STONETRIP – RUN FREE (2023)
“Groove laden modern rock” their website promises and the debut album “Run Free” delivers. When I reviewed their EP a couple of years ago I said it was “…..what happens when five gifted blokes of a certain vintage lets say, get together and stop playing what’s hip and instead focus on the stuff they love. It’s genuinely magnificent.” And so is this. “Dark Night” and “Sideways” – the standout song on both the EP and this – are perfect examples of how good a band this is. The Australians give you arena rock sounds and muscular Stone Temple Pilots type riffing.
This full length is worth investigating.
VARIOUS – STONED COLD COUNTRY (2023)
“A love letter to The Rolling Stones from Nashville,” the star-studded line-up – Jimmie Allen, Brooks & Dunn, Brothers Osborne, Eric Church, Steve Earle, Elle King, Marcus King, Little Big Town, Ashley McBryde, Maren Morris, Elvie Shane, Koe Wetzel, The War And Treaty, Lainey Wilson & Zac Brown Band are as big as it gets – celebrates the Stones 60th in brilliant fashion. Credit to one of the lesser lights, if you will, Maren Morris, for her stunning version of “Dead Flowers” – and if ever there was a Stones song ready for a country cover its this one. Also to the Brothers Osborne for their raucous, soul filled take on “Only Rock N Roll (But I Like It)” – the duet with The War And Treaty is perfect. Earle is as his most road weary on “Angie” and no-one does bombast as well Church and “Gimme Shelter” proves it.
A brilliant homage to the one of the best. And no prizes for guessing where I am on the whole Stones v The Beatles thing.
STEVE DAWSON – EYES CLOSED, DREAMING (2023)
Canadian born, but Nashville based, Steve Dawson’s work has always been the best of both these worlds. His latest one “Eyes Closed, Dreaming” Recorded under lockdown conditions with artists contributing their parts from various corners of Nashville, Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver. Given that, it sounds remarkably cohesive – and there’s some wonderful moments here. “Long Time To Get Hold”, its jaunty opener has some wonderful vocals from Allison Russell, the dry as dust Americana “Hemmingway” (written with Matt Patershuk) is a fine example of his ability to craft a story, while the darker “The Owl” sees his daughter Casey Dawson add some beautiful harmony. Some of the best musicians roots music has to offer are on this, and on work like “Guess Things Happen That Way” their skill shines incredibly.
Any Steve Dawson release is one to cherish and this one is no different.
THE CURSE OF K. K HAMMOND – DEATH ROLL BLUES (2023)
We were proud to premiere the title track of this collection the other week, and it’s a fine signpost for what the album has to offer. Dark, swampy blues, brilliantly played and expertly sung, in a rather sweeter voice than you might imagine. It’s not even the best thing here – as that honour belongs to “What’s The Weatherman Done?” and lord help the chap involved. When she sings: “when he wants to bring the rain, well hell, he can” anyone in the way had best run. “Mr Apology” – a tribute to conceptual artist Allan Bridge is another highlight and the closing epic “Memento Mori” is likewise.
K. K Hammond won the patronage of Metallica when her cover of the band went viral, here she proves heavy comes in all sorts of ways.
CROSS COUNTRY DRIVER – THE NEW TRUTH (2023)
Two and a half years in the making – presumably so they could fetch all the special guests in – “The New Truth” is a brilliant hard rock album with a twist. Opener “Wild Child” is typical in that it takes the form and adds a widescreen flourish. dUg Pinnick is on a couple of them, with the Kings X man contributing superbly on “A Man With No Direction” which adds an almost Dan Reed Network flourish.The main, urnmm, drivers, of this – Rob Lamothe (Riverdogs), James Harper (Fighting Friday), and Zander Lamothe (Logan Staats Band) – have clearly got a tremendous skill in their own right, and they have chosen their guests brilliantly, Rhondda Smith is on a few of them but never better than on the epic sounding “Everything Forgiven”. The highlight, however is the light, airy, slow builder “Risen”, a slice of almost Americana that proves the versatility of Viv Campbell.
It’s a case of the guests might hook you in, but stay for the album, as it’s greater than the sum of its parts and incredibly cohesive.
THE NEW DEATH CULT – SUPER NATURAL (2023)
One of those records that proves you should never judge a band by their promo pictures, gone are the masks of the debut and Norway’s New Death Cult prove they are superb alt rockers. “Different/One Blood” kicks off with a bristling energy, and it never leaves. Comparisons with Biffy and QOTSA are fair enough up to a point, but also not fully telling the story. Work like “Get Ready (Eukaryote’s Anthem)” and the superb “Devious Moves”, a glam stomper if ever there was one, showcase a band that is more than ready to find it’s own voice.
A massive step forward, and album number three could be exceptional.
DEADWOLFF – HEAVY ROCK N ROLL (2023)
Calling your album “Heavy Rock N Roll” makes it too easy, but listen to the title track of this album by this Canadian trio and tell me what else you can say about it. They’ve burst out of Toronto like its 1982 and my goodness they are fun. “Homeward Bound” – a single they released from the album – might as well come with its own hi-tops, and the titles of the songs give it away. “Pedal To The Metal”, “Wanted Man – which comes complete with thumping drums from Angus Pike – and “Locked And Loaded” tell you all you need to know. The sound of a band playing what they love, yes you’ve heard it before, but so have they.
About as subtle as Anvil, but its fun all the same.