Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 30, 2022)

Another week in the books and things seem to be cranking. We were a bit skeptical when we heard that The Boss was putting out a Soul covers record, but holy Motown, by the sounds of this single that has leaked out it is going to be great.

Librarians with Hickeys have a new one out that is a Power Pop pleasure.

And, the Big Star, Badfinger devotees The Bablers tickle the ears with their new single “You Are The One For Me.”

Dead Daisies – Radiance

For those about to rock, we salute you. Here at Rock is the New Roll H.Q. we are big fans of Glen Hughes, next to David Coverdale our favorite Rock singe. And, by extension, we are cards to the middle of the table, all in, on the latest Dead Daisies record, Radiance.

Full of high-tone ‘70s rock swagger in the Deep Purple mold, this super group that consists of former Whitesnake guitarist David Aldrich, Glen Hughes, major-domo and bandleader David Lowy, and drummer for hire Brian Tichy, pull out all of the stops on a record that is full of heavy riffs, soaring vocals, and monster drumming.

Sure, the music is not very subtle and there is not much room for nuance, but if you like Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Rainbow, or Ronnie James Dio, then this record is right up your horns up street.

2nd Grade – Easy Listening

The Philadelphia five-piece that is 2nd Grade is poised for next-level greatness with their third proper full-length, Easy Listening.

The texture transitions from song to song that the band pulls off makes for not only an interesting listen, but also rewards the listener with new signature Nuggets to be unfurled with each successive spin.

The opener “Cover of Rolling Stone,” no not that one, is a short fuzz-laden, straight ahead rocker, and “Strung Out On You” is a Power Pop gem in the Weezer and Fountains of Wayne mold. And, believe it or not, there is a bit of James Gang essence on “Controlled Burn.”

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice To Let It Be” shows the band’s softer side as well as highlights their songwriting acumen, and “Keith and the Telecaster” has a bit of a Ramones feel to it.

Pound for pound one of the most eclectically cool records of the year, look for this one to show up on several best-of lists later in the year.

The Airport 77s – We Realize You Have A Choice

From the opening Journey by way of Night Ranger riffage on “One Good Thing About Summer” to the Cheap Trick if The Struts Luke Spiller fronted the band splendor of “Birthday Girl” the ears are tuned to coolness with this sophomore release of Airport 77s.

With the lyric, “He has a photo with Sammy Hagar and tattoo that says Aloha,” on “Losers Win,” you get a sense of the whimsical side of the band, and the soaring gang vocals imbedded in “Somebodies” is pure ‘80s rock that would make The Romantics proud.

Putting the power in Power Pop and the radio in Radio Friendly, this banger of a record might force you to change the needle on your turntable you will be playing it so much. And, yes, there is cowbell.

Buddy Guy – The Blues Don’t Lie

Blues man Buddy guy doesn’t stray too far from home here, but when you apply your craft so well, that is never a bad thing.

From the opener, “I Let My Guitar Do The Talking” it is abundantly clear that there is a lot left in the blues tank and Guy has lost nothing on his fastball, either vocally or instrumentally.

The title track is a poignant reflection on Sonny Boy Williamson that told Buddy that the blues never die when he left Chicago for Little Rock to die, and “The World Needs Love” is a slow burner with a message for the times.

The proceedings heat up in the back half of the record with guest turns from the likes of James Taylor, Elvis Costello and Bobby Rush. And the emotionally devastating “Gunsmoke Blues” with Jason Isbell lays bare the issue of gun control. And, for the record, the cover of The Beatles “I’ve Got a Feeling” presented here is epic.

The pristine production, careful curation of the contributors, and strength and tenor of his playing and his vocals combine to make this record one of the best albums the blues legend has put out on the last 10 years.

Alice Cooper – Live From The Astroturf

This 12th proper Alice Cooper live Alice Cooper record this one was recorded live in 2015 at Good Records Dallas, Tx.

Featuring mostly the original Cooper line up, Alice, Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce and Neil Smith with Ryan Roxie filling in for the late Glen Buxton, this intimate performance is notable in that stripped of the often over the top stage theatrics Cooper engages the audience with story telling stage banter that adds to the enjoyment level of the concert.

With songs focusing on the glory days of the band, “Be My Lover,” “I’m 18,” and “School’s Out” blast from your speakers as if these men of a certain age were playing them for the first time.

