Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (May 21, 2021)

Don’t look now, but summer is right around the corner. The music is getting brighter, bands are getting back in the studio and are heading back out on the road, and the Rock is definitely rolling as the weather gets warmer.

The Scottish band Texas is getting ready to release a record later in the year on the strength of their ABBA-inspired “Mr. Haze.”

One for the ladies, Michael Buble is releasing songs from his Live From Tour Stop 148 DVD with the word on the streets that he is prepping for a tour in the very near future.

And, Sweden’s own Rock Band Eclipse, with a sound sort of like a very heavy Bon Jovi, have come up with the best Saturday night party anthem to hit our ears in quite some time with “Saturday Night (Hallelujah).”

And, yes, of course, there’s more. Here are five particularly cool records that we are spending some ear-time with.

Robert Finley – Sharecroppers Son

Sure, we really didn’t even need to listen to this given that it is a Dan Auerbach Easy Eye Sound production to put this one on the list, but then we would have missed out on a really great Blues record. Showcasing his voice and immense slide guitar talents to knob-twirling perfection, the album combines, Blues, Rock, Soul, and Gospel to detail 10 ten songs that tell the story of a life hard-lived. From life in the city streets to life in jail and the cottonfields, Finley and Auerbach take you deep down into that world weary well.

Scorching the earth more than Blues men half his age on “Make Me Feel Alright,” and laying his life bare on “My Story” there is never a doubt that you are listening to an artist that has scrapped along for whatever success he is having and is highly appreciative.

Hitting the high notes on the uplifting “Starting To See” and taking it low and slow on the pathos-driven “I Can Feel Your Pain” I will stand on The Black Keys coffee table and proclaim Sharecroppers Son the best Blues album of 2021.

Pink Chameleons – Peace & Love

Picture yourself in a dark, dank basement in the middle of SOHO in New York attending a Ramones after-party, and you pretty much have a bead on what is going on here. Short, semi-fuzzy Garage Rock Psychedelic nuggets that drill into your chest cavity and swirl around your years. Sort of MC-5 meets Blue Cheer.

A retro, in all the best of ways, listen, the Psych-romper “Hot Dog” is a revelation, the opener “Death By Bliss” is a great introduction to the core values of the band, and even the semi-out of character instrumental “Horsewalk” is a groovy way to catch your breath.

The Reverend Shawn Amos – The Cause of it All

Should you not be overly familiar with The Reverend Shawn Amos and his oeuvre, the son of Famous Amos is a terrific Blues singer in the Keb ‘Mo mold. His latest, The Cause of it All,” is a stripped-down affair with mostly Amos an acoustic guitar, and an occasional harmonica as accompaniment.

The version here of “Baby, Please Don’t Go is not to be missed, and “I’m Ready” is delivered with a voice coming from someone who has earned it. Somewhat of a departure from his prior records that have more of an Americana bent featuring members of Crazy Horse as well as The Jayhawks, this latest album takes you back to the roots with a passionate take on “Hoochie Coochie Man” as exhibit A.

Trapper Schoepp – May Day

Trapper Schoepp, a band not a person, delivers Gram Parsons-inspired Alt-County songs like it’s California in the ’70s or Austin in the late ’90s. Sort of The Replacements meets Uncle Tupelo with a big batch of Old ’97s thrown in for good measure, there is not a bad song on this record. 

“I Am a Rider” is a highlight taking you back to the Ryan Adams Gold  days, “Paris Syndrome” displays fine sibling harmonies in the Everly’s mold, and “Yellow Moon” could have been a Dawes song. This one will be on heavy rotation for you with subsequent listens and is already ear-marked for top ten album honors.

Marinero – Hella Love

With Hella Love, Jess Sylveste performing as Marinero has delivered a love letter to not only his sailor father, Marinero means sailor in Spanish, as well as his Mexican American mother, while at the same time bidding a fond adieu to his home city of San Francisco as he moves his home base to Los Angeles.

Blending and wrapping Serge Gainsbourg, Ennio Morricone, and Burt Bacharach textures around sometimes Pet Sound worthy vintage production techniques on songs like “Outerlands,” many San Francisco landmarks are name-checked here including the rainbow tunnel between S.F. and Marin County as you enter or leave the Golden Gate Bridge, and “Minuet for the Mission” that honors the Mission District the Mexican American section of the city where his mother was raised. And, of course, no tribute to the city by the bay without a mention of the ever-present fog that prompted Irish actor James Quin to proclaim “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco” would be complete, and here the jazzy “Through the Fog” fits the bill quite nicely.

A gorgeous record on every level.

What We’re Listening To Wednesday (May 19, 2021)

There is the scent of Rock and Roll wafting through the halls of Rock is the New Roll this week as all ears start to turn towards the summer when Rock is king and good times are sure to be the order of the day.

Ayron Jones not only has a strong set of pipes but doesn’t sleep on the dude’s guitar skills. Here, with his latest single “Take Your Time” he delivers the ballad in full “Wind Cries Mary” mold.

