Best of What’s New

This is the 30th installment of Best of What’s New. When I started the new music feature 30 weeks ago, I wasn’t sure I’d find enough material I dig to blog on a weekly basis. So far it’s been a rewarding experience, and I’m optimistic I can get going at that rate.

Usually, I keep the installments to four tunes. This time, however, before I knew it, I found eight songs I could have featured. I decided to cut down the selection to the following six tunes. The set is quite rock-oriented, but there’s also a great jazz tune that just makes me happy and a beautiful guitar instrumental.

Black Stone Cherry/Again

Black Stone Cherry are a hard rock band formed in Edmonton, Ky. in 2001. Chris Robertson (lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar) and John Fred Young (drums, percussion, piano, backing vocals) had played together since they were young teenagers. They were soon joined by Ben Wells (rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals) and Jon Lawhon (bass, backing vocals) to complete the band’s lineup. In May 2006, they released their eponymous debut album. Again is a track from the band’s upcoming 7th studio album The Human Condition scheduled for October 30. Black Stone Cherry announced the album on August 6 and debuted the tune and music video. “There was a real urgency and fear of the unknown during those sessions – it was a scary time,” Young told Louder.  “Every song on this album tells a story of the experiences we all go through – our happiness, our struggles, and how we have to adapt.” I hardly listen to present day hard rock, but this tune got something.

Puscifer/The Underwhelming

Puscifer is a project from rock singer-songwriter and producer Maynard James Keenan, who also is the lead vocalist and primary lyricist of rock bands Tool and A Perfect Circle. Between these bands, Keenan has released 12 albums over the past 30 years. Other members of Puscifer, which is currently a trio, include Carina Round (vocals, guitar, ukelele, tambourine) and Mat Mitchell (lead guitar). The Underwhelming is a tune from Puscifer’s upcoming fourth studio album Existential Reckoning due out October 30. The tune became the album’s second single on September 17.

Elvis Costello/Hey Clockface/How Can You Face Me?

I believe Hey Clockface/How Can You Face Me? is the first jazz tune I ever heard by Elvis Costello. When I came across it yesterday, I immediately knew I had to include it in this installment of Best of What’s New. According to a review in Stereogum, Costello recorded it together with a small jazz ensemble in Paris about a month before Covid-19 changed the world. It also turns out the tune and Costello’s other singles he has released over the past few months are all part of a new studio album titled Hey Clockface scheduled for October 30. According to Wikipedia’s count, it should be Costello’s 33rd studio release. Hey Clockface/How Can You Face Me? first appeared as the album’s fourth upfront single on September 11. This tune just has an infectious groove. Check it out!

Ben Harper/Paris

American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ben Harper has been a recording artist since 1992. He began playing guitar as a child and had his first gig at the age of 12. During his teenage years in the ’80s, Harper began playing slide guitar, influenced by Delta blues artist Robert Johnson. In 1992, he recorded the album Pleasure and Pain with Tom Freund. This was followed by his solo debut Welcome to the Cruel World from February 1994. Since then, he has released 13 additional studio albums. In 2010, Harper formed folk rock-oriented band Fistful of Mercy, together with George Harrison’s son Dhani Harrison and singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur. Harper has also collaborated with Charlie Musslewhite and various other artists. Paris is a beautiful, sparse instrumental featuring only Harper on his lap steel guitar. It’s on an upcoming new all-instrumental album, Winter Is For Lovers, set to appear on October 23. Two other tunes, Inland Empire and London, from the 15-track collection are already out as well, and they sound just as great!

Blue Öyster Cult/The Alchemist

While Blue Öyster Cult is a very familiar name, the rock band that was founded all the way back in 1967 in Stony Brook, N.Y. had not released new music since Curse of the Hidden Mirror from June 2001. That changed yesterday (October 9) with The Symbol Remains, their 15th studio album. Of course, Blue Öyster Cult have had numerous line-up changes over the decades, though founding member and lead guitarist Donald Roeser, known as Buck Dharma, is still around. As is Eric Bloom, who joined BÖC as lead vocalist, guitarist and keyboarder in April 1969, replacing Les Braunstein. Like Dharma, Bloom has been on all of the band’s albums released to date. Here’s The Alchemist, written by Richie Castellano, who has been part of Blue Öyster Cult since 2004. This makes The Symbol Remains his first studio with the band after 16 years – remarkable! The Alchemist may not be Cities On Flame With Rock and Roll, (Don’t Fear) the Reaper or Burnin’ For You, but it still sounds pretty cool to me. Check out the sweet harmony guitar playing featuring Dharma and Castanello, which starts at about 3:33 minutes. These guys are still rockin’!

