Roots

Gimme 5! Zeno Jones and Rodney B. (Cold Beverage) Share 5 Records That Influenced Their Debut Album ‘Hot Wax’

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

Two weeks ago I raved about Hot Wax, the debut album by guitar-drum duo Cold Beverage. They play rock & roll garage blues with surprising structures, heavy riffs and raw vocals – very cool imho. Unfortunately, no physical release is planned yet, but the good news is that the songs are now available on all of the streaming services. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen on Spotify and add it to your wantlist on Bandcamp.

Given the nature of the music, I wanted to know what the band members themselves are listening to, and I’m really glad guitarist Zeno Jones was willing to answer that question. Not only did he come up with a great selection that says a lot about the two band members, but he also knows how to describe it in an enviable way. Anything mentioned below that I don’t already have, I’d love to add to my record collection. How about you?

New album: Cold Beverage || Hot Wax

Cold Beverage are a rock & roll garage blues duo from Louisville, Kentucky, USA. They drink from the same source as more famous guitar-drum combinations, but they sound more psychedelic than The White Stripes and rock harder than The Black Keys. “Cool, yes, but you’re going to knock these houses over,” with that striking argument the police ended the last house party they played. But it took a lot of perseverance to get there at all.

In 2011, guitarist Zeno Jones and drummer Rodney B. traveled to a cabin in the woods located near an extremely small town called Wax to create a demo album. It didn’t go well: they fought, their equipment failed, and a neighboring house was struck by lighting and burned to the ground. Ten years later they returned to the same place – older, wiser and with better gear – for another try. They still fought, broke countless drumsticks, and wasted takes, but this time they finished their album. It’s called Hot Wax, in honor of the fire that ended their first session all those years ago. I’m very glad they didn’t give up, because the blues guitarist and rock drummer recorded nine awesome songs. The riffs are heavy, the lyrics are captivating, the vocals are raw as they should be, the structures are surprising (their greatest distinctive assets), and the instruments give each other room to shine. Very cool. And yeah, they blow your neighbors houses down.

Out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Veronique Gayot || Animal

French blues rock singer Veronique Gayot calls herself the wild cat. Her debut album was titled Wildcat (2019), the successor is called Animal. However, her raw vocals have more in common with a tiger than with a cat (and while we use the obvious metaphors: the drums stomp like rhythmic elephants, the guitars screech like well-tuned peacocks). About 30 years ago, similarly gritty voices as Alannah Myles and Melissa Etheridge scored hits with this kind of hard rocking blues songs, in 2021 Veronique Gayot deserves that success too. Watch the video for standout opening track Wicked Shot below, listen to the rest of the album via your favorite streaming service.

Out now on CD and vinyl LP via Grand Cru Records. Add to wantlist: Veronique Gayot 

New album: Elli de Mon || Countin’ The Blues

Last year Elisa De Munari published Countin’ The Blues. Donne Indomite, a book about the blues queens of the 1920s. The author also makes music under the moniker Elli de Mon – see our Gimme 5! feature from 2 weeks ago, in which she shares her influences – so it was a logical choice to also record a soundtrack to the book. Elli de Mon lives the songs of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Alberta Hunter, Lucille Bogan, Victoria Spivey, Freight Train, Elizabeth Cotten, Lottie Kimbrough, Memphis Minnie, and Bertha Chippie Hill, breathing new life into these names and their music. The Italian one woman band translated the originals into intense versions, adding a folk or garage feel to the old blues basis, but the album sounds more varied, modern and enchanting than you would expect from this description. This soundtrack was not only a good idea, it’s also very well done.

Out now digitally, on CD and on vinyl LP through Area Pirata Rec. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Joe Bourdet || Meadow Rock

Meadow Rock is not a forgotten Americana treasure from the 70’s, but the brand new debut album from Californian singer / songwriter Joe Bourdet. “Sometimes I read a picture like a book, then I close my eyes and take a second look // The images take on a strange new life, colors flying in the moonlit night,” he sings in Morning Light. Something similar happens when you listen to the music on this record, you hear something different every time: a surprising poetic phrase, female backing vocals or one of the vintage instruments (Hammond organ, double bass, pedal steel, mandolin, Moog Rogue, Fender Rhodes or Wurlitzer piano, etc.) that complement the drums, bass and various guitars (in the video for El Capitan you can see the musicians in the studio). This is beautiful, quiet folk rock, with an authentic sound and optimistic lyrics. Experiencing the nine songs on this album is like a journey through a virgin alpine meadow: “Wide awake lost in a dream.”

