Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (November 20, 2020)

We do the work so you don’t have to. Despite the dreaded Christmas releases barraging our eardrums, there were a lot of tasty musical morsels to hit our ears this week. The new (Non-Christmas) record from Garth Brooks is actually pretty good, there is a really cool set of songs from the Elvis in Memphis sessions that was just released, and for the Jimi Hendrix completist there is yet another record out, Live In Maui.

Land Del Rey has released a really cool Pandemic video with a cover of Gershwin’s “Summertime.”

Roger Daltry must be working on a project as he just hours ago released a live solo video of “Behind Blue Eyes.”

And, the fantastic Jellyfish spin-off band The Lickerish Quartet is out front and center with a new single “Snollygoster Goon,” which is a sight for sore ears.

Here are five albums catching our ear-tention this week.

Larkin Poe – Kindred Spirits

The only thing better than being treated to a new record from Larkin Poe featuring the Poe sisters, the great, great, great grandaughters of Edgar Alan Poe, like we were with Self Made Man earlier in the year, is to be hit with a surprise drop of a new record, Kindred Spirits. And, it’s great. A covers album recorded as only the Blues Rock Poe sisters can deliver, this one features eclectically cool renditions of “Nights In White Satin, “(You’re The) Devil in Disguise,” and “Rockin’ The Free World,” as well as a next-level instant cover classic reading of “In The Air Tonight.” With just an electric guitar and a drum set, this one should be on auto-repeat on your stereo.

Hong Kong Wigs – Lois

Austin based Hong Kong Wigs walks the same Psychedelic Rock and Roll trail as White Denim. A Power trio led by songwriter Jon Fichter, their new record, Lois, is poised to be one of the best debut albums of 2020. There are highlights a-plenty to savor here with the best of the lot being “Remember,” with Anastasia  Wright taking over on lead vocals, along with “Discopop!” a song that not for accidental timing could have been the summer smash of the year both standing tall.

Ward Davis – Black Cats and Crows

Often seen, unfairly so, as the younger brother in the pantheon of Outlaw County artists that he shares stages with, a tribe that includes Chris Stapelton, Cody Jinks, and Whitey Morgan, Ward Davis will certainly be heading towards the big time with the release of his latest record, Black Cats and Crows. This, his third album, features Ward’s weathered croon set on a palate of barrel-aged songs that run the gamut from drowned in a whiskey-soaked tear in your beer songs, “Get To Work Whiskey,” to murder ballads with “Sounds of Chains.” The only thing we ask of you Ward is, please, don’t move to Nashville.

Helen Love – Power On

Helen Love, a group not a person, artfully mixes the quick hit Rock and Roll power vibes of The Ramones with the Art-Rock ’60s girl-group pastiche of The B’52s pretty much perfectly. These infectious Cardiff, Wales rockers consist of Helen Love on bratty vocals, Sheena, who is, of course, a punk rocker, and Roxy and Mark on Casio keyboards that double as drums. Low-Tech but high energy, “Debby Take Contol of the Stereo” melds “Pump It Up” and even “Shout It Out Loud” bombast with “Hey Ho, Let’s Go” shout outs, and “Sandra Dee” is pretty must The Go Go’s on speed. Glorious stuff, indeed.

Dave Alvin – From an Old Guitar: Rare and Unreleased Recordings
In this highly cool set of songs, we are treated to the bits, pieces, and scraps of songs from various Dave Alvin records and tribute albums that never made the cut to appear on prior releases. Mixing Alvin originals with eclectically make them his own cover versions, the setlist here includes a stellar version of Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” the slinky groove of ” (Variations on Earl Hooker’s) Guitar Rumba,” and the storytelling ennui of “On the Way Downtown.” This one is a keeper and not just for Dave Alvin completists.


Friday Night Fever – Five Songs To Rock Your Friday Night World


A new feature in Rock is the new Roll. Five groovy singles to rock your Friday Night World.

The Amplifier Heads – Rave Up

A blast of Rock and roll energy that would play perfectly well at CBGB’s.

Small Town Titans – Rufflin’ Feathers

This power trio from York, Pa draw their inspiration from present-day rockers Royal Blood, Foo Fighters, and Deep Purple. Listen to their earth scorching new single “Rufflin’ Feathers.”

Larkin Poe – Fly Away

Larkin Poe, distant relatives to Edgar Alan Poe put heir own blues stomp signature on the classic Lenny Kravitz single.

When Rivers Meet – Battleground

This old-school blues-rock duo consisting of husband and wife team Grace and Aaron Bond is a thumping combination of John Lee Hooker and The White Stripes if Meg did the singing instead of Jack that is. Heady stuff, indeed.

