New album: Chris Acker || Odd, Ordinary & Otherwise

Like so many of us, country-folk singer / songwriter Chris Acker also took many steps during the long period of isolation during COVID quarantine. “I started taking walks to neighborhoods that I’d never been to because there wasn’t much to do,” he says. “It felt like falling in love with New Orleans in its in solitude, just by wandering around and randomly meeting people.” He started spending the rest of the time with bandmate Nikolai Shveitser, drinking beer and making music together in a fury of creation that came without the pressure of having to perform outwardly to an audience. It led to third full-length release Odd, Ordinary & Otherwise. The 13 original songs, arranged and performed with the Growing Boys, are sensitive, personal, honest, and elegant. Beautiful stories, delivered professionally.

Odd, Ordinary & Otherwise is out now digitally, on cassette, CD and vinyl LP through Gar Hole Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Gar Hole

New album: Black Light Animals || Playboys of the Western World

As noted earlier this week: strange can be good. Playboys of the Western World, the debut album from American psychedelic soul group Black Light Animals, is another solid proof of that finding. They describe their music quite adequately as a sprawling, decadent examination of what it means to be a human being through the lens of horror movie organs, spaghetti western guitars, hip hop grooves, psychedelic sojourns, and ballads crooned to lovers in the night, although that list is not complete, because you’ll also hear rock, dub, and glam influences. It sounds like Isaac Hayes, Portishead, Ennio Morricone, and Portugal. The Man were experimenting together — that shouldn’t work, but it does. These are trippy, cinematic and mysterious songs that come into their own after dark when you’ve had a drink or two. Great work by Cole Bales (vocals / guitar / bass / piano / keyboards / synth / organ / percussion), Cody Calhoun (guitar / percussion), Zach Harris (drums / percussion / synth), Branden Moser (bass / guitar / keyboards / synth / organ / percussion), and some friends who added piano, viola and violin. Watch the video for standout track Halo.

Stream the full album below.

Playboys of the Western World is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Groove King Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Rhynes || The Rhynes

Joe Atkinson has played and toured with, amongst others, Flipron, the Original Rude Boy Neville Staple (formally of The Specials), Donovan, The Selecter, and Lee “Scratch” Perry. He started sneaking into the studio during down-time between gigs “to find out what Big Star would sound like with Nicky Hopkins on piano”, which led to his new project The Rhynes, of which the self-titled debut album has now been released. He sings and plays every note on the album, with the exception of the drums, which are partly provided by Damned drummer and punk legend Rat Scabies and partly by Matty Bane from The Neville Staple Band. It’s a collection of 60s inspired jangly guitar pop and piano-led numbers, with rich Byrds and Teenage Fanclub style harmonies, Hammond organs and the occasional Dylanesque harmonica. Quality music for the coming fall, with convincing structures, beautiful melodies, and somewhat unsteady vocals, which makes the songs vulnerable and believable. Sympathetic record.

Out now on CD through Tiny Dog Records.

New album: Grady Strange || Getting Stranger

Grady Strange (Grady Wenrich) began writing and recording his own music after discovering a 4-track recorder that once belonged to CBGB’s Hilly Kristal at a garage sale in Asbury Park. At the time he lived in New Jersey, now in Los Angeles, with his partner and frequent collaborator, Mackenzie Howe (she also makes great music herself, under the moniker of Pet Dress), and their dog named Dolly Parton.

Getting Stranger is Grady’s full-length debut album, featuring ten intense slacker rock ‘n’ roll songs filled with big hooks, and whirling guitars, a DIY project recorded on that legendary 4-track (Howe provided sax and backup vocals). Previous hit single I Listen to Your Radio Show at Night is missing, but the new tracks are just as much fun. Compelling melodies, surprising tempo and instrument changes, keen lyrics about life, death, love, and hate (“I’m a part of everything and I am nothing // Everything means nothing when you are everything” – from She Found the Way), vocals that enhance the feeling of courage to be free in the moment – heavy and light at the same time. Strange is good, I really love this record. RIYL Kurt Vile, JEFF The Brotherhood, Bass Drum Of Death.

Stream the full album below.

Getting Stranger is out now digitally, on cassette and vinyl LP through Perpetual Doom.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Perpetual Doom

New album: The Easy Button || Lost On Purpose

American power pop / rock band The Easy Button is back with Lost On Purpose, their most ambitious album to date, with 22 new songs and several guest musicians. Band members Brian Jones (lead vocals / guitar / piano), Rich Tiemann (guitar / vocals), Preston Jones (bass / percussion), and Cailun Seay (drums / percussion) play guitar driven, hook laden melodic rock that fans of Weezer, Fountains Of Wayne, and Tommy And The Rockets will admire. “Sometimes you gotta get away from your surroundings and take a deep breath, where it’s not so demanding // And clear your weary head”, according to the lyrics of Move With Me. That’s exactly what listening to this music does: for 67 minutes life is without major worries.

