Best Albums of 2019: Shana Cleveland – Night of the Worm Moon

Known mostly for her work with the Surf-Noir Band La Luz, Shana Cleveland doesn’t stray too far from the vintage guitar, psychedelic haze ambience on Night of the Worm Moon, her second proper full length record as a solo artist.

The cool, laconic, mostly psychedelic under current that wafts through the entire proceedings like an early era Leonard Cohen poetry reading will instantly take you back to a time when television came in both colors. Black, and white.

“The Fireball” is a shoegaze-y mellow-tron of a tune and “Solar Creep” is a night time chill-out experience. Don’t expect the jams to be kicked out anywhere on this record, just a fine, understated, spectral beauty of a listening journey.

Best Albums of 2019: The Quireboys – Amazing Disgrace

The formula of The Small Faces filtered through a prism of The Rolling Stones and ZZ Top hasn’t changed much in 35 years for The Quireboys, but that’s not really the point. These guys can still write a killer hook and their new songs can stand ear to ear with tunes they may have written decades ago. Are you listening Rolling Stones? And, we’re not letting you off the hook Billy Joel. Their scorching opener “Original Black Eyed Son” swings the barroom doors open in the best of ‘let’s get ready to rumble’ ways. With the drum beat introduction and the horns kicking in, once the organ joins the party early on in the song you can almost see lead singer Spike Gray swashbuckling into the room with a bottle of Jack Daniels under one arm and a busty blond under the other.

Two songs in with “Singer Serenader” you are left wondering if these guys are really in their sixties or just might be a bunch of millennials with a garage band who grew up listening to their grand parents Classic Rock record collection.

And yes, Spike Gray, with a voice that sounds like he gargles with sandpaper, cigarettes and whiskey can take things lower and even slower and deliver a ballad with the best of them like he does on “This is It.” It is here where there is a spit take moment towards the end of the song when the ghost of Papa John Creach seemingly joins the party with a fiddle outro. It’s subtle, but it’s there. And it’s delicious.

There literally is not a bad song on this record. The entire proceedings are so cool that the guys can almost be forgiven for going all Bryan Adams on our ears with “Dancing In Paris.” Well, almost. They tried to hide it by sneaking it in as the second to the last song on the album. The spot that is typically reserved for songs that are added at the last minute for filler purposes. We are on to your little reindeer games Quireboys. Shine on you crazy diamonds!