Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (January 14, 2022)

The wait is over, the new year is upon us, and we lie in wait for a bevy of new releases over the next few months. It should be a big first part of the year as John Mellencamp has a guest-laden record in the hopper called Strictly a one-eyed Jack, the mighty Jethro Tull is coming out of hibernation, and speaking of Classic Rock titans, Bryan Adams, The Scorpions, Tears For Fears, and Ozzy Ozbourne all will be tickling your ears soon in 2022.

In the meantime, the always intriguing Mitski has already released an e.p. in advance of a formal long-player later in the year. Her single, “Love Me More” is already getting buzz for inclusion on many year-end lists.

Never sleep on Bryan Adams as the Canadian Rocker has, coming to eardrums near you, a new album with the release of So Happy It Hurts. And, well it sounds like Bryan Adams.

And, Eddie Vedder has teamed up with a couple of Chili Peppers forming a new band called The Earthlings with a platter due in February.

And now, without further ado, we have five tasty nuggets all set to tickle your eardrums and rattle your senses this week.

Elvis Costello – The Boy Named If

With this follow-up to 2020s Hey Clockface, Elvis Costello shows no signs of slowing down. From the scorcher of an opener, “Farewell, OK,” Costello and his band, The Imposters, kick things into gear and party like it’s 1977 and they are living in the My Aim Is True glory days. The voice hasn’t changed too much, Elvis never was one for stretching out the high notes, and, here he stays very much within his range with his delivery that is pure E.C. vocal splendor.

The title track, with If actually meaning imaginary friend, is Classic Costello with its off-beat eccentric songwriting, and returning to ballad form, “Paint The Red Rose Blue” should stand the test of time as one of his best songs. And, “Magnificent Hurt,” to our ears, is best in class. This one is a lost-in-time record that is could have been released anytime from 1980 to the present.

Put a pin in this one for top album of the year consideration.

Cat Power – Covers

It only took 12 years for Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall to come up with the follow-up to her 2010 release, The Covers Record, the album that featured her seminal version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” This time out, she covers songs by Bob Seger, The Replacements, and Billie Holiday among others in her own style making the songs almost recognizable but no less glorious.

Seger’s “Against The Wind” is transformed into a night-noir ethereal wonder, the piano-based Replacements seldom covered “Here Comes A Regular” has a definite Tom Waits touch to the proceedings, and the one-two punch of Jackson Browns’s “These Days” and “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” strays into Nina Simone territory when it comes to an artist making the song their own.

Ari Roar – Made To Never Use

Ari Roar is the name that singer/songwriter Caleb Campbell uses for his self-released projects. With a Ben Folds by way of Wilco vibe, the songs are all Indie-Pop bangers that you will be able to digest in short 2-3 minute jangly bursts. “Take Me Over” is Jack Johnson by way of John Lennon, and “Far From The Rest” could have been a Replacements with a slight Police vibe.

The hooks, rhythms, and melodies, all coalesce into a catchy set of songs that you should bring back out when the weather gets warmer and the drinks get colder.

Poco – One Night in Nashville

For many, the seminal band Poco is considered to be one of the original OG’s of Americana and the Country-Rock sound. Originally formed by Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina, the band released 18 albums with multiple hit singles including “Crazy Love,” “You’d Better Think Twice,” and “Rose of Cimarron.”

Now, the 2004 live concert from Nashville has been polished up into a spectacular blue vinyl edition that should serve to satisfy longtime fans of the band as well as those who are just starting to explore the roots of American Music. Reuniting original members Furay, Rusty Young, and drummer George Grantham, the band runs through all of the hits with particularly stellar versions of “Call It Love” and the harmony-laden “Good Feeling To Know” as stone-cold standouts. “Bad Weather” is a deep-cut must-hear.

Jacob Bryant – Barstool Preacher

Once you get past Garth Brooks, the ’80s flavor of Country music is not deserving of the scorn and ridicule that it seems to get in some circles. Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson, Clint Black, John Anderson it’s all good music, certainly better than the “all hat, no cattle” purveyors of the scene that seem to be prevalent today.

Here, with his latest record, Bar Stool Preacher, Jacob Bryant’s ear-melds ’80’s Alan Jackson country along with contemporary outlaw country in the Jamey Johnson and Chris Stapelton mold that would fit in perfectly at your next fourth of July party or your next bourbon binge.

“Well Whiskey (Discount Cigarettes)” could have been a hit song for Keith Whitley, and on the semi rocked-up “Good Ol’ Boy,” Bryant laments his local turning into a hipster bar with boys in skinny jeans and no Skynyrd songs in the jukebox.

