Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (January 27, 2023)

Of course, everything is just a placeholder while waiting for the new Metallica album to hit our shores, but in the meantime, there are a lot of new records to hit our earbuds.

The Power Pop splendor of The Push Puppets is a refreshing new find.

Sunset Strip retro rockers Backstreet Girls are out with a Sleaze-Glam rocker, “Too Cool For You.”

And, Golden Richards, a Power Pop band with hooks-a-million in the Fountains of Wayne and Cheap Trick mold has a cool new single out with “Shake Your Hair.”

But, enough of the pre-game hype. We do the work so you don’t have to. Here are five choice cuts to savor this week.

The Shang Hi Los – Aces Eights & Heartbreaks

That rare band with dueling male-female singers, Dan Kopko and Jen Angora, The Shang Hi-Los, create a beautiful noise mixing Phils Spector girl group and Cheap Trick by way of Blondie Power Pop into a mai-tai blender of semi-retro coolness.

Hailing from Boston, filling out the band with maestros from the area music scene, there is nary a dud inherent in this set of firecracker tunes. The opener, “Takes One To Know You” is Cheap trick with a Badfinger sensibility, “Monsieur Valentine” would have gone over well at CB GB’s in the ’80s with Debbie Harry behind the microphone, and “Plymouth Rock” has a bit of a Pretenders scent wafting in the air. And then there’s “Billy” with its over-the-top mariachi horns a song that is perfect Tarantanio-noir fare.

This record is a blast of a new find worth your extended ear time. Hard to believe, but it’s true. This cool album actually lives up to the cool band name.

White Reaper – Asking For A Ride

To our ears, the Rock album of the year may have just self-presented with White Reapers’ fourth proper record, Asking For A Ride. Over three years past their breakthrough single “Might Be Right,” with this one the band may have just painted their masterpiece.

Part Zenyatta Mondatta era police, part Black Sabbath, with a dose of the MC-5 and The Ramones for good measure, from the opening salvo of the title track you are hit between the ears with an aural blast of atomic energy that is as transformative as music can get without landing you in jail.

From “Asking For A Ride” and on to “Bozo” and “Fog Machine” the guitar and drum attack is relentless, and it is not until four songs in with “Getting Into Trouble W/The Boss” that the poppier side of the band shows through. And, with the Oasis evoking “Heaven or Not” it is clear that the time spent between records honing their craft and curating their sound has the band coming out the other side with a solid release that should stand the test of time.

The Foreign Films – Magic Shadows

With “Midnight Movies,” the opening track of the new album from Bill Majoros, dba The Foreign Films, the tone-setting begins with a dose of Kinksian butterfly splendor in the Schoolboys In Disgrace mold. And, once the second track kicks in with the All Things Must Pass George Harrison vibe on “Rain Clouds (Sunshine In Your Heart)” your minds-ear will be setting the coordinates directly towards cool.

With “Perfect Future,” a song that could have been on any David Bowie Dogs era record, and once the hippy-dippy Donovan dusted “Sparks In the Dark (Merry-Go-Round)” kicks in you will be left hoping that the time machine that took you back to 1965 has enough volts left in the tank to get you home.

Speaking of time machines, the song “Time Machine” will have you yearning for the days of The Dave Clark Five, and there is more than a little bit of Electric Light Orchestra landing on “Cinema Girl (Magic Shadows).” Pound for pound greta, this record, with its textured and fluid Joie-de-vie tickling your ears, will likely resurface once the end-of-the-year lists hit the presses.

David Ronaldo – Tunes For A Dime

A bit too country to be classified as Rock, not quite outlaw enough to ride the wind with Waylon and Jamey Johnston, David Ronaldo, with his new record, Tunes For A Dime, David lands right there in the Sturgill Simpson, Steve Earle universe with Tennesee whiskey, reefers, and wine the order of the day.

Deftly mixing Rock, Barroom Blues, and Country in equal measures, it is hard to imagine the driving ZZ Top adjacent “Laid-Back & Easy” not being a crowd-pleaser in any, pick-your-poison, juke joint where Ronaldo might be playing.

