Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week: May 7, 2021

It just wouldn’t be fair to compare this week’s musical montages to the gloriousness of last week. But, there is still plenty of good music to savor sending your mind on an endless journey. Rock is the new Roll favorite Walker Lukens is performing songs from his Willie Nelson tribute album in honor of Willie’s birthday.

Psychedelic popsters Babe Rainbow are front and center with “Ready For Tomorrow,” a freshly-minted single in advance of more nuggets to come later in the year.

and, Delta Kream, The new record from the Black Keys will be zooming towards our ears on May 14th. The video is terrific. Recorded at Jimmy “Duck” Holmes’ juke joint in Mississippi the song features Kenny Brown, R.L. Burnside’s guitarist, and Eric Deaton, Junior Kimbrough’s bass player.

And, if all of that hipness is not enough, here are five new records we particularly enjoy that were released this week.

Weezer – Van Weezer

Just when we ponder leaving the land of Weezer for a bit of a respite from the band that seems to be rivaling The Flaming Lips and Ty Seagall in their prolificness these days they come out with a record that sets our ears on fire with a perfect blend of ’80’s Arena Rock and Power Pop.

Using Van Halen as a spirit animal rather than simply mimicking their sound, the record, weighing in at a taut 31 minutes, is full of festival-worthy anthems, most notably the rousing “All The Good Ones,” and the sparkling Power Pop Fountains of Wayne inspired “Beginning of the End.” 

More Bon Jovi with a side order of Cheap Trick than Van Halen to our ears, this one will likely be the Rock record that is in heavy rotation on your playlists this summer.

Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, John Randall – The Marfa Tapes

Retreating to a ranch just outside of Marfa, Texas friends Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, and John Randall set out to recapture the D-I-Y spirit of old school Marfa along with its sister less gentrified cousin city of Terlingua made famous by Jerry Jeff Walker. The songs, a couple written for this project while others were culled from a group of tunes that did not quite fit on various albums, were all recorded literally around a campfire with the crackling of the embers left in the mix. 

The demo feel of the recordings gives the album a warm and intimate feeling that is enhanced by the obvious respect the trio has for each other as artists and most importantly as songwriters. Trading Leads, Miranda shines on “Ghost,” and the closing John Randall lead “Amazing Grace,” no not that one, is a perfect sign-off to a near-perfect minimalist record.

Tony Joe White – Smoke From The Chimney

Dan Auerbach and his cronies at Easy Eye Sound have done it again with the release of Smoke From The Chimney, a set of long lost demos from Tony Joe White polished and shined with assistance from Jody White, Tony Joe’s Son. Taking a set of tapes that included only voice and guitar Auerbach added a full band and pedal steel along with some of the best session guys in Nashville to bring the songs to life.

The elegant sounding “Del Rio, You’re Making Me Cry” would have been a perfect George Strait Vehicle, “Bubba Jones” is as good of a story song you will hear this side of Jerry Reed, and “Boot Money” is Classic Tony Joe White, the king of Swamp Rock.

Alex Chilton – Live On Beale Street

Recorded as a benefit for Memphis legend Fred Ford in 1999 Alex Chilton enlisted the Hi Rhythm Section, the band that backed up Al Green on all of his ’70s hits, to join him on stage. The resulting magic just may be the best live Chilton recording ever recorded.

The opener “Boogie Shoes” made famous by K.C. and the Sunshine band is a perfect opener that introduces the listener to one of the more underrated artists of all time. When the trumpet kicks in you will severely lament the fact that you were not there to hear this magic live and in person. Since this was a somewhat hastily put together appearance there were no Big Star or Box Tops songs in the set list with Chilton sticking to a set of R&B and Rock Cover songs that the band wrapped themselves in as if they had been playing these songs all of their lives, which might actually by the case. Far from mailing it in, the vocals are energetic and strong especially on “634-5789,” and when the band takes things up a half-step magic, ensues. 

Little Richard’s “Lucille” and Chuck Berry’s “Maybelline” are the requisite Scorchers with Alex sitting in the groove like he was born to it, and the closer “Trying To Live My Life Without You” is a perfect ending to a magical live album.

Kayak – Out of this world

Flying just under the Yes, ELP, King Crimson radar the band Kayak while famous in the Netherlands despite having a couple of hits including “Want You To Be Mine” and “Phantom of the Night” never really grabbed the American Ears. Thankfully, after repeated listens of their latest record, Out of This World, a grievous wrong has finally been righted.

Sounding almost exactly like they did back in their ’70s heyday, the band sounds as sparkling as ever. Evoking the mantra of “Even in the Quietest Moment” era Supertramp in places, David Bowie on the song “Waiting,” and classic Emerson Lake and Palmer on “Red Rag To A Bull” this one is epic just when it needs to be and wistfully playful in the 10cc mold when a softening of the bombastic edges is needed just when things seem to be going over the top. 

This one is very much a “what did I just hear” listen that will require multiple spins to properly greet the return of an old friend.

Rock is the New Roll: The Top 100 Albums of 2019 (80-71)

Here it is, the long-awaited list of the best albums of 2019. It has been a really great year for music. We heard from a couple of deceased legends in Harry Nilsson and Leonard Cohen, were treated with new records from Texas Honky Tonk legends Jack Ingram, Corb Lund, and Dale Watson, and bright lights shone for the first time with a bevy of new artists to discover including the one name wonders Lizzo and Yola.

Rock is not dead with White Reaper, Drugdealer and Balck Country Communion all inviting us to a party like it’s 1979. And of course, the singer-songwriter is back. The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, is back and better than ever and Rock is the New Roll favorite Tom Russell gave us a history lesson in 11 songs with October in the Railroad Earth.

