Five Cool Ones: Five Cool New Releases This Week (Mar 21, 2019)

This was a week for the ladies with Ex Hex, Jenny Lewis, Emily Wells, and Lucy Rose all coming out with a new record. On the Americana front, Terry Allen is back after a long absence, and Luther Dickinson leads an all star cast on his new one Strawberry Moon. All in all, it’s a great week to be a music fan.

Jenny Lewis – On the Line

Finally, On the Line, the new record from Jenny Lewis is out and it is definitely worth the wait. With a guest turn from Beck and Ringo Starr on drums for a couple of songs how could things get any cooler. Jenny Lewis using the piano that Carole King played on Tapestry, that’s how.

Ex Hex – It’s Real

Ex Hex is Mary Timony, Betsy Wright and Laura Harris, all veterans of the Indie Rock scene over the last decade or so. Sort of a more punk version of the Pretenders, the crunching guitars and the glittering sheen that is filtered throughout the record will have you spinning back to those days when Rock and Roll was nothing but fun.

Strand of Oaks – Eraserland

Strand of Oaks is singer songwriter Tim Showalter. This, his latest album, features members of My Morning Jacket on a set of songs that will make your head swoon in all the best of ways.

Keren Ann – Bleue

Exclusively in French, Bleue, the eight record from Keren Ann is a beauty. The record is deep and captivating much in the mold of Serge Gainsbourg and Francois Hardy.

Matt Andersen – Halfway Home By Morning

This melting pot of a record has it all. Gritty Muscle Shoals Soul, Heart felt Americana, Gritty Blues and good old Country. Recorded live in Nashville in the same studio that Jerry Lee Lewis and Emmylou Harris made magic, this one is leaps and bounds better than his also excellent 2016 release Honest Man.

 

Five Cool Ones: Five Cool Albums Released This Week (March 15, 2019)

As it was a pretty slow week for new releases it took a bit more research to come up with the cream of the crop. Here are five of our favorites.

Tom Russell – October in the Railroad Earth

Tom Russell is at his best when he is not sticking to a specific theme but rather lets each song stand on its own as he does here. Russell is at his storytelling best here with many high lights including “T-Bone Steak and Spanish Wine,” a song that is an early contender for song of the year, and “Highway 46” name checking Spade Cooley and Merle Haggard.

Lauren Jenkins – No Saint

Combining Pop, Country, and Americana No Saint is about as impressive a debut record as we have heard all year firmly placing Lauren Jenkins on the “Ones to Watch” list for 2019.

The Picturebooks – Hands of Time

A Blues Rock band in the mold of The Black Keys. “You Can’t Let Go” is a standout here with a stellar assist courtesy of The Pretenders Chrissie Hynde.yfd

Tesla – Shock

If your record is produced by Phil Colleen you are going to pretty much sound like Def Leppard, and that is never a bad thing.

Renée Wahl – Cut To The Bone

With a spaghetti western Quentin Tarantino vibe courtesy of her Cracker Jack band The Sworn Secrets, this one sounds like a cross between Melissa Etheridge and Nicki Bluhm.

Five Cool Ones: Five More Reasons Rock Is Not Dead

There are a lot of new bands that are worth your attention doing business in bars all across the country. Given today’s musical landscape and the amount of really hard rocking, kick-ass bands that are applying their trade it is not easy to separate the cool from the lame. Here are five more reasons that Rock is definitely alive and well.

Sons of Kong – Cold Hearted Woman

Not technically a new band, they released a smokin’ E.P. SHAG in 2016, this Wisconsin based Blues Rock band is on the brink of much more acclaim. Look for their first proper L.P. to be released sometime towards the end of 2018.

Babylon Shakes – Making A Million

Some sort of devil spawn hybrid of Sleaze, Glam, 70’s Rock and Roll and 80’s Sunset strip, these guys are thrashing their way deep into your ears with an infectious brand of Rock that you haven’t seen since Guns ‘N’ Roses ruled the world.

Liliac – Chain of Thorns

Liliac is a band of hard rocking Los Angeles based with none of them over the age of 16. And guess what, they are good. Even bordering on great. Expanding beyond their weekly appearances on the Santa Monica Pier their debut album, Chain of Thorns, was released on January 25th. Stewart Copeland heard the band and was impressed enough with drummer Abigail Cristea to take the band under his wing and help sponsor them to the next level.

Denman – Alive In Overdrive

The Nashville cats Denman are ready to take their Heavy Metal Metallica inspired vibe to the big time with their latest record, Raw Deal. Here, we have another band that has been living the dream in small bars and clubs and just maybe will hit the big time with their polished new record of pure Rock and Roll.

