Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (May 6, 2022)

Time keeps rolling along, and as the year progresses, the hits are starting to pile up.

’90s vintage Country dwellers Midland are once again summoning the ghosts of Garth Brooks and George Strait with their latest, “Longneck Way To Go.

The Afghan Whigs have released “The Getaway” in advance of a new album to be released on September 9.

And, the Waterboys are out with another album that sounds like The Waterboys. That is great.

But wait, that’s not all. There was a bevy of prime musical cuts to select from this week, so many that we had a tough time paring the list down to five albums this week. But, we did the work so you don’t have to. Here are five groovy platters spinning at Rock is the New Roll HQ this week.

AWOLNATION – My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers & Me

Sometimes, when there is really no legitimate reason for a band to cover a certain song or the song is such an earworm that our ears can’t comprehend anyone but the artist performing it, there can be magic in the air when it is done well. And, that is certainly the case with My Echo, My Shadow, My Covers & Me, the latest missive from AWOLNATION.

With a playlist that is as tight as the skin on an apple, every song presented here is a nostalgic trip down top 40 memory lane from the days that radio play actually meant something. The rendition presented here of “Maniac,” from the movie Flashdance, has enough curves to make this a different listening experience from the original, and the Scorpion’s iconic “Wind of Change”, with a guest turn from Incubus and Portugal. The Man, shouldn’t work, but it does quite well.

Were not sure that there ever has been an attempt at covering Alan Parson’s “Eye In The Sky,” and although this version paints pretty much between the lines, the guest turn from Beck is pretty cool. “Flagpole Sitta” is worthy of some ear time simply because you likely have not heard the song in a while and Elohim very much does it justice, “Alone Again (Naturally),” yes that one, shouldn’t really work either, but in this context with Retro-Country dudes, Midland sitting in it works quite well. If you have never heard the tune with a pedal steel guitar give this one a try.

And, once you add the anthemic “Beds Are Burning,” ABBA’s “Take A Chance On Me,” and the Cars’ “Drive” what you are left with is a highly polished, exquisitely curated set of songs that just might come together as the best covers album of the year when all is said and done.

Chateau Chateau – Grow Up

With the punk attitude of Blondie along with the buoyant energy of The Bangles, Chateau Chateau is a loose-knit collective of Tucson-based musicians that self describe themselves as making cathartic indie pop for weirdos, outcasts, queer folks, and anyone else who needs it.

Grow Up, the band’s sophomore record is a concept record of sorts detailing the various relationships that frontperson Bleu has maintained, both good and bad, throughout her life. “I Don’t Love You Anymore” is a CBGB-worthy rocker with Phil Spector girl group interludes that rails against her abusive father, and “Converted” walks the ground once traveled with a narcissistic ex.

“Push Your Luck” would have been a superb Pretenders single back in the day, and the ‘Til Tuesday Indie Rock classic “Voices Carry” is a perfect cover version to bring out the versatility of the band.

After a couple of spins of this record, especially on the song “Pray,” the specialness of individuality surfaces and is celebrated in its truest form.

Luke Winslow King – If These Walls Could Talk

Recorded in Memphis, New Orleans-based Luke Winslow King with the release of If These Walls Could Talk represents his most pleasingly diverse set of songs to date. From the peppy “Slow Sunday, June,” a song that has them sitting in the shade under a banyan tree on a sultry New Orleans Sunday afternoon to “Love At First Sight” that will transport you to a stroll down Bourbon Street.

Proving he can rock with the best of them, the Jonny Lang evoking “Have A Ball” is pure Blues-Rock Big Easy Style. The title track is a somber look at a relationship that is ebbing away, and “Leaves Turn Brown” is a perfect winsome closer.

Proving that he is no vintage Country and Jazz one-trick pony, this mostly settled down affair will reward the soul wit multiple spins on the turntable.

The Coffis Brothers – Turn My Radio Up

With the very appropriate album title, Turn My Radio Up is perfect Laurel Canyon, Pacific Coast Highway, peaceful easy feeling fare. Produced by Tim Bluhm, frontman for The Mother Hips, the record gives a definite nod to the radio dial harkening back to the late ‘70s, when radio still mattered.