Sure, there is a miss-step along the way here, most notably on “Shadows Walking,” A song that is much too close to the Bon Jovi “Wanted Dead Or Alive” bone, and the environmental challenge of “What Have You Really Done” where the music doesn’t really fit the lyrics, but overall this is a solid listen with over the top guitar work that scorches the earth with a double bill of ZZ Top and Delbert McClinton evoking splendor.

The Arcs – Electrophonic Chronic

The Arcs, the side-piece band for the Black Keys singer-songwriter and Easy Eye Sound major-domo Dan Auerbach, are out with one of the more eclictically cool records of the year with Electrophonic Chronic.

With shades of R&B with “Heaven is a Place,” the yacht rock-adjacent Hall and Oates vibe of “Keep On Dreaming,” and the “Crimson and Clover” dusting on the intro to “Eyes” there is a warm familiarity to the proceedings here that makes this one sound vintage and fresh at the same time, a gift that is Auerbach’s superpower.

Making full use of the instruments available to him at Easy Eye, “River” has a old-school soul organ sound that comes acrsoss like Leon Bridges covering “Take Me To The Water,” and the piano-pop wondermint of “Sunshine” floats along like early era Bee-Gees. Once you get to “A Man Will Do Know Wrong” it is clear that the studio is a co-conspirator on this record taking on a life of its own much in the way that Muscle Shoals was the co-star for all those Soul albums back in the day.

Listen to this one once, twice, then thrice. A new experience will unfold with each subsequent tracking, and they are all glorious to behold.

Five Cool Ones – Five New Albums Released this week (January 20, 2023)

Now we’re rolling, the month is careening into high gear with a bevy of fine morsels to savor.

The fine folks at Big Stir records are out with “Anchors Away,” a nautical video that features Maple Mars from their highly excellent 2022 release, Someone’s Got To Listen.

And, speaking of Rock is the New Roll favorites, Easy Eye Sound, their latest entry, The Velveteers, have a snarling new video out with “Choking.”

And, if all of that is not enough, retro popster Nick Waterhouse throws down his 60’s crooner vibes on “Hide and Seek.”

Of course, it’s all foreplay in anticipation of the main event and the five choice nuggets released this week.

Maneskin – Rush

With the slow burn rush of singles that were dribbled out to the masses, Maneskin, depending on your point of view, is either a guilty pleasure, or the next big thing.

Combining the eclectic glam mix of Queen, Abba, The Struts, Sweet, and the Village People, the vibe us all fun all of the time. Perfectly framed for the festival circuit, whether your jam is “Gossip,” a song that features Tom Morello, or “Supermodel” the entirety of this record is an E-Ticket Disney ride of the highest order.

Don’t sleep on “Mammamia,” a song released earlier in the year, but equally bombastic. There is not a cut on this record that is not a glam-stomper.

The Baboon Show – God Bless You All

This Swedish rock and roll band that features the dynamic lead singer Cecilia Bostrom is not so quietly establishing themselves as one of the best live acts on the planet. The opening track of their latest L.P., “Made Up My Mind” is definitely a case in point.

Ten records, in The Baboon Show is still a rock and roll show on a platter. Cecilia’s vocals are a somewhat an acquired taste, picture Axl Rose, Meatloaf, and Cherie Curie in your minds ear, but once the familiarity settles in, the uniqueness becomes an asset.

The opener, “Made Up My Mind” is a propulsive rocker and” Have a Party With Me” mixes things up a bit with guitar player and main songwriter Hakan Sorle jumping in on the vocals.

Not for the faint of heart, but if you are looking for one hell of a party record you wouldn’t be too wrong turning up the dials on The Baboon Show.

Black Star Riders – Wrong Side of Paradise

With Wrong Side of Paradise former Thin Lizzy ax player Ricky Warwick leads his Black Star Riders through another master class in rock and roll on this, their fifth proper record.

Throwing down an anthemic blend of ferocious guitars and thundering drums, most notably on the Thin Lizzy pitch perfect vibes of “Better Than Saturday Night,” and the 60’s garage rock splendor of “Pay Dirt,” there is nary a miss-step here, unless, of course you choose to throw shade on the questionable choice to include “Crazy Horses,” an Osmond Brothers cover, in the set.