Out now digitally, on CD and 12″ vinyl LP. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions || Dad Rock

Based on the title Dad Rock and accompanying cover photo you could conclude that the third independently released album by Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions is a gimmick, but this is actually one to take seriously. Frontman Jack Droppers has become a father (on the back of the record sleeve he has his first child Naomi in his arms; the tenth song on the record bears her name and the eleventh, closing song was written for her: Welcome to the Party). Anyway, along with The Best Intentions (Laura Hobson, Devin Sullivan, James Kessel, Garrett Stier, and Josh Holicki) he’s recorded a collection of strong songs with compelling lyrics that will appeal to fans of Butch Walker, Jesse Malin, and Bruce Springsteen. This is infectious true American rock ‘n’ roll that deserves packed stadiums. I enjoy the album so much more than I expected based on the cover art, but I’ll pass on the limited edition Dad Rock patch they offer for sale. Listen below to the opening and closing song of the record.

Out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP.  Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Patty PerShayla & The Mayhaps || Cheap Diction

Singer / songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Patty PerShayla has a beautiful name, but more importantly, she has a great powerful voice that she knows how to use in the right raw way. After her solo EP Oracle Bones (2019) and many cover requests, she has now released the full length debut album Cheap Diction, together with guitarist Lucas Powell and drummer Alec Klinefelter. Here the power trio plays ten energetic songs, inspired by blues and classic / progressive rock, with a nostalgic feel (there are even guitar solos) but completely contemporary in terms of lyrics and sound. “I’ll lose my balance if I // Tiptoe around your feelings // You might have the floor, sure // But I’m dancing on the ceiling”, PerShayla sings on opening track Walking on My Hands. Like I’m upside down from this music.

Out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Gimme 5! Elli de Mon Shares 5 Albums That Influenced Her The Most

Photo by Simone Carollo

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

Now this is a good story about a unique artist. Elli de Mon (aka Elisa De Munari) is an Italian one-woman band that has released six albums since 2014 and did exciting shows on countless stages across Europe, mixing primal blues with primitive garage punk. That already sounds interesting, doesn’t it? During her pregnancy she didn’t perform for a while, but she found time to write a book about the female blues artists of the 20s: Countin’ The Blues: Indomitable Women. In tribute to these great women, she then decided to record the songs she wrote about. A great idea if you ask me. Watch and listen to Elli’s version of Bessie Smith‘s Blue Spirit Blues below, and you’ll see what I mean. Intriguing, and very cool. [post continues below]

The album Countin’ The Blues releases June 18 through Area Pirata Rec, you can pre-order it here.

When I asked Elli about five records that have been important to her, I expected a list of jazz and blues legends, but I couldn’t have been more wrong: her answer contains some unexpected, surprising treasures.

New album: Phil Ratcliffe || Cliftopia

This is a slightly different release than what you are used to from us, but I would still like to share it with you, because it intrigues in a strange way. Phil Ratcliffe is a musician from the UK, who played reggae with Extra Love, made hip-hop with Mouse Outfit, and now spends his time mostly on instrumental project Tungusku. In between, he worked on the collaborative bedroom-produced audio documentation Cliftopia (out now digitally, listen below), in which influences from those other bands can clearly be heard, mixed with a good dose of blues rock. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Kid Koala’s 12 Bit Blues, but could also be the soundtrack of a road movie. All kinds of genres (and emotions) intermingle, with guitars, bass and drums, but also with beats, samples, soundscapes, synths and saxophone. Experimental trip hop in a jam session by a guitar band? As said, strangely intriguing.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Brandon Agnew & The Pocket 4’s || Mave’s Variety

After the release of his EP Nola in 2010, Brandon Agnew started to devote his time to more important things, just like so many other artists who cannot make a full living from their music. However, the COVID-19 crisis also turned the life of the Canadian singer / singwriter upside down. He reconnected with an old musician friend during the pandemic and realized there may not be a better period to make new songs. Together with some friends called The Pocket 4’s, he booked a studio weekend to record ten self-written tracks for the (digital) album Mave’s Variety, which is surprisingly fun. If Jonathan Richman played blues rock, it would sound something like this.

“Patti Smith don’t mess around, baby // Jane Jacobs don’t mess around, too // When they shimmy cross they shimmy cross the crosswalk // Who they aiming for? They’re aiming for you”

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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