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.