Blues & Roots

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of June 2022

Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.

In June we heard some covers on the soundtrack of Baz Lurhmann’s biopic film ELVIS, The Routes’ did a surf rock Kraftwerk tribute, Elvis Costello celebrated Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday, a project of Disclotch Records contained 27 home recordings to pay homage to Daniel Johnston, and previously we wrote about releases from Thee Escapees, Mikey Erg, Reverendo Band, Runaway Lovers and Townies with some successful cover versions. Below we list the 10 best that we haven’t mentioned yet.

Hound Dog || Cover: The Record Company || Original: Big Mama Thornton
The iconic rock ‘n’ roll track Hound Dog was written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, first released by blues singer Big Mama Thornton (1953), and made famous by Elvis Presley (1956). The ELVIS soundtrack features an honorable cover by Shonka Dukureh, but as a fan of American roots rock band The Record Company, it’s their version that you see here (not related to the movie). It’s not a Thornton or Presley imitation: as always The Record Company gives it its own twist. In case you don’t know: they previously worked on Beastie Boys’ So What’Cha Want, still one of my favorite covers ever.

New EP: The Sound Station || Wild One

Nakia and Simon Black are a prime example of how great musical taste and talent can result in great tunes. In their Gimme 5 feature on our site, they revealed their impeccable taste, and the only negative thing I can say about their band The Sound Station’s output is that I wish they were a bit more prolific.

But scarcity makes the heart grow fonder – or something like that, and their new EP Wild One was worth testing our patience for. The four songs on the EP are The Sound Station’s love letter to the outcasts of ’50s and ’60s music, to the earliest punks, the greasiest rockers, and the grooviest R&B lads and ladies. It’s an exhilerating brand of garage rock that sounds particularly combustible on the title track and Late Night Snack.

The Wild One EP is out now on 7″ single at Chaputa! Records. The quality of the songs and the great by João Pimenta should make this one a can’t lose purchase.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Chaputa!

New album: Widespread Haze || Move

Tommy Whiteside (drums, vocals), Matthew Campbell (guitar, vocals) and Kristi Rifenbark (bass, vocals) describe their band Widespread Haze as “a time-travelling, hip-shaking, psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll trio, specializing in organic earworms and lyrical hash.” That’s pretty adequate phrasing for the sound on their self-recorded and self-produced debut full-length album Move – “a lifetime of genre-bending emotion, jam-packed into an hour-long joy ride” – although the local record store probably will file it under Southern rock. The 15 tracks here are bluesy and folky, raw and authentic, lighthearted and laid-back, entertaining and danceable, soulful and groovy, summery and cool, diverse and timeless. The musicians from Roseburg, Oregon (US) convey a live feeling, all three know how to sing and play to strike the right chord. When you put so much passion for Waffles into your opening track, you really can’t go wrong with what follows. This introduction to Widespread Haze is love at first hearing.

Move is out now digitally, and on CD via Atomic Disc. For fans of Natural Child, G. Love, Nude Party, The Lee Sankey Group.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Widespread Haze

New single: The Shelter People || Sunshine Lady / Rock n Roll

In 2017, The Shelter People put out a self-titled debut EP with four bombastic blues rock tracks. Then things went wrong. In 2018, they recorded their first full-length, even twice, but in the end it was decided to delete the result and start from scratch. The third attempt, with a new band member, new songs and a new sound, also ended without success. Front man and core lyricist Dakota Hurley didn’t give up though, and now two of the songs from the unfinished album are actually released on a 7″ single.

It must have been a frustrating process, but the result was worth the struggle, because imho this is the best the band has created so far, a must-listen for fans of 70s rock. A-side Sunshine Lady – Dakota Hurley (vocals, guitars, mandolin), along with Garon Burch (bass), Justin Dennis (drums), and Fulton Pace (harmonica) – is a powerful folk blues song with a lot going on. B-side Rock n Roll – in fact Hurley solo – leans more towards hard rock, but is even more hit-sensitive in its White Stripes-like minimalism. Great that this music is still seeing the light of day!

