New video: Johnny Ruiz & The Escapers || Stay

This debut single by Johnny Ruiz & The Escapers offers a summery combination of sweet soul and rocksteady, but also a story of the harshest realities of saying goodbye after an evening of maximum joy. After the release of Stay through Bang! Riddims / Mango Hill Records in November 2020, a first and second run of vinyl 7″ singles quickly sold out, but as of today a video of the song by the American sextet is online. Frontman ‘El Diamante’ Johnny Ruiz behind the microphone in combination with atmospheric images from 11th Street Records and Chops Barbershop & Shave Parlor in Las Vegas. What’s not to like?

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: The Nettelles || Do You Believe In…

By now I thought I knew most of the last of the garage punk unknowns, but The Treez’s 60’s track You Lied To Me Before was new to me. Discovered thanks to a nice cover by the Scottish garage rock band The Nettelles on their debut album Do You Believe In …. – released last month through Back to Beat Records, both digital and on vinyl. The LP contains a few more covers, but most of them are own songs, all equally fun. The band members have been around for a while in different other bands, but this music is played with audible enthusiasm and enjoyment as if they had just started. I particularly enjoy the organ and the choirs. RIYL Thee Headcoatees, Have You Ever Seen the Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?.

Add to wantlist: The Nettelles Shop || Bandcamp || Discogs

PS  Very sad to read that the band’s co-founder / lead songwriter / vocalist / guitarist Clare Scrivener died of cancer way too young last August. All proceeds made from these record sales go to two charities: Maggie’s Center Edinburgh and Girls Rock School Edinburgh. 


New album: Aaron Frazer || Introducing…

American songwriter Aaron Frazer rose to fame as drummer with the golden voice behind Durand Jones. You can hear his falsetto on fan favorite Is It Any Wonder?, for example. Before that, he played and sang with the blues rock band Charlie Patton’s War, who made one – hard to find – album (Rock ‘N’ Roll House Party is on my wantlist for years; anyone have a copy available?). You can recognize him out of thousands in a video of an old street performance, but both his drumming and singing were a lot rougher then than nowadays. What a contrast to Introducing…, Aaron Frazer’s debut solo album, produced by Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach and recorded with a crew of heavy session players, including members of the Memphis Boys. The 12 new tracks offer a mix of classic soul, disco, gospel and doo-wop, all pretty smooth and radio / bedroom friendly. Introducing… is co-released today on Easy Eye Sound and Dead Oceans. It might be too slick for our taste, but it could just become a soul classic that you put next to your Curtis Mayfield and Smokey Robinson records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Aaron Frazer Store

New EP: Billy Conquer || Garage Hits

Since 2021 is slow to get underway in terms of new releases, this is a last one that came out in 2020 (on the last day of it, so we can still call this new). In the spring Billy Conquer already made the track Covid – 19  (‘There’s a little virus coming out / I wanna tell you all about’), but the situation hasn’t improved much since then. And what do you do when you are quarantined together as a band for a while? Right, you drink cheap beer, smoke cigarettes, and make music (not necessarily in that order). Joined by Yoshinobu on organ / piano / synth, the American 3-piece wrote and recorded six new songs, with which they say they make the transition from 90s indie rock influences to the garage rock revival category. Garage Hits was mixed by Gordon Raphael, producer of The Strokes’ Is This it and Room on Fire. Listen below to my favorite track 1984, an ode to the 80s (‘What’s that sound / I want more’) with a delicious organ part.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

“Coolest song” of 2020: The Weeklings || 3

One of my favorite “radio” shows is Little Steven’s Underground Garage, with which hero Steven Van Zandt makes an important contribution to keeping Rock ‘n’ Roll alive (I made a Spotify playlist with tracks I heard over there; if I don’t know what to listen anymore, this always offers good fun). Every week he plays the best rock and soul music of the past 60 years (Beatles, Stones, Byrds, Yardbirds, Crystals, Ramones, Springsteen, Who, Fleshtones, Kinks, Otis, …), but also new tunes from his own Wicked Cool Records and other labels . The Underground Garage listeners have once again been able to vote which of those new songs they consider the “Coolest Song in the World” of last year. At the top of the 2020 list is 3 from The Weeklings, an American supergroup performing Beatles covers and Beatles-inspired power-pop originals. Below you can see one of the three videos they made for the single (there is also a lyric video and a dance party version). Hey!