Massive Wagons – Tokyo

Massive Wagons with their 2018 release Full Nelson is already on our radar, but with more and more listens this band is rocketing to the top of our listening charts. From the U.K. the vibe is straight ahead Rock and Roll with strong hooks, mighty choruses, and radio friendly songs. And yes, there is cowbell.

 

 

 

Five Cool Ones: Five Cool Albums Released This Week (March 8, 2019)

The year in music is certainly heating up. This week, Country crooner Maren Morris shows her Pop Music roots with a terrific new release, Girl, Dido is back front and center with a set of atmospheric gems, and there is the return of the fabulous Meat Puppets to celebrate. And, Dan Auerbach and his Easy Eye Sound studio continue to expose us to the type of music we should have been listening to all along with the Delta Blues styling of Leo “Bud” Welch and the appropriately named, The Angels in Heaven Done Signed My Name.

Here are five really cool records that caught our ear-tention this week.

Leo “Bud” Welch – The Angels in Heaven Signed My Name

Leo “Bud” Welch was in his 80’s during the sessions for The Angels in Heaven Signed My Name. Full of pathos and swagger, the ten songs presented here were recorded by Dan Auerbach and his production team at Easy Eye sound using a bare bones template with Bud playing a 1953 Les Paul and the Black Keys Richard Swift on drums. Unfortunately, both Bud Welch and Richard Swift passed away before this record was released. Listen closely to the last track, “Sweet Home.” This was the last song on the last album that Leo “Bud” Welch would ever record as he mournfully sings his one last great hurrah, “I may be dead and gone, I’ll let you know before I go.”

The Wild Reeds – Cheers

Expanded to a five-piece with a more fleshed out expansive sound that will bring to mind sort of a groovy-tone hybrid of The Go Gos and Fleetwood Mac. All of the songs are pretty much festival stage ready with a bounce that might remind you of Oh Pep!, Lucious, or even First Aid Kit.

Justus Proffitt – L.A.’s Got Me Down

Barrel your way through the first couple of songs that hit you between the ears with a lot of sonic mayhem and sound distortion and what you are left with is a pretty much a thing of beauty. Deeply thought-provoking with beautiful melodies, this record could be a love letter to Elliott Smith.

The Picturebooks – Hands of Time

You pretty much have Jack White and The White stripes to thank for this bend even existing. Garage-Stomp Rock in all the best of ways. When the duo gets cranking on “Like My World Explodes” you suddenly realize what Steven Tyler should be doing instead of going Bro-Country on our ass. This one is greasy and swampy in all the best of ways.

Patty Griffin – Patty Griffin

The new self-titled L.P. by Patty Griffin is quite simply a beautiful record and just might be up for several awards once the end of the year rolls around. Listen closely, and yes, that is ex boyfriend Robert Plant on background vocals on “What Now.” The guitar work is intricate, the vocals pristine, and the songwriting  is first-rate storytelling of the highest caliber. If she ever was to name an album after herself this one of legacy proportions.

 

 

 

 

 

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (March 1, 2019)

The year keeps rambling along with some real nice records released this week. The Flamin’ Groovies have the reiissue of the year in the bag already with a new pressing of Gonna Rock Tonight! The Complete Recordings 1969 to 1971. Royal Trux finally puts out a proper album on Fat Possum Records, and Art Rockers Japanese House released Good at Falling.

Here are five really excellent records that have caught our ear-tention.

Cats in Space – Day Trip to Narnia

Cats in Space would have fit in quite nicely in your late 70’s into the early album collection right up next to Toto, Foreigner, there are even shades of Boston and early era Journey on this one. Don’t sleep on the Rock opus “The Story of Johnny Rocket I to VII. There is a lot of Kansas on that epic song cycle.

Dee White – Southern Gentlemen

It is hard to believe that this Southern Gentleman is only 20 years old. Another really excellent find from the Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound, Dee White has a vintage songwriters ear for a melody. His smooth delivery and vintage old school production, complete with strings in just the right places, will bring you back to early Glen Campbell and Roy Orbison.

Quaker City Nighthawks – QCNH

Combining the greasy strut of 70’s Rock with Texas Blues and you get the Quaker City Nighthawks. A diverse listen that gets more compelling with each listen it is hard to tell if these guys are more influenced by Creedence Clearwater, Neil Young, or Tom Waits. If Blackberry Smoke were only a bit less country they would sound like these guys.

Durand Jones & The Indications – American Love Call

A vintage 70’s R&B sound with a modern day political bent. With dual vocals Durand Jones and drummer Aaron Frazer, Jackie Wilson along with Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions will be an immediate comparison. This a a terrific record and would have been made by Marvin Gaye if he was still alive.

The Cactus Blossoms – Easy Way

A male version of First Aid Kit, these Minneapolis siblings carry on the singing duo tradition handed down from Simon and Garfunkel, and most notably, The Everly Brothers. With their gorgeous harmonies the brothers create a timeless sound. This is a record you will like at first listen and grow to love after 3 or more.

