New album: She/Beast || Violent Tendencies

When the pandemic prevented Katja Nielsen from touring with her punk outfit Arre! Arre!, the Swedish singer / guitarist used the free time to develop her own identity as a singer-songwriter. Her isolation writing sessions led to the moniker of She/Beast, and the release of two EPs – In the Depths of Misery (December 2020), and This Too Shall Pass (March 2021) – with lyrics about the struggle with her bipolar disorder over a 80s synth vibe. Now here’s her debut full-length, Violent Tendencies, for which Nielsen fished from the same pool of 60s garage rock / girl group influences as Shannon and The Clams. This vintage sound, which is also somewhat reminiscent of the music on the Slow Grind Fever compilations, appeals to us a bit more than the goth pop of the earlier EPs, which were also interesting. The popcorn noir feeling – very well produced by Joakim Lindberg – fits perfectly with the crime theme of the new album; each of the ten tracks looks at a different female murderer. The cool, distinctive vocals of the artist convey the sinister stories in an immersive and convincing way – listening is literally an exciting experience.

Violent Tendencies is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through PNKSLM Recordings.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || PNKSLM

New album: Pokey LaFarge || In The Blossom of Their Shade

American songwriter / musician / entertainer Pokey LaFarge has been releasing records for about 15 years, records with swing and blues-infused roots music that sounds like it came from before the rock ‘n’ roll era we love so much. On his seventh full-length studio solo album, In the Blossom of Their Shade, he has managed to keep the good of the past – the ten new tracks have been created with great care and an eye for quality -but it’s literally and figuratively a step forward, a bit more modern but also a bit more mature. We still hear jazz, folk and doo-wop influences, and somehow it reminds me a bit of Jonathan Richman too, but it fits surprisingly well in 2021. Actually, this LP should have been released three months ago, because this would have been a perfect soundtrack for the summer holidays. It showcases the positivity of coming out of the darkness and into the light (from Get It ‘Fore It’s Gone: “Don’t throw shade on my sunny day”). Only the tribute to the Netherlands’ coolest city (from Rotterdam: “Where I wanna be is not where you’d expect // They have a place for me down on Nieuwe Binnenweg”) and the beautiful closing time song Goodnight, Goodbye (Hope Not Forever ) make the purchase of this record worthwhile, but it contains more fine fine tunes.

In The Blossom of Their Shade is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through New West Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || New West

New album: The Courettes || Back In Mono

Everything from the fabulous Courettes nods to the heyday of rock ‘n’ roll — their vintage instruments, their fashionable clothing, their old school cover art, their videos inspired by those of their heroes from a bygone era, but most importantly their 60’s girl group-echoing music. So it seems obvious that the new (third) full-length album by the Brazilian/Danish garage rock duo is called Back In Mono. Their previous work was already good, but with these 14 new original tracks – all killer – Flávia & Martin Couri outdo themselves. This is soulful fuzzy garage rock with hints of surf and doo-wop, with great playing and great vocals, with bells and harmony woohoos, with handclaps and screams, in an irresistible Phil Spector sound. The structure of the LP is balanced, with mainly dancers but also some tearjerkers. You really shouldn’t miss a song, but please pay extra attention to R.I.N.G.O., a tribute to Richard Starkey aka Ringo Starr, which was also released separately on vinyl 7″ on the same day as the album.

Back In Mono is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Damaged Goods.

Add to wantlist: Discogs || Damaged Goods

New album: Molly Hanmer & The Midnight Tokers || Get Loose

You don’t hear them like this often: Molly Hanmer writes strong songs, knows how to play guitar and harmonica, is blessed with a sensual but powerful voice, and if that isn’t enough, she also has good taste. Along with her band – Keith Palmer (drums, backup vocals), Alan Hampton (bass), Claudia Miles (back-up vocals), John Bird (keyboards), Mickey Madden (lead guitar), and guests Joe Sublett (saxophones ), and Mark Pender (trumpet) – the American garage rocker / pop punker has released their sophomore full-length album Get Loose, with nine original songs, and a nice cover of CCR’s Born on the Bayou. This is swinging, bluesful soul (or: soulful blues) infused with psychedelic folk, roots rock, and even gospel, both musical and lyrical highlight after highlight. You don’t hear them like this often.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Jackie Venson || Love Transcends

“They say freedom is in the mind // Well we lose our freedom when we get too scared to fight // One step forward is another step farther behind.” After half a minute of music, with these first lines, you know this is a special release. We are talking about Love Transcends, the new full-length album by American singer / songwriter / guitarist Jackie Venson. She wrote the songs across a decade (and added a new version of the classics Down By The Riverside and Up Above My Head), recorded them in a pandemic, played in a style a century old, but completely contemporary in every way. This is soulful blues rock, where Venson’s awesome, powerful distinctive vocals take your breath away, whether she screams or whispers. As if that isn’t impressive enough, she also throws out some stunning guitar solos, and she’s joined by a great band (Marcus Clark on bass, Jon Deas on piano and organ, Rodney Hyder on drums). This is Jackie Venson’s unique sound, the sound of a great star in the making.