The opener, “One That Got Away” could have been a Timothy B. Schmidt vocal-led single from an early Eagles record, and the single “Turn My Radio” up would have been perfect on a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers record.

“Ramona” travels into Flying Burrito’s Cosmic Cowboy territory, and “Two of a Kind” brings to mind Jackson Browne in his Running On Empty days.

Growing up in the Santa Cruz mountains in California seems to have been the perfect backdrop for brothers Jamie and Kellen Coffis to hone their craft using Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers as influences to craft one of the best album releases of the year so far.

Pink Mountaintops – Peacock Pools

With their first record in 8 years, Stephen McBean and his collective Pink Mountaintops weave a magical mystery tour of a record, Peacock Pools.

Full of neo-psychedelic turns around every corner, this record combines early Kinks with Pink Floyd and Alan Parsons if your ears can grasp all of that coolness in one sitting.

Playing it mostly straight on the tender “Nikki Go Sudden,” a tribute to the late Post-Punk icon Nikki Sudden, the rest of the album seems to be in constant motion with “Shake The Dust” propelling down the road with a bit of Kraftwerk in its DNA, and “Miss Sundown” summoning the ghost of early “Jean Genie” David Bowie.

As is the case with most really good records, this takes you down a different Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole with every turn of the groove.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week: April 29, 2022

Holy mother of pearl, this is a great week for new music. If you don’t believe us, just check out the new single from The Lickerish Quartet, a band that features most of the iconic SF Bay area band, Jellyfish.

Or, expand your mind with the latest from Rock is the New Roll’s favorite’s, Cats in Space. “Poke The Witch” is an epic tune.

And, Delicate Steve is out with a sweet instrumental single, “Playing In A Band” that will be on his upcoming album. For Delicate Steve, it is all about his 1966 Stratocaster.

And, don’t change that channel. There are five really cool records worthy of your earphones this week.

Willie Nelson – A Beautiful Time

Hitting the streets on April 29, 2022, on Willie Nelson’s 89th birthday, the red-headed stranger once again teams up with producer Buddy Cannon on a set of songs that takes old age head-on and addresses his mortality. Taking on themes of life, death, and love from the opening song, co-written with Chris Stapleton and Rodney Crowell, “I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die” to the whimsical Willie at his humorous best, “I Don’t Go To Funerals,” where he professes to be not even going to his own funeral. The voice may be a bit frail and dusty, but the guitar work courtesy of Trigger is as strong as it has been on any record. 

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to play in one of the legendary poker games at Willie’s home in Maui with Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson, you will get a seat at the table courtesy of “We’re Not Happy (Till You’re Not Happy).” They are there to shoot the bull and shoot tequila, play some cards and hide out from their wives. And on “Dusty Bottles” you will be able to sit down and have a beer with father time.

For someone who has put out as many records as Willie Nelson has, likely over 200, this one should go down in history as one of his best, maintaining a decade-long winning streak of quality performances.

Eli “Paperboy” Reed – Down Every Road

Mostly known for his R&B in the late ’60s to early ’70s Revivalism mold, Eli “Paperboy” Reed puts his blue-eyed soul stamp on a set of nicely curated Merle Haggard songs. The Haggard songbook runs the gamut from Country to Americana music to Jazz, always delivered with a whole lot of soul and, as such, is a perfect background for Reed to explore and interpret in his own style.

Playing it straight Like he does on “Mama Tried” and “Lonesome Fugitive” Reed brings out the soul of the song with the emotion of a Jerry Butler Ballad from back in the day. But, it is on the deeper Hag cuts where this record really shines. “It’s Not Love, But It’s Not Bad” reaches the depths of Sam Cooke’s soul, and “I’m Gonna Break Any Heart I Can” is Wilson Pickett-worthy.

A master class in how to curate a cover’s record, the juxtaposition of selections that walk the line of the original and those that share enough DNA that the essence of the song carries the day makes this one an eclectic listen that will garner multiple spins on your turntable.

Dianne Coffee – With People

Applying his trade with his side-piece band Diane Coffee between Foxygen gigs, Shaun Fleming has released his fourth record with the band, the first since 2019. Produced by Foxygen major-domo Jonathan Rado, on this one, Fleming strays away from the Glam-Pop of his main gig in favor of a more subtle ’70s and ’80s soft rock aesthetic.