Mason Hill – Against The Wall

This band of Scottish twenty-somethings seems to be in it to win it. Scorching guitars, gang vocals, these boys are right around the corner from hitting the big time.



Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (June 12, 2020)

The weeks just keep moving along as we wait in anticipation of the new Chuck Prophet record as well as the new release from Paul Weller. But, while the album scene may be lacking a bit the singles and the cover songs seem to fill up the airwaves quite nicely.

Bettye LaVette delivers a bone-chilling rendition of Nina Simone’s epic song “Strange Fruit.”

Laura Marling jumps in on the collection of songs from Peaky Blinders with Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand,” and Austin’s Black Pumas cover Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” in fine fashion.

Here are five cool records that have hit us between the ears this week.

Norah Jones – Pick Me Up Off The Floor

Around the time that Norah Jones was recording her 2016 album, Day Breaks, she recorded several songs with different collaborators and released them as a series of singles gathering them all together in an album released in 2018 on the record, Begin Again. And now, in 2020 the rest of the songs recorded for those sessions have seen the light of day with her latest album, Pick Me Up Off The Floor. The overall vibe of the record leans to the laid-back side with her sly jazz sensibility infused with the pop flourishes that Norah is known for.  “I’m Alive”,  a song that features Jeff Tweedy is a highlight. This one makes for a fine Sunday Morning listen.

Built To Spill – Built To Spill Plays The Songs of Daniel Johnston

In 2017 the band Built To Spill served as the backing band for the late Daniel Johnston for a couple of shows. The shows went over so well and the band had so much fun playing the songs of troubled Austin troubadour that they decided to hone the songs down a bit and release a full album. The record features mostly Johnston’s late 90’s work and captures the worn weary pathos of the artist pretty much perfectly.

Larkin Poe – Self Made Man

Larkin Poe, a band comprised mostly of sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell, whose great grandfather is Edgar Allan Poe, delivers a healthy dose of Southern Roots rock in the Allman Brothers mold. Their latest record, Self Made Man, rocks a bit more than their previous efforts with shades of Southern Rock, Chicago Blues, and even a bit of Americana Country entering the song cycle at unexpected times. The choruses carry a lot of hooks and the guitar work is aggressive and first-rate particularly on “Back Down South” where guest guitar slinger Tyler Bryant does the heavy lifting.

John Craigie – Asterisk The Universe

This record is one of those pleasant ambling affairs that you would expect from the like of J.J. Cale or Ry Cooder. Recorded in Northern California at the home of the folk group Rainbow Girls the soft and pleasant Americana vibe wafting through every song here will take you back to a simpler time. You know, 2019.

Andrea and Mud – Bad News Darlin’

An eclectic listen, to say the least, Bad News Darlin’, the latest record courtesy of Andrea Mud is some sort of voodoo hybrid of Honky Tonk and Surf music. The lonesome twang has a late-night noir feel to it that is part spooky and wholly cool. The song “Hellhounds” would have been perfect in an episode of Trueblood and Birmingham, Al 8:30 Am is a Bakersfield Sound gem.




Five Cool Ones: Five Cool Americana Roots Rock Records You May Have Missed

5Kirby Brown – Uncommon Prayer

“Gimme a week and a ride to the downtown station with a dollar to my name, I don’t much care where it’s going, just anywhere that’s gone.” With your introduction to a new musician that you have never heard before jumping right out at you between your ears like it does on “Gimme a Week” from Kirby Brown’s highly excellent 2018 release Uncommon Prayer there is cause for celebration. Don’t sleep on his cover of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. It is worth the price of admission alone.

Ruby Boots – Don’t Talk About It

If you are looking for a place to find really cool new music you could not go wrong wandering over the Bloodshot Music site and searching through any of the number of artists in their stable. Ruby Boots and her latest, Don’t Talk About It, look forward to meeting you there.

Kevin Gordon – Tilt and Shine

The musicscapes created here all first rate and read like a Cormac McCarthy novel. Whether it’s “Drunken Man In Town,” “One Road Out (Angola Rodeo Blues),” or “Gatling Gun” Kevin Gordon has captured the short story in a three-minute song.

Larkin Poe – Venom & Faith

These young girls take Country Blues to the next level. The songs are all gritty, down in the gutter with Tom Waits. If you don’t believe it, just check out “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues”.

Sam Morrow – Concrete and Mud

Outlaw Country is alive and well and his name might be Sam Morrow.