Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (May 28, 2021)

Don’t look now but the year is almost half over. And, so far, it has been a semi-spectacular five months on the musical scene. Many of our favorite and soon-to-be favorite artists are getting back in the studio and starting to crank up their tour dates. It won’t be long before we are back to normal and attending concerts will be a thing once again.

The Tea Party (no not that one) is 0ut with the scorcher “Summertime”, a song that deserves to be on your upcoming summer playlist.

The Damn Truth is telling just that with their new record Now or Nowhere featuring singer Lee-La Baum’s Beth Hart worthy vocals and the high-voltage single “This Is Who We Are Now.”

And, Swedish Glam rockers Velvet Insane get their full Glam on with “Backstreet Liberace.” Don’t look now, but it is 1973 all over again.

And, on top of those tasty morsels here are five new records that are worthy of your ear-time this week.

Blackberry Smoke – You Hear Georgia

For their latest effort, Charlie Starr and the boys jump right on the horse that brought ’em, that is a good-time Southern Rock that is part Allman Brothers, part Black Oak Arkansas, and entirely cool. From the opening salvo by way of “Live It Down” to the easy flow of “Ain’t the Same” the entire record goes down easy like a good bottle of bourbon.

With a couple of guest turns courtesy of Jamey Johnson on “Lonesome For A Livin'” and Warren Haynes bringing up the guitars a notch on “All Rise again,” the formula might not be changing but when Southern Rock is played with this much genuine purpose and passion, case in point the driving anthem “All Over The Road,” if it ain’t broke, don’t fix.

Texas – Hi

Semi-named after the classic noir film Paris, Texas, the Glasgow band Texas and lead singer Sharleen Spiteri has released their first album since 2017’s Jump On Board, and it’s a good one. The genre-bending title track featuring a collaboration with Wu-Tang Clan is quite good, “Sound of My Voice” could have been a Bangles single back in the day, and “Moonstar” could have been a hit for Lucinda Williams.

Largely unknown on one side of the pond, the radio-friendly semi-retro sounds from a Band that has been around for more than 30 years deserve a better listener fate. If you like The Pretenders, you will love this little band from Scotland.

Mojothunder – Hymns From The Electric Church

An early contender for Rock and Roll record of the year, the latest and hopefully breakthrough album by Kentucky-based four-piece Mojo Thunder covers all the touchpoints. Uplifting anthems, vocals that melt like butter, gang harmony, check-check-check this one has got it all.

The best comparison here would be Bad Company by way of the Black Crowes most notably on the Hook-laden “Fill me up” and the slow burn lighter inducing “Soul.” The best contemporary Southern Rock band this side of Blackberry Smoke, there is not a bad song to be savored here. “Blackbird” comes close to Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Untitled #69 is Jimi by way of The James Gang. 

Move over Rival Sons and Greta Van Fleet, the bandwagon to save Rock and Roll is filling up fast and these guys are right on your heels.

Britton Patrick Morgan – I Wanna Start A Band

Britton Patrick Morgan, another one of the fine artists hailing from Kentucky, conceived this record around his childhood fantasy around around starting an all-star band. And, based on the title track of the record it would be one hell of a band. He’s got Levon Helm on drums with Emmylou backing, Derek Trucks playing slide for Marvin Gaye with Professor Longhair on piano. Joni Mitchell and Stevie Ray are also band members of this team terrific. 

With a style that brings to mind the vocals of Tony Joe White and the songwriting of John Prine virtually every song on this record will please your ears. “When I Think About You” is vintage whimsical Prine, “Baxter. KY” is a travelogue love ode to his hometown complete with the old man at the Dairy Queen cutting cards and telling lies, and “Southern Gothic Love Story” is the next great murder ballad.

Sugar Candy Mountain – Impression

Drawing comparisons to Os Mutantes, the Flaming Lips, and even Brian Wilson in some quarters Sugar Candy Mountain produces vintage-sounding throw-back Rock blending ’60s West Coast psychedelia with Folk and contemporary Pop influences. With strong Jellyfish as well as Donovon inspirations “Sally Ballerina” grooves and sways like Sonny and Cher on a date night, “In a Flash” is a hazy tripped out lava lamp ride worthy of a Keith Moon lost weekend binge, and “No One Can See” has singer Ash Reiter doing her best Grace Slick spirit dance.

Good old-fashioned escapism is in short order these days and sorely needed. “The End” will have you going down the rabbit hole with Alice, and “The Love Between” has some Tropicallia mojo about it that will have you reaching for a Mai Tai.

Best enjoyed with an outside stimulant of your choosing in the safety of your own home. Start with the hazy hipster “Gussie” or “A Window Is Opened and work your way around this instant Psychedelic classic. 

