Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (September 10, 2021)

The weather is cooling off just about the same time that the music is getting hotter. Stay tuned for a barrage of music to be released into the wild in front of the Christmas season.

In the meantime, Miley Cyrus, Elton John, and Yo-Yo Ma team up on a collaboration with Metallica on “Nothing Else Matters.”

Greta Van Fleet, the band that tagged as the next big thing in Rock and Roll, is out with a primo new video for “Built By Nations” from their 2021 L.P. The Battle at Garden’s Gate.

And, Charlie Starr and the boys from Blackberry Smoke deliver on a sublime version of Aerosmith’s “Hangman Jury.”

And, of course, everything is just a placeholder until the new Billy Idol record comes out. Here are five new albums that are tickling our ears this week.

The Vaccines – Back In Love City

Once you get past the aural oddity that the opening refrain of the title track, “Back In Love City,” has a bit of “Built This City,” the Starship hit in its DNA, you can kick back with a power-pop gem of a song and an earworm of the highest order. And the hits, don’t just stop there. 

“Alone Star” is a stadium rousing anthemic ear-de-force, and “Headphones Baby” shows off the band’s lyrical dexterity rhyming Thesaurus with Boris along with Americana and Nirvana on a song that is as euphoric as you will have heard all year.

Set against the fictional metropolis of love city, this one is an escapist record of the highest order and will be towards the top of any reputable end-of-the-year best-of list.

Daniel Romano – Cobra Poems

If there is such a thing as Pop-Swagger, Daniel Romano has it and then some. Along with his band, Daniel Romano’s Outfit, the prolific one, has released more than a dozen records spanning the genres from Matthew Sweet pop to country crooner, singer-songwriter, and beyond. Each one, seemingly better and more interesting than the last one. 

Here, the band exercises all of its powers on a set of songs that range from the Marc Bolan T-Rex-inspired “Tragic Head” to the slow-burning Lynryd Skynyrd meets Elvis Costello aura of “Nocturne Child.” The low and slow road ballad, “The Motions,” a song featuring the band’s secret weapon, Julianna Riolina handling the vocal duties, is worth the price of admission alone. 

Wrap your ears around this one and give it the care it deserves. To the listener go the spoils.

Colleen Green – Cool

There probably is not a better title that could have been chosen for this latest record by Collen Green than Cool. The pace is slow and collegial, with a meandering vibe that will take a few spins to hook you.

From the guitar-pop semi-swagger of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” that brings to the mids-ear just about every Sheryl Crow song to the slow burn of “Highway,” and the almost Krautrock drone of “Natural Chorus,” there is a sense of movement on this record that will drag you along for the ride. 

Heartless Bastards – A Beautiful Life

The Heartless Bastards are a powerful Americana three-piece fronted by vocal powerhouse Erika Wennerstrom. Opening with the anti-gaslighting anthem “Revolution,” the band’s first album in six years, the song pulls no political punches and this Ying to the Yang of “How Low,” that comments on the depths folks will go to achieve what they want regardless of the impact on others. 

The palate of songs presented here is about as diverse as you can get. “Photograph” is a cosmic cowboy, rambling masterpiece worthy of a Grateful Dead jam, “When I Was Younger” could have been a country-crooner classic from the ’70s, and “The River” featuring the violin of Andrew Bird is a swirling beauty.

If you like your Americana with a bit of realism mixed with psychedelic and atmospheric jams, then your ship has just come in.

Samantha Fish – Faster

The best female Blues guitarist this side of Bonnie Raitt, Samantha Fish, has officially delivered her freshest and most consistent record to date. Certainly leaning more towards the rock side of the blues-rock duality, the scorching opening title track sets a rocking mood that would make Lizzy Hale blush. The slinky and evocative “All Ice No Whiskey” veers toward the sensual side, and the closest she gets here to a ballad, “Imaginary War,” rings through like an Alanis Morisette lover scorned anthem. “Crowd Control” would be a perfect song for Bonnie Raitt to cover, and even the semi-reach here, the collaboration with Tech N9ne, is listenable even when the rap and the fury kick are on full display.

Blues, Rock, Pop, all are handled with equal aplomb here. The varied textures displayed along the journey make this a nuanced listen that will check off many favorable Boxes. 

Five Cool Ones: Five New Rock Songs On Our Turntable Now

It might just be our ears playing tricks on us, but suddenly, 2021 is shaping up to be a banner year for rock as well as roll.

On that front, here are five rock and rollers we are listening to this week in the offices of Rock is the New Roll.

Samantha Fish – Twisted Ambition

The latest incarnation of Samantha Fish has her shedding her pure Blues gills in favor of a more Blues-Rock Bonnie Raitt style. If her song “Twisted Ambition,” a single released in anticipation of a proper full-length record later in the year, is any indication, it should be a scorcher.

Gorilla Riot – Drowned

This band from Manchester walks the dangerous Grunge Rock streets with aplomb as they channel their inner Pearl Jam as well as the softer corners of Soundgarden’s oeuvre.

The Picturebooks – Catch Me If You Can

This boot stomper of a track features Blackstone Cherry frontman Chris Robertson on a loose-limbed scorcher that goes down like a cocktail served by The MC-5 with Lenny Kravitz ready to buy the next round.

Georgia Thunderbolts – Be Good To Yourself

The young bucks in the Georgia Thunderbolts maintain all of the soul inherent in the Frankie Miller original while adding just enough rock and roll swagger to make this one a contemporary yet timeless classic. The new record, Can I Get a Witness, comes out on October 15.

Joanne Shaw Taylor – If That Ain’t a Reason

With his recent move to Nashville, around the corner from the Ryman, serving to inspire his creative muse, here, he handles the knob-twirling duties as a producer on this sterling true-to-form Joanne Shaw Taylor cover version of the Little Milton tune. Look for some more killer blues-influenced cuts set for release later in the year.