Songs of the Week: 2/14/2020

In 2019, I was listening to every new release that came up on the Tidal streaming service. I would listen to the first two tracks at a minimum. If those didn’t strike some kind of chord, I moved on to the next one. If they did, I listened to the full album and then reviewed it here.

For 2020, I’m going to change it up a bit so that I can introduce the masses to more great new music that I can’t always put to words in album form. I’m still going to listen to all those records but instead of writing up full albums, I’m simply going to post links to “songs of the week.” This way, I can point out many more great songs and you can then go and hunt more tunes down yourself if you so choose.

So… songs of the week for the release date of 2/14/2020.

  • Artist: Justin Beiber
  • Song: “Forever”
  • Album: Changes
  • Genre: R&B / Pop
  • Notes: Listen, I’m no Justin Bieber fan and he just seems to be making the same type of song over and over now on his own or as a featured artist. Mid-tempo bangers where the focus is his melodic chorus. He’s certainly changed his sound over the course of his career but he’s found his niche now and this album is chocked full of the type of song you’ve heard him on everywhere for ages. Until I looked it up, I didn’t realize that he hadn’t put out an album in 5 years because he’s on every track, everywhere these days. “Forever” will be a major hit on radio as soon as its released as a single. It features the other artist that has found his niche with the same mid-tempo pop / R&B songs – Post Malone.

  • Artist: Huey Lewis and the News
  • Song: “Remind Me Why I Love You Again”
  • Album: Weather
  • Genre: Blues Rock
  • Notes: Holy moly! As an 80s collector and fan, I have always loved Huey Lewis and the News, from their pop and rock songs to their blues albums and in between. But with Huey going deaf in the past couple years, I wasn’t expecting any new music from the band again. But ten years after their last record, here’s Huey Lewis and the News back with a rockin’ blues album called Weather featuring songs written and recorded before his hearing issues. Unfortunately, it’s only 7 songs and 26 minutes long but it’s fantastic – in fact, maybe the best album of the year so far. While it won’t remind you of “Hip to be Square” or “I Want a New Drug,” if you’re a fan, you’ll get the vintage vibe of many of the non-singles on quite a few tracks, including this fantastic track. You get six tracks of great blues rock and a country number to finish the disc. Now here’s hoping that Huey and all his doctors can get his hearing back enough to tour again.

  • Artist: Beach Bunny
  • Song: “Cuffing Season”
  • Album: Honeymoon
  • Genre: Indie Rock
  • Notes: Beach Bunny has released four good to excellent EPs in the last four years but has finally put together enough songs to release their first full length record and it’s well worth the wait. Beach Bunny reminds me a lot of the female fronted indie rock bands from the early to mid-90s that were all over college radio or essentially the movement that I feel was kind of led by Juliana Hatfield.

  • Artist: Carly Pearce
  • Song: “Call Me”
  • Album: Carly Pearce
  • Genre: Country
  • Notes: This is very typical modern country pop music from a very typical modern country pop artist. With this type of music, I’ve learned to just accept it for what it is. Looking for innovation is futile but if you’re looking to be entertained and you like country crossover, then the music Carly Pearce is making fits squarely in that box.

  • Artist: Black Swan
  • Song: “Big Disaster”
  • Album: Shake the World
  • Genre: Senior Circuit Hard Rock
  • Notes: Unless it sucks completely, I’m always going to recommend some big dumb traditional hard rock up to you and especially when the group and album is on Frontiers records – which is almost single handedly keeping aging hard rockers in business. Black Swan is another supergroup mash-up, consisting of Vocalist Robin McAuley (McAuley Schenker Group), guitarist Reb Beach (Winger, Whitesnake), bassist Jeff Pilson (Foreigner, The End Machine, ex-Dokken), and drummer Matt Starr (Ace Frehley, Mr. Big). And of course, if you know any of those bands at all, this album sounds exactly like what you’d expect from them. Just like the recommendation above, nothing new in the genre at all but as with 99% of these bands that mix various levels of stars from various levels of three decade old rock bands, albums are usually entertaining if it’s a genre you still enjoy. And I do.
  • Artist: Jack River
  • Song: “Later Flight”
  • Album: Stranger Heart EP
  • Genre: Pop / Indie Rock
  • Notes: Just so you don’t think I posted the wrong thing – Jack River is actually a woman. And while I’m not a big fan of this indie rock / pop EP as a whole, “Later Flight” is a wonderful pop track that’s immediately catchy.

  • Artist: Anvil
  • Song: “Nabbed in Nebraska”
  • Album: Legal at Last
  • Genre: Heavy Metal
  • Notes: You have to give it to Anvil for keeping up the good fight and creating silly but good heavy metal music, 40 years in and nearly 20 albums later.

