It’s Saturday, which means time to take a fresh look at new music releases. This week, I decided to highlight five new tunes. The first four are included on albums, while the final pick is a single. All tracks came out yesterday (May 12).
Alfie Firmin/Lost On Me
Starting us off today is Alfie Firmin, a British singer-songwriter based in Southend-on-Sea, a coastal town about 40 miles east of London. Firmin just released his latest album Absentee. From his Bandcamp page: Containing 10 new original songs, ‘Absentee’ is Alfie’s 4th full-length album since 2018 (three as a solo artist and a fantastic album he did as part of the band Vestiges in 2018) and follows on from and expands upon the laid-back folk-rock sound hinted at on Alfie’s 2020 release ‘Waiting On’ (Self Released). ‘Absentee’ is Alfie’s most accomplished album to date. From the McCartney-esque piano balladry of ‘Lost on Me’ to the horn-laden folk-rock of ‘Can’t Stop Thinking About You’ alongside the Laurel Canyon country-shuffle of ‘December Third’ it is an album that is well-versed in the traditions of classic singer-songwriter pop filtered through the lens of Alfie’s distinctive croon. In my book, Firmin’s music is nice power pop. Here’s the above-noted Lost On Me, which indeed has a Macca vibe. I also can hear a dose of Gilbert O’Sullivan in here – lovely tune!
Bailey Zimmerman is a country-oriented singer-songwriter who already scores two multi-Plantinum no. 1 singles in the U.S. on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart since he emerged 2.5 years ago. Zimmerman, who was born in Louisville, Ill. and worked in the meat-packing industry and for a union gas pipeline before launching his current career, first started posting original music to his TikTok account in December 2020. In January 2021, he released his debut single Never Comin’ Home, followed by Fall in Love the next month, which became one of the above-mentioned no. 1 singles on the Country Airplay chart. He’s now out with his first full-length album Religiously. The Album. Here’s the opener and title track, which appeared as one of several singles. The tune was co-written by Zimmerman, Alex Palmer, Austin Shawn, Frank Romano and Marty James. This young artist certainly if off to an impressive start!
Parker Millsap/Wilderness Within You (feat. Gillian Welch)
Parker Millsap is an American singer-songwriter from Purcell, OK I first included in a Best of What’s New installment two years ago. According to his AllMusic bio, Millsap brings a maverick intensity to his brand of Americana. Ranging from the spare acoustic tone of his early-2010s output to the more nuanced structure of 2018’s rock-driven Other Arrangements, the singer and songwriter continued to hone the layers of his sound heading into the next decade. His fifth album, 2021’s Be Here Instead, was recorded live in the studio with a full band, and he fused acoustic and electronic instruments for 2023’s Wilderness Within You. Here’s the title track of his sixth and latest album, co-written by Millsap and Ryan McFadden. It features Americana artist Gillian Welch on harmony vocals – beautiful!
Nighthawk are a fairly new rock band from Copenhagen, Denmark, blending classic arena rock and hard rock. From their Bandcamp page: Nighthawk started out as a solo project by Robert Majd (bass player in Metalite & Captain Black Beard). The idea was just to have some fun, play guitar and write some energetic rock’n’roll. The debut album featured a bunch of different singers. After that first album release in the summer of 2021 Robert got an itch to do more. This time the stakes would be higher. With the world famous Abbey Road Studios booked, a band and a collection of songs needed to match the caliber of the studio. Björn Strid (The Night Flight Orchestra, Soilwork & Donna Cannone) joined on lead vocals, Magnus Ulfstedt (Ginevra) on drums, John Lönnmyr (The Night Flight Orchestra) on keyboards and Christan Ek (Captain Black Beard) on bass. Nine original tunes together with two covers (of Kiss and Bruce Springsteen classics!) were recorded live in the studio in just two days. Here’s Highest Score, the opener of Nighthawk’s new album Prowler. Their melodic hard rock sounds pretty accessible.
John Mellencamp/The Eyes of Portland
The Eyes of Portland is the second lead single from John Mellencamp’s upcoming 25th studio album Orpheus Descending, scheduled for June 25. Fans who caught the heartland-turned-roots rocker on his current tour already heard the tune, since Mellencamp has included it in his setlist. This follows the first single Hey God, which came out on April 20 and which I covered here. Like that tune, The Eyes of Portland is an outspoken socially conscious song. It’s classic Mellencamp delivered in his distinct vocals roughened by decades of cigarette chain-smoking. I love the man and I’m really looking forward to the album!
So how about a Spotify playlist of the above and a few extra goodies? Ask and you shall receive!
Sources: Wikipedia; Alfi Firmin and Nighthawk Bandcamp pages; AllMusic; YouTube; Spotify