Sunshine Lady b/w Rock n Roll is out now digitally and on 7″ vinyl through Horton Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Horton

New album: Rat Tamango || As I Live and Breathe

Rat Tamango are a high energy blues rock trio from Adelaide, South Australia. On their debut full-length As I Live and Breathe, Paris Clark-Proud (vocals, guitar, piano), Kynan Duke (bass) and Daniel Duke (drums, percussion) forge influences from blues, hard rock, funk, garage and psych into a unique sound. The first two songs, Show Me What You Got and Gone, come at you like a heavy steamroller. But just when you think you know what kind of album this is, the band slows down with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s I Loved Another Woman (later Robert Johnson’s Rambling On My Mind follows, in two very short parts), albeit they put their own stamp on it. Because that’s the kind of album – 13 songs – it is: diverse and surprising, with satisfying tempo and instrument changes, clever song structures and raw vocals, always powerful, well played and continuously captivating. It’s not hard to imagine packed concert halls clapping and stamping along. Very cool.

As I Live and Breathe is out now digitally and on vinyl LP (self-released). It’s is dedicated to Peter Green – a successful tribute. The track Loved Another Woman is missing from Bandcamp, but is on the record and streaming services.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Zeno Jones || Stonewater Music EP

We know Zeno Jones from garage blues rock duo Cold Beverage, with whom he released the recommended LP Hot Wax last year. In 2011, he’d already put out a traditional, self-titled country blues album, and now he’s once again taking the spotlight on his own: on his electrified delta blues Stonewater Music EP, you’ll hear his raw vocals, as well as his howling guitar, old suitcase drum and rusty tambourine.

Last November, the skilled guitarist won Louisville’s Regional Qualifier for the International Blues Challenge, with some studio time as a reward. That led to eight songs, all recorded in a single live take, that have been brought together on this mini album. Understandably, the tunes are more stripped down and rock a little less hard without Cold Beverage’s powerhouse drummer Rodney B. (active here as producer), but they’re no less intense. This is heartfelt blues/roots music from a born musician who writes some pretty good songs in the traditional way – his originals can compete with his covers of John Lee Hooker’s Burning Hell and Joost Abbel’s To The Moon – and who also knows how to play them convincingly.

In the end, Zeno Jones didn’t win the competition in Memphis – Eric Ramsey was victorious in the solo/duo division, The Wacky Jugs was chosen as the best band – but luckily we can enjoy his sound: the Stonewater Music EP is out now digitally and on CD (self-released). Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of April 2022

Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.

In April we checked out George Is Lord’s My Sweet George (10 George Harrison songs), Phonophore Records’ All Good Kids (a tribute compilation with various artists doing 28 Guided By Voices tracks), The Greyboy Allstars’ Get A Job (10 funky covers that have become an integral part of the band’s famed live sets), Edgar Winter’s Brother Johnny (an all-star musical love letter to Johnny Winter), The William Loveday Intention’s Paralysed By The Mountains (Billy Childish calls his You Gotta Move cover, featuring his wife Julie and Dave Tattersall, one of his best recordings ever), and Willie Nelson’s 72th(!) album A Beautiful Time (with tunes of The Beatles and Leonard Cohen). We’ve already written about LPs by The Surfrajettes and The Sellwoods with some fun cover versions on it. And then there also were 20+ other releases that would be worth mentioning, but as always, we’re limiting ourselves to the 10 best.

It’s Not Love, But It’s Not Bad || Cover: Eli Paperboy Reed || Original: Merle Haggard and The Strangers
On his new full-length album Down Every Road (out digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Yep Roc Records), American soul shouter Eli Paperboy Reed pays homage to country legend Merle Haggard by putting a soulful spin on 12 of his classic country tunes. Thanks to Reed’s distinctive, powerful vocals and the groove of Mike Montgomery (bass) and Noah Rubin (drums), the new versions gain in expressiveness, which is certainly reflected in It’s Not Love, But It’s Not Bad (this one isn’t written by Merle Haggard by the way, but by Glenn Martin & Hank Cochran). Those who pre-ordered the LP or CD in time, received a 7″ single with an almost unrecognizable take on Motörhead’s Ace of Spades.