Add to wantlist: Discogs || The Weeklings Shop

New song: Chris Lujan & Electric Butter feat. Andre Cruz || New Years Day

New Year’s Day is a special day every year (in 2021 perhaps even more than usual), in that respect it’s remarkable that relatively few songs are devoted to it (compare it with the enormous amount of Christmas songs). Fortunately, Chris Lujan and Andre Cruz are now making a nice new contribution. From the idea that any day can be the beginning of a new year they wrote the tune New Years Day, an optimistic and atmospheric soul song that promises a new start. Available digitally through Lugnut Brand Records. Happy New Year!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

“New” compilation: The Dogmatics || EST 81

Rum Bar Records just released EST 81 by The Dogmatics in digital format, a collection of the songs of the Boston garage / pub rock band from the 80’s. Not really a new compilation, because available on CD in 1998 as Dogmatics 1981-86, but very welcome. Now, over 30 years later, the band is back, with the excellent single She’s the One (2019), singer-guitarist Jerry Lehane released an equally excellent self-titled EP (2020) and more new music is expected to follow in the new year, but it’s cool to hear the old work again. They are still great songs! What would be even more welcome than these downloadable tracks, is a vinyl version of EST 81. Please!?

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Savoy Motel || Love Your Face

It’s tempting to label Savoy Motel as a retro glam revival group, but with the Sorry People video of their self-titled debut album (2015), the American rock band made it clear they don’t want to be seen as such: ‘We aren’t trying to revive anything. We play southern rock in a modern tradition. We try to create music that is all-inclusive escapism.’ Anyway, there is now a second full-length (click here for the commercial promoting Love Your Face) – ten new songs arranged and produced by Ryan Donoho (drums), Tina Norwood (piano), Jeffrey Novak (bass) and Dillon Watson (guitar). They are songs that go in all directions (they remind me of Foxygen at times, but I’m probably not allowed to say that either), songs that indeed allow you to escape the news of last year for 33 minutes.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Slaughter Beach, Dog || At The Moonbase

This is another album that wouldn’t have been out of place in my year-end list. In this case the fact that it’s missing is not because I overlooked it, but because it was only released last Friday. I think it ties in well with the mood of the last days of 2020. At The Moonbase, the new LP from Slaughter Beach, Dog (in this interview the band name is explained), is the follow-up to the excellent Safe And Also No Fear (2019). The music was written, performed and produced by Jake Ewald during the corona pandemic. He received help from several guest musicians, of which Wil Schade’s contribution is particularly striking: saxophone solos as heard on records in the 80’s. Apart from that, it is especially the lyrics that are intriguing. Lyric videos were made for all 11 songs, give it a try (you can see one of my favorite tracks, Do You Understand (What Has Happened To You), below).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Lame-O Records

Overlooked album: Kyle Lacy || The Road To Tomorrow

Every year it happens again: you have published your album of the year list and then you discover that you missed LPs that you really didn’t want to miss. Today I listened for the first time to the music American singer-songwriter Kyle Lacy released in 2020: his first full-length solo album The Road To Tomorrow (released February 14, CD on Dala Records; listen to stand-out tracks Low and Slow and Hangin’ On below), his EP Bad Bad Days (May 1, independently available from Bandcamp), his EP in collaboration with Warren Malone Lunchbox Special (August 7, Bandcamp) and his EP No Better Me (October 1, Bandcamp). All worth checking out. A fine mix of soul, blues, gospel and rock ‘n’ roll that deserves a larger audience (why isn’t this dude as famous as Eli “Paperboy” Reed and Nick Waterhouse?). Kyle Lacy may be missing from my year-end list, but it’s never too late to discover such good music.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Dala Records

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