Welcome to another Saturday and my latest revue of newly released music. All picks this week are from albums that appeared yesterday (January 27).
White Reaper/Fog Machine
Kicking off this post are American garage rock band White Reaper. According to their profile on Apple Music, they are making retro style bubblegum punk mixed with some arena rock. Formed by childhood friends in Louisville, Kentucky, the group named themselves after a spooky decoration they came across in a Halloween story. They released a critically acclaimed EP in 2014, followed by their 2015 debut album, White Reaper Does It Again. Pitchfork named their sophomore LP, The World’s Best American Band, one of the 20 Best Rock Albums of 2017. White Reaper’s lineup includes Tony Esposito (guitar, vocals), Hunter Thompson (guitar), Ryan Hater (keyboards), Sam Wilkerson (bass) and Nick Wilkerson (drums, percussion). Fog Machine, credited to the entire band, is a tune from their fourth and latest studio album Asking for a Ride. It rocks and is pretty melodic!
H.C. McEntire/Turpentine (feat. Amy Ray)
H.C. McEntire is a singer-songwriter from Durham, N.C. From her AllMusic bio: Blessed with a perfect country voice and the uncompromising determination of a punk rocker, H.C. McEntire (also known as Heather McEntire) is best known as a member of the bands Mount Moriah and Bellafea, as well as for her work as a solo artist. With Mount Moriah, McEntire began exploring the atmospheric side of Southern roots music, and in her solo work, she dug deeper into this territory, mixing the artful side of indie rock with melodies and vocal lines that harken back to traditional country and folk. Her solo debut, 2018’s Lionheart, introduced her new variations on her style, and 2020’s Eno Axis upped the indie rock side of the formula. Now McEntire is out with her third album Every Acre, and I love what I’ve heard thus far. Here’s Turpentine, co-written by McEntire, Luke Norton, Daniel Faust and Casey Toll, the bassist of Mount Moriah, and featuring Amy Ray of contemporary folk duo Indigo Girls – a beautiful tune with a great roots rock sound!
The Arcs/Behind the Eyes
The Arcs are a garage rock band formed in 2015 by singer-songwriter and record producer Dan Auerbach as a side project to The Black Keys, his blues rock band together with drummer Patrick Carney. Apart from Auerbach (lead vocals, guitar), The Arcs currently also include Leon Michels (keyboards, guitar), Nick Movshon (bass) and Homer Steinweiss (drums, percussion). Richard Swift, another member who was featured on the group’s 2015 debut album Yours, Dreamily, passed away in July 2018 at the age of 41 due to complications from hepatitis, as well as liver and kidney distress. This brings me to Behind the Eyes from The Arcs’ sophomore album Electrophonic Chronic, a track credited to all members of the group and Russ Pahl who also provides steel guitar.
Vusi Mahlasela, Norman Zulu & Jive Connection/Prodigal Son
My last pick for this week is South African singer-songwriter Vusi Mahlasela, who according to a bio on his website is simply known as ‘The Voice’ in his home-country, South Africa, celebrated for his distinct, powerful voice and his poetic, optimistic lyrics. His songs of hope connect Apartheid-scarred South Africa with its promise for a better future. Raised in the Mamelodi Township, where he still resides, Vusi became a singer-songwriter and poet-activist at an early age teaching himself how to play guitar and later joining the Congress of South African Writers. After his popular debut on BMG Africa, “When You Come Back,” Vusi was asked to perform at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in 1994. Vusi has toured globally and shared the stage with Dave Matthews Band, Sting, Paul Simon, Josh Groban, Ray LaMontagne, Natalie Merchant, Taj Mahal, among many others. A news announcement describes his latest release, Face to Face, as a lost recording from the archives in January with a 2002 collaboration between…Vusi…, singer-songwriter Norman Zulu and Swedish jazz/soul collective Jive Connection. Check out the amazing opener Prodigal Son, which drew me in right away!
Here’s a Spotify playlist of the above tunes and some additional tracks from the four featured albums and artists.
Sources: Wikipedia; Apple Music; AllMusic; Vusi Mahlasela website; YouTube; Spotify