With so much new music to consume, I wanted to share some of my favorite new (and few old) rock, pop, and soul picks for Summer 2012. It's time for BBQs and beach blanket bingo parties. Time to get your swag on, peoples.
"Radiator Sister" - The Mynabirds GENERALS (Saddle Creek) - Infectious, bubble-gum snappin' tunes abound on this sophomore long player from singer-songwriter Laura Burhenn. All aptly produced by Richard Swift, but for my limited ducats this iPod-friendly ditty is the bees-ness. Equal parts Bow Wow Wow and T.Rex, with its two-note piano hook.
"Among the Leaves" Sun Kil Moon Among the Leaves (Caldo Verde) - Mark Kozelek remains steadfast in his musical offerings; familiar turf, but still so damn compelling. Alt tunings, heartfelt ballads, and lyrical dexterity all remain firmly in place.The gentle tug of his band behind him keep him from flying too close to the sun. This title track shuffle has a somber, yet uplifting melody thanks in part to Michi Acaret's viola.
"One Way Out" Balsam Range Papertown (Mountain Home) - I'm not sure why bluegrass is so intimidating. You either drink from the cup of precision musicianship and joy or you don't; best to see it live to get it. (Remember Jerry Garcia's Old & In The Way?) This Ashville-based quintet brings it live and on records, too, where pure vocal splendor and wicked chops abound. Trust me, they are one of the best bluegrass bands on the planet. Their Allman Brothers cover is a flat-pickin', fiddle fabo', banjo burnin', dobro droppin', mando magnificent track from their fourth effort and destined-to-be radio staple classic.
"Hey, Bulldog" The Beatles Yellow Submarine DVD/Blu-ray (Capitol) - You need to buy this new DVD release. Each frame of this classic 1968 animation spectacle has been meticulously restored in 4K in the original aspect ratio 1:66 - 1 by hand, frame by frame, and features a 5.1 and stereo soundtrack. This balls-out, "barking" Lennon rocker, one of four (then) previously unreleased songs, made it's debut in this feature and subsequent soundtrack.
"Need Shelter" Neal Casal Sweeten The Distance (Royal Potato Family) - Neal's one busy dude, not only as lead guitarist for Chris Robinson's Brotherhood (currently on tour) and Ryan Adams, but also featured on new releases from Beachwood Sparks and Vetiver. He remains one of my favorite songwriters and delivers on his latest. This track -- which was captured as an acoustic solo take for DW One-Takes below -- expands on his pure vocal magic and finger-picking chops with a shimmering electric slide guitar, drums, and bass.
"Detainee" Giant Giant Sand Tucson (Fire Records) - Howe Gelb has been releasing critically-lauded roots-rock from his Tucson-based desert patch for years. His latest effort, according to him, is his "country rock opera". Click on link for a free download of this prairie-swept burner.
"Hypnotized" Fleetwood Mac Mystery To Me (Reprise) - Mystery to me why the recently departed vocalist and lead guitarist Bob Welch of Fleetwood Mac from 1971 to '75 was not afforded his deserving induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by his bandmates. It was his songwriting and guitar chops that offered some of their most beloved early FM radio fodder over five classic folk-rock LPs. This track from 1973 always reminded me of summer. RIP, Brother Welch. You will not be forgotten, even though no one can currently buy this terrific track.
"Uptight" Tedeschi Trucks Band Everybody's Talkin' - (Sony Masterworks) - This husband-wife led Grammy-winning 11-piece ensemble are definitely road tested as this live 2CD set shows. Much more than just a Delaney & Bonnie & Friends knockoff, Derek, Susan, and company swing easily from R&B to jazz to blues to rock, sometimes all within the same tune. Case in point is this 16-minute cover of Stevie Wonder's glorious "Uptight" featuring jazzbo Maurice Brown's searing trumpet solo and J.J. Johnson's and Tyler Greenwall's drum solos!
"Rosalee" Chris Robinson's Brotherhood Big Moon Ritual (Red General) - The funky, retro clavinet vibe of "Rosalee" offers a wonderful diversion from the jam band tendrils on the LP's seven long tunes, all of them seven-plus minutes. Neal Casal's lead guitar work may recall a certain member of the Dead, and that's not a bad thing. While none of the songs have the majestic lift of "Dark Star" or "Terrapin Station," Chris Robinson's soulful vocals keep one's ears engaged. Perfect for road trips, regardless of the season.
"Going Down" Freddie King Eastbound & Down Soundtrack (Fat Possum) - Most rock fans know and love the Jeff Beck cover, but this is the definitive version of this blues classic. Also happens to be the theme song for the Eastbound HBO series; one of my favorite TV shows. This two-CD set features vintage nuggets from The Stooges ("Down on the Street"), The Animals ("Sky Pilot"), The Slits ("I Heard It Though The Grapevine"), Strangeloves ("Night-Time"), et al., and plenty of blue but hilarious monolog snippets from star Danny McBride.
"Sixteen Saltines" Jack White Blunderbuss (Third Man) - Sadly, I was not blown away by Mr. White's first solo CD, though I really wanted to love, love, love it. There is some magic to be found, especially this Frank Black/Pixies-style rocker; got swag and his big ol' guitar sound, too. Catch him live where he really throttles in 4th gear.
Enjoy your summer. Long may you run.
This article first appeared at CultureCatch.com.