Roots

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

New album: Robert Jon & The Wreck || Shine A Light On Me Brother

Robert Jon Burrison (lead vocals/guitar), Andrew Espantman (drums), Steve Maggiora (keyboards), Henry James (lead guitar), and Warren Murrel (bass) have been building a quality discography and impressive live reputation since 2011. The music of Robert Jon & The Wreck may be filed under the Southern Rock category, but it’s the way they mix rock & roll, country and blues with soul and gospel influences that makes their sound stand out. Their new full length album Shine A Light On Me Brother proves once again that we are dealing with first-class musicians – delightful playing and great whiskey drenched vocals. The record opens  ecstatic and euphoric with the title track, Every Day, and Ain’t No Young Love Song, then slows down for some ballads, to close with the party boogie of Radio – whether they’re rocking hard or slowing down the tempo, all ten songs are equally intense. These are songs you really have to experience live; it turns out that the band is on tour right now, so grab your chance.

Stream the full album below.

Shine A Light On Me Brother is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP via Continental Record Services.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Band’s EU/UK Store or USA Store ||  Discogs

New album: Sweet Pete || Say Hello

Strolling through the new releases on Bandcamp, I was happily swinging along to the music of Sweet Pete, when in his bio the band tag Jacques Le Coque caught my attention. The Connecticut four-piece made some nice records, and their single Tip of my Tongue is an awesome garage rock banger that I still play regularly. Sweet Pete is the latest project from New Jersey based singer / songwriter / guitarist Pete Mazza, the frontman of Jacques Le Coque for the past ten years. Pete is a big fan of early rock & roll, and has long wanted to honor the pioneers with a new outfit of his own. Bolstered by Trevor Lake (you saw his name on this site before: in The Shine, Danny’s Favorites, and Televisionaries) on bass and drums, and Collin J. Rocker (Old Lady) on six string guitar, he recorded 11 original songs that are energetic and will make you happy. Their debut full-length Say Hello may be influenced by the past, but is not dated anywhere. Above all, however, it’s really fun to listen to – sitting still is impossible. We already knew it, of course, but it’s great that there is new evidence: rock & roll is here to stay.

Out now digitally and on cassette. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Melin Melyn || Blomonj

Now this is fun and intriguing, extraordinary and eclectic at the same time. Or actually: this is fun and intriguing because it’s extraordinary and eclectic, but – different than usual with this description – also accessible, catchy, summery, and light-hearted. Welsh six-piece Melin Melyn (translated: Yellow Mill) is a psychedelic country pop band that naturally blurs the line between folk, rock, pop, surf, psych, and jazz, singing about weird tales of colorful characters and magical worlds in both English and Welsh. The music is just as eye-catching and exceptional as the cake in the cover photo, but also just as carefully constructed, cheerful and tasty – respecting the virtues of the past but determined to throw a party in the present. The six songs on debut EP Blomonj are all different, but all hits in their own way. Like they say: “Mwynhewch!” Enjoy!

Blomonj is out now digitally and on 12″ colored vinyl through Bingo Records. RIYL Kaizers Orchestra, The Zutons. The Golden Dregs.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp 

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?

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