One of the many choice cuts from the recently released Feel Flows: The Sunflower and Surf’s Up sessions. One of the deepest of deep cuts.
The fourth track from their 2020 release, Saint Cloud. An inspiring song expressing the need to take care of yourself.
Everything is just fun and games, of course, until the new Kanye West record comes out. In the meantime, there is still a slew of new music to tickle our earlobes. Newcomers Cruel Hearts Club is out with a new song, “Sink Low,” that evokes the spirit of Lizzy Hale fronting T Rex.
If you like your rock with a side of ’70s swirling organ and swagger to spare, then Jail Job Eve and “Mid-Flight” will most likely be your jam.
And, the band Sweet Crisis brings their brand of Classic Rock Inspired pathos to your ears with “Ain’t Got Soul” from their latest record, Tricks On My Mind.
And, don’t go away just yet. Here are five more musical nuggets for your ears to enjoy.
Brian Setzer – Gotta Have The Rumble
This cat does not stray too far from the Rockabilly tracks on this, his latest album, Gotta Have The Rumble. Taking a break at home in the twin cities during the pandemic, Setzer recorded this album in new-school style. Brian was in Minneapolis, the drummer was in Nashville, and the bass player was in Memphis. It wasn’t ex-Stay Cat Lee Rocker.
There is joy and buoyancy to every track on this one, with songwriting depth lacking on a typical Cats record. “Smash Up On Highway One” is a ghostly noir tune that can be quite relatable to anyone who has driven that particular stretch of the PCH in Southern California. “The Cat With Nine Lives” is a typical rockabilly inspired tune that will bring to mind “Seven Nights to Rock,” the scorcher “Turn You On, Turn Me On” is as close as you will find to a love song on this one. Spoiler alert, the song is about a car.
Southern Avenue – Be The Love That You Want
As Nashville gets more and more overrun by hipsters, in an attempt to reclaim their musical soul, many artists find themselves migrating to Memphis, a city known for Elvis, Al Green, and Isaac Hayes. Southern Avenue, a band in the Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings tradition, features a blend of Southern soul, R&B, with a touch of Delta blues that is pleasing to the ear and life-affirming to the soul.
With Tiernii Jackson on vocal duties, “Heathen Hearts” is a gospel marvel to the ears, and the title track is a topical call to arms.
Produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, his presence is everywhere, bringing the Soul-Funk to “Love You Nice and Slow” and “Let’s Get It Together” most particularly. Spend some time with this one. It will brighten your day and make you a better person.
Robert Ellis Orrall – 467 Surf and Gun Club
Named after the physical address of Infinity Cat Recordings, the song “Welcome to Paradise,” featuring a guest vocal from the late-great Leon Russell, is worth the price of admission alone. Putting forth a laid-back Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello vibe Robert Ellis Orall seems to be the person that enters your life when you need him most. Whether he is singing about just hanging out after hours in the studio as he does on “Anthem 47” or channels his inner beach boy on the Pop-terrific song, “Iceberg,” there is something delicious and bacon-wrapped to digest around every tune.
After all, who wouldn’t want to jump in on his party that includes rib-eyes, a case of Millers, and a few Fat Tire brews, with some implied herbs thrown in for good measure “Here in Our Backyard.” And if you need a break from listening to the new Beach Boys deluxe edition of Feel Flows, a few listens of the title track “467 Surf and Gun Club” will be just what the doctor ordered.
Tim Easton – You Don’t Really Know Me
Pulling your ears back somewhere between John Hiatt and Bob Dylan, roots rocker Tim Easton delivers a wanderlust record reflecting on life, the joys of slowing down, and dealing with life at the crossroads.
The opener “You Don’t Really Know Me” could have been on the latest John Hiatt record, “Voice on the Radio” evokes the ghost of John Prine, and Speed Limit is an uptempo number reminiscent of prime Tom Petty.
Play this one late at night with a glass of bourbon and an engaging heart. Soul sufficiently cleansed, play it again. This one’s that good.
