Best of What’s New

A selection of newly released music that caught my attention

After more than 50 installments of a weekly recurring feature, the intros must sound a bit like a broken record for more frequent visitors of the blog. So I’m keeping this pretty brief. If you’re visiting for the first time, these posts feature four to six new or recently released songs. In this case, all tracks appeared yesterday (June 10).

Southern Avenue/Push Now

I’m happy to kick things off with one of my favorite contemporary bands: Southern Avenue. I covered this group from Memphis, Tenn. on various occasions in the past, for example here and here. Founded in Memphis in 2015, Southern Avenue blend traditional blues and soul with elements of modern R&B. Their members are Ori Naftaly (guitar), Tierinii Jackson (lead vocals), her sister Tikyra Jackson (drums, backing vocals), Jeremy Powell (keyboards) and Gage Markey (bass). Less than a year after their formation, Southern Avenue signed with none other than Stax Records. The band’s eponymous debut album appeared in February 2017. Their sophomore, Keep On, was released in May 2019. Push Now is the lead single from Southern Avenue’s upcoming new album Be the Love You Want set to come out on August 27. The music and vocals are great as usual, and I look forward to hearing more from the album!

AFI/Dulcería

AFI are a rock band formed by three high school students in Ukiah, Calif. in 1991. Initially, they didn’t know how to play any instruments. Unlike The Monkees (for the record, I dig this band!), they didn’t have session musicians to play their music, so they started to learn their instruments right away. Originally a hardcore punk band, AFI have since evolved into other genres, which according to Wikipedia include horror punk (didn’t even know this genre exists!), post-hardcore, EMO, gothic rock and alternative rock. The band’s current line-up has existed since 1998 and includes founding members Davey Havok (lead vocals) and Adam Carson (drums, backing vocals), along with Hunter Burgan (bass, keyboards, backing vocals) and Jade Puget (guitar, keyboards, piano, synthesizer, backing vocals). After two EPs, AFI released their first full-length album Answer That and Stay Fashionable in July 1995. Their sixth and breakthrough album Sing the Sorrow from March 2003 was followed by Decemberunderground in June 2006, their best-selling album to date. It topped the U.S. Billboard 200; climbed to no. 2 and 3 in Canada and Australia, respectively; and also charted in many other countries. Dulcería is a track from AFI’s new album Bodies, their 11th. The tune is credited to all members of the band and William Patrick Corgan, aka Billy Corgan, lead vocalist and guitarist of The Smashing Pumpkins. Sounds like RFI have come a long way from their early days – there’s certainly no horror in this cool sounding and rather melodic tune!

Mammoth WVH/Horribly Right

Mammoth WVH is the new solo project of Wolfgang Van Halen who just released his eponymous debut album. The son of the late Eddie Van Halen is best known as the former bassist for Van Halen (2006-2020) and American heavy metal band Tremonti (2012-2016). According to his profile on Apple Music, Wolfgang was steadily working on songs of his own, but he kept his original material under wraps until his father died in October 2020. He formed Mammoth WVH the next month, repurposing the name Mammoth from the first iterations of Van Halen, which featured his father on lead vocals. A talented singer and multi-instrumentalist, Wolfgang recorded every instrument for his new project himself. His first song, “Distance,” debuted in November 2020, and an accompanying video was montaged from home movies of him and his father in different stages of his early life through to the hour at hand. Here is Horribly Right. “This is a song I wrote in New York when we had a week off on the 2015 Van Halen tour,” Van Halen told Apple Music. “It was really fun to take a quick break from tour and just lock myself in my room and write.” The tune is definitely on the heavy side, which doesn’t always work for me, but after a somewhat grim opening riff, it evolves into a more melodic hard rock song.

Julian Lage/Etude

I’d like to close this post on the quieter side with some great jazz by American guitarist and composer Julian Lage. I’m completely new to his music, but when I sampled a few tracks from his new album Squint, I immediately knew I’d dig it. According to Apple Music’s profile, Lage has been widely acclaimed as one of the most prodigious guitarists of his generation. The New York-based musician boasts a long resume as a desired sideman with artists as diverse as Gary Burton, Taylor Eigsti, John Zorn, Nels Cline, Chris Eldridge, Eric Harland, and Fred Hersch, to name just a few. Equally important is his reputation as a soloist and bandleader. He is equally versed in jazz, classical, pop, and show tunes, and has spent more than a decade searching through the myriad strains of American musical history via an impeccable technique and a gift for freely associating between styles, tempos, keys, and textures that adds to his limitless improvisational spirit. Lage’s debut album Sounding Point was released in March 2009. Eleven additional studio and live albums led by Lage have since appeared. This includes his latest, Squint, which also features Jorge Roeder (bass) and Dave King (drums). Here’s the beautiful opener Etude featuring Lage all by himself. Check out that guitar tone and tell this doesn’t sound awesome!

Sources: Wikipedia; Apple Music; YouTube

7 thoughts on “Best of What’s New”

  1. Great to hear something new from Southern Avenue. I also like the sound of this band.

    Sons of famous fathers don’t have an easy stand but WVH seems to be a talented musician. I still remember the news when Wolfgang replaced Michael Anthony and I was very surprised that VH engaged a young boy but Eddie knew what he did.

    And a wonderful guitar tune closes your post, that’s fine!

    And I’m looking forward for your next Sunday Six 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sori! I’ve been following Southern Avenue for several years and have seen them twice. They’re also great live. And they are such nice regular people you can just walk up to and chat with – usually something I rarely do!

      You’re also right about WVH. With such a “guitar god” as your father, it has to be challenging to step out of that huge shadow. But, as you said, Wolfgang does seem to be talented. It’s a little on the heavy side, but he keeps it sufficiently melodic, so it works for me.

      Last but not least, I’m really happy I came across Julian Lage. I’m far from being a jazz expert expert but simply love his tone, and that’s good enough enough for me to feature him. I’ve since listened to additional tracks from this album and like them as well.

      Hope you have a great weekend. Warm regards from New Jersey!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You have made me a fan of Southern Avenue. Great sound Christian…

    Mammoth…I like it quite a bit. I’ve never been a huge fan of Van Halen…but I like this.

    Julian Lage…love that playing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Max. Glad you like Southern Avenue. They are a great band and I hope to get another chance to see them again. They practically lived on the road pre-pandemic, so I’m optimistic they’ll be back to a venue that’s not too far from my house.

      Wolfgang Van Halen came a little bit out of left field, but once I started listening to the tune, I kind of start digging it. While I wouldn’t call myself a Van Halen fan, I like some of their songs.

      Julian Lage is a nice new “discovery” for me, even though he has been around for many years. I have more of his music coming up!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope you get to see them soon….anyone soon!

        I’m like you…I like some of their songs…Ice Cream Man being my favorite.

        I love his style of guitar playing…it’s really good.

        Liked by 1 person

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