Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (March 19,2021)

It’s official, we have just entered the beginning of the summer music releases. More (almost) music is coming out than we can keep up with and the creativity that is hitting our ears is very much next-level.

All is right with the musical world when Charlie Starr and the boys blend their Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Dr. Hook mantra on a new song like they do on “Hey Delilah.”

And, up and coming Blues Man Zach Person is pretty much scorching the earth with his new single, “Can’t Stop Running.”

To top things off,  The Screaming Cheetah’s spend some time in the record store on the Punk, Rock, and Soul “We Are The Ones (We’ve Been Waiting For).”

And, if all of that is not enough, here are five groovy albums we are all going mobile with this week.

Midland – The Sonic Ranch

When a band like Midland transcends its influences and embraces the sound and the fury of a specific musical moment in time as holistically as they do on their new record, The Sonic Ranch, it is a supreme pleasure to spend some time in the way-back machine that they provide. ’80s George Strait Country is the Joie-de-vie here most notably on “Champagne For The Pain” along with “Worn Out Boots.” The vibe drifts back to Lefty Frizell honky-tonk on “Texas is the Last Stop” and the opener “Fourteen Gears” harkens back to the ’70s trucking tunes.

This is a lose yourself in nostalgia record in all the best of ways.

Black 47 – After Hours

Although no longer together as a proper band Larry Kirwan and Black 47 have produced a Celtic-crisp tribute set of reworked songs from the back catalog. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of their eponymous first album, here a shamrock full of iconic Irish artists including Celtic Cross, The Gobshites, Pat McGuire, and Martin Furey join in on the fun.

If you can mention CBGB’s and still pull off a proper folk ballad, the feat is certainly accomplished on the opener “40 Shades of Blue,” a song that features Katerine Fee and her legendary N.Y. 7 piece band Celtic Cross.  And, the New York-centric songs “Sleep Tight In New York City” and “Rockin The Bronx” weaves that bridge between The Emerald Isle and The Big Apple quite nicely.

Austin Meade – Black Sheep

Refreshingly cool Rock and Roll having been raised on Judas Priest, Whitesnake, and other like-minded rockers of the Day, Austin Meade’s new record, Black Sheep, delivers a sonic palate rock-centric songs including “Deja Vue,” a song that has a 90’s rock vibe, and the Blues-Boogie of an opener “Dopamine Drop” that is as varied as it is cool.

Part Pearl Jam, some Black Sabbath with a bit of Outlaw Country thrown in for good measure, this record should be on your bucket list when it comes to finding that next great rock and roll artist to add to your collection.

Andrew Farris – Andrew Farris

Best known as the keyboardist and the main songwriter for INXS, Andrew Farris is finding his own voice on his eponymous debut release of all-original material. Having written songs we all know including “Original Sin,” “What You Need,” and “New Sensation” and largely idle since 2012, now he takes on the mantle of frontman on a solid set of pop-centric mostly Americana based gems. The atmospheric opener “Bounty Hunter-Hummingbird” sets the mood and “Come Midnight” could have easily been an INXS song back in the day.

“Run Baby Run” sounds like a Dave Alvin run for the border epic, and “Drifting” is as good of a song as has been released in 2021. A nicely varied listen recorded between Nashville and Australia there is a certain sense that there is a lot more to come from an artist that is ready to make himself known in his own right.

Middle Kids – Today We’re The Greatest

A sterling combination of Folk and Synth-Pop, with their new record Today We’re The Greatest, Middle Kids and Hannah Joy deliver a thoughtfully optimistic set of songs that pull from the singer’s experiences before, during, and just after her recent pregnancy. A bed of warm synths is the order of the day here that brings forth a certain air of optimism to the proceedings. The lush “Golden Star” is a highlight along with the Breeders influenced “Some People Stay In Our Hearts.” I Don’t Care” could have been on a Pixie’s album.

 

 

 

Rock is the New Roll: The Top 100 Albums of 2019 (70-61)

Here it is, the long-awaited list of the best albums of 2019. It has been a really great year for music. We heard from a couple of deceased legends in Harry Nilsson and Leonard Cohen, were treated with new records from Texas Honky Tonk legends Jack Ingram, Corb Lund, and Dale Watson, and bright lights shone for the first time with a bevy of new artists to discover including the one name wonders Lizzo and Yola.

Rock is not dead with White Reaper, Drugdealer and Balck Country Communion all inviting us to a party like it’s 1979. And of course, the singer-songwriter is back. The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, is back and better than ever and Rock is the New Roll favorite Tom Russell gave us a history lesson in 11 songs with October in the Railroad Earth.

This year we will be releasing our top 100 list 10 tasty gems at a time, so sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and enjoy the ear-pleasing top 100 records of the year.

70. Angel Olson – All Mirrors

A bit of a Swiss Army Knife sort of artist, here, Angel Olson mostly shreds her country-inflected Indie-Folk for a more lavish and expansive sound. Bolstered by a 17 piece orchestra, this record should be a master class in how to do Symphonic Pop the right way. From the title track to the moody and expansive “Impasse” your ears will take you on a journey that would make The Moody Blues proud.

69. Twin Peaks – Lookout Low

Famous for their live shows in their home town of Chicago, on Lookout Low the band channels 70’s FM Rock. Produced by Ethan Johns, the setting is Big Star in places and Basement era The Band in others. “Dance Through It” has a Jackson Browne by way of Simple Minds flavor to it and is worth the price of admission alone.

