Since everything is just a placeholder until the new Deep Purple record comes out later in the year, there is a chill in the air as a new Coldplay album hits our ear-waves this week. And, it’s not terrible.
The ironically monikered Southern groover Handsome Jack has a new song and video out with “Got You Where I Want To” that would make Doug Sahm proud.
If you were lucky enough to have Hayes Carll draft you a beer at The Acoustic Cafe in Galveston you would have known early on what an electric talent he is. For the rest of us, we get to bathe in his immense talent courtesy of this latest release, “Help Me Remember.”
And, there is great news on the horizon. The great collaboration of David Coverdale and Jimmy Page has four previously unreleased songs set to see the light of day later in the year. In the meantime, here is a bit of a blast from the MTV past.
And, if all of that is not enough to tickle your musical fancy, here are some tasty morsels that we particularly love from this week’s batch of goodness.
TK & The Holy Know-Nothings – The Incredible Heat Machine
Don’t let the fact that Taylor Kingman, frontman and major-domo for TK & The Holy Know-Nothings, self glosses his band’s music as “psychedelic doom boogie” stop you from giving this one a couple of turns around the dance floor.
From the opener, “Frankenstein” a Doug Sahm fronting Whiskeytown vibe grabs you and staples your ears to the speakers. “Serenity Prayer” is Steve Earl at his rebellious best, and “Laid Down and Cried” sounds like it comes from the outlaw spawn of Chris Stapleton and Merle Haggard. And, who among us hasn’t been too stoned to find their beer as lamented on “I Lost My Beer,” a song that would have been perfectly handled by Jerry Jeff Walker or Bobby Bare.
If you are looking for just one recent-vintage cosmic cowboy outlaw country circle of life album to place on your mantle, look no further than this Old 97’s by way of Jerry Jeff Walker-inspired gem.
Jason Isbell – Georgia
Inspired by his promise to record a tribute album to the state of Georgia should the election turn to a democratic blue, Jason Isbell puts politics aside to deliver a solid setlist that pays tribute to the songs and artists associated with his home state.
Highlights abound on this one. The Drivin’ ‘N’ Cryin’ staple “Honeysuckle Blue” is perfect in the hands of Isbell and his 400 unit, and Brittney Spencer offers up a gender turnaround and slays “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”
The two R.E.M covers presented here, “Driver 8” and “Nightswimming,” as perfectly crafted as they are, seem to be minor cogs on a wheel of excellence. While the wildcard here is a Santana-tinged version of Allman’s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” the return of Brittney Spencer on “Midnight Train To Georgia” tells the tale the most poignantly.
Sure, if you are inclined to pick nits, you can lament that “Georgia On My Mind” is not included in the set, but that would be short-sighted. By going deep with Cat Powers’ “Cross Bones Style” and “Kid Fears” by the Indigo Girls, there is no doubt that this album was passionately curated from the song selections to the choice of collaborators.
Joy Crookes – Skin
A sure-fire candidate for debut record of the year Joy Crookes’ new record is a blend of Amy Winehouse neo-soul, Nina Simone sultry jazz, and the silky smooth vocals of Ella Fitzgerald.
Standouts “When You Are Mine” and “Wild Jasmine” offer more contemporary song diva fare, while “Poison,” along with the title track, is a girl and her piano offering up some late-night noir.
Especially powerful is “Unlearn You,” a song about the lasting effects of domestic violence. Give this one a spin or three on your turntable, and your ears and soul will be exponentially rewarded.
Pokey LaFarge – In The Blossom of Their Shade
Breezy Americana is the order of the day on this, the seventh and latest record from Pokey LaFarge, In The Blossom of Their Shade. With a bit of an old-timey New Orleans vibe, the music takes you down a country road swerving to avoid cows and trying not to miss a turn causing you to drive into an alligator-infested swamp.
Even when he visits Holland as he does on “Rotterdam,” we get the city of his imagination instead of the real thing. “Drink of You” has the delicate aroma of a Rufus Wainwright song, and “Yo-Yo” has a Caribbean tilt to it that would be best served on the beach next to a fire.
With touchstones that include Western cinemascope, 50’s exotica, 60’s doo-wop, and 40’s big band, it is a wonder that LaFarge can meld these disparate styles into a contemporary tapestry the way he does on this record. If you are up for a road trip the likes of which you likely have not experienced since riding with Ryan and Tatum O’Neill in Paper moon, it’s time to begin your journey.
The Courettes – Back In Mono
What year is it? Is it time to put on my ascot and get ready for Austin Powers’ bachelor party? Yes, on all fronts, courtesy of The Courettes and their latest release, Back In Mono, a record that is the grooviest album of the year, or of recent years for that matter.
With the ghost of Phil Spector dancing all over the mixing boards, this Danish and Brazilian garage rock combo inhabit rather than imitate the Shangri-La spirit of every girl group you have ever heard from The Supremes to the Runaways. From the intensely clever “Want You! Like A Cigarette” to the Ramones evoking “Night Time (The Boy of Mine)” every song delivered to your ears is go-go club cool.
Don’t sleep on “R.I.N.G.O.” as a novelty song soul sucker. It might very well be, but strangely, it works. “Until You’re Mine” is a late-night voodoo hip-shaker, and “Trash Can Honey” will remind you of “Big Girls Don’t Cry” with a Flamin Groovies makeover. And, once the Duane Eddy guitar fuzz kicks in on “Hop The Twig,” it’s game on, everyone on the dance floor!