Welcome to another installment of my new music revue. Unless noted otherwise, the picks are from albums that appeared yesterday (March 24). As oftentimes is the case in this series, I’m completely new to all featured artists.
The Reds, Pinks and Purples/Life in the Void
The Reds, Pinks and Purples are an indie pop project launched in 2015 by San Francisco-based musician, singer-songwriter and producer Glenn Donaldson. According to an AllMusic bio, he is dedicated to the pristine melodies and unvarnished emotions of mid-period Sarah Records [a British independent record label that existed from 1987 to 1995 – CMM] and indie pop outsiders like East River Pipe. Working mostly alone, he released a string of singles and albums, like 2021’s exquisite Uncommon Weather, that showcase his laser-focused vision, intimate vocals, and unerring way with a hook. 2022’s Summer at Land’s End showed him expanding his musical reach to include the influence of the ethereal sounds of late-’80s 4AD bands like This Mortal Coil, while the next year’s The Town That Cursed Your Name [his fifth and latest album – CMM] drew from fuzzier, more earthbound college rock influences while the lyrics examined the turbulent lifestyle of trying to survive as a working musician. Before launching this project, Donaldson notably played in lo-fi psychedelic pop duo the Skygreen Leopards, the Television Personalities-loving Art Museums, and a host of other projects, like the heavy shoegaze duo Vacant Gardens and his lo-fi psych-folk project the Ivytree. Here’s Life in the Void, a melodic tune written by Donaldson, which instantly spoke to me!
Lankum are an Irish contemporary folk group from Dublin. Founded in 2000 by brothers Ian Lynch (vocals, uilleann pipes, concertina, tin whistle, percussion) and Daragh Lynch (vocals, guitar, percussion, piano), along with Cormac Mac Diarmada (vocals, fiddle, viola, banjo, double bass, vibraphone, piano, percussion) and Radie Peat (vocals, bayan, concertina, harmonium, organ, piano, electric organ, harp, mellotron), the band was initially known as Lynched. After changing their name in October 2016 to avoid associations with the practice of lynching, the group signed with Rough Trade Records in 2017 and released Between the Earth and Sky the same year, their first album as Lankum. That name comes from the folk ballad False Lankum by Irish traveler and folk singer John Reilly. False Lankum is also the title of the band’s new album, their third as Lankum. Here’s the beautiful Newcastle.
The New Death Cult/High + Low
Unlike their cheerful name may suggest, The New Death Cult aren’t some death metal outfit. Instead, the Norwegian group, according to their website, has been referred to as a brilliant mix between Queens of the Stone Age, Biffy Clyro and Muse, with their critically acclaimed self-titled debut album earning praise in The Guardian’s “50 New Artists for 2020” and single airplay on BBC1 Rock Show. The band has been touring with the likes of Wheel and Djerv while making several festival appearances, before heading to the studio to record their second album in Ocean Sound Recordings in May 2020. That new album, Super Natural, was released on March 17. High + Low is a nice melodic hard rock tune penned by vocalist and guitarist Jon Vegard Naess. Eirik Naess (lead guitar), Vegard Liverod (bass) and Anders Langset (drums) complete the band’s line-up. High + Low is a fantastic illustration that heavy-charging rock and great melodies can go in perfect harmony.
Sometimes good things take time. In the case of Los Angeles-based blues-rock & roll band Highway 61, it was 30 years between the group’s breakup in 1993 and the release of their debut album Driving South. From their bio, which was kindly provided by manager Gregg Bell of Wanted Management: Highway 61 began in the early ‘90s and tore it up on the Southern California club circuit alongside bands like B.B. Chung King & the Screaming Buddaheads, Marc Ford’s Burning Tree, and The Havalinas, yet they never managed to get that elusive major label record deal...After the band’s breakup, singer/guitarist Frank Meyer went on to form award-winning punk outfit The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs…Despite Highway 61 calling it quits in 1993, the guys stayed friends and occasionally collaborated, but it took an unfortunate event to reunite the band. In 2020, as the pandemic hit, guitar player [Andy] Medway was diagnosed with Leukemia. After a year of chemotherapy, Medway had a bone marrow transplant, which required more than a year of recovery and isolation that was followed by a series of complications and setbacks... Inspired by the challenge, Medway started firing off ideas. Soon he and Meyer had written several songs, including the Driving South track “Black Magic,” which led to the reunion with [drummer and percussionist Mike] Knutson and [bassist and vocalist Russell] Loeffler. In summer 2022, the foursome reconvened for the first time in decades at Kitten Robot Studios in Los Angeles with producer Paul Roessler (The Screamers, 45 Grave, Nina Hagen) to make Driving South, which mixes doses of The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty with dashes of The Black Crowes and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Here’s the great-sounding lead single Stranger, which appeared on March 14. The album’s official release date is April 7, but it’s already available on streaming platforms as of yesterday.
Last but not least, following is a Spotify playlist of the above and some additional tunes by the featured artists.
Sources: Wikipedia; AllMusic; The New Death Cult website; YouTube; Spotify