While I peruse the list of new releases each week, I always seem to have an inner battle brewing. While the majority of new releases are from new bands trying to make their mark, there is also a heavy dose of established artists offering new albums for their already established fanbase.
Should I feature those already established bands or focus on the up and comers who are looking for a little love for their music? I tend to defer to the up and comers who seem to be far more appreciative of the attention.
I think about my days at college where I was part of the music department at KCFV at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley. Each week we would get dozens of new CDs in the mail which were doled out in random fashion. We would then take those home and listen to them on our newfangled CD players. Hours and hours were spent analyzing the music, the tone, and the vibe of each CD. We would then convene and fight to get our favorites on the Heavy Rotation playlist for the station.
The conversations were hard fought, but if you were able to get two or three of your CDs on the list you knew you had achieved your goal of bringing the best new music to your audience. This is where I created an emotional bond with my artists.
When I would hear artists like Goldfinger, Stabbing Westward, or Veruca Salt later played on 105.7 The Point, I took it as a badge of honor that perhaps in some small way, I helped get those bands noticed. As fate would have it, I got the opportunity to interview John Feldman of Goldfinger when they played the Warped Tour at Riverport Amphitheatre and my musical journey had come full circle.
The payoff for me is when one of these artists that I highlight sends me a message saying they appreciate the mention. That is where we—as a writer/fan and a musician—create our emotional connection. Then in turn, when I get a message from a reader saying they really enjoyed hearing a band I highlighted is where we—a writer and a reader—make our emotional connection. It turns into a mutual admiration society which is what I really love.
So let’s dive in and make some connections in this edition, shall we?
Band: Naked Raygun
Album: Over the Overlords
Favorite Song: Living in the Good Times
I am sure some of you are already calling me a hypocrite. How can a band who has already had eight albums—Over the Overlords is their ninth—be considered new or up and coming? Good question, but this is the first time I have heard of the band, so they are new to me. But how I went through my entire 20s never having heard this band is a mystery to me. Over the Overlords is full of fantastic melodic punk songs, each one catchier than the last. This album takes me back to a simpler time in my life when my friend Loyal and I would drive down Lindbergh Avenue blasting Hüsker Dü and Buzzcocks out our windows—we were the moment. This band might have formed back in the ‘80s, but their sound and energy are timeless.
Other notable tracks: “Treat Me Unkind,” “Broken Things,” “Amishes,” “Black and Grey,” and “Farewell to Arms”
Band: The Exbats
Album: Now Where Were We
Favorite Song: Ghost in the Record Store
Fun fact about me: I ALWAYS wanted to work in a record store. Cutting my musical teeth on such iconic locations as Vintage Vinyl and West End Wax, I idolized the people that scoffed at me when I asked for the latest Bon Jovi album. It only makes sense that this amazingly hippy-trippy track caught my ear. Inez McLain’s vocals gave me all the feels of The B-52’s Kate Pierson and (her dad!) Kenny McLain’s surf rock guitar sealed the deal. This band keeps it light, delivers fun and flirty vibes, and best of all makes me feel good without medication.
Other notable tracks: “Coolsville USA,” “Best Most Least Worst,” “Hey New Zealand,” and “Like A Son”
Band: The Right Here
Album: Northern Town
Favorite Song: Buy Me Another Round
Minnesota has served up so many musical artists that I absolutely love. Artists like Prince, The Replacements, Sugar, and Lizzo all hold a special place in my heart. Well, my heart will just have to get bigger for The Right Here. Unpretentious is the word I would use to describe their sound. From the authentic vocals to the infectious rhythms this band just plays fantastic rock and roll. I will say this many times, but THIS is my motivation to write this column – to find unearthed jewels like The Right Here.
Other notable tracks – “Good Luck Trying,” “Every Once in a While,” “Here We Go Again,” and “Northern Town”
Artist: Parker McCollum
Album: Gold Chain Cowboy
Favorite Song: Never Loved You at All
As a self-proclaimed rock groupie, some people are flummoxed by my love of country music. But if we are truth-telling here, my first internship was with St. Louis’ legendary country radio station WIL-FM. It was during the heyday of country music when Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, and The Dixie Chicks ruled the airwaves. I would be considered a country music purist in the sense that I subscribe to the theory of “give me three chords and the truth.” Parker McCollum serves up that and much more on Gold Chain Cowboy. Where he really made me fall in love was the twang in his voice on “Never Loved You at All.” Country music fans need to get on the ball and create a line dance for this track full of grapevines, step hitches, and hip bumps. This song is made for twirling.
Other notable tracks – “Dallas,” “Why Indiana,” and “Blanco County Rain”
Band: The Courettes
Album: Back in Mono
Favorite Song: Hop the Twig
Husband and wife Flavia and Martin Couri harness the sound and the power of ‘60s garage rock on their all-around spectacular album, Back in Mono. When I heard this album, I got so excited to share it with all of you. As a GenX’er who considers himself a Baby Boomer at heart, this album spoke to my inner beatnik. Flavia’s vocals are—in a word—inspired. Whenever she belts out a “Woooooo!” my heart skips a beat. Maybe The Courettes could tour with the Exbats and create a whole new Summer Of Love vibe. Both bands are totally fab and could totally sock it to me.
Other notable tracks – “I Can Hardly Wait,” “Trash Can Honey,” Misfits & Freaks,” and “Edge of My Nerves”
Well kids, I am heading back out on the musical highway to keep finding you more jams. Please remember to support your favorite bands by buying their latest albums and merch. You never know, you may just see me on my Twitter account sporting one or two of these band’s t-shirts. Follow me on Twitter at @TheFoundFive to see what other songs I may pick as #SongOfTheDay.
As always you can listen to all of these songs and more as I update my playlist, “K-JIM 2021 on spotify.
Until next time, feel free to drop a note to say hello and be sure to tip your bartenders. | Jim Ryan