And Speaking of Stevie Ray, here, with his band Cardinal Black, Chris Buck has returned with his version of Texas Blues, Welsh style.

Never one to shy away from a good power ballad, here the Picturebooks team up with the bombastic Lizzy Hale of Halestorm fame on a slow burn of a song that will shake rattle and roll you.

Billy Gibbons is priming his retro fueled car and getting ready to launch a new record. Here, on the video from “My Lucky Card” Billy heads to the Joshua Tree Desert Honky-Tonk Pappy & Harriets barbeque restaurant and music venue most probably visiting the ghost of Gram Parsons while he is there.

And, since we are huge fans of the over-the-top Survivor Roller disco sound of Night Flight Orchestra their new single “White Jeans” had to make our list.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (5/14/21)

Do not adjust your ears, this week is the best release week of the year by a far stretch, Paul Weller, The Black Keys, The Steel Woods, Even the ever-prolific Phoebe Bridgers is out with some new stuff. Folks we haven’t heard from a while in Travis Tritt and Alan Jacking are popping up. This abundance of musical riches is pretty much criminal.

The Vaccines are starting to drip some new music out ahead of an upcoming record with their latest earworm of a single, “Headphones Baby”.

And sure, we here at Rock is the New Roll are huge fans of Blackberry Smoke, but our fandom is reaching new heights with this collaboration with Warren Haynes, “All Rise Again.”

The Struts, one of the bands that prove that Rock is not dead, have just released an epic version of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”

Paul Weller – Fat Pop Vol. 1

The Modfather is back, and it’s like he never left. Despite releasing about a record per year, Weller never fails to bring the musical goods. A bright cheerful record even amid these gloomy times, the entire album seems fresh and original with no sense of languishing in the textures of his prior output.

Never sticking to a specific genre, the song “True” has an ’80’s Bowie vibe to it while “Glad Times” veers a bit into Nick Cave territory and the opener “Cosmic Fringes” seems to carry a bit of Devo in it’s DNA.

Don’t sleep on the Steve Winwood splendor of “Shades of Blue” as it is to our ears the best song on the album. Further reflection will be needed, of course, but after finishing up this record with the last two slowed down and exquisitely produced ballads, “In Better Times” and “Still Goes The Stream,” the votes are in. This one is likely to go down as one of the Modfather’s best.

Nancy Wilson – You and Me

With her first proper album since 2009, Nancy Wilson walks that road between tender Heart ballads and solid Pop-laden rockers quite nicely albeit carefully. Sort of a spur-of-the-moment decision to put out a record, her sparkling voice shines through much more than her guitar. Two of the covers she chooses here are interesting with her version of “The Rising” definitely hitting the mark while her mostly tepid take on the Boxer with Sammy Hagar in tow, lacking in passion and intensity, missing quite badly. 

Interestingly enough, “4 Edward” an instrumental tribute to Eddie Van Halen, would have worked much better as an introduction to a full song rather than as the set closer on this one. The sole real rocker here, “Party at the Angel Ballroom” with Foo drummer Taylor Hawkins lending an assist along with Duff McKagan should be played once, then permission is granted to pretty much ignore it. 

If there is a highlight here, The Cranberries “Dreams” would fit the bill, but overall Nancy Wilson still hasn’t released that ‘good rockin’ tonight’ guitar-based scorcher we know she has in her. 

Matt Berry – The Blue Elephant

By some stretch, the grooviest album of the year, Matt Berry takes a break from his gig as a vampire in What They Do in the Shadows to release another set of interestingly throw-back inspired songs that could have easily been the soundtrack of Austin Power’s bachelor party.

With the perfect blend of vocal tones and go-go style instrumentations, Berry rides the hipster wave to perfection going over the top when necessary and dialing things back at just the right moments. The psychedelic guitar employed here is right out of Haight Ashbury, case in point the hippy-dippy “Now Disappear.”

With a Burt Bacharach production palate, the arrangements are near perfect placing the organ solos, hipster horns, and spooky vocals in just the right places at just the right time. 

The instrumental “Safer Passage” is Rundgren’s “Why Can’t We Be Friends” inspired, and “Like Stone” could have been a Small Faces classic. Matt Berry has never made a bad record, but this one is ears and shoulders above anything else he has released to date.

The Black Keys – Delta Kream

Let’s take care of the elephant in the room right from the jump. We here in the offices of Rock is the New Roll are huge fan-people of Dan Auerbach, The Black Keys, and any product, CeeLo’s record a notable exception, that Dan’s studio Easy Eye Sound releases. Now that that is out of the way Delta Kream, the latest from The Keys, is a down and dirty, greasy love-fest to the Mississippi delta blues. Named after an iconic William Eggleston photo that adorns the cover of the album, drummer Carney along with Auerbach apply their Garage-Stomp Rock onto songs by Mississippi blues legends Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Kimbrough, and Mississippi Fred McDowell among others.