 

 

20 Cool Ones – The 20 Best Texas Country Songs

Inspired by a post from the Texas music on-line magazine TJ Music that listed the top 20 Texas Country songs of all time, we have created our own list. There is a little bit of cross-pollination going in here, after all a Texas music list without “Pancho and Lefty” or “Sunday Morning Coming Down” holds no credibility at all, but for the most part our selections go freestyle deep into the Texas hill country, on to the plains of Lubbock, all the way to San Antonio and beyond. Standard playlist rules apply to this set of songs. No more than one song from a single artist, a rule that makes sense as it spares the listener of being subjected to 20 Doug Sahm tunes, and the song must be written or performed by an artist that is from or is associated with the state of Texas. So, enough foreplay, tonight we ride!

20. Johnny Rodriguez – Ridin’ My Thumb To Mexico

This story song that will remind you a bit of Marty Robbins was one of a couple of Johnny Rodriguez’ hit songs that really should have made him more famous than he was. Riding just below the borderline behind Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Doug Sahm and the rest of the Texas outlaw crew, Johnny’s career almost never got started after four prison stints in six years. And, if it weren’t for a Texas Ranger that heard him singing in prison and set him up with a chorus job at a Western themed amusement park “Ridin’ My Thumb Back To Mexico” might have never seen the light of day.

19. George Straight – Amarillo By Morning

“They took my saddle in Houston, broke my leg in Santa Fe, Lost my wife and a girlfriend somewhere along the way.” “I ain’t got a dime but what I got is mine, I ain’t rich but lord I’m free, Amarillo by morning, Amarillo is where I’ll be.” In a Sophie’s choice sort of dilemma this one makes it by the tip of a Stetson over “All My Exes Live In Texas” and “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind.” And what about “Ocean Front Property” or “Cowboy Rides Away.” Holy hell, now I now why the good folks at TJ Music did not include a George Strait song on their list. It was just too hard to pick only one.

18. Doug Sahm – (Is Anybody Going To) San Antone

Singing a song about his home town, Doug Sahm could perform in all of the Texas styles. Blues, Country, Tex-Mex, Cajun, Western Swing, this hombre could do it all.

17. Bob Wills – New San Antonio Rose

As Waylon Jennings would say, “It don’t matter who’s in Austin” Bob Wills is still the king. No Texas music list would be complete without a Bob Wills song as the centerpiece. “New San Antonio Rose” is pure Bob Wills. Western Swing in all it’s glory with The Playboys playing as tight as the skin on a grape.

16. Jerry Jeff Walker – Mr. Bojangles

Jerry Jeff Walker wrote “Mr. Bojangles” in Town Van Zandt’s old apartment above the Sand Mountain Coffee house in Houston, Texas firmly cementing the Texas roots of this iconic song. Sure, there have been some tremendous versions of this song over the years most notably Nina Simon’s makes her own rendition and the hit for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, but our ears always come back home to the original. An understated beauty of a song where every word seems perfectly placed.

15. Slaid Cleaves – Horseshoe Lounge

No, Slaid Cleaves is not from Texas, but the Horseshoe Lounge certainly is. The Horseshoe Lounge is a drinkers bar in Austin, Texas where everybody knows your name and the drink of the day is beer with a shot of whiskey. The song takes you inside for a bit of day drinking on a typical Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or any day for that matter.

14. The Texas Tornadoes – Who Were You Thinkin’ Of

Getting together first on a lark at a concert in San Francisco, The Texas Tornadoes were Country music’s first super group. Combining Tejano, Tex Mex, and Cajun song styles Freddy Fender, Doug Sahm, Augie Myers and Flaco Jiminez created a party ready sound that broke down barriers with fans on both side of the border.

13. Townes Van Zant – Pancho and Lefty

Sure the classic version is delivered by Waylon and Willie, but the original written by troubled troubadour Townes Van Zant is the most passionate.  With his voice almost breaking in places Townes tells the story of two outlaws with Lefty on the run after Pancho is killed. Originally recorded on The Late Great Townes Van Zant album, the song is hard to follow and it is difficult to tell if Lefty is indeed Townes as he finishes out his days in a flea bag of a hotel in Cleveland. Did Pancho kill Lefty? Is that why after Pancho bit the dust it ended up in Pancho’s Mouth? We will never know and sadly, Townes Van Zant isn’t around to tell us.

12. Johnny Bush – Whiskey River

Johnny Bush wrote the song but Willie Nelson made it famous. Slowed down just a bit in tempo, the song the song that Willie uses to open his concerts opens itself up to all its nuance and heartbreak when the person who wrote and lived the song delivers the song that will take you back to another place, another time.