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

New album: Acid Dad || Take It From The Dead

In 2018, American alternative rock band Acid Dad released their self-titled debut album, a record I really liked when it came out. In the meantime, the band has been building a new studio space and vision, and now here’s their second LP, Take It From The Dead. To be honest, it took me a while to appreciate the new songs, but they got under my skin and now I can’t live without them. With influences ranging from 90’s neo-psych, modern post-punk, shoegaze and 70’s rock-n-roll, Acid Dad has crafted an album that’s dreamy, colorful, hypnotic and addictive. Give this record some time to mature, it’s worth it.

Out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Greenway Records and Levitations’s label The Reverberation Appreciation Society.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Kris Rodgers and the Dirty Gems || Still Dirty

Kris ‘Fingers’ Rodgers has been a recording and touring sideman in some of our favorite garage rock and power pop acts (The Connection, Scott Sorry, The New Trocaderos, Bullet Proof Lovers, Kurt Baker Band). In addition, the American singer / keyboardist himself already has a LP and several EPs with The Dirty Gems under his belt, and now he has released his new full-length album Still Dirty, recorded with longtime bandmates Ryan Halliburton (bass), Tom Hall (guitar) , and Craig Sala (drums). It’s a surprisingly varied rock ‘n’ roll record, with nine original songs and a cover of Elton John’s Take Me To The Pilot. Standout tracks are the lyrically awesome, vocoder-laced groover She Likes To Party (Kris explains: “We ended up with a list of things that rhyme with “party,” which is how we chose all the chorus lyrics, that’s how “She loves Charles Barkley” made it on”), symphonic rocker Don’t Look Back (“It’s about letting go of old tropes and assumptions individuals have either picked up or made over the years”), and swinging power pop hit I’m Your Man (“I wrote it trying to write a Kurt Baker Band song”). If this is what “dirty” sounds like, let Kris Rodgers and his band stay that way.

Stream the full album below.

Still Dirty is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Wicked Cool Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: Fantastic Cat || Fiona

To the huge roster of good songs with girls’ names in the title – Allison, Angie, Barbara Ann, Beth, Sweet Caroline, Debra, Gloria, Iris, Jolene, Lola, Long Tall Sally, Darling Nikki, Mandy, My Michelle, Peggy Sue, Proud Mary, Rosalita, My Sharona, Valerie, and so on and on – New York four-piece Fantastic Cat now adds a really nice one. All women named Fiona can dream away for a moment that it is being sung to them: “I’m gonna miss you until I’m with you again” (watch the lyric video below or click here for the live version). This is the great alt-country / folk-rock debut single from this new supergroup, made up of critically acclaimed NYC songwriters Brian Dunne, Anthony D’Amato, Don DiLego, and Mike Montali (there‘s a Spotify playlist with their solo work). After this first single, an album by the four instrument-swapping and harmony-trading friends is also on the way. The Very Best Of Fantastic Cat reportedly mixes electrified 60’s folk and 70’s AM radio gold with 80’s heartland rock and 90’s alt-country. One to look forward to!

Out now digitally and on a limited edition 7″ vinyl EP through Velvet Elk Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Poppermost || Hits To Spare

We often use the “Beatlesque” label, but rarely has it been as appropriate as with The Poppermost’s debut album Hits To Spare. This is the work of Scottish “one man beat group” Joe Kane, who has made it his mission to carry on with the 60’s pop sound of John, Paul, George, and Ringo in his garage studio – vintage instruments and recording techniques – named Fabbey Road. Although he sings to be the Laziest Fella In The Realm, in reality Kane is a busy man: he recorded under alias such as Dr. Cosmos’ Tape Lab and Radiophonic Tuckshop and worked with artists including Neil Innes (The Rutles), Joey Molland (Badfinger), Alan White (Plastic Ono Band), and BMX Bandits. For the Poppermost record he wrote, performed – vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica, bass, lead guitar, and drums – and produced all the songs himself. Occasionally a few notes from one of the Beatles’ classics are borrowed, and the arrangements, style of playing and humorous lyrics also sound familiar, but this is not an imitation or a parody, more a successful continuation of the early work of the major inspiration source of so many bands. Power-poppin’ rock ‘n’ roll the Fab Four wouldn’t be ashamed of, rightly hits to spare!

Stream the full album below.

Out now digitally and on CD and vinyl LP through Think Like A Key Music.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Think Like A Key

New album: Tony Cannam || The Re-Set Pt.1

Let’s dance. Tony Cannam, UK songwriter / band leader / producer of Soulnaturals, has released his debut solo album The Re-Set Trilogy Pt.1, the first of an ambitious trilogy of longplayers documenting personal and global events. It’s the result of a thought and consciousness experiment: an approach of “no thinking” was used, recording an instinctive daily flow of ideas over a period, then returning to develop finished works from the most outstanding sounds. The first 12 songs range from cinematic bedroom soul and poppy gospel to catchy funk, a rich resource for hip-hop producers looking for samples. Smooth and sunny orchestrated music inspired by the 60s and 70s, good for tapping feet and a smile. Listen to the full album below.

Out now digitally on British Soul Standard. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Juno

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