68. Dianne Coffee – Internet Arms

If Prince and David Bowie had a love child he probably would sound like Foxygen drummer Shaun Fleming and his swaggering oddball alter ego Dianne Coffee. Mining the same Glam Psychedelic territory that he favors with his main gig, Internet Arms features mostly mid-tempo synth numbers with “Stuck In Your Saturday Night” a real banger, and “Like A Child Does” dances to the beat of a thoughtful dance tune. This record is the one to put on when you are ready to go out on a Saturday Night.

67. The Plott Hounds – Damn The Wind

This time we mean it! The Plott hounds are definitely one of our new favorite bands. With the first introduction to these guys coming from a live version of “Get High (Down Town Anoka),” the first blast to the ears is courtesy of that voice, the one that belongs to Noah Alexander, the lead singer and guitar player for the group. It’s not only the whiskey-soaked, deep from the bowels of pre-“McArthur Park” Waylon Jennings Outlaw Country hades that overcomes you like the last call at closing time, but it is mostly the passion that the entire band that is what makes The Plott Hounds special.

66. Austin Meade – Waves

This denizen of the Texas hill country lays down a template of 70’s outlaw inspired country-influenced songwriting with more than a touch of Rock as well as Roll.

65. The Yawpers – Human Question

If you could only listen to artists from one single record label then Bloodshot Records should be your jam, and The Yawpers are right up there as show horses in their stable. A little more on the Rock and Roll Side than their last album, “Earn Your Heaven” will Rock your ears off and on “Dancing on My Knees” the rhythm section shows the musicianship and energy worthy of Stevie Ray’s Double Trouble.

64. The Regrettes – How Do You Love

Their Pop driven Punk songs are a must-hear. If the Go Go’s were actually cool they might have sounded like The Regrettes. Their sophomore record is full of Ramones worthy ear blasts.

63. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

Believe the Hype. Behind the Lizzo-Mania is a serious talent. On her break out record she blends Pop, Soul, R&B with a touch of Hip Hop for good measure. Listen to her get funky on “Cry Baby,” a little frisky on “Better in Color,” and downright bombastic on the stellar “Juice.” Lizzo is one of the best talents to come down the road in a long time.

62. Kyle Craft – Showboat Honey

This dude is a bit genre-defying, this dude is. A bit Kinks, slightly Brit Pop, some Power Pop and Badfinger, but it’s all pretty cool. This one is a nifty follow up to the equally excellent Full Circle Nightmare from all the way back in 2018.

61. Beth Hart – War in My Mind

Beth Hart has never been one to bury her darkest secrets, and on her latest record, she continues to peel away the layers of her soul. This is one of those rare artists that you feel you really know and appreciate simply by listening to her songbook.

The Top 10 Albums of 2019 (so far)

There has been a truck load of great records out this year and before the new Bruce Springsteen comes out this Friday, everything else is just a placeholder, here are our top ten favorites.

10. J.S. Ondara – Tales of America

This Minnesota by way of Kenya Americana Folk singer is this years Leon Bridges. An inspiring new find , Ondara fully absorbs himself in any song he sings.

09. Austin Meade – Waves

This denizen of the Texas hill country lays down a template of 70’s outlaw inspired country influenced songwriting with more of than a touch of Rock as well as Roll.

08. Yola – Walk Through The Fire

You won’t need to to much past the first song on this record, “Faraway Look”, for this one to grab you. With pipes that would make Dusty Springfield blush along with the production fairy dust from Dan Auerbach and his Easy Eye team, this is one could have been released in 1968.

07. Guida E.V.A

An extremely rambunctious listen, E.V.A., the latest from Italian Glam Rock titans Guida combines Glam, 70’s Rock, and a tinge of disco that will mood-set your day at first listen.

06. Jack Ingram – Ridin’ High … Again

Ingram’s tribute in spirit to Jerry Jeff Walker and the rest of the hill country troubadours. Another record that could have been made in 70’s era Nashville. His take on “Desperados Waiting on a Train” is worth the price of admission alone.

05. Nightbeats – Myth of a Man

There is a real and pronounced outlaw-groove Tarantino-Noir vibe that permeates every pore of this album.

04. Kenny Wayne Sheppard – The Traveller

Kenny Wayne Sheppard with each release seems to be more and more comfortable with his place in the pantheon of guitar slingers. His latest, a Classic Rock concoction of Blues, Boogie, and Rock is a powerhouse. Singer Noah Hunt is in fine grizzled form still sounding like Warren Zevon’s less drug addled brother, and Stevie Ray’s old stick man Chris Layton pushes the band down the rails like a runaway train. Including eight originals and two covers, the best of the lot being a scorched earth version of Neil’s Mr. Soul, this one might be the bands best record to date.

03. Jenny Lewis – On the Line

Firmly entrenched in Laurel Canyon California Lounge-Rock of the 70’s. Any record that features Benmont Tench, Ringo Starr, Jim Keltner, Beck, and Don Was has to be the coolest. And this one is.

02. Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center

This one came out of nowhere, also way back in January. A collaboration between Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers, both site favorites, this one is a tight Folk- Rock record that brings out the best in both artists.

01. The Delines – The Imperial

Brooding and vulnerable Country Soul from the side-piece band for Richmond Fontaine head honcho. Every song is a Raymond Carver short story.