Shinyribs – Late Night TV Gold
The band Shinyribs is that cool uncle that comes to visit, gets you drunk, introduces you to all of the great music, and leaves your parents to clean up the mess and get you back on the good foot. Their latest, “Late Night TV Gold,” hits in all of the right spots with the horn adorned “Party While You Still Can” causing an involuntary movement of the feet and “Rhythm of the Night” evoking the “have another one after the last one” spirit of avoiding the last call.
The kiss-off anthem “24 Hours From Tulsa” is pure Shinyribs fare, and the title track “Late Nite TV Gold” takes yet another swerve into the land of Tom Waits. Eclectic, in the best of ways, a new record from Shinyribs may not be life-changing, but it might be as close as you are going to get for a while.
Shortly after releasing their debut album in 2016 the band was slated to appear on the bill at a music festival in Sweden, tragically, during inclement weather the van they were traveling in broke through a barrier and plunged into a semi-frozen canal killing the entire band as well as their manager. These guys were on the verge of breaking it big.
The Doobie Brothers are back, thankfully, without Michael McDonald, with their first proper album since 2014. If this one, “Oh Mexico,” is any indication it should be a groove laden old-school Doobies record.
As we barrel toward the end of the year and begin putting together our lists of the best albums of the year, the new releases seem to be regressing to the mean a bit in anticipation of the pre-holiday surge coming up in October.
Rock is the New Roll favorite Valerie June is out with a first-rate video for “Why The Bright Stars Glow” from her recent L.P., The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers.
The ever-prolific Daniel Romano is back delivering his distinct brand of ode to joy with his single “Motions.”
And, the venerable Rolling Stones have released a new song taken from the Tatoo You sessions that present the band at their snarly best.
And if that is not enough, here are five new albums that are tickling our earbuds this week.
Shannon & The Clams – Year of the Spider
Twelve records in, the punk, garage, surf-noir ’60s vibe for Shannon and her clams seems as freshly restored as a ’65 Mustang convertible. And, just as fun. With Dan Auerbach and his band of knob twirlers at Easy Eye Sound once again at the helm on this one, the arrangements seem more robust, and the songwriting is the band’s best to date. The entire package seems to be another step forward in establishing the band as more than a vintage novelty act.
“Mary Don’t Go” shimmers with a surf by way of a girl group vibe, “Leaves Fall Again” has the DNA of a Morricone Western theme, and when Cody Blanchard takes the microphone on “Flowers Will Return,” the results are no less impressive. Multiple listens of this one will yield other-worldly results.
All in, this is a terrific listen with plenty of texture and surprises around every corner to keep things interesting and exotic.
James McMurtry – The Horses and the Hounds
In what might be his best to date, Larry McMurtry, with his latest record, The Horses and the Hounds, shows that the ability to craft a memorable story with believable characters doesn’t fall far from the artistic tree. Every tune on this one is a short story in a song. Whether he is singing about reclaiming a 30-year long-lost love as he does on the opener “Canola Fields” or when he is pondering a friend’s death on “Vaquero,” the passion and intricate feelings of each protagonist is palpable.
There is not a bad song within this set. If you like your short stories with an Americana bent and more than a touch of Rock and Roll, this is your jam.
Lorde – Solar Power
With a calmer and gentler Lorde, less is more for the New Zealand star on her new album, Solar Power. From the title track, a song that would go down perfectly lying in a hammock, the vibe is more like Jack Johnson than Lady Gaga. The exquisitely monikered “Stoned at the Nail Salon” is first-class songwriting, and “Oceanic Feeling” is an escapist lover’s dream.
With a few more albums like this under her belt, Lorde will be exposing herself to an entirely new audience following in Taylor Swift’s footsteps.
Martha Wainwright – Love Will Be Reborn
Here in the offices of Rock is the New Roll, we will stand on Donny and Marie’s coffee table and declare that Rufus and Martha Wainwright are the most talented sibling duo in the singer-songwriter game today. With this, her fifth proper full-length record, Martha lays herself bare with a song cycle coming from a year dealing with loneliness, despair, and a global pandemic.
There is hope around every turn, however, most notably on “Middle of the Lake,” and “Report Card,” and “Body and Soul.” The production is lush and atmospheric, sufficiently moody where it needs to be and elegiac throughout.