Recorded in one single ten-hour session, the Key’s laid-back delta swagger is perfect for this set of roadhouse-worthy tunes. From the lead-off song “Crawling Kingsnake” to the slinky Kimbrough song “Walk With Me” and on to the Tony Joe worthy take on Burnside’s “Poor Boy A Long Way From Home” this is about as close as you can get without actually being there live at Kimmy “Duck” Holmes’ Mississippi Juke joint.

Babe Rainbow – Changing Colours

Just engulf yourself in the bassline on the song “Ready For Tomorrow,” from the latest Babe Rainbow album Changing Colours, and, like us, you will be all in, chips to the center of the table. Fun, bouncy, and vibrant is the order of the day from this group of Aussies with “Rainbow Rock” and “California” already reserving themselves steady rotation on your summer playlist that you have yet to create.

“Curl Free” would have been a perfect fit on The Beach Boys Holland  L.P. and there is a hint of Burrito Brothers Americana wafting in the air on “New Zealand Spinach.” Start with the opener “Zeitgeist” and your ear-time will be rewarded with one of the best listens of the year.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week: May 7, 2021

It just wouldn’t be fair to compare this week’s musical montages to the gloriousness of last week. But, there is still plenty of good music to savor sending your mind on an endless journey. Rock is the new Roll favorite Walker Lukens is performing songs from his Willie Nelson tribute album in honor of Willie’s birthday.

Psychedelic popsters Babe Rainbow are front and center with “Ready For Tomorrow,” a freshly-minted single in advance of more nuggets to come later in the year.

and, Delta Kream, The new record from the Black Keys will be zooming towards our ears on May 14th. The video is terrific. Recorded at Jimmy “Duck” Holmes’ juke joint in Mississippi the song features Kenny Brown, R.L. Burnside’s guitarist, and Eric Deaton, Junior Kimbrough’s bass player.

And, if all of that hipness is not enough, here are five new records we particularly enjoy that were released this week.

Weezer – Van Weezer

Just when we ponder leaving the land of Weezer for a bit of a respite from the band that seems to be rivaling The Flaming Lips and Ty Seagall in their prolificness these days they come out with a record that sets our ears on fire with a perfect blend of ’80’s Arena Rock and Power Pop.

Using Van Halen as a spirit animal rather than simply mimicking their sound, the record, weighing in at a taut 31 minutes, is full of festival-worthy anthems, most notably the rousing “All The Good Ones,” and the sparkling Power Pop Fountains of Wayne inspired “Beginning of the End.” 

More Bon Jovi with a side order of Cheap Trick than Van Halen to our ears, this one will likely be the Rock record that is in heavy rotation on your playlists this summer.

Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, John Randall – The Marfa Tapes

Retreating to a ranch just outside of Marfa, Texas friends Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, and John Randall set out to recapture the D-I-Y spirit of old school Marfa along with its sister less gentrified cousin city of Terlingua made famous by Jerry Jeff Walker. The songs, a couple written for this project while others were culled from a group of tunes that did not quite fit on various albums, were all recorded literally around a campfire with the crackling of the embers left in the mix. 

The demo feel of the recordings gives the album a warm and intimate feeling that is enhanced by the obvious respect the trio has for each other as artists and most importantly as songwriters. Trading Leads, Miranda shines on “Ghost,” and the closing John Randall lead “Amazing Grace,” no not that one, is a perfect sign-off to a near-perfect minimalist record.

Tony Joe White – Smoke From The Chimney

Dan Auerbach and his cronies at Easy Eye Sound have done it again with the release of Smoke From The Chimney, a set of long lost demos from Tony Joe White polished and shined with assistance from Jody White, Tony Joe’s Son. Taking a set of tapes that included only voice and guitar Auerbach added a full band and pedal steel along with some of the best session guys in Nashville to bring the songs to life.

The elegant sounding “Del Rio, You’re Making Me Cry” would have been a perfect George Strait Vehicle, “Bubba Jones” is as good of a story song you will hear this side of Jerry Reed, and “Boot Money” is Classic Tony Joe White, the king of Swamp Rock.

Alex Chilton – Live On Beale Street

Recorded as a benefit for Memphis legend Fred Ford in 1999 Alex Chilton enlisted the Hi Rhythm Section, the band that backed up Al Green on all of his ’70s hits, to join him on stage. The resulting magic just may be the best live Chilton recording ever recorded.

The opener “Boogie Shoes” made famous by K.C. and the Sunshine band is a perfect opener that introduces the listener to one of the more underrated artists of all time. When the trumpet kicks in you will severely lament the fact that you were not there to hear this magic live and in person. Since this was a somewhat hastily put together appearance there were no Big Star or Box Tops songs in the set list with Chilton sticking to a set of R&B and Rock Cover songs that the band wrapped themselves in as if they had been playing these songs all of their lives, which might actually by the case. Far from mailing it in, the vocals are energetic and strong especially on “634-5789,” and when the band takes things up a half-step magic, ensues. 