From the opener, “Corrina From Colina,” there is a Southern California beach vibe laid down, sort of like a cross between Holland Era Beach boys and Hall and Oates. This is a song that will catch your attention and entice you to head to the beach and paddleboard out in the ocean to catch those bigger waves ahead.

“Our Love/The Run” would have been a perfect vehicle for Freddie Mercury and Queen most notably at the piano break with the repeated angry whisper “You don’t get to treat me this way.”

With Foxygen level pop bombast reached on “Sharks,” and “The Great Escape” that give the record a breezy pop feel, this record is a perfect album for the now, but put a pin in this one and bring it back around when the sounds of summer are ready to dominate the airwaves.

Thunder – Dopamine

Applying their trade going on 35 years now, U.K. rock provocateurs Thunder have released a double album of riff-ready rock and roll that reflects back to ‘70s era guitar rock in the Tesla, U.F.O, and Nazareth mold.

“The Dead City” has leader Danny Bowes channeling his inner Paul Rodgers Bad Company persona and on “Black,” the band takes glam-rock to new heights.

There is beauty in diversity to be found everywhere on this record. “Is Anybody Out there” starts off as a Billy Joel-worthy ballad before it morphs itself into a mid-era Journey via way of Elton John stunner, and “Last Orders” meanders from Pink Floyd to Led Zeppelin with the aplomb of a best in class driving song.

For a record that has Rock album of the year written all over it, this one should settle the rock is dead controversy once and for all.

Trombone Shorty – Lifted

Practically born to be a musician, Trombone Shorty was playing the trombone going back to the days when the instrument was bigger than he was. Mentored by the Marsalis family and close family friends with Dr. John, Lifted Troy Andrews’s latest record has injected all of these New Orleans bloodlines into his veins on his latest record.

A gumbo of R&B, Soul, Funk, and New Orleans Brass, is served on every cut of this impressive piece of work. “I’m Standing here” could have easily been a Lenny Kravitz smash hit in the “Are You Gonna Go My Way” mold, “Everybody in the World” has that Harry Connick Jr. jazz vibe about it, and the opener “Come Back” lays it down like the best of Earth Wind and Fire.

With the single “Lie To Me,” a song that takes second-line gospel chants and melds them with Santana Band vibes and Preservation Hall local color with trumpet and trombones taking center stage, the message is clear. Trombone Shorty is in it to love it.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week: April 22, 2022

Plenty of choice music that is ear worthy this week as we are closing in on the summer months. Marcus King has us excited for the release of his proper full-length scheduled later in the year with “Hard Working Man,” and yes, there is cowbell.

The Rock band Stinger doesn’t shy away from their love for Bon Scott era AC/DC with the new release, “Rollercoaster.”

And even Willie Nelson joined the party on 4/20, of course, with another single, “Dusty Bottles.”

But don’t stop at those choice nuggets. Here are five new records that are getting plenty of airplay in the offices of Rock is the New Roll H.Q.

Dale Watson – Jukebox Fury

Pound for pound, pompadour for pompadour, Dale Watson remains one of the premier torchbearers for the Honky Tonk. Whether he is on stage during his frequent Memphis residencies, performing at tiny clubs like the Acoustic Cafe in Galveston, Tx, or traveling around the state fair circuit, from his boots to his meticulously coifed mane, he is a classic country artist all the way.

And here, on his latest, Watson pulls in friends Steve Cropper, Linda Gail Lewis, Lorrie Morgan, and the Hillbilly Moon Explosion to help him completely inhabitant a set of eclectically diverse cover songs.

Fans of Rock is the New Roll will likely find the songs presented here in their own personal top ten list. Watson’s take on Seger’s “Turn The Page” is performed close to the vest for sure, but is nonetheless cool, and the world didn’t really need to hear “A Horse With No Name” ever again, but this version falls somewhere to the right of lame.

“The Gambler” is another back in the day over-played earworm that could have been left off. but, his sparkling takes on “For What It’s Worth,” “Treat Her Right,” a song that features Steve Cropper, and the revved-up swamp-boogie of “Polk Salad Annie” makes this one a ride well worth taking.

