Blues & Roots

New album: Sgt. Splendor || Death Of The Hoochie Koo

Less than a year after their debut album Occasions for Self​-​Congratulations, New York City-based power duo Sgt. Splendor returns with their sophomore LP Death Of The Hoochie Koo, recorded in a new studio – The Jam Cave – at the same location where the first demos of The Grateful Dead originated. Kate Vargas and Eric McFadden had already made their mark – solo or in other projects – before joining forces, but together they create a wonderful synergistic effect. In the ten new songs, not only do the amazing vocals and skillful guitar playing of the two musicians complement each other very well, but alt-funk, desert rock and dirty blues also merge seamlessly. Groovy and brooding, mysterious and memorable – this is hot music with cool cover art.

Death Of The Hoochie Koo, self-produced, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP via Color Red.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Color Red

New album: Guadalupe Plata || Guadalupe Plata (2023)

Spanish psychedelic blues rock duo Guadalupe Plata debuted in 2008 with a self-titled EP, which Pedro de Dios Barceló (guitar, vocals) and Carlos Jimena (drums) followed up with self-titled LPs in 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018. So it really was time for a new one, and here it is (for the record: they also released an album in 2021, but it actually had a different name: Devil Can’t Do You No Harm). The thirteen fresh songs are as mesmerizing, poisonous and hypnotic as ever, but less raw and more groovy and laid back, you could even call them melancholic and cinematic. The sound is loose and primitive, transporting you to a gritty environment where snakes are just as dangerous as the heat of the sun.

Guadalupe Plata (2023), produced by Guadalupe Plata and Raúl Pérez, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Everlasting Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Mandelbrot Shakes || Shake It!

The Mandelbrot Shakes are a garage punk / trash blues duo from the UK, featuring Letty Wells (vocals, drums) and Julian Wells (guitar). They play primitive blues in a raw and mean way, authentic and dirty, fast paced and groovy, while telling stories of folks coping with little and dealing with a lot. On their debut LP Shake It! you’ll hear ten lo-fi songs of around two minutes, songs that would make you dance wildly if they weren’t so painful. Either way, you really feel the blues – try not to shake what you’ve got.

Shake It!, recorded and mixed by Jay Dean, is out now digitally and on CD through Lead Mine Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Gimme 5! American Restless Shares Ten Albums That Influenced Rust Belt Rock N Roll (Out June 16th)

Photo by Kristy Walker

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share five records THEY love.

In 2021, American writer, editor and musician Noah C Lekas made it to the top of my year-end list with his Sounds From The Shadow Factory EP. The unique collection of beat poetry songs – ‘jazz for the mind, blues for the soul’ – blew me away. But he has more up his sleeve: I would like to introduce you to American Restless, a promising band he started with two old friends from Rancine, Wisconsin – bassist Ian Grant and drummer Arjuna “RJ” Contreras (Reverend Horton Heat). They describe their music as ‘Rust Belt Rock and Roll’, a strong expression that also works well as the title for their debut album, which will be released June 16 by Blind Owl (pre-order Rust Belt Rock N Roll here). Listen to its lead single Cadillac Head below for a first impression.

It’s quite a fearless and cool sound, bluesy garage rock with the swagger of rockabilly, restless and typically American. We’ll review the LP when it’s out, but we were bold enough to already ask Noah Lekas (vocals, guitar) and Ian Grant (bass) about the artists that influenced Rust Belt Rock N Roll: “We have played music together since we were kids, so it was a lot of fun getting to talk about some of the records that have really shaped our musical life.”

New album: Elli De Mon || Pagan Blues

Two years after her successful tribute to the blues queens of the 1920s on Countin’ The Blues, unique Italian one woman band Elli de Mon (vocals, guitars, lap steel, sitar, dilruba, organ, drums) returns with provocatively titled full-length Pagan Blues. By now you know what to expect – primordial blues meets raw garage rock – and the nine songs here do not disappoint. Both musically and vocally the new album is tough, dark, authentic and intense. It may be inspired by music from 100 years ago, but this is blues for the future.