What We’re Listening To (May 22, 2020)

Here, in the Halls of Rock is the New Roll with Jeremy Wren and Nigel Owl on assignment Bernie Sparrow and I are left to fend for our musical selves. And, anytime Bernie is involved there usually is some sort of hot tub time machine mind-altering time warp going on. So, that is what we are listening to.

By pretty much a long stretch, Fanny, Sorry Runaways, is our favorite Rock and Roll all-girl band. They are universally recognized as the first band with no male members to make an impact opening for the legends of the day from David Bowie to Deep Purple. While only relevant for five years between 1970 and 1975 their five-album output represents the best of 70’s Rock and Roll gender be-damned.

A scorching live band June Millington (guitar, vocals), Jean Millington (bass, vocals), Alice de Buhr (drums, vocals), and Nickey Barclay (keyboards, vocals,) all contributed equally to their live appearances that included spots on The Old Grey Whistle Test, The Sonny and Cher Show, American Bandstand, and this one from The Beat Club, Germany’s most famous band show.

Blackberry Smoke – Keep On Smilin’

Long a fixture of their live shows the Wet Willie Southern Rock classic “Keep On Smiling” resonates perfectly in the hands of this real-deal band that is the perfect mix of The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Here, The Smokers are joined by original Wet Willie vocalist Jimmy Hall on a pretty much perfect version of the song.

The Bubble Puppy – Hot Smoke & Sassafrass

Given that he was born and raised in San Francisco it is somewhat perplexing that Bernie Sparrow loves the Texas Psychedelic band The Bubble Puppy so much. Hello, Bernie!!!!! can you say 13th Floor Elevators. In any case, I best not judge, the song “Hot Smoke & Sassafrass is actually pretty groovy,  otherwise, I will be listening alone.

Leon Russell – Asylum Choir

Boom!, Bernie. Take this little shot of tuneage courtesy of Leon Russell and his side-kick Marc Benno. First-rate hook-laden goodness wrapped in a blanket of Psychedelic grooviness that was ahead of its time. The record is Flamin’ Groovies one second, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and doses of The Move everywhere else. Brilliant.

Zephyr – Sail On

The band Zephyr is most notable for putting guitarist Tommy Bolin on the musical map. Their early records featured riff-heavy Rock & Roll that prominently featured vocalist Candy Givens, a singer that was gifted with a back of the barroom voice that would make Janis blush.

I am more of a fan of the bombastic “Sail On” from their debut record.

But Bernie, ever the contrarian and avid cover song worshiper calls for St. James Infirmary every time.

 

Cover Cover Song of the Day: Blackberry Smoke – Take The Highway (Live from Capricorn Studios)

Charlie Starr and the boys in Blackberry Smoke really know there way around a Southern Rock cover song. Here, they slay the heck out of the classic Marshall Tucker Band road song.

Live Video of the Day: Blackberry Smoke – Flesh and Bone (Homecoming: Live In Atlanta)

From their epic newly released album recorded live at The Tabernacle in Atlanta in 2018. All of their hits are on this set plus a couple of choice covers in “Space Captain” and (Not Fade Away.)

Five Cool Ones: Five Southern Rock Bands We Like

 

5Whether it is Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchett, Blackfoot, Marshall Tucker, The Allman Brothers or anyone in between, the Southern Rock flag is waving loud and proud in 2018. Here are some bands that are on our radar.

Blackberry Smoke – Run Away From It All

It helps that these guys very much look like a Southern Rock band, and they definitely have the chops to prove it. They have been around forever and are just now coming into their own. If you are new to this band you are in luck. They are six albums into a career that is going on almost two decades now. Holding All The Roses from 2014 is probably their best, but they are all good.

Black Stone Cherry – Me And Mary Jane

Definitely veering more to the Rock Side of the Country Rock equation, but don’t sleep on these guys. No guts, no glory.

Dolly Shine – Spinning My Wheels

This band from Stephenville, Texas is a bit under the radar, but none the less a real cool band worth checking out. They can turn it loose on a Saturday night, and can turn a tear jerker tear in your beer song with the best of them. They really should be more famous than they are.

Grady Spencer & The Work

We are going deep Texas here with Grady Spencer & The Work. Their 2016 album The Line Between is a gem of a record. Early Steve Earl with a dose of Tom Petty with these guys.

The Cadillac Three – Dang If We Didn’t

I kind of worry about these guys. Their songwriting is so damn good and they seem to be entrenching themselves into the Nashville establishment. I don’t want them to lose their mojo.

Live Video of the Day: Blackberry Smoke – Run Away From It All (Live From Southern Ground)

Very much in the mold of The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd by way of .38 Special and The Marshall Tucker Band, Blackberry Smoke should very much be on your Southern Rock radar. This one is from their highly excellent 2018 record, Find a Light.