Best of What’s New

A selection of newly released music that caught my attention

Are we really already in October? Hard to believe that’s the case! September, one of my favorite months here in New Jersey, flew by way too fast. ‘Nuff with the whining and on to the business at hand, which is newly released music. My latest picks include some Americana, indie rock, roots rock and acoustic blues. Unless noted otherwise, the tracks are on studio releases that came out yesterday (October 1).

Strand of Oaks/Easter

I’d like to kick off this revue with music by Strand of Oaks, a project by Austin, Texas-based songwriter and producer Timothy Showalter I first introduced in a Best of What’s New post a few weeks ago. You’d think that after 79 installments of the weekly series, including previously featured artists would happen fairly frequently, but at least so far, that’s not been the case. According to Showalter’s Apple Music profilehe specializes in bold and anthemic indie Americana that draws from classic rock and folk. Skillfully blending traditional singer/songwriter introspection with stadium-ready melodies in the vein of artists like War on Drugs and My Morning Jacket, Showalter emerged in 2009 with Leave Ruin. Six additional studio albums, one EP and various singles have since appeared under the Strand of Oaks moniker. Here’s Easter, another tune I like from his new album In Haven.

Arms Akimbo/Now I Know

Atwood Magazine has called Arms Akimbo “one of the West Coast’s hidden treasures.” They also could have characterized them as “mystery”, since neither their website, Facebook page or Soundcloud includes any information on the Los Angeles-based trio. It surprises me time and again when artists don’t post bios or some other background on their website and social media properties, especially when they’re less known! Based on Atwood Magazine, the alternative and indie rock band has been around for five years. Their members are Peter Schrupp (guitar, lead vocals), Colin Boppell (bass), and Matt Sutton (drums). Apparently, they used to be a four piece until the recent departure of their founding member Christopher Kalil (guitar, vocals). Now I Know (that’s the song title, not exactly my state of knowledge about the group) is a track from Arms Akimbo’s new EP Just Basics.

John Mellencamp/Wasted Days (featuring Bruce Springsteen)

I was quite excited to learn that two of my favorite artists, John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen, came together to cut a single – the first time they have done this, according to an announcement on Mellencamp’s website. Wasted Days was released on September 29, along with the below official video filmed in New Jersey last month. The video was directed and produced by Thom Zimny, a filmmaker who frequently collaborates with Springsteen. The tune is the lead single of a new album by Mellencamp that’s slated for 2022. I also came across this intriguing quote by Springsteen on AZLyrics.com from an interview on Sirius XM’s E Street Radio in June: “I worked on three songs on John’s album and I spent some time in Indiana with him. I love John a lot. He’s a great songwriter and I have become very close and had a lot of fun with him. I sang a little bit on his record.” While the lyrics aren’t exactly on the cheerful side, I love Wasted Days, which sounds like classic Mellencamp – a tune you could imagine on 1987’s The Lonesome Jubilee, one of my favorite Mellencamp albums. The Boss adds a nice vocal flavor to it – and based on the above, we can look forward to more of the two together!

Buffalo Nichols/How to Love

Let’s wrap up this week’s installment with some great acoustic blues by guitarist Buffalo Nichols. From his website: Since his earliest infatuations with guitar, Buffalo Nichols has asked himself the same question: How can I bring the blues of the past into the future? After cutting his teeth between a Baptist church and bars in Milwaukee, it was a globetrotting trip through West Africa and Europe during a creative down period that began to reveal the answer...Born in Houston and raised in Milwaukee’s predominantly Black North end, the guitar was Nichols’ saving grace as a young man. The instrument captured his fascination, and provided him with an outlet for self-expression and discovery in isolation. While other children chased stardom on the field, court, or classroom, Nichols took to his mother and siblings’ music collections, searching feverishly for riffs to pick out on his instrument. On October 15, Nichols will release his eponymous debut album featuring demos and studio recordings. Here’s How to Love, the third upfront track that became available on September 21 – love that Dobro and Nichols’ singing, and look forward to the album!

Sources: Apple Music; Atwood Magazine; John Mellencamp website; AZLyrics.com; Buffalo Nichols website; YouTube

10 thoughts on “Best of What’s New”

  1. The Mellencamp and Springsteen pairing took me by surprise…how much publicity would this have got in the 80s? Tons and tons. Poignant song…sounds really good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had no idea Mellencamp and Springsteen had teamed up, so it took me by surprise as well.

      Looks like they clicked! Apparently, Springsteen was also involved in two other songs from Mellencamp’s new album that’s supposed to come out sometime next year.

      Also, I have to say Springsteen looks fantastic in the video. Hard to believe he’s 72!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was an idea match… the song sounds really good…I was worried I would be disappointed but I liked it. I can’t wait to hear the others.
        Yes he does…especially for 72!
        BTW…I also like the Buffalo Nichols track…alot

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’re right, just because you have two great artists doesn’t automatically guarantee a great outcome. To me, the tune sounds like it could be off “The Lonesome Jubilee” album, which is one of my all-time favorite Mellencamp albums.

        And, yes, I’m pretty excited about Buffalo Nichols as well. It’s another reminder the blues is alive and well – one of the most vibrant “old” genres, in my view, where you have plenty of younger artists. I wish I could say the same about classic rock!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It would fit nicely on that album….you are right.

        Yes it’s nice to hear that type of slide going on in a young artist song. That is what caught me right away.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Have you ever heard of young country blues artist Jontavious Willis? Taj Mahal has called him a “wunderkind”.

        I saw Willis open for Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ a few years ago, and the guy was spectacular. He was all by himself with just an acoustic guitar.

        This clip gives you a little bit of a flavor of what Willis does. Frankly, it was much more compelling live!

        Liked by 1 person

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