Five Cool Ones: Five New Platters Released This Week (October 15, 2021)

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!

Five Cool Ones: Five New Albums Released This Week (April 10, 2020)

There seems to be a bit of focus in the records this week as we get a new record from the Strokes a politically charged release courtesy of Eliza Gilkyson with one of the best version of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s-A-Gonna Fall” you likely have heard in quite a while, and to add a touch of class to the proceedings The Dream Syndicate has delivered a tidy five-song 58 minute set of Psychedelic Rock. Here are five nuggets that we particularly are digging this week.

John Anderson – Years

This album came to be after Easy Sound major-domo Dan Auerbach randomly called John a few years back just from the standpoint of a fan reaching out to say hello to one of his musical heroes. A friendship developed that has now resulted in the two artists collaborating on a set of Country tinged Americana songs that walk the line between 80’s country crooner and present-day singer-songwriter Country Rock. No one song really stands out here, but that is pretty much the point. There is meandering pleasantness that has always been inherent in Anderson’s voice that has a calming effect that sort of washes over the listener. Feel free to skip the vibe killing Blake Shelton guest appearance on “Tuesday I’ll Be Gone.”

Webb Wilder – Night Without Love

Still refusing to be pigeonholed, Webb Wilder has released another stellar record full of whimsical songwriting and Honky Tonk pathos. His diverse influences and exceptional talent take you on a journey from the way-back ’70’s all the way to present-day in the blink of an ear. The cover of “High Heel Sneakers” featured on this one is worth the price of admission alone.

Jackie Lynn – Jacqueline

Jackie Lynn is Haley Fohr’s side-piece band and, believe it or not, this record is the travelogue of the co-conspirator of a multi-million-dollar cocaine business, on the run after making a hasty retreat from Chicago. But trust us, It’s cool. The record shimmers with celebratory horns, wicked guitars, and space-disco anthems. “Shugar Water” is a perfect Glam-shuffle soundtrack to a cross-country escape, “Diamond Glue” is a nice slice of disco-funk served a bit on the greasy side and “Short Black Dress” has a certain Scott Walker grandiose element to it. All in all, this is pretty much a perfect record for those ears that are looking for a bit of an escape.

Pokey LaFarge – Rock Bottom Rhapsody

Pokey LaFarge has spent the last couple of years literally reinventing himself. Having moved from the Midwest to Los Angeles where he found Christianity and developed a passion for working with the homeless while at the same time dealing with almost life-crippling depression. Now, with this record LaFarge seemingly has come out the other side in fine fashion. “End of My Rope” could have been a long lost Travelling Wilbury’s single and the record in its entirety seems to celebrate the crooners, Elvis, Roy Orbison, and even Bob Dylan. Good stuff indeed.

Hamilton Leithauser – The Loves of Your Life

After his band The Walkmen disbanded in 2013 it seems to have taken a while for front-man Hamilton Leithauser to find his footing, but with The Loves of Your Life, his latest solo effort, he seems to be well on his way to next-level stardom. Inspired by random moments and characters crossing his path, case in point, “The Old King” written as sort of a Pogues style shuffle about a friend he happened to run into that he had not seen in over 10 years. Each little vignette presented here celebrates extraordinary people leading ordinary lives. This is one of the best records to be released this year.