Pagan Blues is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Area Pirata.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Area Pirata

New album: Fiona Jane Pop || Fiona Jane Pop

Last month’s catchy single I Don’t Like You was the reason for me to follow Dutch/British four-piece Fiona Jane Pop on Bandcamp. That’s why I got such a handy notification that Fiona Jane van Gelder (vocals, guitar), Teade Jagersma (guitar, bass), Jaap Mostert (bass, guitar) and Menno Stegeman (drums, percussion) now also have released a full-length album, their self-titled debut. Its twelve songs are a bit more understated than the single mentioned, which is missing here by the way, but the same tension and sharp edge are present underneath the skin. I guess record stores will file it under garage pop, but you’ll hear that influences from blues, soul, indie rock and surf are clearly present. This LP is full of contradictions, not only musically but also in the lyrics: “One day you’re high up in the sky // But next day you’re low and I wonder why” (from Feet on the Ground), “I kept on looking through the rear window // But should have focused on the road // Woh ooh oh” (Rear Window), “Don’t want your favors // I won’t be bound // Won’t pay you later // I’ll pay you now” (No IOU), and so on. It makes it an interesting listen, in which sweet and spicy turn out to go very well together.

Fiona Jane Pop’s self-titled debut album, produced by Roland Wiegner, is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Milkcow Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Silversound || The Silversound

The Silversound are a new project from four veterans of the Australian music scene. In the ten songs on their self-titled debut album, Shane O’Mara (vocals, guitar), Andrew Tanner (vocals, guitar), Leroy Cope (drums) and Stu Thomas (bass) take the time to show what they are capable of. A lot, it turns out. This is 73 minutes of psychedelic blues rock extravagance – not so much in the sense of lavishness, but as a groovy trip through colorful treats. The lyrics say it all: “Drink up the mystic // Dance with the Maker // Move ecstatic just like a Shaker” (from standout track Shaker). Although the playing is at times heavy, fuzzy and technically complex, it comes across as accessible and funky in terms of feel and sound. After nine mesmerizing originals, the record closes into the night with a subdued cover of Pink Floyd’s Fat Old Sun, from which the band takes its name: “The silver sound from a tongue so strange // Sing to me, sing to me.” Amazing.

The Silversound, produced by Shane O’Mara and mastered by Mickey Young, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl 2LP through Cheersquad Records & Tapes.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Daddy Long Legs || Street Sermons

New York City’s rhythm & blues rockers from Daddy Long Legs return with their fourth studio album, Street Sermons. The twelve new songs are exciting and raucous as ever, but more than before folk influences and resting points also seep through in the garage punk in which raw vocals and a ferocious harmonica are just as important as the guitars. While the lyrics show awareness of the dark times we live in (“We’re livin’ a nightmare”), musically Brian Hurd aka Daddy Long Legs (lead vocals, blues harmonica, resonator guitars, piano, banjo, kazoo), Josh Styles (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Murat Aktürk (electric, acoustic & baritone guitars, percussion, backing vocals) always make for a good time.

Street Sermons, produced by Oakley Munson (The Black Lips), is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Yep Roc Records. Featuring guest appearances from Wreckless Eric and John Sebastian.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Yep Roc

New album: The Nude Party || Rides On

With their first two year-end list worthy albums – the self-titled debut (2018) and Midnight Manor (2020) – and numerous live shows, New York-based 7-piece The Nude Party has shown that there’s still a need for 70s-driven bluesy folk ‘n’ roll. Provided it’s done as well and infectiously as Patton Magee, Shaun Couture, Connor Mikita, Zachary Merrill, Alec Castillo, Austin Brose and Jon “Catfish” Delorme do of course. Everything on their self-produced third full-length Rides On shows how much fun they have in their playing, as if a masterpiece like this can be created without any significant pressure if you have the time and a relaxed atmosphere in your own studio space. The 13 new songs here, including outstanding lead single Ride On and a sympathetic cover of Dr. John’s Somebody Tryin’ to Hoodoo Me, are anything but naked and they’re not exactly party tunes either, but they certainly make for a very entertaining listen.

Rides On is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through New West Records.

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

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of February 2023

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 February we saw tributes to David Bowie, Terry Hall, Bob Dylan and Tom Verlaine come by, and last week we wrote about releases from CTMF and Moron’s Morons with successful covers, but there was much more. As far as we’re concerned, these were the highlights.

1983 (A Merman I Should Turn To Be) || Cover: Tropical Fuck Storm || Original: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Submersive Behaviour, the 5th full-length from Australian art-punk outfit TFS, is a 5 track cover album. Their version of Jimi Hendrix’ 1983 lasts almost 18 minutes, and is as alienating, bewitching and epic as can be. Out digitally and on vinyl LP through Joyful Noise Recordings.

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