Little Richard’s “Lucille” and Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline” are the requisite Scorchers with Alex sitting in the groove like he was born to it, and the closer “Trying To Live My Life Without You” is a perfect ending to a magical live album.

Kayak – Out of this world

Flying just under the Yes, ELP, King Crimson radar the band Kayak while famous in the Netherlands despite having a couple of hits including “Want You To Be Mine” and “Phantom of the Night” never really grabbed the American Ears. Thankfully, after repeated listens of their latest record, Out of This World, a grievous wrong has finally been righted.

Sounding almost exactly like they did back in their ’70s heyday, the band sounds as sparkling as ever. Evoking the mantra of “Even in the Quietest Moment” era Supertramp in places, David Bowie on the song “Waiting,” and classic Emerson Lake and Palmer on “Red Rag To A Bull” this one is epic just when it needs to be and wistfully playful in the 10cc mold when a softening of the bombastic edges is needed just when things seem to be going over the top. 

This one is very much a “what did I just hear” listen that will require multiple spins to properly greet the return of an old friend.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (April 30, 2021)

Ears-down the best week of the year so far on the music front, things are heating up. The fantastic B-52 imaging band Hayley and the Crushers are scorching the earth.

RISTN favorite ’70s vintage rock band The Sheepdogs are starting to come out of hibernation having released a fine Bay City Rollers worthy single with “Keep On Loving You.”

And Yola is primed and ready to go wearing her diamond-studded shoes in advance of her new album.

Here are five particular ear-gems we are grooving to this week.

Teenage Fanclub – Endless Arcade 

With their 11th album and first without founding member Gerard Love, Teenage Fanclub may have dialed down the jangle from their Jangle-Pop formula just a tad, but fear not, the melodic maestros are still very much at the top of their game.

From the Folk-Rock Psychedelic splendor of “Come To Me” to the Zombies evoking gang harmonies on “Back In The Day” Endless Arcade is a relaxed and inspiring listen. “The Sun won’t Shine on Me” bridges the gap between Vintage-Pop and contemporary issues-based songwriting quite nicely and “Living With You” plays the Byrds formula and signature Fanclub sound to perfection.

Spend some time with this one then drift your ears back to the early classic albums Songs From Northern Britain, Bandwagonesque, or even Thirteen. Sure, they may have been gone for a while, but with this new record, it’s like they never left.

The Coral – Coral Island

Should you not be familiar with The Coral and their oeuvre, get with the plan, man. The band pretty much mines all of the genres that your ears hold sacred including but not limited to Garage Rock, AOR, Psychedelia, Post-Punk, and Power Pop. A semi-concept album based on the band’s collective experiences at various seaside resorts on the West coast of England, the songs on Coral Island weave together beautifully with brief spoken-word interludes that serve to give Coral Island a real first-person point in time feel.

Lengthy but never burdensome, at 54 minutes the sheer brilliance and texture changes presented on the record will keep your rapt attention. Highlights are many including the carnival game atmosphere of “Golden Age,” the Melanchology sadness of “Old Photographs,” and the welcome to the pleasuredome optimism of “Change Your Mind.”

Three listens in with this record I can’t help thinking it would be cool to visit the seaside resorts brought to life in these brilliant character studies. But somehow, much like Playland at the Beach in San Francisco, The Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, or N.Y.’s Coney Island, the myth is more than likely vastly more satisfying than the reality.

Or, as Scotland’s own Stevie Dal says more eloquently than I ever could:

This one has taken me by surprise. The Corals new album is an utter gem, I never knew they had it in them but there you go, it’s a funny old world.

It’s a double album, a concept album, set in an old rundown seaside town, washed up and all but abandoned by the tourists, populated only by the characters left behind as the young ‘uns bailed out. Memories and nostalgia, lost and broken dreams, first and unrequited loves etc etc.

This is the band’s spin on classic albums like Ogdens Nut Gone Flake ( Small Faces) and Village Green Preservation Society ( The Kinks) and, while obviously not at that level, it’s a brave and wonderful attempt. If you love effortless guitar pop and glorious tunes you will be onboard. A serious contender for Album of 2021.

All of the above having been said this might be the leader in the clubhouse for best album of the year.

Grave Flowers Bongo Band – Strength of Spring

The riff-laden epicness of this Psychedelic Rock album from Grave Flowers Bongo Band was in heavy rotation at Rock is the New Roll H.Q. this week. “Animal Lord” almost blew the roof off the building with its Black Sabbath if fronted by Marc Bolan brilliance, and the lumbering groove of “Smile” will bust your chest open and make you feel alive. 

Gabe Flores weaves his guitar around this set of songs walking that melodic in a hurricane line quite nicely never amping it up to overkill territory while at the same time laying the cosmic pedal down fully to the ground. “Down Man” is like riding an out-of-control rickety wooden roller coaster and “Outer Bongolia” is a freaked-out instrumental that would have fit right in at Austin Powers’ bachelor party.