This year we will be releasing our top 100 list 10 tasty gems at a time, so sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and enjoy the ear-pleasing top 100 records of the year.

80. The Black Keys – Let’s Rock

After spending time apart from each other going back to 2014 Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are reunited and it feels so good. Blues, Garage, and Old Soul are still at the core of their sound, but this time around there is a Joie-de-vie amplification that seems to have the band re-energized.

79. The Magpie Salute – High Water II

High Water II, the appropriately titled sequel to High Water I, comes so close to sounding like vintage Black Crowes it might as well be a reunion record. And no, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Heavy on rockers and blues-boogie with an occasional acoustic interlude thrown in for good measure with Rich Robinson providing the guitar riffage. In the battle of the brothers Robinson for world domination, Chris definitely has some catching up to do.

78. Flying Colors – Love Letter

A Progressive Rock supergroup channeling their inner Beatles and ELO, Mike Portnoy, Steve Morse, and Neal Morse join singer Carey McPherson in a harmony drizzled dose of Sunshine Pop. The song “Love Letter” is definitely worth the price of admission alone.

77. Quaker City Nighthawks – Quaker City Nighthawks

Formed in Forth Worth in 2012, the Quaker City Night Hawks are constantly and consistently refining their sound. On their latest self-titled record, they mix funky rockers with piano-led ballads. On “Suit In The Back” they look back to when they were pulled over and arrested for the possession of marijuana concentrate.

76. Allison Moorer – Blood

You will be hard-pressed to listen to a more poignant record this year as Mrs. Hayes Carll presents a biographical record in conjunction with a book release later in the year. Having been raised by her sister Shelby Lynne after her father killed her mother and turned the gun on himself, the album, as well as the book, will take you on an emotional journey that will make you feel alive.

75. Goodbye June – Community Inn

Nashville’s favorite sons Goodbye June finally deliver what should be their breakout album. Full of anthemic Southern Blues Rock with more hooks than a season of Dangerous Catch, this just might be the Rock and Roll record of the year.

74. Miranda Lambert – Wildcard

With her latest album, Wildcard, Miranda Lambert seems to be walking on the wild side after a much-publicized public divorce. Ditching her old producer in favor of Jay Joyce who twirled the knobs for Brothers Osbourne, Brandy Clark, and Ashley McBryde, there seems to be a bounce in her step that wasn’t there before. There is a bit of Swamp Funk on “Holy Water,” and 80’s Rock on “Mess With My Head.” This is a diverse and textured record that will reward multiple listens.

73. Lucille Furs – Another Land

With a Magical Mystery Tour as your tour guide, Lucille Furs and Another Land will time warp you back to superspy Austin Powers groovy bachelor pad at the blink of a mellotron.

72. Jade Bird – Jade Bird

One of the British shining stars on the Americana Folk scene, on her debut record there are soaring pop epics the likes of “Side Effects,” introspective slow burners with “My Beauty” where she sounds like Melissa Etheridge in her prime, and on the low and slow “Does Anybody Know” her songwriting talents really shine. This one will be on heavy rotation for quite a long time.

71. Black Star Riders – Another State of Grace

With a more than solid follow up to 2017’s album Heavy Fire, this band born from the ashes of Thin Lizzy continues to place themselves on the mount Rushmore of bands that are saving Rock and Roll. The song “Don’t Let Me Down” is a distant cousin to Lizzy’s “Dancing In The Moonlight and is worth the price of admission alone.” The title track is Thin Lizzy meets Dropkick Murphy’s.

Five Cool Ones: Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released Today (November 1, 2019)

We are now officially in the dog days of record releases. But fear not, we aren’t just going to sit on our ears waiting for the new Who album to come out. Here are five really cool records released this week.

Micky and the Motorcars – Long Time Comin’

One of the best Texas Honky Tonk bands in the game today, on this, their 6th record to date, the band is is in dark night of the soul Tearjerker ballad mode with “Alone Again Tonight,” and “Run Into You,” wallowing in my baby left me tears on “All Looks the Same,” and generally down in the dumps lamenting a lost love on “Break My Heart.” This is, sit in the corner, next to the jukebox, wallowing in your own misery my baby left me Honky Tonk splendor.

The Mavericks – Play The Hits

News flash! Raul Malo can sing. And he does it here in exquisite fashion. In places when he keeps the arrangements close to the bone like he does on “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain,” he shines, and things get even better when The Mavericks get jiggy with the arrangements like they do on “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” to spectacular results.

Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka

This guy keeps keeps getting better and better with each subsequent release. Here, on his latest album following up the highly excellent 2016 release Love & Hate, Michael Kiwanuka lays down a palate of Afro-Rhythms, Soul, and Funk along with an Indie Pop sensibility. This Danger Mouse co-produced gem should land towards the front of many year end best-of lists, including ours.

Miranda Lambert – Wildcard

With her latest album, Wildcard, Miranda Lambert seems to be walking on the wild side after a much publicized public divorce. Ditching her old producer in favor of Jay Joyce who twirled the knobs for Brothers Osbourne, Brandy Clark, and Ashley McBryde, there seems to be a bounce in her step that wasn’t there before. There is a bit of Swamp Funk on “Holy Water,” and 80’s Rock on “Mess With My Head.” This is a diverse and textured record that will reward with multiple listens.

Grace Cummings – Refuge Cove

The big whiskey soaked voice emanating from Australian Grace Cummings comes across like some sort of devil spawn from the loins of Patti Smith and Melissa Etheridge. Part pastoral folk, part beat poet, this one is an eclectically pleasing Scott Walker sort of listen. Let it grow on you.