Blues & Roots

New album: Herman Hitson || Let The Gods Sing

In 2022, not many artists can claim to have collaborated with Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Joe Tex, Bobby Womack, Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke and many other big names, let alone release a new album more than 50 years after their debut. But look: American guitar player and singer Herman Hitson aka Hermon Hitson has survived a wild life – his biography calls him a recovering heroin addict, one-time inmate and snake-clearer armed with a flamethrower – and recently in two days he recorded the nine songs of Let The Gods Sing, unstoppable as if he were at the beginning of his career, although his unique dark voice betrays longevity. The experienced pioneer plays here alongside The Sacred Soul Sound Section – Will Sexton (guitar), Mark Stuart (bass), Will McCarley (drums/percussion), Al Gamble (organ) and Art Edmaiston (horns) – forcing everybody to get loose and then tight. The LP captures the adventurous musical spirit of Hitson, with a wicked groove and a mix of funk, rhythm & blues, soul, hard blues, all layered with psychedelia, all raw and authentic. You’ll hear new performances of some of Hitson’s best-known R&B tunes, like Suspicious (an original Hitson song attributed to Jimi Hendrix at the time), and he also re-covers Bad Girl (featuring garage rock legend Jack Oblivian on guitar and Marcella Simien on vocals), written by his longtime bandmate Lee Moses. The record colors wildly outside the lines, takes you on an exciting trip, and leaves you in awe.

Let The Gods Sing, produced by Bruce Watson and Will Sexton, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Big Legal Mess Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Big Legal Mess

New album: GA-20 || Crackdown

To be honest, I saw American trio GA-20 purely as an blues revival band, an image reinforced by their previous album (2021) where they honored legendary six-fingered Chicago bluesman Theodore Roosevelt “Hound Dog” Taylor. But now that I replay their debut LP Lonely Soul (2019), I realize that this thought was too short-sighted, that they are more than that. Although traditional electric blues is clearly the basis, the musicians give it their own, modern twist. On their new full-length Crackdown, guitarist/vocalist Pat Faherty, guitarist Matt Stubbs and drummer Tim Carmanand let go of the straitjacket of the old blues heroes even further, I guess more confident than ever because of countless successful live shows. Maybe we should call it soulful garage rock ‘n’ roll with heavy blues influences? The music is still raw and swampy, but the nine new, original songs are stronger and more memorable than ever – the melodies are catchier, the guitars more biting, the drums groovier, the vocals more convincing. I used to like GA-20, now I love them.

Crackdown is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Karma Chief Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Colemine || Discogs

New EP: La Perra Blanco || Won’t You Come On

Spanish rock & roll trio La Perra Blanco are back with the Won’t You Come On EP, featuring 4 sure-fire songs that make sitting still impossible. Alba Blanco (vocals, guitars), Guillermo González (double bass) and Jesus Lopez (drums, percussions) play uplifting rhythm & blues with powerful vocals on a swinging bed of seductive cadence. Energetic and fast, tough and danceable.

Won’t You Come On is out now digitally and on vinyl 7″ through FOLC Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || FOLC Records

Gimme 5! Peter Matthew Bauer (The Walkmen) Shares 5 Recent Favorites In Anticipation Of His New LP Flowers

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.

Depending on your frame of reference and location, The Walkmen were either wildly succesful in the ’00s or criminally underrated. I, for one, am a huge fan of the band’s discography. Unlike other bands, the Walkmen’s demise did not end the musical careers of its individual members. In fact, they continue to gather critical acclaim with their solo (see Hamilton Leithauser, Walter Martin, Paul Maroon, and Peter Matthew Bauer) and band careers (Matt Barrick with Muzz). A close look at all of these projects reveals the diverse talents and musical interests of the individuals that made up the Walkmen.

In anticipation of his third record (Flowers), we reached out to The Walkmen’s bass player Peter Matthew Bauer to provide a Gimme 5 feature. He kindly obliged, and his list is as diverse as I’d hoped it would be. Part of this has to do with his own record label (and management company) Fortune Tellers Music. The Flowers LP, which will be out September 23 on Fortune Tellers – pre-order now) is a reflection of the different artists Bauer works or has worked with. Currently, three teaser singles have been released and none of them sound alike, yet all of them are of interest. Whereas Skulls has hints of The Walkmen, Knife Fighter starts out as an acoustic folk song that grows into something bigger and more exciting along the way. That also applies to Miracles, a gorgeous and particularly powerful track where Bauer constantly builds and releases tension. Continue reading below to hear the song and discover Bauer’s Gimme 5.

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

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