Dropkick Murphy’s – Turn Up That Dial

Proving that these guys aren’t just a band to be enjoyed on St. Patrick’s day, The Murphy’s perform as advertised and turn up the dial with their latest set of rabble-rousing anthems with their latest, Turn Up The Dial.

The “Queen of Suffolk County” pays tribute to wild women everywhere and is worth the price of admission alone, and you will automatically become Irish after a listen or two of the title track. And, just to prove they can do it, the band slows things down somewhat less than ear-splitting on the poignant and beautiful “I Wish You Were Here.”

If you don’t feel alive after listening to this record at close to full volume then you are more than likely already dead.

No-No Boy – 1975

No-No Boy is the latest nome de plume for multimedia artist and Asian studies scholar Julian Saporiti. On this record, Saporiti explores WW-2 Asian American internment sites, present-day immigrant detention facilities, and refugee camps.

While the entire set is thought-provoking, the centerpiece here is the song “The Best God Damn Band in Wyoming.” Inspired by a visit to a museum in his home state of Wyoming where he noticed a picture of a large swing band with Asian faces much like his staring at him from behind a fenced-in prison yard. After getting over the stunning visual of this unicorn-worthy picture of an Asian swing band that here-to-fore he never knew existed, No-No Boy proceeded to learn more about the inspirational photograph. As it turns out, the photo is of a group of Asian Americans that were interred in a detention camp in Wyoming during the Second World War. Forming a collective of like-minded musicians behind prison walls the swing band would play for local proms and VFW halls in the area and then were returned to prison once the performance was over. 

No-No Boy approaches his subject matter using a template of Traditional Folk, Rock, and Americana to take us on a journey that is not always comfortable, but always revelatory.

What We’re Listening To Wednesday (April 21, 2021)

With a lot of feathers ruffling and playlist debates at Rock is the new Roll HQ, despite our recent Rock jag we have been into we have been able to come up with a consensus this week. As such, here are our jams for “what we’re listening to Wednesday.”

John Hiatt and The Jerry Douglas Band – Long Black Electric Cadillac

The song, not to be confused with the 1958 song “Long Black Cadillac”, is updated for the modern age with a Cadillac that can go 1,000 miles on a single charge. John Hiatt’s latest version with The Jerry Douglas Band will set you up quite nicely as a centerpiece in your next road trip playlist. Hiatt’s new record Leftover Feelings comes out on May 21st.

GospelbeacH – Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’

This one popped up while we were going down a rabbit hole of Good Lovin’ versions from the Rascals. While we did come up with an extraordinarily excellent version by The Grateful Dead from the album Shakedown Street

the real jewel of a find here was this pseudo-cover, “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin” the ’60’s song from Bubble Gum rockers Crazy Elephant performed by RITNR hall of Famers GospelbeacH.

Lee Aaron – Whatcha Do To My Body

The latest book circulating among the members of the Rock is the New Roll book club is Nothin’ But A Good Time, which chronicles the rise and the post-Grunge fall of Sunset Strip Rock and Roll. The discussions about the book led us to current bands that bring the energy and vibe of the Hair Metal days and are playing the Raunch and Roll of the Sunset Strip forward. Rocker Lee Aaron, a bit more amped-up version of Suzi Quatro, fits the bill quite nicely and is a staple on Rock and Roll Saturday nights in The Falcon’s Nest.

The Legal Matters – Light Up The Sky

The first single to be released in advance of their soon-to-be-released third album, Chapter 3, set to be released on May 30. The record is pretty much pre-ordained to be a stunner if this Pet Sounds worthy cut is any indication.

  

Rainmakers – Ashes

Growing up in the same waters that spawned Samantha Fish and The Temperance Movement, British rockers Rainmakers have a mid-era Zeppelin vibe to them along with a Bad Company essence wafting in the air as well. We have our ears tuned to these guys and are convinced that glory days are ahead for this band. “Ashes is a straight-ahead Blues-Rocker.

And, “Forgotten Child” is a Paul Rodgers fronting Led Zeppelin epic of a tune.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (April 16, 2021)

Of course, as we all know, everything is just a placeholder until the new Teenage Fanclub record comes out in very short order. In the meantime, there is an ear-load of tasty one-off nuggets to savor.

The Black Keys have one in the hopper ready to see the light of day in a couple of months announcing itself with the single and video “Crawling Kingsnake” filmed at Jimmy “Duck” Holmes’ Blue Front Cafe, the oldest juke joint in America.

Briston Maroney, with his cross of T Rex and Pavement vibes, has released a single called “Bottle Rocket” and continues to show that he is a worthy candidate on our “ones to watch for” list.

And, Sasami an artist that has an actual French Horn degree, is out with her video of “Not The Time.” 

And, if all of the above is not all, here are five really good records released this week.

The Brother Brothers – Calla Lilly

New York-based identical twins Adam and David Moss are one of the closest things your ears will be able to find to Simon and Garfunkel and their particular brand of apple skin-tight harmonies. Their sophomore record, Calla, Lily, mixes smooth Indie-Folk on the opener “On The Road Again,” no, not that one, showing their versatility with the Appalachian-style folk-inspired “The Road Runner Song” and deal from the deck straight-ahead Everly Brothers on “Seein’ Double.”