The Black Star Riders with their singular mission to preserve all that is good in rock and roll have definitely scored another winner here.

Butch Walker – Butch Walker as … Glenn

Adopting the persona of piano man Glenn, singer, songwriter, producer Butch Walker adopts the role of a piano player regulated to applying his trade in dive bars playing for half-listening drunk patrons. A sequel of sorts to Billy Joel’s character on “Piano Man.”

That’s not to say that these are simply a set of snoozer tunes, every song presented here is pretty stellar. “Roll Away (Like a Stone)” could have been a Boz Scaggs “Lido” B side, “Tell Me I’m Pretty (Bethamphetamine Pt 2)” rolls out like a Springsteen rager, while “State Line Fireworks” has the pastiche of the great Jim Steinman and Meatloaf.

Overall, Butch Walker as … Glenn is a semi-easy listening gem that will have a definite appeal to those ears of a certain age.

The Bad Ends – The Power and the Glory

It would be reaching a bit to call this band a supergroup given the only legitimate universally known member of the band is R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry with the rest of the band filled out by stellar talent from the Athens, Ga music scene present and past.

With a solid mix of college rock, back in the day, evoking tunes and pathos driven tender ballads, this record definitely was made for these times as the band grapples with loss, change, and decay offering up an antidote to doom scrolling and negative vibes.

Five Cool Ones: Five Reasons Rock Is Not Dead (2022 Edition)

Way back in 2017, the band Greta Van Fleet hit the scene and was widely lauded as the next big thing in Rock and Roll. Truth be told, these young whippersnappers from Frankenmuth, Michigan were just a bit too Led Zeppelin-adjacent, and in most musical circles their sound was considered to be simply an esoteric listen. Yet, they were considered to be the next great thing in Rock and Roll.

The truth is, there are many high-caliber Rock bands that are putting out great Classic Rock inspired high-octane rock music. Whether it be Glam Rock in the T Rex, early David Bowie mold, AOR (Yacht) Rock treading the waters of the Little River Band, or straight-up Sunset Strip good-time jams, the spiritual progeny of the bands those of a certain age were weaned upon are making the current scene in all of their spectral glory.

Here are five songs from five bands that will have you digging out your old black light posters and turning on your lava lamps.

“Heart Stopping Kinda Show” – DeWolff

This Hammond B-3-centric band from the Dutch province of Limburg combines ’70s Psychedelic flair with Southern Rock tendencies in the Wet Willie and James Gang mold. Look for the new record Love, Death & In Between to be released in February 2023.

“White Buffalo” – Crown Lands

A Juno award winner for the best-emerging band, Ontario-based Crown Lands combines the most digestible flavors of Progressive Rock with Led Zeppelin’s over-the-top bombast. Picture in your mind’s ear Robert Plant fronting Rush on one of their most accessible songs and you pretty much will have nailed the template for their single from 2022’s breakthrough record, Discover Crown Lands.

“I Wanna Know You” – The Sheepdogs

Having hit the scene after being featured on the cover of Rolling Stone as one of the new-face bands in Rock and roll, these road warriors apply their trade somewhere between Foreigner and The Guess Who. Their most recent record, Outta Sight will evoke all of your favorite ’70s Rock and Roll bands without sounding pastiche. With this band, it is all about the songs. And, they are stellar.

“Girls On The East Side Of Town” – Tuk Smith

Standing right up there with The Struts Luke Spiller, and Justin Hawkins from The Darkness, Tuk Smith is on the medal stand of top present-day Rock and Roll front-men. His 2022 record, Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts is as good a guitar-based rock record as you will have heard all year. For extra credit, go back and check out his work with his old band, The Biters, but stay for this Thin Lizzy adjacent tour deforce.

“Going Back To Hoonsville”- Datura4

Given that the Aussie band, Datura4 takes its name from a stretch of Western Australia highway, it should come as no surprise that the band has released the number one driving song of 2022 in “Going Back To Hoonsville”. This Psychedelic, organ-centric, Blues Boogie makes ZZ Top blush, and could very well be calling Radar Love its bitch.