Best of What’s New

A selection of newly released music that caught my attention

Is it only me, or is 2022 already starting to feel old? Regardless of my sentiment, let’s focus on the positive – it’s Saturday and time to take a fresh look at newly-released music! Unlike some of the recurring feature’s other previous installments, this week, I didn’t have much of a challenge to identify four picks I sufficiently like to highlight in a post. Next week, it could be entirely different, so I should enjoy it while it lasts! All tunes are on albums that appeared yesterday (January 14).

Elvis Costello & The Imposters/Magnificent Hurt

I’d like to start with a longtime artist who I trust doesn’t need much of an introduction: Elvis Costello, who started his recording career in 1977 and has been on a roll over the past few year. After Hey Clockface from October 2020 and a Spanish re-interpretation of his 1978 sophomore album This Year’s Model released in September of last year, he’s out with a new studio album, The Boy Named If. Based on sampling some of the tunes, I’m quite excited about it. As reported by Ultimate Classic Rock, Costello is backed by The Imposters, “essentially the classic Attractions lineup minus bassist Bruce Thomas, replaced by Davey Faragher.” UCR characterizes The Boy Named If as sounding similar to Look Now, his 30th studio album from October 2018. I’ve listened to some of Costello’s early music, especially his 1977 debut My Aim Is True, which I dig. Clearly, I have much more to explore. Meanwhile, here’s the Magnificent Hurt. I love that cool retro sound – check out that seductive keyboard!

The Lumineers/Reprise

The Lumineers first entered my radar screen in July 2017 when I saw them open for U2 in New Jersey. Prior to that, I had only heard their 2012 hit Ho Hey. This prompted me to review their sophomore album Cleopatra released in April 2016. At the core, The Lumineers are songwriters Wesley Schultz (vocals, guitar) and Jeremiah Fraites (drums, piano), though there have been additional members over the years. At the time they started collaborating in the early 2000s, they performed under various different names, including Free Beer, 6Cheek and Wesley Jeremiah. In 2005, they became The Lumineers. When I saw them in 2017, they were a trio that also included cellist and vocalist Neyla Pekarek who left the following year. Reprise, co-written by Schultz and Fraites, is a track off their fourth and latest studio album Brightside. They also played most of the instruments.

Cat Power/Pa Pa Power

Cat Power (born Charlyn Marie Marshall) is a singer-songwriter born in Atlanta, Ga. According to her Apple Music profile, Growing up in the South, Charlyn “Chan” Marshall was influenced by church hymns, country music, the blues played by her musician father, and her stepfather’s rock ’n’ roll records. After seeing a man wearing a trucker cap emblazoned with the words “Cat Diesel Power,” she named her first band Cat Power, before adopting the moniker for herself. Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and Two Dollar Guitar’s Tim Foljahn were so impressed by her live performances that they became her bandmates during the mid-’90s. Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl contributed to 2003’s You Are Free, the first Cat Power album to make the Billboard 200 chart…After helping Marshall through a time of self-doubt, Lana Del Rey collaborated with her on the feminist anthem “Woman,” which became one of Cat Power’s biggest hits. The single appeared in August 2018. To date, Marshall has released 11 studio albums, including her latest, a collection of covers appropriately titled Covers. Here’s Pa Pa Power, co-written by Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields who make up the rock duo Dead Man’s Bones (gotta love that name!) and included the tune on their 2009 eponymous debut album. I’m intrigued by Cat Power’s sound!

Punch Brothers/Church Street Blues

Let’s wrap things up with Punch Brothers, a folk band that has been around since 2006. Wikipedia notes their music has been described as “bluegrass instrumentation and spontaneity in the structures of modern classical” and “American country-classical chamber music” – couldn’t have said it any better! 🙂 Their current members include Chris Thile (mandolin, vocals, mandola, bouzouki), Gabe Witcher (fiddle, vocals, drums), Noam Pikelny (banjo, vocals, steel guitar), Chris Eldridge (guitar, vocals) and Paul Kowert (double bass, vocals). Since their debut album Punch, which remarkably gave the Punch Brothers a chart-topper right from the get-go on Billboard’s Bluegrass Albums, five additional full-length records by the group have come out. Their latest is titled Hell on Church Street. Here’s the opener Church Street Blues, written by guitarist and singer-songwriter Norman Blake. He first recorded the song for his 1976 studio album Whiskey Before Breakfast. Punch Brothers do a beautiful job with their rendition. I really dig the warmth that comes across in their music, which makes me want to hear more, even though I don’t listen much to bluegrass. But beautiful music remains beautiful, no matter the genre!

Last but not least, here’s a Spotify playlist featuring the above tunes. Hope there’s something for you there!

Sources: Wikipedia; Ultimate Classic Rock; Apple Music; YouTube; Spotify

12 thoughts on “Best of What’s New”

  1. I like all of these!
    Elvis sounds amazing as always…I do like the sound he has on this.
    The Lumineers… awesome…I can hear a Beatle influence in that.
    Cat Power….good pop/rock song…and I like her voice a lot!
    Punch Brothers… I like the down-to-earth sound they have….plus Church Street Blues…cool name for a song!
    Great picks this week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’m most excited about Elvis Costello. In the meantime, I’ve listened to most of the album (the rest is great as well!) and also sampled some of his previous catalog, which I’m not well familiar with.

      Do you happen to know “This Year’s Model,” Costello’s first record with the Attractions? His new album sounds similar.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good set. We’ve talked about EC over at my crib. Liked everything else too. Easygoing set. Interestingly, while bluegrass isn’t my bag either, I think I dug that one the most. (“I dig it the most, man” they would say in some 50s teen movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jim. It’s funny. While I think that since I’ve been doing these new music revues I have become a bit more open-minded, the reality is I also don’t frequently listen to bluegrass. Apart from the Elvis Costello tune, that Punch Brothers’ song also turns out to be my favorite. Their music has such a warm sound – just beautiful!

      Like

      1. Yeah, mood is everything. So is setting. Years ago I had to go down to Dallas on a regular basis for business. I used to go to a rib joint called Dickey’s. They always played country music and in that particular environment it sounded great.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like them all too. While not a huge fan of The Lumineers, I do like many of their songs, especially “Cleopatra”, which is probably my favorite of theirs. I like the song “Reprise” you shared, but don’t much care for the title track “Brightside” though. It’s now spent 4 weeks and counting at #1 on the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart, but the song just doesn’t seem to go anywhere, at least to me. I really like Cat Power’s song, and can’t believe I’m not familiar with her music, given the musicians she’s worked with.

    Liked by 1 person

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