With a bit of Donovan DNA sprinkled here, and Don Mclean’s spirit there the mood and texture differences from song to song on the record make this one an engaging listen that should have legs on your listening rotation that will please your ears for months to come.

West of Texas – Heartaches, Hangovers & Honky Tonks

Pull on your boots, tighten up your stetson, leave your spurs at home, and head to the Honky Tonk courtesy of the best Western swing record of the year. The Willie by way of Asleep at the Wheel opener “My Whiskey Life” is a perfect introduction to a band that makes no bones about it. They like both kinds of music, Country and Western.

The entire spectrum of country song fare is represented here, Lovin’ with “Fixin’ to Love You,” Leavin’ on “The Cost of Lovin’ You,” and Livin’ representing on “Dead End Jobs Blues.” And, of course, there is plenty of Cheatin’, Drinkin’, and Hurtin’ going on just ask the closer “Cheatin’, Drinkin’ Hurtin’ Song.”

London Grammar – Californian Soil

If you miss The Eurythmic and Florence and the Machine, Californian Soil courtesy of London Trio London Grammar just might be your latest jam. Sparse, Electo-Pop of the highest order, it is the otherworldly vocals of Hanna Reid that carries the day with this band. 

“Lose Your Head” in an epic of a song that will lose you in the groove, “How Does It Feel” is Adele meets Annie and is one of the more straightforward pop songs on the record, and the title track, “Californian Soil” is simply a haunting masterpiece.

Simply put, this is a stunning record.

Jesse Aycock – Steps

A card-carrying member of Todd Snider’s side-piece band The Hard Working Americans, Jesse Aycock combines blissful Laurel Canyon Rock with Tulsa-inspired J.J. Cale Roots rock into a blend that will have you reaching for your old Whiskeytown records.

“Wreck Like You” has a bit of George Harrison sound to it, the opener “Shed The Light” could have been a Chris Robinson Brotherhood single, and the laid-back groove of “Roll South” does J.J. Cale proud. 

“High Hopes” Rocks it up into Tom Petty territory, and the closing “Woodland Park” will most definitely leave you in a feel-good mood. Todd Snider is great, but Jesse Aycock with this new record is right on his heels.

Imelda May – 11 Past The Hour

Full disclosure, while we like this latest incarnation of Scotland’s own Imelda May that she brings out on her latest 11 Past The Hour, we prefer the Eddie Cochran Wanda Jackson version of Imelda versus the Sheryl Crow AOR sound that we get here. Even the presence of Ronnie Wood and Noel Gallagher is good but doesn’t throttle up the coolness meter like her version of “Tainted Love” or the song “Johnny Boom Boom” Does. 

That is not to say this is not a good record, in fact, quite the opposite, it is really good. “Made To Love” is a highly polished Pretenders style track, the title song is a fine bit of late-night noir, and “What We Did in the Dark” is a propulsive highly addictive duet with sometimes Arctic Monkey Miles Kane that will be perfect for the festival circuit should festivals ever be a thing again.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (April 9, 2021)

Game on my music-minded friends, we are entering into a stretch of glory weeks for new music the likes we have not seen, or heard, since 2019. 

Rock is the New Roll band du jour Starcrawler are priming themselves for some big things later in the year, case in point with this live performance of “Rich Taste” direct from The Roxy in Los Angeles.

The girls in Deap Vally just released a new single and video, “Give Me a Sign” which is certainly a sign that they are on the move this year.

And, wait for it, the Wallflowers are back after a nine-year absence with a new single “Roots and Wings.” This factoid alone makes this a stellar week of Rock and Roll.

And, if all of that is not enough here five new albums we are grooving to this week.

Nick Waterhouse – Promenade Blue

With Nick Waterhouse, the fact that he sounds like himself record after record is never a bad thing. It is hard to pull off vintage cool without coming across as forced, but Nick Waterhouse with his new record Promanade Blue Pulls the trick off in style putting him right up there with Daniel Romano and Chris Isaak as one of the best in the game. 

The hipster tune “The Spanish Look” would have been perfect in the hands of Bobby Darin, “Vincentine” is a swaggering semi-rocker complete with Sun Records guitars that struts out his girl that is brunette but not too brunette, and “B.Santana Ana 1986” is a song that could have been played at Austin Powers’ wedding reception. 

At 34 tight minutes, the record avoids the sameness syndrome quite nicely, and the analog recording methods that Romano adheres to on every record he puts out will make this listen one of the best 1/2 hours of your day.

Benny Sings – Music

The Netherlands with the emergence of DeWollf, the best Rock and Roll band on the planet, and now with Benny Sings, The is quickly becoming a musical hotbed.

With a sound that makes him a card-carrying member of the Yacht Rock club that seems to be gaining in prominence this week with Pearl Charles as acting president, Benny could just be the long-lost BeeGee brother right there alongside Barry, Maurice, Robyn, and Andy. Just listen to “Nobody’s Fault” and tell us we’re wrong.

