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.

Five Cool Ones: Five New Records Released This Week (January 29, 2021)

There is swirling energy surrounding the music we are being exposed to this week. With sparse pandemic inspired lo-fi efforts co-mingling with euphoric “let the sunshine in” party anthems, the musicians that we love are delivering their music to our ears in the most creative of ways.

New Zealand’s own and appropriately named Kiwi Jr. is out with a new video in support of their highly approachable new record Cooler Returns.

Rock is the new Roll favorite Imelda May is out with a seductive single with “Just One Kiss” featuring Noel Gallagher and Ronnie Wood.

And, completely out of left field, we don’t remember asking for it, and not really sure if we like it, a new version of the iconic “American Pie” has been dropped on our ear-step. This time out the vocal Country group Home Free teams up with Don McClean to take us to the levy. This cover does stand ears and shoulders above what we got from Madonna, but the jury is still out on this one. At least for us, anyway.

Here are five new records to wrap your ears around this week.

Weezer – OK Human

There is a certain supremely pleasing Joie-de-vie that Weezer brings to everything that they do, and despite the volume of material they release there is almost never a dud in the yearly package of fireworks they deliver. Largely held as a secret until just last week, OK Human is a soaring record that is a welcome and sharp contrast to the sparse lo-fi Bedroom Pop that has been, mostly by necessity, the norm for most post-pandemic releases.

Written mostly on the keyboard instead of the guitar, the large orchestra seems to take the place of the standard four-piece delivery of the songs quite effectively mostly due to the subtle production and the delicate placement of the strings on these tunes that never seem to stray from the core Weezer vibe we all know and love.

Baio – Dead Hand Control

Three records in, Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio certainly seems to have hit his stride with his latest Synth-Pop effort, Dead Hand Control. With the tracks seemingly flowing seamlessly into one another, the groove takes on the atmosphere of a dance floor that could be could set in the ’80s in places and the present-day in others.

Mixed in with the epic 7 minutes or greater shoe-gaze worthy tracks the likes of “Caisse Noire,” and the closer “O.M.W.” that features fellow vampire Ezra Koenig, are shorter more concise contemplations referencing the end of times, a theme that seems to be prevalent throughout the record. This one will wash over you and fully envelop all of your senses.

Steven Wilson – The Future Bites

Much to the dismay of his hard-core Progressive Rock fan-base, and to the immense pleasure of the rest of us, with his new record, The Future Bites, Steven Wilson, the reigning king of Progressive Rock, is exploring his inner Pop and Electronica sides. “12 Things I forgot” is an epic pop song, and things can’t be any less prog than an appearance from Elton John on the highly addictive “Personal Shopper,” a song that might have fit in quite nicely on an early Moody Blues record. If it takes synthesizing a long ambient drone down to bite-size nugget size morsels in order for us to savor the elegance and truly experience the genius of Steven Wilson, then color us in.

Goat Girl – On All Fours

Signed to their label, Rough Trade, when they were teenagers, the members of Goat Girl are now firmly developed and cynical along with the rest of us. Most of the lyrical content embodied in each of the songs on their new record touches on angst, social injustice, or both. Returning after a three-year absence while they honed their craft following their debut record, this time out they tackle gentrification, homelessness, anxiety, and depression on a bed of Synth-Pop energy into a batch of songs that demand a listen.

Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul – Macca To Mecca!

Sure the original cavern club is no longer there having been torn down, paved over, and made into a parking lot, but here we get the next best thing with Little Steven and his band delivering a scorching set of vintage Rock and Roll songs live from the new Cavern Cavern, a club that has been faithfully restored into a pretty much exact replica of the original iconic venue that made The Beatles famous.

Cheating just a bit here, the opener “I Saw Here Standing There” was actually recorded at The Roundhouse in London, not the revamped Cavern Club, but all can be forgiven since Sir Paul himself makes an appearance on the song. The remainder of the record bristles with energy as Little Steven and his band use every inch of the cramped stage to deliver a lovingly vibrant set of songs that include “Some Other Guy,” “Soldier of Love,” “All You Need is Love” and “Slow Down,” all songs the Beatles would have likely played at the club back in the day.

 

 

 

 

Five Cool Ones: Five New Songs That Rock

Weezer – The End of the Game

The new Weezer album won’t be out until May but if this new rockier version of the band is any indication it is sure to be a scorcher.

Green Day – Father of All

The new record, Father of All, is set for a February 2020 release. The sound is still Green Day but Billie Joe takes the falsetto up a notch or two on this one.

Aubrie Sellers – My Love Will Not Change (feat Steve Earle)

A bit of of a change of Rock and Roll pace for these guys, Steve Earle channels his inner Ray Wylie Hubbard on this one.

Kissin’ Dynamite – Cadillac Maniac

Somewhat cooly bizarre hybrid of Stray Cats channeling Chris Isaak, this one ping pongs between Rockabilly and Sunset Strip Rock at the blink of an ear.

Alice Cooper – East Side Story

Alice Cooper has just released, Breadcrumbs, an E.P. paying tribute to Detroit Rock and Roll bands the likes of Grand Funk and the MC-5. Here, he covers a vintage Bob Seger deep cut.