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.