There is much to savor on this one if you are a fan of The BeeGees, Hall and Oates, or even Todd Rundgren. “Run Right Back” has a Stevie Wonder Talking Book feel to it while “Miracles” could have been a Hall and Oates hit single.

This is a vintage-sounding record with a contemporary sheen that will last long past the next few weeks and should show up on many of the lists later in the year for top 20 consideration.

Silver Synthetic – Silver Synthetic

Feel free to pencil this one in as a top contender for the best debut album of the year. Covering many of our treasured touchstones including Beachwood Sparks, Tom Petty, Wilco, and Green on Red, this New Orleans combo that features members of BOTTOMFEEDERS as well as Jeff the Brotherhood combines analog Rock and Roll, Country Rock, and shimmering harmonies into a blend that plays well with just about any musical taste.

“Unchain Your Heart” could have been a Neil Young and Crazy horse anthem, “Out of the Darkness” is Tom Petty by way of a Kraftwerk single, really it is, and the closer “On The Way Home” has a bit of John Lennon in the DNA. 

Don’t sleep on this one unless you want your ears to leave you for a more musically hip head.

Razorbats – Mainline Rock ‘n’ Roll

We are not quite ready to invite this new rock and roll band into the “rock is not dead” club however, we definitely will have our ears peeled to see how these guys progress over the years. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Kids” has a definite Massive Wagons feel to it, “Big Time” starts with a cowbell, and that’s pretty cool, and “Little Miss Crazy” is straight fire and could have been played on the Sunset Strip in the ’80s.

This one will not particularly reinvent rock music, but for fans of Def Leppard and the band Poison, this one is a pleasant enough jam.

Pink Stones – Introducing..The Pink Stones

Another sparkling debut album this time of the Cosmic Cowboy variety. Bringing inspiration from Gram Parsons, Mazzy Star along with the Brothers Burrito, this one ebbs and flows from late-night laments with “Blueberry Dreams” to last-call honky-tonk stompers on “Barroom Blues.”

“Love Me Hardly” is a Lucero-worthy heart-worn she loves another guy anti-love song, and “Let’s Sit Down” is an ode to the literal high of new love. Fan’s of Neil Young, Poco, and Gram-era Byrds should get on this one post-haste.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (April 2, 2021)

The new release train keeps rolling toward what is expected to be one of the best release summers in quite some time, American Aquarium is set to release two new records, and Dawes is rumored to be in the studio.

In the meantime, our favorite new rock band DeWolff released a free livestream concert featuring their hit song “Bona Fide” 

The L.A. Maybe get their A.C.D.C. juju going on their latest single and video “Oh Sugar” live from the Silverball Lounge.”

And, Billy Gibbons lays down what will surely be the driving tune of the summer with “West Coast Junkie.”

And if that is not enough, here are five new records that inspire us this week.

La Femme – Paradigmes

One of the more interesting and eclectic listens so far this year, Le Femme with their intoxicating blend of Krautrock, Surf, Serge Gainsbourg French-Noir, and Psychedelic 13th Floor Elevator vibes will take you back to Hugh Hefner’s grotto and George Jetson’s man-cave in one trippy listen. “Foutre le bodel” is a pulsating driving tune with a bit of Devo in its DNA, “Cool Colorado” is a Serge meets Leonard Cohen treat for the ears, and “Lacher de chevaux” is a pure Morricone by way of Kraftwerk special.

Spend a bit of time outside of your comfort zone with this record and take yourself to a hipster land that doesn’t exist but really should. No man bun required.

Major Murphy – Access

Another Classic Rock inspired band from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Major Murphy walks the more melodic end of the Rock spectrum most notably on the Weezer-sounding title track and the ’70s throwback-sounding “In The Meantime.”

Jacob Bullard carries the day through most of the record with his warm and wistful vocals with the rest of the band helping him stay in the pocket.  This is a grower of a record in all the best of ways. Repeated listens of this one will have you scrambling for your old Fountains of Wayne records. Just listen to “Tear It Apart” and tell us we’re wrong.

Cristina Vane – Nowhere Sounds Lovely

With influences ranging from Robert Johnson, Skip James, and the Appalachian hill country, it is no wonder that newcomer Cristina Vane has released one of the more sparkling debut records of the year thus far. After completing a five-month mini-tour of the American South playing bars, coffeehouses, and house parties Vane set up residence in Nashville in an attempt to capture her rock kid in an old musical-soul sound on record for the first time. 

The Opener “Blueberry Hill,” no, not that one, is a mini-travelogue that is a perfect introduction to the budding star that combines unique storytelling with Bonnie Raitt style guitar picking. “Travelin’ Blues” has a bit of John Prine about it, and “Will I Ever Be Satisfied” is an Emmylou Appalachian style stunner.  

If this first record out of the box is any indication we will be hearing a lot more from Cristina Vane in the years to come.