This one is a must-have for fans of Alice Cooper and a definite peek into the glory days of rock and roll. For extra credit there is a documentary of this event that includes Q&A’s with the band members.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 23, 2022)

Of, course, everything is just a placeholder until the release of a rumored new Springsteen record, albeit a Soul covers album, sometime in November.

Courtney Marie Andrews has a delicately sublime tune out in the ether with the single “These are the good old days.“

Kentucky’s favorite Southern rock mavens Black Stone Cherry are scorching the earth with their Lynyrd Skynyrd on steroids bombast with “White Trash Millionaire” from their live record Live From The Royal Albert Hall released in June.

And, Power Pop maestro Kai Danzberg name checks The Beatles and Jellyfish with his stunningly cool new surprise single Welcome to the Show.

But wait, there’s more. Here are 5 new full length albums released this week.

Billy Idol – The Cage E.P.

Billy Idol’s current release pattern seems to be in the form of a series of four song sprints with each tune a single in its own right, and an overall arching spirit that leaves you wanting more, it is refreshingly cool that an artist that has been around so long is still mostly at the top of his game.

The opener “Cage” opens up with a Jessie’s Girl vibe and mid chorus blasts into “Rebel Yell Territory, “Running from the Ghost” announce long time Idol collaborator and guitarist Steve Stevens in fine fashion, and “Rebel Like You” rings true with the whiskey with a side order of a pack of Camels voice that Billy sports these days going down smooth.

Finally, “Miss Nobody” blasts out of the speakers in vintage ‘8os Rock style. Lay this one down next to the equally cool 4 song set from 2021’s Roadhouse and you have a proper full-length album of rebel coolness.

Dr. John – Things Happen That Way

Things Happen That Way, the posthumous release from New Orleans icon Dr. John is a goodby letter to his home city and a special gift for the rest of us. Recorded in the months prior to his death from a heart condition in 2019, bringing this one across the finish line as the good doctor’s health was deteriorating was a challenge that producer Shane Theriot seems to have met with aplomb.

The opener, “Funny How Time Slips Away” is delivered with the hush tones of a dying man, and is likely one of the songs recorded at his home as he was too ill to go to the studio, and the classic “I Walk on Gilded Splinters” takes on a spooky and funk-filled groove with Lucas Nelson and the Promise of the Real sitting in.

The version of “End of the Line,” the Traveling Wilbury’s single, is presented here with Aaron Neville and Katie Pruitt ably providing vocal assistance.

Given that contractual issues with Dr. John’s estate prevented the release of Rickie Lee Jones’ contributions to this set on three songs, its hard to imagine there could have been anything that could have made this almost perfect eulogy any better.

Kendell Marvel – Come On Sunshine

Based just outside of Nashville, Kendell Marvel migrated to Texas to make his latest record, Come On Sunshine.

Outlaw Country, Swamp Blues, and Country Rock are all represented Waylon Jennings-style on a palate of hopeful post-pandemic songs where the freedom to be left alone seems to be an underrated gift.

“Don’t’ Tell Me How To Drink” with Chris Stapleton is deep Waylon Jennings, Jamey Johnson, while “Hell Bent on Hard Times” would have fit in quietly among the Merle Haggard canon, and the title track is an eerie bottom of the bottle stunner.

Upping his game with every release, Kendell Marvell is carrying the Outlaw Country torch quite nicely.

Nikki Lane – Denim and Diamonds

Road warrior Nikki Lane is back after a brief hiatus and period of self-reflection that brought her all the way back to the highways and hillbillies that she left on 2017’s “Highway Queen.”

Not reinventing the Nikki Lane wheel, the opener “First High” tells you all you need to know about Lane as she name-checks Springsteen and leaves the beauty queens behind to join the boys at the bar. “Born Tough” is a good place holder take on her autobiography until she releases her own proper memoir, and “Live/Love” pretty sums up her way of life in a song.

A country record with a rock and roll ethos courtesy of Queens of the Stone Age majordomo Josh Homme in the production booth, Nicki Kane is indeed back and better than ever.

The Smithereens – The Lost Album

Sometime in the fall of 1993 and between record contracts, The Smithereens ensconced themselves in a N.Y. studio and recorded two albums worth of material. The first set released under the title A Date With The Smithereens was released in 1994 and now the remainder of the session has seen the light of ear under the title The Lost Album.