11. Hayes Carll – Drunken Poet’s Dream

Hayes Carll is from a small suburb just North of Houston but he seems more comfortable in the small town underbelly of society. A co-write with Ray Wylie Hubbard “A Drunken Poet’s Dream” is a master class in songwriting.

10. Ray Wylie Hubbard – Loco Gringos Lament

And speaking of the above mentioned Ray Wylie Hubbard there are several of his songs that are worthy of making this list, “Screw You, We’re From Texas,” and “Redneck Mother” just to name two. But, at the end of the day, “Loco Gringos Lament” makes the cut slightly edging out “Dust of the Chase.”

09. Robert Earl Keen – The Road Goes On Forever

From his fabulous West Textures record, “The Road Goes On Forever” is a Bonnie and Clyde style story song that details a  young couple going on the lam after Sonny lays out a drunken pool player with his pool cue. All of the big guys have covered this song including Joe Ely and The Highwaymen. Hearing Robert Earl Keen and his band perform this song live is a a life changing experience.

08. Gary P. Nunn – London Homesick Blues

Famous for the line “Well, when you’re down on your luck, and you ain’t got a buck, in London you’re a goner. Our hero can’t wait to get back to Texas where there are the friendliest people and the prettiest women you’ve ever seen. The song is also the theme song to the Austin City Limits television show.

07. Michael Martin Murphey – Geronimo’s Cadillac

Riding on the edges of the Outlaw Country movement Michael Martin Murphey was as talented as the rest of them. “Geronimo’s Cadillac” while not his most famous song, “Widfire” would have that honor, it is the song most covered by other artists.

06. Guy Clark – Dublin Blues

Another Texan across the pond longing to get back to Texas Song. Here, Guy Clark puts himself in Dublin as he reminisces about drinking mad dog margaritas in Austin’s Chili Parlor Bar wondering what has happened to his long lost love as he chokes back the shakes with every drink.

05. Joe Ely – Honky Tonk Masquerade

Slightly edging out “Tonight I Think I’m Gonna Go Downtown” Joe Ely’s “Honky Tonk Masquerade” is, for some, the quintessential honky tonk song. The song looks at the tear in your beer side of the honky tonk.

04. Kris Kristofferson – Sunday Morning Coming Down

Nashville might try to claim Kris Kristofferson, but stanod down, he is pure Texan. Sure, there is always a lot of debate over the best version of this song, but at the end of the day the nod goes to the guy that wrote the song. Sorry Willie and Johnny.

03. Billy Joe Shaver

Billy Joe Shaver Is, as they say, a songwriters songwriter. Everybody has covered a Billy Joe Shaver song, most notably Waylon Jennings. The choice here was between the autobiographical “Georgia on a Fast Train,” Old Five and Dimers Like Me,” or “Honky Tonk Heroes.” And, “Honky Tonk Heroes” it is.

02.Waylon Jennings – Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)

“The only two things in life that make it worth living, guitars that tune good and firm feeling women.” This song is so good Waylon can almost be forgiven for not stepping foot in Luckenbach before he took this song to number one on the Country charts.

01. Willie Nelson – Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain

Number one on this list might be one of the best songs ever written, any genre. Willie, simply Willie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Cool Ones: Five Cool Albums released this week (February 22, 2019)

The music scene is starting to crank up quite nicely. Karla Bonoff has a new record out as does John Mayall. Conor Oberst has a new side piece band and Julia Jacklin released a gem of an album this week. The music scene is very much alive and well!

Yola – Walk Through The Fire

This, her debut album, just might make Yola the reigning queen of Country Soul. Walk Through The Fire is a genre- bending sonic masterpiece brought to you courtesy of Dan Auerbach and the good folks at Easy Eye Sound.

Ray Charles – Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music Vol. 1&2

Under normal circumstances we do not cover reissues as part of our weekly release countdown. But if that release is this ear buster of an album we are all over it. “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” the best cover version of “Careless Love” you ever will hear. Damn straight!!

Susto – Ever Since I Lost My Mind

This Charleston, Sc band is a bit of a throwback to the early 2000’s. Led by Justin Osborn, this six-piece band should bring to mind Band of Horses, or from a more recent vintage, The Lumineers. Justin Osborne is the singer and the star of this show. “Last Century” will Be in our top 100 songs of 2019 List.

Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center

Rock is the New Roll as well as The Falcon’s Nest are huge fans of Conor Oberst. We don’t care if he is recording as Bright Eyes, under his own name, or with his new band that features Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers on set that is a tight-knit folk-rock tour de force.

Attic Lights – Love In The Time of Sharks

This 70’s Power Pop influenced band never fails to expand the mind and impress the soul. Their latest, Love In The Time of Sharks, somehow, without pretense, combines Power Pop, Americana, and Rock and Roll all in one musical gumbo. The Raspberries by way of Big Star on this one.