Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (June 26, 2020)

Sure, the picks each week pretty much represent only a place holder until the new Paul Weller record sees the light of day, but there are still plenty of musical morsels to digest in the meantime. If you missed the highly excellent album, Matador, released in 2019 by The Red Rum Club, fear not. The boys from The U.K. are back this year and better than ever as heard on “Eleanor” the highly addictive fresh as a daisy new single.

Northwest hipsters Pink Martini are using their quarantine time quite effectively with the release of their positivity drenched new record, “Let’s Be Friends.”

And, Lukas Nelson and the Promise Of The Real are using the Zoom technology to get the band back together and deliver a fine Quarantune version of their song, “Movie In My Mind.”

Here are five long players that our ears are exploring this week.

HAIM – Women in Music Pt. III

It seems that the sisters Este (Guitar/Bass), Danielle (Vocals/Guitar), and Alana (Guitar/Keyboard), collectively known as HAIM, are just getting better and better with each subsequent release. The songwriting is turned up a notch, the Dixie Chicks meet Fleetwood Mac vocal harmonies are front and center delicious, and the overall vibe of their third proper release, Women In Music Pt. III, is cool, melodic, and oozing with confidence. While “The Steps” has more of a Sheryl Crow essence wafting in the air, “Leaning On You” has crystalline harmonies only sibling sisters can generate. This is a great record worthy of end-of-the-year honors for sure.

Country Westerns – Country Westerns

Enter into this one lightly my friends. These guys might quickly move to the top of your own personal radar as your new favorite band. A Rock and Roll band with a Country sheen, The Country Westerns deliver a party that is slightly more aggressive than American Aquarium, a notch below the ramshackle energy of The Old ’97’s, and just about right to hang with The Gaslight Anthem. Hailing from Nashville it should come as no surprise that the musicianship is par-excellence and with songs like “It’s On Me,” and “TV Light”  singer Joseph Plunkett offers up a cool and raspy vocal performance that would make Paul Westerberg jealous.

Neon Animal – Make No Mistake

As the title suggests, this band of merry musicians loves Rock and Roll. They love it so much that three songs on this scorcher of an album have ‘Rock’ in the title. Picture the most rock of any rock concert you have been to, multiply that by three joints and two six-packs, and you just might have the essence of this band.

The Vacant Lots – Interzone

The Vacants Lots produce some of the best hipster punk our ears have come across in a long while. Part Joy Division and plenty of Billy Idol with some Stooges thrown in for good measure on the electro-goth tune “Endless Rain.” The 8 songs compacted into a tight 30 minutes on this one will provide the perfect blast to the past soundtrack taking you back to the simpler days. You know, when you had hair.

Bananagun – The True Story Of Bananagun

Led by flutist and bandleader Nick Van Bakel, this debut slice of Kaleidoscope Rock covers all of the bases mixing in Afrobeat, Funk, Exotica, Indie Pop, Go-Go beats, and Tropicalia into a gumbo of aural delight. “Bang Go the Bongos” leads this off with an exuberant pop burst that will have your feet moving and your ears spinning and “She Now ” evokes the spirit of Jorge Ben. And, if parrot and kookaburra calls are your thing, then “Bird Up!” is your jam.



The Top 100 Songs of 2019 (95-91)

There have been a lot of really great songs released in 2019. This year, we will be revealing our top 100 songs five tunes at a time all the way to number one. Here are our picks for 95-91.

Go back in time to picks 100-96

95 – Highwomen – Highwomen

The sister song to Jimmy Webb’s version of “Highwaymen” made famous by the Mount Rushmore of country music, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson. This version focuses on the fairer sex with a supergroup formed by Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby, and Amanda Shires. Taking you back  300 years in the women’s movement, the message sent lamenting the complete dismissal of women in country music should not be ignored. And, thanks to this song, their new album, and these women, the message is signed, sealed, and delivered.

94. Better Oblivion Community Center – Dylan Thomas

Any collaboration between former Bright Eye Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers is warranted to be on any list, and here, on one of the more upbeat songs on their debut album, the twangy guitars and the witty songwriting make this a collaboration worth celebrating.

93. Cherry Glazerr – Wasted Nun

Underneath the fiery, harsh guitar crunch and the stinging guitar licks is a wasted nun bursting to come out. This one is a female empowerment anthem for the new age.

92. Haim – Summer Girl

Singing in a Sunday morning voice with her head close to yours on adjoining pillows as you make plans for a California sunny day, the new Haim single is the laid-back summer jam of the year.

91. Hunny – Saturday Night

Contractually obligated to include any song that name-checks Echo and the Bunnymen, in this case, we are happy to oblige. Lifted from their highly excellent July release, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes,, this song is perfect for that random pop-up dance party.