Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 3, 2021)

In the ebb and flow of the weekly new records reaching our ears, this week, albeit a little slow, has garnered a few happy hour gems to enjoy. And, after all, everything is just a placeholder until the new Robert Plant Alison Krause record comes out.

With a new E.P. in the works, Bastette is out with a new single in the Halestorm Pretty Reckless mold.

Amythyst Kiah continues to impress, delivering her unique blend of Soul Americana on this performance of “Firewater” from her recently released Wary + Strange record.

And, speaking of horrible band names, Temple Balls are out with their new single and video “Bad, Bad, Bad.”

And if that is not enough, here are five new albums that are getting heavy airplay in the halls of Rock is the new Roll.

Lady Blackbird – Black Acid Soul

A stunning fresh voice, Black Acid Soul, the debut album from Lady Blackbird (Marley Munroe), is a sparsely elegant masterpiece. Accompanied mainly by Deron Johnson, the go-to piano player for Miles Davis, the singer delivers a haunting set of Nina Simone-inspired tunes that could have been released in the ’60s instead of in the present and produced in the legendary Studio B in Sunset Sound.

Reflecting influences as diverse as Billie Holiday, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight, the version of Nina’s “Blackbird” delivered here is a nuanced gem, and “Five Feet Tall” is a torch song with a touch of Amy Winehouse DNA in it. The instrumental title track, as a closer, is a perfect way to wrap up an album that will be considered one for the ages.

Motorists – Surrounded 

Meshing together the irreverent pop-centric qualities of Camper Van Beethoven along with the controlled ramshackle energy of The Replacements, Toronto band Motorists will bring to mind many of your favorite ’80s college-rock bands.

“Vangloirous” has a bit of early REM dusting about it, “Latent Space” throws some krautrock in the mix, and “Walled Garden” has a “Radio Free Europe” vibe going for it. “Turn It Around” even as a Jarvis Cocker and Orange Juice aura that is refreshing to hear. 

This one is about as solid a debut record as we have heard in quite some time.

Pearl & The Oysters – Flowerland

You don’t have to go much past the opener “Soft Science” to figure out the Joire de vie on Flowerland, the latest psychedelic wonder from Pearl & The Oysters.

’60’s French Pop, space-age ’90s pop, and Austin Powers fab-mojo all come together to create a nostalgically forward sounding record that seems lost in time. While Syd Barrett, mid-era Beach Boys, and Jellyfish might be accurate touchpoints for this band, these guys are their very own unicorns. Rather than pick out a single song, this record is better digested as an entire entity. Put the needle down on the opener and let the rest of the album wash over you, enhancing your spirit and adding some soul inspiration to your life.

David Ferguson – Nashville No More

An Americana stalwart, David Ferguson has collaborated with everyone on the scene, including Sturgill Simpson, Charley Pride, Johnny Cash, John Prine, and Cowboy Jack Clement. Now, stepping out on his own with Nashville No More, he delivers on a solid set of tunes that highlight his skills as a singer songwriter in his own right.

Recruiting several of his Nashville pals on this new record, Margo Price joins him on “Chardonnay,” and bluegrass maestro Sierra Hull helps out on “Hard Times Come Again No More.” The cover of “Four Strong Winds” presented here is as good as a version gets, and the Jerry Jeff Walker vocal touch on “Boats to Build” is a homespun-sounding gem.

Gerry Rafferty – Resit in Blue

Collecting a series of demos, some going back as far as 1970, Gerry Rafferty’s daughter Martha has curated a set of songs that focus more on Rafferty vocals than delivering Stealers Wheel B-sides. Deep-cut Rafferty fans will love this record. The foreshadowing opener, “Still in Denial,” is a confessional of sorts as Rafferty died of liver disease in 2011. And, the version of “Dirty Old Town,” as presented here, is as good as it gets.

The song “Lost Highway” would have fit in nicely on any of the ’70s Rafferty solo albums, and, spoiler alert, there is a semi-demo version of “Stuck in the Middle With You,” of course.