Ex Norwegian – Sings Jimmy Campbell

With Sings Jimmy Campbell the band Ex Norwegian enlists the help of like-minded musician friend-fans of the largely overlooked Liverpool singer-songwriter Jimmy Campbell on a set that celebrates the life of an artist that should have reached much higher levels of fame and is widely described as the John Lennon that never left Liverpool. 

For a glimpse into what might have happened, “Half Baked” with Rhys Marsh could have been a Harry Nilsson song, “Baby, Walk Out With Your Darling Man” has a bit of Scott Walker wafting about it, and “Paris, You’re in Paris” is about as good as a pop song you will find this side of Big Star.

If you can find them, this sampling of an artist that likely has never been on your radar is well worth a deep dive exploration.

Ryley Walker – Course in Fable

The many faces of Ryley Walker are all on display with his latest record, Course In Fable. Dialing in his shapeshifting influences ranging from Blues, Prog-Folk, Desert Rock to Experimental, this song-set may be the most fully formed and accessible record he has released so far in his eclectic career. The opener “Striking Down Your Big Premier” is The Moody Blues by way of latter Day Yes, “Ring Dizzy shows off his Bert Jansch worthy fingerstyle guitar picking, and “Clad With Bunk” could have been a Donovan tune.

Time spent with this record will make you a better person.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (March 26, 2021)

There is a lot to love on the musical landscape this week with highly excellent new music from the T-Rex Mojo of the band GospelbeacH and their song “Albatross Baby”

The mellow Steely Dan inspired smoothness from Moon City Masters and their song “Where You Wanna Run To.”

And, Rock is the New Roll favorite rockers Starcrawlers treat the ears with a live song direct from The Roxy in L.A. with “You Dig Yours” 

Along with all of the above goodness here are five albums we are digging this week.

The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs – One More Drink

Non-apologetic no holds barred Rock and Roll for the masses. Their first album in over 20 years after reuniting in 2014, this record is a cocktail of Power Pop, New Wave, Punk, and Heavy Metal served on the rocks with a dose of Cheap Trick thrown in for good measure, most notably on the title song that is a tribute to Dramarama’s “Last Cigarette.” 

 “We Are The Ones (We’ve Been Waiting For)” is as good as a Rock and Roll anthem can get. And, “Rumblin’ Down” is an off the rails don’t drive 55 scorcher.

Dr. Lonnie Smith – Breathe

With sublime vocal assistance from Iggy Pop on the Santana inspired opener “Why Can’t We Live Together” as well as an over the top-notch cover of “Sunshine Superman,” the king of the Hammond B-3 grooves his way through a set of tunes that would fit in quite nicely at Austin Powers’ bachelor party. Released on the Blue Note record label, Here, Smith has recaptured the energy of his early recordings in the capable hands of producer and Blue Note major-domo Don Was. The breezy “Bright Eyes” was recorded live at The Jazz Standard in New York City and with the snappy “Epistrophy” the organ maestro pays tribute to Thelonius Monk.

The Dust Coda – Mojo Skyline

This one might just be the Classic Rock-influenced album of the year, and it’s only March. Channeling Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, and Humble Pie in almost equal measures, “Dream Alright” has a down-home Lynyrd Skynyrd vibe, “Bourbon Pouring” could have easily been a Faces song, and the closer, “It’s A Jam” would have fit perfectly on any of the early Nazareth albums. 

From the opening lick to the last riff if you are a fan of Rock in general and ’70s Rock in particular, Mojo Skyline is most definitely your jam and will be for the rest of the year.

Badfinger – No Matter What (Revisiting The Hits)

Having released the excellent album Be True To Yourself in 2020, Joey Molland, the last living member of Badfinger, is back with an immensely entertaining set of Badfinger songs. Calling in favors from his famous friends, every song sparkles, and even the deeper cuts such as “Love Is Gonna Come at Last” are brought to brilliant life courtesy of the side-men involved, Rick Springfield case in point on this one. Highlights are many, most notably Todd Rundgren’s turn on “Without You” a song that could have been written by the angels for Todd to sing, along with Matthew Sweet, of course, on the Power Pop masterpiece “Baby Blue.” Rick Wakeman lends some piano chords to “Come & Get It” and legendary slide-man Sonny Landreth completely owns “Suitcase.” 

Do your ears a solid and check this record out. Then, go back and go back and listen to the original library from a band that may just be one of the most underrated of all time.

Brigitte DeMeyer – Seeker

Not new to the scene having relocated from Nashville to California after a series of personal travails, Brigitte DeMeer seems to have reinvented herself with her latest record, Seeker. With a vibe that brings to the ear, Rikki Lee Jones and Sheryl Crow, the songs are mostly low-key in all the best of ways with standouts “Wishbone” and the slow burn of “Louisiana” as must-hears. the over-arching thing of keeping the soul moving forward and overcoming obstacles is prevalent throughout most notably on the title track along “Roots and Wings and Bones,” a song that celebrates having the courage to make healthy changes in your life.