Best of What’s New

A selection of newly released music that caught my attention

Happy Saturday and welcome to another Best of What’s New installment. My latest look at new music releases is coming together at the last minute, so without further ado, let’s get to it. All picks except for the last tune appear on albums that were released yesterday (May 6).

Halestorm/Brightside

I’m kicking things off with high-energy hard rock by Halestorm. Here’s a bit of background from their Apple Music profile: Emerging in the late 2000s, Halestorm immediately distinguished themselves in hard-rock circles thanks to powerhouse vocalist/guitarist Lzzy Hale. The Pennsylvania native showed off both a silver-plated yowl and a dynamic lower range on the band’s 2009 breakthrough hit, “I Get Off,” while later singles unleashed a belting siren call (“I Miss the Misery”) and snarling metal ferocity (the Grammy-winning “Love Bites (So Do I)”). Halestorm’s roots date back to the late ’90s, when Hale and her younger brother Arejay, a drummer, started making music together. Following the release of several EPs as a duo, the group expanded into a quartet and made their major-label debut in 2006 with the One and Done live EP. A 2009 self-titled album established Halestorm as a band eager to slip between hard rock, post-grunge, and metal. In addition to Lzzy Hale (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, piano) and Arejay Hale (drums, backing vocals), Halestorm’s current line-up also features Joe Hottinger (lead guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals) and Josh Smith (bass, keyboards, piano, backing vocals). Here’s Brightside, a track co-written by Lzzy Hale and Scott Stevens, off the band’s fifth and latest album Back From the Dead. I like it but can’t listen to this level of intensity for too long!

Belle and Sebastian/Prophets On Hold

For this next pick by Scottish indie-pop group Belle and Sebastian, we’re taking it down a few notches. The band started out as a project in Glasgow in 1994 by Stuart Murdoch (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Stuart David (bass). They had both enrolled in a program for unemployed musicians at Stow College where together with their music professor they recorded some demos. This resulted in the release of their first full-length album Tigermilk on the college’s label Electric Honey. The album’s positive reception led Murdoch and David to recruit additional musicians and turn Belle and Sebastian into a full-time band. In August 1996, they signed with Jeepster Records and released their sophomore album If You’re Feeling Sinister in November of the same year. Today, the group consists of Murdoch, Stevie Jackson (guitar, vocals, piano), Sarah Martin (vocals, violin, guitar, flute, keyboards, recorder, percussion), Chris Geddes (keyboards, piano, percussion), Bobby Kildea (guitar, bass), Dave McGowan (bass, keyboards, guitar) and Richard Colburn (drums, percussion). Here’s Prophets On Hold from Belle and Sebastian’s new album A Bit of Previous. The catchy tune is credited to all members of the band.

Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever/The Way It Shatters

Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever are an Australian indie rock band founded in Melbourne in 2013. According to the Apple Music profile, Playing bright, energetic indie rock with lively guitar lines, sharp hooks, and dry wit, the Australian group Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever turn the clock back to the glory days of 1980s jangle pop while giving it a tough, no-nonsense three-guitar update in the process. After two EPs, the band’s first two albums — 2018’s Hope Downs and 2020’s Sideways to New Italy — showed they were in firm control of their songcraft and sound. The band maintains their original line-up to this day: Fran Keaney (vocals, acoustic guitar), Tom Russo (vocals, guitar), Joe White (vocals, lead guitar, keyboards, harmonica), Joe Russo (bass) and Marcel Tussie (drums, percussion). The Way It Shatters, co-written by Keaney, White, Tussie and Tom Russo, appears on the band’s latest album Endless Rooms, their third full-length release. I love their sound!

Simple Plan/Wake Me Up (When This Nightmare’s Over)

Simple Plan are a Canadian pop-rock band formed in Montreal in 1999. Their members include Pierre Bouvier (lead vocals, guitar, percussion, bass), Jeff Stinco (lead guitar), Sébastien Lefebvre (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and Chuck Comeau (drums, percussion), who have been with the group since its inception. Their debut album No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls appeared in March 2002. While the pop-punk record received mixed reviews, it enjoyed significant chart success in Canada and various other countries and reached double-platinum certification in Canada and the U.S. Simple Plan have since issued five additional albums including their latest Harder Than It Looks. Here’s the opener Wake Me Up (When This Nightmare’s Over), co-written by Comeau, Bouvier and Nate Campany. Quite catchy!

