New album: Ricky Warwick || When Life Was Hard And Fast

“We’ve come a long way since Jerry Lee // Rock and Roll ain’t dead // It’s just lost // In its mystery” – the intro to the great song You’re My Rock ‘N Roll pretty much sums up what you can expect from Ricky Warwick‘s new album. Fans of 70s rock will have a blast. The sound, the vocals, the guitar solos, the riffs, the drumbeat – everything on this album is as big as the smile on my face as I listen to it. The Northern Irish musician / songwriter combines his extensive experience (New Model Army, The Almighty, Thin Lizzy, Black Star Riders) with youthful appetite for writing and playing, he’s having friends like Joe Elliott (Def Leppard), Andy Taylor (Duran Duran) and Dizzy Reed ( Guns ‘n’ Roses) who contribute, and he knows how to alternate hard rocking tracks with ballads with lyrics that a certain type of women could post on their Instagram account. The ‘Deluxe Edition’ has a second disc with entertaining covers like You Spin Me Round (Like A Record), Oops! … I Did It Again and I Don’t Want To Grow Up. Have you ever been to a rock concert where the band is having such a good time that they don’t want to stop, playing all the songs they know how to play? This is the album equivalent of that. When Life Was Hard And Fast is out now through Nuclear Blast.

Add to wantlist: Nuclear Blast || Ricky Warwick Shop

New album: Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs || Real One

The first self-titled Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs record was released a decade ago. Back then, the band sounded like a garage band with a country twang. In the next ten years, the band has made quite the transformation. I first fell for the band with their 2014 album Gates Of Hell, a record  that had just the right mix of powerpop, rock-‘n’-roll and garage influences. The band then opted for a bigger sound on their 2018 record, again a self-titled one. Suddenly, here was a record full of fist pumping anthems made for arenas and hockey rinks. Today, the band released their follow up, titled Real One. It is the logical next step for the band. The band sounds more confident, more diverse and more ambitious than ever. The band has always wore its influences on its sleeves, and although this still unmistakingly is Sam Coffey, this one could also appeal to fans of Bruce Springsteen (listen to Magic and Sounds Alright), Thin Lizzy (She Knows), 80’s glam (Back With The Gang and Spirit Of The Radio), and even Billy Joel (15 minutes). If I am not mistaken, Gates of Heaven is the longest track the band ever recorded. It’s a 7 minute rock opera that starts out as a power ballad, turns into a groovy rock song, ultimately ending in fade out with some excellent female backups and group vocals. So yeah, plenty of fun to be had with this record, and plenty to discover upon further listens as well. And thoughout it all, I don’t think Sam Coffey has ever sung this well. You bet I am impressed with this record.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Justin Freely || What A Time To Be Alive

Indeed, the flow of good music from Melbourne, Australia continues, but this one sounds a bit different from the Melbourne bands we have recently written about. What a Time to be Alive is the debut album by Justin Freely, who wrote all the songs and did the vocals and guitars. The eight lyric focused topical and love songs form a multi genre collection; I’ve placed it in the indie pop category, but there are also influences from folk, blues, and even reggae (Shake It All Off). Thanks in part to the production and sound effects of Brooke Penrose (Saint Jude), this is an entertaining and engaging listening experience.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Appaloosa / BBQT || Split

Smart move by No Front Teeth Records to release a split 7″ with Appaloosa and BBQT. The bands are sonically similar (glammy punkrocknroll), and share a similar attitude. If you like Appaloosa it’s safe to say you’ll like BBQT and vice vera. Appaloosa are a new band to watch, can’t believe I missed their 2020 EP. If you haven’t heard BBQT before, I recommend their full length Let’s Go as an  entrance point. Vinyl release coming soon!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Throwback Thursday: Soccer Cousins || Lazy Bones

In the recent past I have added many songs to my “Favorites” playlist that in my opinion should have become big hits, but unfortunately have not reached an audience as large as they deserved. It’s quite possible that my taste isn’t hit-sensitive, but now that we have this website as a platform, I’m free to share one of these overlooked nuggets with you every now and then. Watch and listen below to Lazy Bones (Gentle Reminder Records, 2018) by New York trio Soccer Cousins. I particularly appreciate how the song slowly increases the tempo, so that the music amplifies the lyrics. If I understand correctly, Jon, Brendan, and Josh did their final show not long after, which is a shame as I would have loved to hear more from them.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: FRITZ || Pastel

There has been no shortage of fuzzy dream pop projects in the streaming age. This makes it hard for artists to truly stand out from the pack. An additional challenge with this genre is that although a lot of artists sound instantly likeable, that appeal often is short-lived or limited to individual songs rather than full-length albums. Two positive exceptions this past decade, at least to me, were Alvvays and Say Sue Me. I am going to add FRITZ to that list, who kind of sound like a combination of the two but with an emphasis on their faster work. FRITZ is Tilly Murphy from Newcastle (Australia), backed up by Cody Brougham (guitar) and Darren James (drums). Murphy cites Alvvays, Pains Of Being True At Heart and Best Coast as her main influences, and you can tell. Pastel is the sophomore album by FRITZ. It’s a major step up from their debut, and I’m all in.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Dry Look || Take Me To The Dive

Illinois have been the home of some of powerpop’s finest bands (Shoes! Vertebrats!). Check out the Buttons, From Champaign To Chicago compilation by Numero Group to get a sense of the states’ Cheapest Tricks. I’d like to introduce you to a contemporary Illinois powerpopband: The Dry Look. According to the band’s FB page, Take Me To The Dive is “not The Dry Look album we deserve, but it’s The Dry Look album we get.” I like it plenty though. The Dry Look plays the scrappy and snotty style of power pop that fans of Needles//Pins, Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs, Mother’s Children, and Gentleman Jesse will appreciate.  Illinois Boi is a standout track reminiscent of the Clash. Peter, Do You Need Her is short but sweet. And, with Caracas Affair, the band gives a respectful nod to the Ramones’ Havana Affair. The release is currently digital only (name your price download), but I kinda hope it will get picked up by Alien Snatch! Records as it would fit perfectly on that roster.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Blueponies || Delivery Romance

New band alert: Blueponies are a threesome from Aprilia (a small city south of Rome, Italy). The band members started playing together right before COVID-19 hit Italy hard. As soon as the lockdowns allowed it, they recorded four songs which they more or less remembered from those early rehearsals. The result is a fun collection of ramshackle garage pop tunes. The Delivery Romance EP sounds surprisingly focused for a new band whose members have such different musical tastes (“from screamo hc to garage, from stoner to synth powerpop”). I particularly like Delivery Boy and Rich Grrrls – I caught my four year old daughter singing along with its chorus when I first played it (“sometimes I DO like your music, dad”). Final remark by the band: “We love rock and Satan, because God is cool but Satan gives higher tips to the pizza delivery guy.” Noted.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: TOLEDO || Jockeys Of Love

The American dream pop duo TOLEDO has been making beautiful music for a few years now (check out the compilation Everything So Far or my previously favorite song FOMO), but they now seem to surpass themselves with their new EP Jockeys Of Love. The six new songs by Daniel Alvarez and Jordan Dunn-Pilz are atmospheric and enchanting, you could call them bedroom folk. Out now via Telefono.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Late Runner || I Wear Shades

About 20 years ago, the Danish synthpop band Superheroes released three albums and five EPs, which have survived quite well (listen to Someone Else for example). Their guitarist, Asger Tarpgaard, was still a teenager at the time. Now he has grown into his new project Late Runner, with music he finally felt ready to write. Here’s their promising first single and official video. I Wear Shades is out now through Crunchy Frog Recordings.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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