Railroad Earth – All For The Song

Named after a Jack Kerouac poem, the band Railroad Earth is that rare combination of listenable bluegrass and subtle Americana with a rock and roll spirit. Their first record since 2019’s Railroad Earth: The John Denver Letters, All For The Song was produced by Anders Osbourne and recorded in New Orleans.

With hints of The Band as well as Old Crow Medicine Show overtones, the songs on this set pick up on the Big Easy spirit with blues harmonica, horns, and rock tempos giving the proceedings a feel-good vibe that is a slight departure from the Jam Band syle long-time Railroad fans might be used to.

“Runnin’ Wild” could have been a Tom Petty mid-tempo rocker from the Wildflowers era, “It’s So Good” is a positive song that celebrates the joy and importance of getting together with good friends, and “My Favorite Spot” expounds on the joys of finding your favorite spot, climbing the mountain, and letting the wind blow in your hair while you still have time. And, the title track, “All For the Song,” a tune that strays heavily into Gram Parsons territory, is worth the price of admission alone.

This is a contemplative record that is best digested alone with only your thoughts to keep you company.

Bonnie Raitt – Just Like That…

When you sit down and listen to “Down The Hall,” the last track on Bonnie Raitt’s exquisite new record, you can immediately tell that even going on 50 years since her debut record was released, she hasn’t missed a songwriting beat. A somber ending it may be, but the song, narrated by a murderer that is in jail working in the cancer ward of the prison trying to find meaning to a life well wasted checks every John Prine box and is as good of a song from a writing standpoint that has been released so far this year.

And, the album only gets better from there. A fitting follow-up to Dig in Deep in 2016 and Slipstream going back to 2016, “Livin’ For the Ones” is a Rolling Stones rocker that laments friends gone too soon, “Here Comes Love” has an appealing Rikki Lee Jones vibe about it, and “Love So Strong,” the Toots Hibbert song, follows in the tradition of “Need You Tonight” and “Right Down The Line” as make the song her own, carefully curated covers included on her albums.

Production polished as tight as the skin on an apple, every song flows to the next with the ease of a breezy drive on the autobahn. It is great to hear that Bonnie Raitt has more whiskey in the barrel delivering a bottle that is aged to perfection.

Joshua Headley – Neon Blue

The ghost of the late ’80s and early 90’s Country music is back and his name is Joshua Headley. Evoking the spirit of Alan Jackson, Joe Diffie, Garth Brooks, and King George Strait on his new record Neon Blue, Joshua Headly has made the perfect record for your next pontoon party.

From the Alan Jackson and “Chattahoochie” vibing “Broke Again” and the Garth-supreme nod to the Honky Tonk on the title track “Neon Blue,” all the way to the Randy Travis wink on “Found In A Bar,” the sincerity that comes across on this record is palpable, paying homage to the era instead of simply imitating a genre and a musical time-in-place that has been somewhat maligned in certain circles.

Sure, loyalty for this record will be in direct proportion to how much you listened to Brooks and Dunn, Clint Black, and the rest of the pack back in the day, but don’t overthink things. This is a fun record that will entice you to drag that old turntable out of the garage and start spinning some vinyl.

The Lazy Eyes – SongBook

Proving once again that there is a lot of cool listening to be had down under in Australia, The Lazy Eyes, with their debut album are making their presence known alongside fellow Aussies, Tame Impala, Pond, and King Grizzard & The Lizard Wizzard. Swirling psychedelia is the order of the day with this four-piece that could quite easily get the gig as the house band for Austin Powers’ bachelor party, or as artists in residence at Erik Von Zipper’s beach bar.

Not quite a sit and listen to sort of record, this one will take you places you never thought you wanted to go, but might not want to ever leave. “Hippo” is a whirling dervish slow build psych-jam, “Fuzz Jam” is a woozy Ty Seagall worthy gypsy-dance trance with a Michael Jackson “Beat It” mid-song interlude that sounds strange but actually works, and “Imaginary Girl” could have been a ’60s Small Faces track.

The best of the song-lot here just might be “Starting Over.” The song ear-melds Revolver era Beatles with French Pop in the mold of Air’s Moon Safari L.P. Savor this record in a dark room with plenty of lava lamps and groovy blacklight posters for maximum effect.