Greta Van Fleet/My Way, Soon

Speaking of rockin’, what could be a better way to end this installment than with the latest single by Greta Van Fleet, one of the most exiting contemporary bands, in my opinion: May Way, Soon, which was also released just yesterday. “This song was inspired by what three years of touring did by opening so many doorways,” vocalist Josh Kiszka told Louder. “This is my truth, how I feel about all of our travels, but I know it echoes the experiences and changes of perspectives for [his GVF bandmates] Jake, Sam, and Danny as well.” May Way, Soon is the first tune from Greta’s next studio album (title and release date still to be announced). “The definition of ’normal’ has very much broadened over the past couple of years, and it has affected us as musicians, especially in the writing and recording of this new album,” added drummer Danny Wagner. While My Way, Soon delivers the energetic type of rock fans of the band have come to dig, it sounds less influenced by Led Zeppelin. I think only does this show Greta is evolving musically, but it’s also a good thing from a longevity perspective.

Sources: Wikipedia; Louder; Stereogum; YouTube

6 thoughts on “Best of What’s New”

  1. This is one of my favorite weeks of the new releases that you have had…

    Black Stone Cherry – A friend of mine turned me on to them. They rock and go for the jugular. They do not fool around.

    Blue Öyster Cult – I have to like it…I just have to. It’s not bad at all. Glad to see one of those 70s bands in here. It actually sounds pretty good.

    Greta Van Fleet – Of course I think one thing…one thing only… Bay City Rollers! Lol no…they are forging their own identity. This one has a little Zep but not as much. They are a talented band and sound really good. I think the Zep banner they wear is unfair and it has hurt them. They are good in their own right.

    Ben Harper – I want more and more of this. This sounds great and he is so authentic. Probably my favorite of the bunch.

    Elvis Costello – He has a great sound here. A Dixieland style that I like.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you like it, Max. I’m also quite happy about this installment.

      Blue Öyster Cult? I couldn’t believe that after 19 years, they came out with a new album.

      I’m also quite excited about Greta. While I think some of their previous tunes have a Zep vibe, I agree that framing them as Zep wannabes isn’t fair. This new tune sounds like they are evolving, which I think is a good thing for their longevity.

      Ben Harper sounds fantastic as well. I had heard his name before, but I’m not familiar with his music. BTW, the music he did with Dhani Harrison and Joseph Arthur in Fistful of Mercy sounds very promising, based on sampling a few tunes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The more Cowbell band! I like when bands do that. It reminds me of earlier this year when you featured the Marshall Tucker Band’s new song.

        Evolving is a good word. They really are…I hate when the press put tags on bands…it can help but also really hurt them.

        He would fit in with Dhani…he would have fit with George also. I get his name mixed up with Roy Harper of the Led Zeppelin…he is not quite that old lol……… I feel stupid Christian…that is his son…I didn’t know that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Some good rockin’ tunes here. Black Stone Cherry sounded a little “arena-generic” to me and I wasn’t blown away by Puscifer. That is not to say I wouldn’t listen to some of their other stuff. I know of both of them but well, who has time? Elvis is now and always will be one of my favorites of all time. Top ten. Love it. I know Ben Harper, like his stuff. Another good one. BOC. Weird blogger synchronicity here. Tony over in the UK did a post on 2001. I looked up albums of that year and one of them was “Curse of the Hidden Mirror” and I thought, hmm, never heard of that one. That was 15 minutes ago! Then I come here and you mention it. Blue Oyster Cult is a long time favorite of mine. They tour relentlessly and you may or may not recall I saw them last year. I had previously seen them when I was in high school. Love those guys. Nobody cranks it out like they do. I liked Great when I first heard them but I thought, oh for fuck’s sake, drop the Zep. Glad to see they’re doing that. And glad to see bands are still rockin’ and it’s not all that meretricious top 40 shit out there. Keep on rockin’ in the free world!

    Like

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