Chrissie Hynde – Standing in the Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan
Technically released on digital platforms in May, Chrissie Hynde’s tribute to Bod Dylan hit the shelves in physical form this week. Charting the deeper waters of the Dylan Canon, the Pretenders frontwoman wraps herself completely around “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” floats like a butterfly in the petals of the story song “Blind Willie McTell,” and begins the parade with a Pretenders worthy version of “In the Summertime” from the somewhat obscure Dylan album, Shot of Love.
With a prolific display of Dylan tribute records of late, this one stands apart given how deep into the well this one goes and the fact that when you close your eyes and listen to her voice on “You’re A Big Girl Now” in particular, you’d swear you were listening to Bob’s sister.
Time to lose yourself and escape from reality courtesy of these five new Rock and Roll gems.
Ryan Hamilton – Personal Holiday
Another slice of summery pop from Ryan Hamilton in advance of a more fully formed collection to be released later in the year. Written about escaping the day-to-day nightmares of battling through a mental illness, realizing a ride down a highway to paradise would be what the doctor ordered.
Sweet Crisis – Ain’t Got Soul
If you haven’t already done so, take a moment to add these ’70s Cambridge rockers to your hot list of bands to watch. Their latest, “Ain’t Got Soul,” features Pink Floyd guitars, driving grooves, and catchy melodies. In short, everything you love about music all in one song.
Crazy Lixx – Anthem For America
Sleeze-Glam maestros Crazy Lixx are back again celebrating America as only they can. This one will take you right back to Guns ‘N’ Roses era Sunset Strip in the blink of an ear. Don’t over think this one, simply enjoy.
The Temperance Movement – You Fool No One
With Deep long-time Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice sitting in, there is a hint of early Cram on this song that bodes well for a proper full-length record later in the year.
Hayley and the Crushers – She Drives
Part Punk-Pop and part surf band Hayley and the Crushers would have been a perfect band in any of the ’60s beach movies.
Bring out the dancing horses, reach up for the top-shelf bottles, party like it’s 2021. Hear that gong, that’s the sound proclaiming that this is the best week of album releases so far, and the new Jason Isbell record hasn’t even come out yet.
The Black Keys are back with a video from their blues-centric latest Delta Kream.
Rock is the New Roll favorites, Georgia Thunderbolts are coyly teasing our ears with a new single, “Take It Slow.”
And, if you are in the mood for some careening down-the highway head-a banging monster energy, give a spin to this one from Lord Bishop Rocks, a song that features Vernon Reid with a killer guitar solo.
And, don’t bail out on that wave just yet. There’s more. Here are five epic records that are spinning in the offices of Rock is the new Roll this week.
Yola – Stand For Myself
Never shy about extolling the virtues about what they are doing at Easy Eye Sound down there in Nashville, it seems we feature one of their records every week, this time they may have come out with their best of the year with Yola’s new one, Stand For Myself. Building on the foundation of her debut record, Walk Through The Fire, released in 2019, this time out she displays her chops as a first-class songwriter along with all of her other skills,
Blending Americana, Pop, and soul as effortlessly as a bird in flight this time she blends classic ’70s R&B, horns, and vintage organ to create a sound that is vintage-cool while at the same time polished and smooth. The break-out single “Diamond Studded Shoes” evokes Tina at her snarling best, the title track is a burning every-person anthem. The Donna Summer disco splendor of “Dancing Away The Tears” shows off the sonic splendor of a perfect artist-producer pairing the likes of which we haven’t seen since George Martin was in the sandbox with his mates.
Quite possibly the best sophomore release from any artist in recent memory, this one is a keeper that just might be the best Soul record released in the last 10 years.
Bleachers – Take The Sadness Out of Saturday Night
With the band self-professing that this album captures that tipping point when joy finally shoves desperation out of the way, after listening to the ebullient anthem “Don’t Go Dark,” who are we to disagree. Coming in at a tight 33 minutes with the vibe going from low-fi to medium fi at the blink of an ear, the record brings to mind “Pink Floyd” in places, mid-career Bruce Springsteen in others, and The Talking Heads on the catchy “Stop Making This Hurt.”
