New album: Aaron Frazer || Introducing…

American songwriter Aaron Frazer rose to fame as drummer with the golden voice behind Durand Jones. You can hear his falsetto on fan favorite Is It Any Wonder?, for example. Before that, he played and sang with the blues rock band Charlie Patton’s War, who made one – hard to find – album (Rock ‘N’ Roll House Party is on my wantlist for years; anyone have a copy available?). You can recognize him out of thousands in a video of an old street performance, but both his drumming and singing were a lot rougher then than nowadays. What a contrast to Introducing…, Aaron Frazer’s debut solo album, produced by Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach and recorded with a crew of heavy session players, including members of the Memphis Boys. The 12 new tracks offer a mix of classic soul, disco, gospel and doo-wop, all pretty smooth and radio / bedroom friendly. Introducing… is co-released today on Easy Eye Sound and Dead Oceans. It might be too slick for our taste, but it could just become a soul classic that you put next to your Curtis Mayfield and Smokey Robinson records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Aaron Frazer Store

New album: Miracle Debt || Miracle Debt

Miracle Debt come from a long pedegree of bands from Minneapolis that incorparate classic rock elements into punkrock. Or vice versa, depending on your frame of reference. I’m referring to the Replacements of course, but also Hüsker Dü, the Hold Steady (/Lifter Puller), and more recently Lutheran Heat. Miracle Debt will self-release their self-titled debut next month, but the full album is already available on Bandcamp. The band reminds me of early Avail, and that’s a compliment.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Billy Conquer || Garage Hits

Since 2021 is slow to get underway in terms of new releases, this is a last one that came out in 2020 (on the last day of it, so we can still call this new). In the spring Billy Conquer already made the track Covid – 19  (‘There’s a little virus coming out / I wanna tell you all about’), but the situation hasn’t improved much since then. And what do you do when you are quarantined together as a band for a while? Right, you drink cheap beer, smoke cigarettes, and make music (not necessarily in that order). Joined by Yoshinobu on organ / piano / synth, the American 3-piece wrote and recorded six new songs, with which they say they make the transition from 90s indie rock influences to the garage rock revival category. Garage Hits was mixed by Gordon Raphael, producer of The Strokes’ Is This it and Room on Fire. Listen below to my favorite track 1984, an ode to the 80s (‘What’s that sound / I want more’) with a delicious organ part.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Morgus Creeps || Skin People

Okay, enough with the 2020 reflections already. Time for the first 2021 release I am genuinely excited about: the Skin People EP by The Morgus Creeps. This UK band, who I guess are named after a 1964 horror single by Daringers, play a creepy kind of garage rock. The songs on this killer EP would fit perfectly on the garage compilations of Crypt! Records. For now, this appears to be a digital only release, available as a name-your-price download.

Add to Wantlist: Bandcamp

“Coolest song” of 2020: The Weeklings || 3

One of my favorite “radio” shows is Little Steven’s Underground Garage, with which hero Steven Van Zandt makes an important contribution to keeping Rock ‘n’ Roll alive (I made a Spotify playlist with tracks I heard over there; if I don’t know what to listen anymore, this always offers good fun). Every week he plays the best rock and soul music of the past 60 years (Beatles, Stones, Byrds, Yardbirds, Crystals, Ramones, Springsteen, Who, Fleshtones, Kinks, Otis, …), but also new tunes from his own Wicked Cool Records and other labels . The Underground Garage listeners have once again been able to vote which of those new songs they consider the “Coolest Song in the World” of last year. At the top of the 2020 list is 3 from The Weeklings, an American supergroup performing Beatles covers and Beatles-inspired power-pop originals. Below you can see one of the three videos they made for the single (there is also a lyric video and a dance party version). Hey!

Add to wantlist: Discogs || The Weeklings Shop

Looking Back || Niek’s Overlooked Records of 2020

I’ve been checking out several 2020 AOTY lists in the past couple of weeks and have to admit: I missed a few. It happens, right? Perfection is overrated anyway. Here are 20+ releases from all kinds of musical directions that I either overlooked or was too quick to dismiss in 2020. They are on my wantlist now, that is all that matters. Click below to check them out. As always, I’ve included links to the purchasing locations for these releases. ICYMI also check out my favorite 2020 albums, singles and EPs, 2020 playlists and Dennis’ 2020 AOTY list. Happy new year!

New song: Chris Lujan & Electric Butter feat. Andre Cruz || New Years Day

New Year’s Day is a special day every year (in 2021 perhaps even more than usual), in that respect it’s remarkable that relatively few songs are devoted to it (compare it with the enormous amount of Christmas songs). Fortunately, Chris Lujan and Andre Cruz are now making a nice new contribution. From the idea that any day can be the beginning of a new year they wrote the tune New Years Day, an optimistic and atmospheric soul song that promises a new start. Available digitally through Lugnut Brand Records. Happy New Year!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

“New” compilation: The Dogmatics || EST 81

Rum Bar Records just released EST 81 by The Dogmatics in digital format, a collection of the songs of the Boston garage / pub rock band from the 80’s. Not really a new compilation, because available on CD in 1998 as Dogmatics 1981-86, but very welcome. Now, over 30 years later, the band is back, with the excellent single She’s the One (2019), singer-guitarist Jerry Lehane released an equally excellent self-titled EP (2020) and more new music is expected to follow in the new year, but it’s cool to hear the old work again. They are still great songs! What would be even more welcome than these downloadable tracks, is a vinyl version of EST 81. Please!?

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New Compilation: The Young Sinclairs || O.P.P.

The Young Sinclairs have been releasing excellent indiepop records since 2007. Throughout the years, they’ve recorded several cover songs, which they’ve recently wrapped up and made available as a name your price download as their Christmas present to the world. It’s worth checking out, and not just because you’ve always wanted to know what a jangle pop version of Sweet Child O’ Mine sounds like.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New song: Space Cadet || Forever For A While

If you, like me, have fond memories of Boston punkrockband The Explosion, then you are familiar with Matt Hock’s powerful and distinct voice. Imagine my excitement when I found out that Matt has started a new project with his former bandmate David Walsh, and that Wiretap Records will release their debut a couple of months from now. Here is the first song, which is a pleasant surprise. It’s a departure from the high-octane and tight punkrock of The Explosion. It’s guitar-driven and loose, and influenced by postpunk, britrock and new wave. It’s the kind of song that intrigues and gets under your skin upon first listen.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Wiretap Records

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