  • Artist: Ihsahn
  • Song: “Rock and Roll Is Dead”
  • Album: Telemark
  • Genre: Black Metal / Rock
  • Notes: Well, this is interesting as hell. Ihsahn is a pretty unique black metal artist that doesn’t really give a shit what you think about what genre’s of music he plays. This EP begins with three killer Black Metal tracks and then he tosses a few covers in. This one is, yes, a cover of the Lenny Kravitz song and way more straight forward than I would have expected it to be. But like I said, you never really know what to expect from this dude.
  • Artist: Jeremiah Johnson
  • Song: “Tornado”
  • Album: Heavens to Betsy
  • Genre: Blues / Southern Rock
  • Notes: Jeremiah Johnson is a St. Louis bluesman, guitarist and vocalist and expertly blends Blues with Southern Rock for a pretty rockin’ sound.

Songs of the Week: 2/7/2020

In 2019, I was listening to every new release that came up on the Tidal streaming service. I would listen to the first two tracks at a minimum. If those didn’t strike some kind of chord, I moved on to the next one. If they did, I listened to the full album and then reviewed it here.

For 2020, I’m going to change it up a bit so that I can introduce the masses to more great new music that I can’t always put to words in album form. I’m still going to listen to all those records but instead of writing up full albums, I’m simply going to post links to “songs of the week.” This way, I can point out many more great songs and you can then go and hunt more tunes down yourself if you so choose.

So… songs of the week for the release date of 2/7/2020.

  • Artist: Green Day
  • Song: “Meet Me on the Roof”
  • Album: Father of All Motherfuckers
  • Genre: Pop Punk
  • Notes: I’m usually able to make determinations on a album after one listen – I listen to so many records, I kind of have to. But Father of All Motherfuckers is going to take a few listens and at only 26 minutes, that could happen before I shower and get my coffee. However, my impression at first listen is that it’s kind of a lazy album. There’s lots of influence from pop, punk, garage and glam rock especially, from the 60s through the 80s and overall, it’s not like any of the songs suck. But it’s very “been there, done that,” even though the glam-ish sound of a few of the songs might actually have not been done by Green Day themselves. Again, at 26 minutes, the album certainly gets in, hits you over the head and gets out but it seems devoid of new ideas. I reserve the right to change my mind down the road but for now, that’s it. If this was any other band, I might not have even shared a track here but shit, it’s Green Day.
  • Artist: Stone Temple Pilots
  • Song: “Years”
  • Album: Perdida
  • Genre: Folk Rock
  • Notes: Perdida is the first ever acoustic record from STP. They surely could have went the route of re-recording hits in acoustic form for a money grab but I can appreciate how they wrote an album of new tunes for this one. The album is pretty great overall, as the DeLeo brothers have always had a few ballads up their sleeves for albums and the sound you initially get here is similar to those you’ve heard on the last few records. It’s a mellow record for sure – not like you get some “Vaseline” type song just done acoustically. It’s slow and frankly, very adult oriented. “I Didn’t Know the Time” and “She’s My Queen” have lots of flute in them, the title track sounds lifted off of some soft rock radio station and “Years” has hints of Steely Dan in it with a jazzy saxophone present. As the record moves on, the underlying STP sound kind of fades away a bit and songs sound a bit farther out of their comfort zone. Full disclosure that STP is one of my favorite groups of all time but as always, I judge each release on its own merit and what Perdida has going for it, is that it’s fresh, it’s unique and it shows so much of the creativity that made the band what they are today. Sure, at times it feels like it’s reaching out to Grandma’s everywhere for approval but Stone Temple Pilots went for it on this one and didn’t hold anything back and with that, created a pretty damn fine record.
  • Artist: Hayley Williams
  • Song: “Sudden Desire”
  • Album: Petals for Armor I
  • Genre: Pop / Rock
  • Notes: I’ve never truly listened to Paramore outside of their hits, so when it was announced that their singer, Hayley Williams would be releasing a solo LP in May, it really wasn’t on my radar. It is now. This 5-song lead in to that record is remarkable, even though I can’t explain the genre at all. It’s a little pop, a little rock, very unique and almost experimental a bit but waaaayyy more off-kilter than you would expect. The five songs here all sound different from each other and while that could lead to an off-putting listening experience, it keeps you on your toes here.

