Five Cool Ones: Five Albums Released Today (August 28, 2020)

Another banner week for new tunes music peeps. There are a couple of Master Class covers records most notably Molly Tuttle and her complete ownership of the songs on …but i’d rather be with you alongside the Betty LaVette jawbreaker giving us her great album Blackbirds.

Dawes is teasing our ears with a couple of dribbles of new stuff including the latest single “Still Feel Like A Kid,” and The Struts Luke Spiller is preening around the stage showing off  with the appropriately named “Another Hit of Showmanship.” And, needless to say, we can’t wait for the proper album.

And, when the dust settled this week here are five ear-pleasing uncut gems to spend some ear time with.

Zephaniah Ohara – Listening To The Music

It has been two-plus long years since we have heard from Zephaniah Ohara and in album release years these days, that is a very long time. But fear not, it is clear that in the intervening time since his last record This Highway was released way back in 2017 he has been touring, honing his craft, and most importantly he has been Listening to the Music, the title of his latest release.

With a voice that blends Mighty Merle with Waylon Jennings, this troubadour plays like Lefty Frizell, tells stories like Johnny Cash and Tom T. Hall, and wears the road on his boots like Woody Guthrie. Whether he goes into “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” territory like he does on “Living Too Long” or whether he is lamenting the boarding up more of his old haunts each time he goes into the city on “Riding That Train” there is a purity in his voice that we haven’t heard since Glen Campbell.

Tim Bowness – Late Night Laments

Tim Bowness is a bit of an under-the-radar artist, to say the least. A frequent collaborator with Steven Wilson and Roxy Music’s Robert Fripp, his new solo record Latenight Laments is an understated atmospheric gem. There are more than a few shades of David Bowie on “Darkline,” and “The Hitman Who Missed” would have fit quite nicely on any Leonard Cohen record. This one is perfectly suited for a nighttime listen accompanied by a whiskey and a cigar.

The Empty Hearts – The Second Album

When you have four blokes like these with the Rock and Roll pedigree that they have, at worst this record should be worth a listen, and at best it will be great. And it is great. With Wally Pamar, the voice that brought you “Talking In Your Sleep and “What I Like About You” when he was with the Romantics, Eliot Easton from The Cars, Clem Burke of Blondie, and throwing Andy Babiuk bass player for the Chesterfield Kings in the mix for good measure all pogo-sticking throughout the album, you have one heck of a Power Pop Gem in the making. Heck, even Ringo Starr makes another appearance here on the Kinks evoking “Remember Days Like These.” The ex-Beatle is seemingly everywhere these days having popped up on Ray Wylie Hubbard’s latest as well as Dion’s. Earworm highlights are everywhere here most notably “The Best That I Can,” “Jonathan Harker’s Journal,” and “Coat-Tailer, a song the beckons the early days of The Who.

International Teachers of Pop – Pop Gossip

If you are averse to fun times, not down with breaking out your best legs akimbo dance moves, and are generally a Debby-Downer, by all means, skip this record. A blast from all genres past, Pop Gossip is quite simply the bounciest record of the year this side of the Lemon Twigs. Part Goldfrapp, Part Saturday Night Fever soundtrack with even a little Laura Brannigan mixed in on “Prince (The Last Wheelie)” there is a lot of bubble gum fun to be chewed here. Stay for the “Blinded By Science” Vibe of “Beats Working For a Living (For Martin),” and party like you are in the dance club back in 1999 with “The Red Dots (Dirty Mind.) This is a listen that requires an open mind and happy feet to enjoy at its fullest.

Toots and The Maytals – Got To Be Tough

With Cyril Neville and Sly Dunbar punching things up Toots and his latest bunch of Maytals are still moving and grooving even at the tender age of 77. With a couple tracks in the mix that barely pass as Reggae most notably the Soul touch that he lays down on “Good Thing That You Call” one gets the feeling that there may well be the cross over appeal he is going for to get his name in the hat for best Reggae album come Grammy voting time. In any case, it is good to be back in the universe of Toots. “Three Little Birds” is performed with gusto courtesy of an assist from Ziggy Marley, and “Freedom Train” is a stark reminder of the times. The only nit to pick with this one is that the boogie anthem “Having a Party” should have been moved to the end of the record. Then, after we listened to the call to action anthem “Struggle” we would be ready to light one up and join him.