cathartic indie pop for weirdos, outcasts, queer folks, and anyone else who needs it.
Grow Up, the band’s sophomore record is a concept record of sorts detailing the various relationships that frontperson Bleu has maintained, both good and bad, throughout her life. “I Don’t Love You Anymore” is a CBGB-worthy rocker with Phil Spector girl group interludes that rails against her abusive father, and “Converted” walks the ground once traveled with a narcissistic ex.
“Push Your Luck” would have been a superb Pretenders single back in the day, and the ‘Til Tuesday Indie Rock classic “Voices Carry” is a perfect cover version to bring out the versatility of the band.
After a couple of spins of this record, especially on the song “Pray,” the specialness of individuality surfaces and is celebrated in its truest form.
Luke Winslow King – If These Walls Could Talk
Recorded in Memphis, New Orleans-based Luke Winslow King with the release of If These Walls Could Talk represents his most pleasingly diverse set of songs to date. From the peppy “Slow Sunday, June,” a song that has them sitting in the shade under a banyan tree on a sultry New Orleans Sunday afternoon to “Love At First Sight” that will transport you to a stroll down Bourbon Street.
Proving he can rock with the best of them, the Jonny Lang evoking “Have A Ball” is pure Blues-Rock Big Easy Style. The title track is a somber look at a relationship that is ebbing away, and “Leaves Turn Brown” is a perfect winsome closer.
Proving that he is no vintage Country and Jazz one-trick pony, this mostly settled down affair will reward the soul wit multiple spins on the turntable.
The Coffis Brothers – Turn My Radio Up
With the very appropriate album title, Turn My Radio Up is perfect Laurel Canyon, Pacific Coast Highway, peaceful easy feeling fare. Produced by Tim Bluhm, frontman for The Mother Hips, the record gives a definite nod to the radio dial harkening back to the late ‘70s, when radio still mattered.
The opener, “One That Got Away” could have been a Timothy B. Schmidt vocal-led single from an early Eagles record, and the single “Turn My Radio” up would have been perfect on a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers record.
“Ramona” travels into Flying Burrito’s Cosmic Cowboy territory, and “Two of a Kind” brings to mind Jackson Browne in his Running On Empty days.
Growing up in the Santa Cruz mountains in California seems to have been the perfect backdrop for brothers Jamie and Kellen Coffis to hone their craft using Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers as influences to craft one of the best album releases of the year so far.
Pink Mountaintops – Peacock Pools
With their first record in 8 years, Stephen McBean and his collective Pink Mountaintops weave a magical mystery tour of a record, Peacock Pools.
Full of neo-psychedelic turns around every corner, this record combines early Kinks with Pink Floyd and Alan Parsons if your ears can grasp all of that coolness in one sitting.
Playing it mostly straight on the tender “Nikki Go Sudden,” a tribute to the late Post-Punk icon Nikki Sudden, the rest of the album seems to be in constant motion with “Shake The Dust” propelling down the road with a bit of Kraftwerk in its DNA, and “Miss Sundown” summoning the ghost of early “Jean Genie” David Bowie.
As is the case with most really good records, this takes you down a different Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole with every turn of the groove.