  • Artist: La Roux
  • Song: “21st Century”
  • Album: Supervision
  • Genre: Snyth-pop
  • Notes: Elly Jackson has been working as La Roux since 2006 and this is only her third studio record in that time. She’s guested on songs here and there and her snyth-pop dance sound is right in my wheelhouse, so I was looking forward to this album – and it’s good. As a whole, there’s something missing – I feel it’s a bit subdued when it could have been a raucous good time but it’s still very catchy and enjoyable. But I do hear parts of George Michael’s Faith album all over the place on this disc. If there were 10 “21st Century” tracks on this album, it would be my favorite in a long time.
  • Artist: Sepultura
  • Song: “Capital Enslavement”
  • Album: Quadra
  • Genre: Groove Metal
  • Notes: If you follow metal, every time a new Sepultura record comes out, there’s always controversy because neither of the Cavalera brothers are in the band any longer. Early on, it seems like everyone was pissed that Derrick Green took Max’s place in the band and there are still some fans that think that but over time Derrick has won most people over. Except Max Cavalera’s wife who seems to insist on shit talking with each new release. Either way, if you love metal and haven’t accepted it yet, get on board finally and stop complaining. Quadra is the second stellar release in a row from these guys with “Capital Enslavement” being the one track that harkens back to the old tribal feel.
  • Artist: Denzel Curry, Kenny Beats
  • Song: “Diet ___”
  • Album: UNLOCKED
  • Genre: Hip Hop
  • Notes: Denzel Curry is one of those hip hop artists that really gives you hope that the genre isn’t dead. Always experimental and willing to try new things, he’s run through hip-hop, trap, alternative rap and other side genres in the rap game for years. And you never know what’s coming, which is the most intriguing thing for me. This is a bit of an alternative hip-hop sound, rife with samples and reminding me of a more streamlined Czarface, which is something I can always go for.
  • Artist: Lisa Loeb
  • Song: “Skeleton”
  • Album: A Simple Trick to Happiness
  • Genre: Pop
  • Notes: Picture it, Trenton, 1995. College Sophomore Steed has a major crush on this librarian next door. Now move forward to 2020 and she looks exactly the same. Crush sets back in. Dreamy. Haha.
  • Artist: The Cadillac Three
  • Song: “Labels”
  • Album: Country Fuzz
  • Genre: Country Rock
  • Notes: Hell yeah! I hadn’t heard of these guys before now but if this is what they’ve always sounded like, then I need to go back and check everything out. This is country rock / bro country at its finest. Rockin’ cross-over country that makes you want to ride a horse and drink some whiskey.
  • Artist: Poolside
  • Song: “Can’t Stop Your Lovin'”
  • Album: Low Season
  • Genre: Disco
  • Notes: Yes, Disco. They call themselves “Daytime Disco” and this is truly like 1980 disco meets AAA. Music that should and could be played just as the band name indicates – Poolside – with a light beverage in hand and women in tight bikinis constantly walking around.

  • Artist: D Smoke
  • Song: “No Commas”
  • Album: Black Habits
  • Genre: Hip Hop
  • Notes: Get on board now folks. This is your next big hip-hop artist. D Smoke won the first Rhythm & Flow context on Netflix last year and this is his first LP since that point (an EP followed right after the win). Here’s a guy that’s got innovative alternative beats and rhymes, stories to tell and has a sound pretty similar to Kendrick Lamar. Essentially, all the elements to make a move on the scene.
  • Artist: Richard Marx
  • Song: “All Along”
  • Album: Limitless
  • Genre: Pop / Rock
  • Notes: There’s this new pop artist on the block named Richard Marx – oh, wait this is the same guy that’s been around since 1987. For a guy that’s been making music for more than three decades now and music made for Grandmas at that, this album is shockingly good. In the past decade or so, he’s worked a bit with the singer-songwriter of 90s/00s band Vertical Horizon and certainly some of that pop-rock sense has rubbed off here. That’s not to say everything on this record is fully relevant or anything really ground breaking but there are songs that could easily be on the radio today, mixed with tracks that both sound like they came out of the 90s and all the way back to his original material. I’m choosing “All Along” here because it takes me all the way back to the earliest songs of Marx. Marx always had this kind of adult contemporary feel to his music but if you really dig back, he was more rockin’ than you might imagine. And this album is certainly a well crafted pop disc full of hooks. He’ll probably sell 100 copies at this point but one will be to me.

  • Artist: The Steeldrivers
  • Song: “Glad I’m Gone”
  • Album: Bad For You
  • Genre: Bluegrass
  • Notes: What a weird week for music for me. Here I am recommending a bluegrass tune, something that I could have never pictured myself doing even five years ago. But this album as a whole but this track in particular is catchy as hell and pretty rockin’ – I think – for bluegrass. In reality, I don’t know if it’s actually rockin’ for bluegrass or not since I don’t actively listen to any but if anyone reading this actually knows, then leave a comment.
  • Artist: HMLTD
  • Song: “Loaded”
  • Album: West of Eden
  • Genre: New Rave / Glam Rock
  • Notes: If you don’t know what New Rave is as a genre, think LCD Soundsystem or M.I.A. in particular. And there’s a large rock element to this album as well, to which the group is being compared to Prodigy because of that. It’s somewhere between them and adding in a large element of Glam Rock to the fold. Loving this track, “Loaded” and the album is a unique and challenging listen.
  • Artist: Envy
  • Song: “A Faint New World”
  • Album: Fallen Crimson
  • Genre: Post-Hardcore
  • Notes: The #1 Post-Hardcore band in the world, if you ask me. I saw Japan’s Envy open up for Deafheaven back in 2013 or 2014 or so and was so damn impressed that I went out to merch table and bought their 14LP box set covering their entire career. Maybe I’m a little too impulsive at times but that’s how great the concert was. So a new Envy record is a glorious thing for me – and their first record in 5 years is very much just like a typical late period Envy post-hardcore record – gorgeous melodies, mixed with hardcore riffs and both screamo lyrics and spoken word passages.