Sheryl Crow/Live With Me

I just couldn’t resist and throw in two bonus tracks by two of my long-time favorite artists who need no introductions. Technically, these aren’t new songs, but both appear on newly released albums. First up is a great cover of Rolling Stones tune Live With Me from the soundtrack of Sheryl, a documentary directed by Amy Scott about Sheryl Crow, which debuted yesterday evening on Showtime. From a previous statement on Crow’s website: An intimate story of song and sacrifice, “Sheryl” navigates an iconic yet arduous musical career while the artist battles sexism, ageism, depression, cancer, and the price of fame, before harnessing the power of her gift. A career spanning album package including her classic hits and several new tracks will accompany the film, released via Big Machine Label Group, in cooperation with Universal Music Group. Co-written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Live With Me first appeared on the Stones album Let It Bleed from November 1969. Crow’s rendition features Jagger on harmonica.

Neil Young & The Restless/Heavy Love

Wrapping up this new music revue is Heavy Love, a great rocker by Neil Young & The Restless. It appears on the EP Eldorado, which originally was released in April 1989 in Japan and Australia only. As of April 29 this year, it’s available worldwide. Heavy Love and Cocaine Eyes, which I featured in a previous Best of What’s New installment, are not available on any other recording, while the three remaining tracks Don’t Cry, On Broadway and Eldorado subsequently appeared on Young’s 17th studio album Freedom from October 1989, though in different mixes. The EP is also included in Young’s latest archives vinyl box set titled Neil Young Official Release Series Discs 13, 14, 20 & 21. Like Cocaine Eyes, Heavy Love would have been a great addition to Freedom.

Here’s a Spotify playlist with the above tunes except for Neil Young, as well as a few additional tracks. Young earlier this year asked that his music be pulled from there in protest to Spotify providing a platform to prominent podcaster Joe Rogan who has been criticized for promoting misinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines.

Sources: Wikipedia; Apple Music; Sheryl Crow website; YouTube; Spotify

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9 thoughts on “Best of What’s New”

  1. Belle and Sebastian…that is a pleasant-sounding song…very good.

    The Sheryl Crow song sounds like she did in her prime.
    Neil Young is always welcomed…I wonder how much music he has stored?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Agree with you on all fronts. I had never heard of Belle and Sebastian, though the same remains true for most new music I feature.

      I’d be curious to check out the Cheryl Crow documentary. She’s a great lady!

      And with Neil I feel you just never know. Who knows, maybe there’s an another previously unreleased album. It’s mind-boggling how much music he has written. Granted the outcomes have varied. But I like the fact he isn’t overthinking his music, and usually his instincts are pretty good!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think the difference maker with Neil is he is not complicated…he is much like Bob Dylan. He goes through the songs with a good band and records…there are never a lot if any overdubs…someone like the Eagles would be appalled at that lol…. but he just kept everything.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to have a physical copy of Eldorado and still have it in my ITunes.

    I like a lot of Belle and Sebastian’s older stuff and like Rolling Coastal whatever first album. I guess I’d probably enjoy the new stuff from both.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sadly, I’m not very familiar with the music of Belle and Sebastian, but like what I’ve heard. “Prophets on Hold” is really nice. I wasn’t familiar with Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever, but I like the track you shared. And a nice, timely song by Simple Plan.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You had me at ‘Sheryl’, lol. I must try to check out that documentary. Belle & Sebastian…they have been a name in my orbit for 15 or more years, but their music seems to somehow largely go by me unnoticed. Someday maybe I’ll sit for a few hours & binge-listen to them.

    Like

  5. Another good set although Simple Plan had that contemporary indie (?) feel I don’t much care for. I like that heavy metal one that kicked off the set. When I’m in the mood I’m in the mood. I saw Sheryl Crow open up for the Stones back in the late 90s on the Voodoo Lounge tour although I couldn’t tell you what song, if anything, she did with them.. That is their popular “duet with a female singer” tune. I think maybe you and I discussed Christina Aguilera’s blazing duet with Mick on that. They always have good opening acts although that said I could have lived without Black Eyed Peas.

    I have a friendly suggestion. Maybe don’t list every single member of every single band. It’s your page and you can do what you want of course. But I find myself saying “who cares?” and glossing over it. I do it sometimes myself but sparingly. It’d be more interesting if there was, say, a famous guest star or if somebody was in of these bands that used to be in some other band.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jim. I guess I can get a bit nerdy about listing names and roles of band members. 🙂

      I kind of like to acknowledge musicians, even when they’re not famous, but I hear you. In many cases it can come across as just throwing some names.

      Like

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