Five Cool Ones: Just Five Cool Ones for This Week (January 8, 2021)

As musicians are dusting themselves off and getting ready to make their plans for the new year, the new record releases for this week have been a bit tepid, to say the least. But, fear not musical buckaroos, we will be back in full glory in the next couple of weeks as there are some really cool tunes primed and ready to hit our ear-waves very soon. In the meantime, here five cool ones that have hit our radar recently.

Grace Potter – Release

Somewhere along the line, Grace Potter has started to morph into a slightly more hip Beth Hart. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here, on her fresh as a daisy new video for some inexplicable reason, we see her pulling a boat down the beach in a bikini, slow walking seductively in a field of flowers, and sitting down at the piano singing like a bird. But ours is not to question why ours is only to enjoy the ride provided by this song from her highly excellent 2019 record, Daylight.

Lukas Nelson – Set Me Down On A Cloud

Son of Willie proves once again that the apple falls right next to the tree. His series of quarantine songs, Special Soundcheck Songs, has been a beautiful respite of calmness during these trying days. Here, he performs an acoustically lovely version of “Set Me Down On A Cloud” from his debut self-titled record.

Peanuts Gang – Roundabout

This is a tough song to cover, but here the entire Peanuts gang joins in on one of the best versions of the song you will ever hear. Spoiler alert, Snoopy plays a mean upright bass.

Brothers in Exile – Last Orders

The former member of the Welsh band Sonny Jim, Lloyd Jenkins partners with Stu Calder for a new project, Brothers in Exile. With this, their latest single, the boys deliver a bouncy hook-laden gem in the Wildhearts mold.  Classic Rock magazine describes the tune as more fun than a clown car driven at speed into a bouncy castle. And, heck they may have something there.

The Quins – Wild Ones

Put a pin in this one and save it in your musical memory banks because you are going to bearing a lot more great music emanating from this band in the coming months, you can bet on it. Solid riffs, Power Pop textures with a dynamically voiced singer that can carry the day. For practice dive into their back catalog that includes their 2019 epic of an album, The Woods Look Good.

And, for extra credit check the band out live performing “The Devil’s Abode.”

 

Five Cool Ones: The Top 5 Rock and Roll Songs from 2020

If you have not heard the news rock is not dead, and the demise of good old barn burning Rock and Roll has been extremely exaggerated. Here are our top five singles worthy of checking out to increase your musical street cred.

Thundermother – Driving In Style

These hard-driving all-female Swedish rockers delivered their stellar record, Heat Wave, carrying a ’70s rock groove that can stand fret for fret with any of their male counterparts. The lead-off single “Driving In Style” will take you pedal to the metal down to the parts of your subconscious that you have not visited in a very long time.

The Struts – Cool

It’s no secret that we love Luke Spiller and the Struts. In fact, their new record, Strange Days, would have been our record of the year were it not for the fact that Robbie Williams appears on the single, and we will have none of that. Here, on the appropriately named “Cool” the most dynamic frontman in the game today struts his stuff in a fine fashion.

The Dirty Denims – Last Call For Alchohol

Another fine band with a female rocker leading the way, this time courtesy of Mirjam Sieben, the vibe is pure AC/DC by way of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. With this ode to blasting past the last call at your local bar, or these days in your living room, and letting things rip you can start your own countdown to ecstasy.

The Wild – High Speed

Another Born to Be Wild jump on your Harley and ride hard groover of a tune. You will grow a mullet just listening to this one.

King King – Dance Together

As groove-laden a rocker as you are likely to come across in recent months, these Scottish rockers will make you miss putting a couple more tokens in your local’s jukebox just to make the night last a little bit longer.

Album of the Day: Wendy James – Queen High Straight

Wendy James – Queen High Straight (4 out of 5)

As frontwoman for Transvision Vamp, Wendy James was fearless leading the band to top ten hits with “I Want Your Love” and “Baby I Don’t Care” before the band disbanded. Now, after collaborating with the likes of Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, and Nick Cave she is alone and out on her own with a new record that combines Soul, Vintage Pop, Funk, and pretty much every other cool genre you can come up with.

The opening title track sounds like it could have been peeled right off the Dusty in Memphis record, “Perilous Beauty” and could have been on a Pixes’ record, and “Marlene Et Fleur”  would have been perfect on any of the early-era Bangles records. One of the more intriguing aspects of this album is the ability to travel from one musical era to another at the blink of an ear, case in point the ’60s Phil Spector girl-group vibe of “Free Man Walk” followed immediately by “Stomp Down, Snuck Up” that could have been on any mid-career Madonna release, and “Little Melvin” that has a bit of a Sharon Jones and the Dap Kinks funky soul in it.

Pleasurable sound nuggets are everywhere with quite possibly the best of the lot “Bar Room Brawl & Benzedrine” showing off the backing bands’ musical prowess. This is a shape-shifting tour de force that is best savored loud and in large doses.