What We’re Listening To (May 10, 2020)


In the blink of an ear, these guys from Western Australia have transformed themselves from an on-fire Blues-Boogie band to one of the best Psychedelic Rock bands on the planet.

Their earlier albums including Blessed is the Boogie were pretty much straight-ahead Blues Rock affairs with occasional mid-song jams to display their immense musical chops. Now, with their latest release, West Coast Highway Cosmic, the band has turned the Psychedelic Rock up to 11, so much so that they would make the 13th-floor elevators blush. The album steps on the gas and stretches out the jams on the “Highway Star ” influenced title track, turns up the Steppenwolf vibes on “Wolfman Woogie,” and meanders its way through the desert-noir of “You’re The Only One”

Grace Potter Monday Night Twilight Hour

Grace Potter is using her quarantine time wisely by putting together a weekly YouTube video series to share music with her fans. Typically, it is just her and her piano, but here, she enlists help from her band on an excellent version of the Zeppelin classic “Whole Lotta Love.”

Margo Price – Twinkle Twinkle

By all rights, we should be listening to, That’s How Rumors Get Started, the new record from Margo Price that was supposed to come out this past Friday. But, it is Corona delayed, so we get the next best thing, a song, and accompanying video to wet the whistle until we are able to hear the entire thing in all its glory.

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Outlaw Blood

The mighty Texas Troubadour Ray Wylie Hubbard has a new album in the can and it is almost ready to hit the streets. The record features a dazzling array of guests including, Ringo Starr, Don Was, Chris Robinson, The Cadillac Three, Joe Walsh, Pam Tillis, Paula Nelson, Elizabeth Cook, Tyler Bryant, Ashley McBryde, Larkin Poe, Peter Rowan, and Ronnie Dunn. Just to name them all.

Paul Weller – Nick Lowe

Both of these blokes have a record coming out later in the year and to say we are looking forward to it is a bit like saying we are looking forward to happy hour.

Nick Lowe does a particularly excellent imitation of the cool uncle and elder statesman as he as grown into over the last several albums with “Lay It On Me Baby.”

Albert King – Funky London

A little blues 12-bar workout from Albert Kings’ Funky London. The title track and the instrumental cover of JB’s “Cold Sweat” are worth the price of admission alone on this one.

Elton John – Tonight (Live From Moscow ’79)

For our ears, the Elton John w/Ray Cooper 1979 live album has passed over 17-11-70, or 11-17-70 if your on this side of the pond, as the best live record in the Elton John canon. Side one is just Elton and his piano where he tickles the ivories like his life depended on it, especially so on his scorching rendition of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.” And, things get even cooler when percussionist Ray Copper joins Elton on stage kicking things off with “Funeral For A Friend” followed by the best version you will ever hear of “Tonight.”

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (April 17, 2020)

When Fiona Apple, Shelby Lynne, and The Vapors, yes those “Turning Japanese” Vapors, come out with new records in the same week, it must be a sparkling week for new music.

Fiona Apple – Fetch the Boltcutters

One of the most intimate records to come out so far this year, Fiona Apple lays it all on the line with Fetch the Boltcutters, her first album since 2012. From the opener “I Want You to Love Me” you can feel the pain expressed in her voice with a heart laid bare for all to endure the pain right alongside her. With sudden starts, stops and tempo changes the listener is asked to listen attentively and allow themselves to be immersed in a world that is uniquely Fiona Apple’s.

Bobby Bare – Great American Saturday Night

With 2 top-notch records already released with Bare and Sleeper Wherever They Fall, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of room for the live Great American Saturday Night back in 1978 when it was recorded, or, that is what the record company said anyway. Having been shelved for the better part of 21 years the album finally gets to see the light of day in all its Honky Tonk Glory. And what a party record it is. Filled with plenty of raucous sing-alongs right alongside tawdry ballads, along with the between-song storytelling that has long been a fixture at Bobby Bare shows, this one is hands down the tonk release of the year.

Soul Asylum – Hurry Up and Wait

No, this is certainly not “Runaway Train” Soul Asylum and it has been 28 years since Grave Dancer’s Union came out, but does it really matter. As long as Dave Pirner is involved, here he is the only original band member, we are ears all in. Rocking it up on “Got It Pretty Good” and going a bit lower and slower on “Social Butterfly” this record stops short of being excellent but is uniquely satisfying in its own right as long as you consider this a Dave Pirner solo effort and not a Soul Asylum album.

Ron Sexmith – Hermitage

Recorded in his home studio collaborating with his longtime drummer and producer Don Kerr, this set of intimate sounding gems has a bit of a Kinks feel to it that is quite pleasing to the ear. With the typical Sexmith whimsey inherent in songs like “Winery Blues” and “Apparently Au Pair” this one proves once again that the escapism that is generated when music is done well is pleasing to the soul and healing to the heart.

Datura4 – West Coast Highway Cosmic

The band, named after a two-lane blacktop along the coast of Western Australia is a Blues Rock boogie band that sorts of floats between The Black Keys and Deep Purple with Charlie Musselwhite joining them for the ride.

Described as Garagey but not Grungey, Power Poppy but not cheesy, muddy but not sludgy, Blues respecting but not formulaic, trippy but not spacey this is a band that seems to be carving out their own musical niche.

The title track has a certain “Highway Star” feel to it complete with Hammond B-3 and the extended instrumental interludes on most of these songs would make this record and epic road trip soundscape. The songs “Give” and “You’re the Only One” are, to our ears, pound for pound two of the best that have heard all year.

And yes, Datura4 is one of our favorite new bands.