And, spoiler alert, they sound just like the Smithereens. The Opener “Out of This World” is Cheap Trick by way of Badfinger, on “I’m Sexy” the reason that Kurt Cobain cited The Smithereens as a major influence is clearly evident, and the band channels their inner Elvis Costello on “Pretty Little Lies.”

When one of your favorite bands comes out with “new” music and drops a long lost album, it is a glorious day indeed.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 16, 2022)

Somehow, Ozzy Osborne was able to convince Eric Clapton to play on his new album and the latest single, “One of Those Days.”

Magnolia Park is doing their best Fountains of Wayne impersonation on the fantastically catchy “Addison Rae.”

And, the garage rock noise-nicks Murlocs come out blasting with their new one, “Ballerine Ballerina.”

But wait, don’t turn those ears down just yet, here a five more cool sounds for you to savor this week.

Crossword Smiles – Pressed & Ironed

As debut albums go, Pressed & Ironed, delivered by Crossword Smiles, is as great a debut record that you are likely to hear all year. From the breezy Little River Band adjacent “October Leaves” to the calmer side of The Replacements on “…Where’s The Sense,” and sliding into the early Who evoking wonderment of “The Girl With a Penchant For Yellow,” on this one, all of the coolest touchstones coalesce into a pool of power pop perfection.

From the opener, “Feet on the Ground,” the listener is introduced to a sparkling new band that brings to the minds-ear pre-Sweethearts of the Rodeo Byrds, and “Take It On the Chin” would have fit in quite likely between Full Moon Fever and Damn the Torpedos in the Tom Petty canon while the epic “Parallel Lines” seems to share some DNA with The Zombie’s and “She’s Not There.”

With the crisp and pristine production combined with an ear-pleasing mix with the vocals floating just in front of the guitars, there is no puzzle to be solved with these crosswords. 5 across, 6 letters……WINNER.

Rhett Miller – The Misfit

Rhett Miller, the head man of The Old 97’s doesn’t come out to play solo very often, his last effort was way back in 2018 with The Messenger, but when he does, the results are typically outstanding as is the case with The Misfit.

Once again teaming up with Sam Cohen, a former member of Apollo Sunshine, this time out the order of the day is psychedelic infused Indie Pop instead of the Americana version of The Replacements like we are used to with him. Touches of Big Star, The Beatles and Tom Petty make this one a relaxing sail in calm waters.

Starcrawler – She Said

With front-woman Arrow De Wilde and their new record She Said, the band Starcrawler is in full throttle mode to continue their assault on rock and roll supremacy.

With a style that brings to mind John Doe and his band X, The Distillers, along with the sleazier side of The Rolling Stones, it is no wonder that they count Jack White, Dave Grohl, Angel Iggy Pop in the fold as super fans.

Lead single “Roadkill” travels down the highway sounding like The Go Go’s on steroids, “Thursday” would make The Runaways proud, and “Midnight” takes thing low and a bit back alley slow.

If this five piece L.A. collective can stay raw and hungry there is no telling the heights they can reach.

Ondara – Spanish Villager No. 3

Having taken the Americana world by storm with his Grammy nominated album Tales of America, Nairobi, Kenya native Ondara moved to Bob Dylan’s Minnesota stomping grounds in an attempt to capture some of the mojo from his idol.

Now, three years beyond his debut, Ondara finds himself settling into his new life quite nicely, case in point the autobiographical “An Alien in Minneapolis.” With songs like “A Shakedown in Berlin,” “A Seminar in Tokyo,” and “A Drowning in Mexico City” the album is part travelogue, part vagabond love letter, and all heart courtesy of an artist that really should be more widely known than he is.

The Black Angels – Wilderness of Angels

Remaining slavishly devoted to Psychedelic Rock forbearers Syd Barrett Roky Erickson, and Arthur Lee, Austin’s Black Angels deliver on all fronts with this mellotron forward, swirling tour de force.

On “The River” Syd and Roky along with members of The Velvet Underground are name-checked, while “Firefly” is straight up ‘60s flashback, Donovan by way of Austin Powers. And, “A Walk on the Wild Side” careens down the paisley highway managing to bring itself together just as the proceedings seem to be blindly veering into magical mystery tour territory.

This record is yet another ambitious undertaking from a band that continues to push the psychedelic boundaries.