New EP: Head Kits || Sleep Hygiene

I’d like to introduce you to Head Kits, a new project by Gimme 5 alumn Devon Milley (Ex Press, Monsterbator) and Victor Lewis (Vic Lou, Monsterbator). Head Kits was born out of a shared love for music, a necessity for writing songs, and having to balance that with a busy professional and family life. Milley explains: “I guess the reason my last two projects have been two-person bands is, because life is so busy it’s just easier to collaborate with one other like minded friend rather than find the time to schedule band practice and things like that.”

Intent on creating garagepunk-oriented stuff, Milley and Lewis started a playlist of influences and sonic direction leading up to the recording – I recommend checking that one out as well, it’s a delightful mess of styles and sounds. Both musicians brought in a couple of songs which were recorded in one day. Milley’s 8-year old daughter Karmen drew the colorful cover, and that basically sums up the birth of Head Kits’s debut 8-song EP/mini-LP.

The title track provides a raucous and energetic start to your Tuesday. It’s probably my favorite of the 8 songs and opens the record on a high note. But things get even more interesting after that one. Milley and Lewis will take you on a trip through their eclectic musical preferences, and in doing so avoid the common pitfall with this kind of music that it can feel like one giant blur of noise.

It likely won’t be the last trip Head Kits will take us on: “Before recording our motto was ‘low expectations/fun results.’ The session went so well that we’re already making plans to record our next album.”

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Jesse Ray and The Carolina Catfish || Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish

After 1 second of Man’s Back (In Town), the opening track from the self-titled, third full-length album by Jesse Ray and The Carolina Catfish, you immediately know you have to get ready for a rock ‘n’ roll thunderstorm. The 37 minutes – 12 songs – that follow do not disappoint. The blues rock duo from Grand Rapids, Michigan – Jesse Ray (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and Brandon “Dingo” Hopp (drums, percussion) – knows exactly which notes to pour down on the crowd to make them shake their hips. While there are two convincing ballads here (Baby Mama Blues and Coffee In Heaven), and there’s a swinging song that leans more towards country (Tennessee Walker), it’s mainly about the fast-paced, roots-infused rock with intense vocals, amazing drum rhythms, hypnotic guitar riffs, and melodic harmonica lines. Listen to JRCC at the risk of high energy radiation and a lot of sweat.

Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish is out now digitally, on CD and 12″ vinyl LP trough Onama Media Group.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Televisionaries || Mad About You

Rock-‘n’-roll dance party starting in 1-2-3-4.

We’ve been looking forward to Televisionaries’ debut LP for quite some time, and that anticipation increased even more once we did a Gimme 5 feature with one of its members (Trevor Lake). Televisionaries (Rochester, NY) are three Lake brothers (Austin, Brendan, and Trevor) backed up by their buddy Aaron Mika on drums. Although they grew up as skateboarding punk kids, they quickly developed a taste for surf music and other early rock-‘n’-roll styles and an obsession with NRBQ, Nick Lowe & The Kinks.

Ultimately, those combined influences have lead to their debut LP Mad About You. It is an absolute blast and a time portal to the dancehalls of the ’50s and ’60s. There is a pureness to the songs on Mad About you, and at no time the old timey surfrock-‘n’-roll of Televisionaries feels inauthentic or filled with faux romanticism. Here’s a band that is not faking it, but using their talents to communicate their love for great rock-‘n’-roll and pop music.

On the dance floor, Televisionaries will challenge you to keep up with the pace of some of their songs (listen to the title track, Ultimatum and Annie), but also offer a swooner in Satisfaction Guaranteed. In between, Televisionaries aim for pop perfection, and with songs like Girls and Over And Out they succeed or, at the very least, come eerily close. Never does the record become too sappy or sugary. Instead, the band is unafraid to give their songs some welcome bite.

The Lake brothers and Aaron Mika sound in perfect harmony on Mad About You. It’s a must own and out now through Nutone Records (a division of Hi-Tide Recordings).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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