And, what self-respecting New Jersey band could release a record without a fly-bye from The Boss himself? Here, “Chinatown” would have fit in quite nicely on the Working On A Dream sessions. And, oh yeah before we forget, “Secret Life” features a seductive guest turn from Lana Del Rey.
Durand Jones & The Indications – Private Space
Yet another soul-stirrer of a record from Durand Jones and his band featuring a two-headed monster on vocal duties with Jones and Aaron Frazier handling the hi-low harmonies. Whether you are a new school or old school R&B fan, this one will be right up your street.
“Witchoo” parties down like “Rappers Delight,” “Love Will Work It Out would make Barry White Blush, and “More Than Ever” is a silky-smooth wonder. If Donny Hathaway and Prince were the twin sons of Stevie Wonder and the family formed a trio, their million-selling record would sound like Private Space. If you have been looking for love in all the wrong places, your ship has just come in.
Various Artists – Choctaw Ridge (New Fables of the American South 1968-1973)
This various artists’ compilation mines the country sound that emerged following Bobbie Gentry’s Southern-noir classic “Ode To Billie Joe” her number one hit from 1967.
Riding the type of deep-woods storytelling that could be found between the pages of a Faulkner novel, singers like Jimmy Webb, Lee Hazlewood, and Michael Nesmith took their Nashville outsider status to the deep South to pen tunes that amounted to darker edged boy meets girl songs set on the “other side” of the other side of the tracks.
The song titles pretty much tell it all here whether it is on “The Back Side of Dallas, “Mr. Jackson’s Got Nothing To Do,” or “Chris Gantry’s”If Only She Had Stayed,” every selection has a foreboding of doom and despair right around the corner.
Selecting a favorite from this lot would be a fools ending, however, if you were to hold a gun to our head during a game of Russian Roulette, feast your ears on “Why Can’t I Come Home” or “Saunders Ferry Lane.”
Nobody’s Girl – Nobody’s Girl
An Austin Americana supergroup of sorts, Nobody’s girl, named after a Bonnie Raitt song, is Betty Soo, Rebecca Loebe, and Grace Pettis. Playing it forward with a vibe that floats somewhere between Fleetwood Mac and Mary Chapin Carpenter the album is a polished gem that never misses a beat over 11 compelling tracks.
“Beauty Way,” a song that could have been on the Tusk record displays guitar player Charlie Sexton prominently, “What’ll I Do” has a distinct ’80s Ladies dusting to it, good stuff indeed. Dismiss the thought that this may be too slickly produced or too radio-friendly and lose yourself in this wonderfully atmospheric Americana record.
With the euphoric sense that the lockdown releases are behind us, artists are beginning to focus on more positive themes, less political nonsense, and seem to be getting back to the basics of rock and roll. And quite frankly, we are all the better for it.
The Black Keys are digging even deeper down that well of blues with this iconic song from their Delta Kream record.
Dan Israel puts everything in perspective with this easy flowing, perfect for driving down to the sea tune, “The Hang of It.”
And Eric Bazilian, the frontman for the Hooters, takes us back to the glorious ’80s with his latest single, “Back In The ’80s.”
If all of that is not enough, here are five more nuggets that are entering our ear-waves this week.
The Peppermint Kicks – The Peppermint Kicks
A Power Pop supergroup with members of The Stompers, The Amplifier Heads, and the Shang Hi Los all representing, Peppermint Kicks lays down a hipster blend of Pop-Punk, Rock, and infectious Power Pop. “When Rock & Roll Met Your Dad” is essentially a love letter to the healing powers of rock & roll, while “Hey Fanzine!” pays homage to those great music magazines from days of yore, Creem, Rolling Stone (when they were a music magazine), Circus, and more. The spirit of Cheap Trick and The Ramones are all over this record, most notably on “Shag ’72” and the ode to pointless rock and roll “I Don’t Hear a Single.”
Coolness resides around every corner on this record that even laments the demise of the hallowed long-lost rock venues with “Johnny D’s (Play It Again)” and the lack of bands that don’t play loud anymore on the semi-loud “Stooge.”
For those of a certain age, this love letter to a time and space before corporate rock will put you in that long-lost ear space that you forgot you missed.
