The musical world is stabilizing and we are getting a good perspective as to how things are going to look on the musical front. And, the future is so bright not only do we need to wear shades but we will need to grow another set of ears to be able to capture all of the sweet music that will be coming our way.
There is a double dose of First Aid Kit news as not only did they announce a new album to be released in March, they are also accepting pre-orders for the recording of their Who By Fire? set from 2017 where they performed a night of Leonard Cohen covers.
We’ve got our eyes, and most importantly our ears, set on Tara Who? a drummer guitar duo that delivers a Blues-Swagger blend of Punk, Grunge, and Ramones style earth-scorching manic depression.
And, another new find to Rock is the New Roll is the Naked Gypsy Queens. Picture Led Zeppelin meets MC-5 throwing a house party in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s studio shack in the backwoods and you will have a sense of the Rock and Roll that these Tennessee lads are throwing down.
And, on top of all of that here are five new records that our ears are hip to this week.
Alice Cooper – Detroit Stories
From the opening bell, listening to Alice Cooper’s vocal kick in, all is right in the Rock and Roll world. Alice is in fine Schools Out era voice. His band sounds like a real ’70s Rock band despite having to use some studio wizardry since it was not practical for everyone to get in the studio together at the same time. And above all else, Alice and producer Bob Ezrin deliver a fitting tribute to Detroit, a city that embraced Alice Cooper and his band as one of their own way back in the day.
Song by song there is some association with the Detroit scene whether it be having Detroit stalwarts, Mark Farner, from Grand Funk playing on the record, including a song written by MC-5’s Wayne Kramer, or covering a song by Michigan Glamsters Outrageous Cherry. And, it all works quite well.
The Velvet’s “Rock and Roll” is delivered front and center changing the location of the radio station from New York to Detroit with energy that should be coming from a much Younger Alice Cooper, but he’s still got it. “Go Man Go” is a Replacements style romp, and on “Detroit City 2021” Alice name-checks Detroit musical icons Suzi Quatro, Iggy Pop, MC=5, Ted Nugent, and Bob Seger. A fun bast back to the past on a record that is full of them.
Willie Nelson – That’s Life
Full disclosure, here at Rock is the New Roll we are not fans of our musical heroes covering the standards, realizing fully that Rod Stewart pretty much ruined the genre for everyone involved including Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. A big but and however is appropriate here as we are making an exclusive exception for Willie Nelson. Every new record the red-headed stranger puts out should be cherished and savored as it might be his last.
Not much to see here on this set of tunes made famous by Frank Sinatra. That’s not to say that the performances were mailed in, quite the contrary. Willie is in fine albeit a bit overproduced voice here and if you didn’t know when this record was released you could not tell whether it was made in 1983 or 2021. All of the above said this album is a pleasant listen. The duet with Diana Krall on “I Won’t Dance” is elegant and “In The Wee Small Hours” is effective and listenable. Thankfully, “My Way” was not re-hashed on this set.
Charley Crockett – 10 for Slim: Crockett Sings James Hand
Country Crooner Chaley Crocket is nothing short of prolific having released 7 records in 4 years, and every one of them seems to pass up the last in quality, heartfelt empathy, and tear in your beer pathos. This time out he pays tribute to the recently passed away Honky Tonk legend James Hand with a set of ten songs that run the spectrum from straight-up barroom laments on “In The Corner” where he stands at a table in the corner by the jukebox, to the introspective “So Do I,” all the way to the closing “Slim’s Lament” where we get the measure of two men, James Hand and Charley Crockett that will now be linked in perpetuity with the release of this record that should be in heavy rotation at a table in the corner on your own personal jukebox.
Curtis Salgado – Damage Control
A mainstay on the Blues Rock scene, Curtis Salgado’s oeuvre lays down like some sort of devil hybrid of Delbert McClinton and B.B. King, with his latest, Damage Control, delivering a set of life well-lived songs coming from the perspective of a weary road warrior. “What Did Me In Did Me Well” throws down his harmonica chops that would make Stevie Wonder take notice, the opener, “The Longer That I Live” espouses the sensible theory that the longer you live the older you want to get, and the lower and slower title track “Damage Contol” has a bit of Steely Dan savoir-faire about it. There is even a flavor Cajun bayou-noir on “Truth Be Told.” Curtis Dalgado is a nice new find for those of you that like Bonnie Raitt, Tab Benoit, and Delbert McClinton.
Sara Petite – Rare Bird
Six studio albums in, Sara Petite with her latest Rare Bird has hit her stride and released the best record of her career. Combining Americana, Bakersfield-dirt soul, and Honky Tonk Saturday night. A solid melding of Tanya Tucker and Lydia Loveless, this one has all the making of a career-making effort putting Petite in the Kacey Musgrave or Margo price status of Country crossover stars.
The opener, “Feeling Like an Angel” is a strong bit of songwriting that brings to mind Lucinda Williams, “Crash Boom Bang” would have fit in quite nicely on a Wanda Jackson record back in the day, and “Floating with the Angels” is a good old honky-tonk waltz in the making. This one is a diverse listen that will reward frequent dips back into the Rare Bird well.