Love Transcends is out now digitally and on CD. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp 

PS  Do yourself a favor and also watch the recording of the live concert that Jackie Venson gave in Texas late last year. Enchanting.

New album: Bacon Fat Louis || Bfl#3

Fans of R.L. Burnside, Son House, and Seasick Steve shouldn’t miss Bfl#3, the third full-length album from Bacon Fat Louis. Home brew party blues straight from the juke joints of Ommen (a Dutch town where tourists go to walk in nature) – that sounds like a double contradiction (partying with the blues? heavy delta blues in de polder? ), yet that’s what you’ll hear. With self-made instruments and a dancing attitude, Bo Hudson (cigar box guitars, vocals), Harp Attack Pete aka Cowbell Pete (blues harp, vocals, and, er… cowbell), and Big Kick Rik (drums, percussion) try to stretch the borders of the blues, with success. The eight original songs here are intense, dirty, and raucous, rumbling like a steam train. No doubt they will sound even better live at a beer-rich barn festivity, but these studio versions are also a lot of fun.

Bfl#3 is out now on CD (self-released). Add to wantlist: Bacon Fat Louis

New album: Boogie Beasts || Love Me Some

Belgian four-piece Boogie Beasts have released their third full-length album, Love Me Some. Jan Jaspers (guitar, vocals), Patrick Louis (guitar, vocals), Fabian Bennardo (harmonica), and Gert Servaes (drums) deliver 12 raw blues rock hits, including preceding singles Bring it On, Favorite Scene, and Howl / Mine All Mine. Danceable songs, which have their origin in old, electric Delta blues, but with a modern, catchy sound. Masculine lyrics, over an infectious drive, with addictive harmonica riffs in the lead. Boogie Beasts are a blues monster with a high cuddle factor. I love them some. What about you?

Love Me Some is out now on CD and vinyl LP through NAKED. For fans of The Black Keys, Black Box Revelation, T-99. Add to wantlist:  Plato Mania

New EP: Harlis Sweetwater || Diesel Dirt & Spit

To avoid a speeding fine, it’s recommended that you do not listen to Harlis Sweetwater‘s energetic, gritty blues rock while on the road. His new four-track (digital) EP Diesel Dirt & Spit evokes so much enthusiasm that you’ll no longer be able to control yourself: the sound volume, the drinking pace and the smile on your face will all increase. The singer/guitarist from Orange County, California, has a voice that blows you away, and plays guitar solos that keep you going (he throws great parties with his band, which I would love to experience live). Listen below and you’ll hear what I mean, this is boogie woogie all night looooooooooooong. The EP is subtitled Volume 1, so hopefully more will follow soon.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Divine Horsemen || Hot Rise Of An Ice Cream Phoenix

On their 1981 album A Minute To Pray A Second To Die, The Flesh Eaters sang about Divine Horsemen (“Their hearts are in the right place // Right in the palm of my hand”). After disbanding his band a few years later, Chris Desjardins (a.k.a. Chris D.) continued with Julie Christensen on a new punk / folk project, which took its name from this song. In 1988, after a few LPs, Divine Horsemen ceased to exist, but the two L.A. musicians remained in touch, and after 33 years (and The Flesh Eaters’ recent reunion) they now have even released a collection of all-new recordings. It was worth the wait. For their new full-length Hot Rise Of An Ice Cream Phoenix, the singers reunited with onetime Divine Horsemen guitarist Peter Andrus and bassist Robyn Jameson (he tragically died following a street assault, after which his spot was taken over by Bobby Permanent), and in addition drummer DJ Bonebrake (X) and keyboardist Doug Lacy were recruited. The record contains original songs, influenced by European folk, Spanish flamenco, and murder ballads, but also a number of covers, such as the beautiful track Any Day Now by Tim Lee and Susan Bauer Lee (Tim Lee 3), and 25th Floor by Patti Smith and Ivan Kral. This is fine fine folk rock, where the distinctive vocals form a fascinating combination, and the experienced musicians understand how to give a song power and emotion at the same time. RIYL Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Scientists, The Dream Syndicate, The Wave Pictures.

Hot Rise Of An Ice Cream Phoenix is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through In The Red Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || In The Red

New album: Pwdin Reis || Neis Fel Pwdin Reis

If this doesn’t make you happy, I don’t know what will. Pwdin Reis is a Welsh band that successfully combines rockabilly and jazz: jump, jive and wail to the max, sung in Welsh. The experienced musicians have just released their debut full-length album Neis Fel Pwdin Reis (translated: nice as a rice pudding), recorded using original instruments from the 50’s: Neil Rosser plays an old orange Gretsch guitar (signed by Stray Cats’ Brian Setzer), and Norman Roberts the double bass. The eleven songs, including covers of Kim Wilde’s Kids in America and Blondie’s Call Me, are energetic and cheerful, sung delightfully and enthusiastically by lead vocalist Betsan Evans. Nostalgic, but not dated, and above all much tastier than rice pudding. Enjoy!

Out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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