Rodney Crowell – Triagethis time around he
The national Texas treasure that is Rodney Crowell is back with his 18th album. A bit more introspective now, this time around he leaves the negativity to others in favor of songs of sin, mortality, and redemption. The title track compares love to forgiveness, “Something Has To Change” calls out those that darken the world, and “This Body Isn’t All There Is To Me” pretty much says it all.
Though the mood is a bit more somber from what we are used to from Rodney, after all, we are in a pandemic, let’s hold out hope that better times are right around the corner. And, what better tour guide than Rodney Crowell.
Glen Campbell – Live From The Troubadour
Given the state of his health at the time of this recording in 2008 when he opens this show from the famed Troubadour concert venue in L.A. saying it is good to be back at the Hungry I, it takes a beat to realize that he is joking. Here, on one of his last tours, Glen Campbell covers all of his musical muses. His more recent tunes, including “Grow Old With Me” and “All I Want Is You” are intermingled with Jimmy Web Classics “Galveston,” “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” along with the Cambell must-play Classics “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Gentle On My Mind.”
There are flashes of brilliance on display throughout the set, most notably during “Phoenix” when Cambell calls out “I wanna play one” as he drifts off into a Les Paul worthy guitar interlude. But, for the most part, the set is a poignant reminder of an artist that we have forgotten that we loved giving us one last Hurrah.
Jackson Browne – Downhill From Everywhere
Like an old relative that comes back to visit between military assignments regaling with tales of travel in far-off lands, Jackson Browne is back on our shores with another set of masterclass storytelling. And, he doesn’t seem to have changed one bit.
“My Cleveland Heart” could be the centerpiece in a movie score in the vein of “Somebody’s Baby,” The title track has a timeless feel to it and could have been on the Lawyers in Love record, and “A Human Touch” would have been perfect The Pretender fodder.
Part nostalgic head-trip and part treatise on the state of the world, this one has something for everyone.
Velvet Insane – Rock ‘n’ Roll Glitter Suit
There is truth in advertising seeping through every poor of the sophomore record from these purveyors of Glam Rock. Starting with the insanely catchy “Backstreet Liberace” the stage is set for bringing up the ghosts of Slade, The Sweet, T Rex along with the rest of the Glam gang from the ’70s.
Right up there with Luke Spiller and The Struts this gang of Swedes drives it like they own it on the Slade worthy “Driving Down the Mountain” even display their tender side on the ballad “Midnight Sunshine Serenade”
Unless Luke and the boys come up with something out of this world later in the year, the best Rock album of 2022 has officially surfaced.
It might just be our ears playing tricks on us, but suddenly, 2021 is shaping up to be a banner year for rock as well as roll.
On that front, here are five rock and rollers we are listening to this week in the offices of Rock is the New Roll.
Samantha Fish – Twisted Ambition
The latest incarnation of Samantha Fish has her shedding her pure Blues gills in favor of a more Blues-Rock Bonnie Raitt style. If her song “Twisted Ambition,” a single released in anticipation of a proper full-length record later in the year, is any indication, it should be a scorcher.
Gorilla Riot – Drowned
This band from Manchester walks the dangerous Grunge Rock streets with aplomb as they channel their inner Pearl Jam as well as the softer corners of Soundgarden’s oeuvre.
The Picturebooks – Catch Me If You Can
This boot stomper of a track features Blackstone Cherry frontman Chris Robertson on a loose-limbed scorcher that goes down like a cocktail served by The MC-5 with Lenny Kravitz ready to buy the next round.
Georgia Thunderbolts – Be Good To Yourself
The young bucks in the Georgia Thunderbolts maintain all of the soul inherent in the Frankie Miller original while adding just enough rock and roll swagger to make this one a contemporary yet timeless classic. The new record, Can I Get a Witness, comes out on October 15.
Joanne Shaw Taylor – If That Ain’t a Reason
With his recent move to Nashville, around the corner from the Ryman, serving to inspire his creative muse, here, he handles the knob-twirling duties as a producer on this sterling true-to-form Joanne Shaw Taylor cover version of the Little Milton tune. Look for some more killer blues-influenced cuts set for release later in the year.