Fuel for your speakers
Diesel through a Halestorm but watch for the Roo
DIESEL 30 – THE GREATEST HITS Diesel
This comprehensive double CD greatest hits package spans the career of Mark Lizotte, better known as Diesel, from 1989 to 2018. Bookending the 30 tracks are the newly recorded rocker ‘Give Me Saturday Night’, with a cover of the Buddy Holly hit ‘Rave On’, from Diesel’s 2016 album Americana, coming in at track 30. In between are three from his 1989 debut as Johnny Diesel & The Injectors, including top 10 hit ‘Cry In Shame’. His most successful song ‘Tip Of My Tongue’ is among five tracks from his second album Hepfidelity, while the soul classic ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’ is lifted from Short Cool Ones, his 1996 collaboration with Melbourne bluesman Chris Wilson. Of note are two mid-paced rock trackers, ‘Dig’ and ‘Satellite’, from 1997’s Lost Soul Companion, which Diesel released in the US under his birth name.
WIDE AWAKE Rayland Baxter ATO Records/[PIAS] www.atorecords.com
Nashville, Tennesseebased Rayland Baxter has been labelled as alternate country, but there’s much more to his music than that. As per his previous release Imaginary Man, Baxter traverses various genres on new album Wide Awake, although in a different lifetime he could have slotted in among British ’60s pop-rock artists. With its definite drumbeat, ‘Casanova’ is a great rock track where he sings of a “hole in my pocket” as he compares a student debt to a greedy girlfriend. Baxter mocks the US pro-gun lobby on the mid-tempo ’79 Shiny Revolvers’, and he’s star struck on ‘Amelia Baker’, a song that starts with acoustic guitar before his frenzied fixation launches Cage The Elephant guitarist Nick Bockrath’s fiery rock guitar licks. He again questions his country’s values on ‘Strange American Dream’, written around the time of Donald Trumps’ 2016 election triumph.
Thirty Tigers/Cooking Vinyl www.joncleary.com
Despite originating from Kent in England, Jon Cleary is considered a New Orleans local, due to his smooth blend of funky R&B and soul, as well as performing with Dr John, Bonnie Raitt and others. Although piano is his go, Cleary is a multi-instrumentalist and in 2016 he won a Grammy for Best Regional Roots Music Album with GoGo Juice. For new album Dyna-Mite Cleary enlisted a talented bunch of New Orleans musicians and backing vocalists. The songs range from the energetic French quarter-inspired title track, to the relaxed jazz-funk of ‘Skin In The Game’. There’s a Cajun feel to ‘Big Greasy’, and there’s slow blues in Boz Scaggs’ style on ‘Best Ain’t Good Enough’. Cleary wrote every song, including a co-write with legendary blues musician Taj Mahal on the seductive ‘21st Century Gypsy Singing Lover Man’.
VICIOUS Halestorm Warner/Atlantic www.halestormrocks.com
Although originating from the US state of Pennsylvania, hard-rocking quartet Halestorm headed to country music capital Nashville to record its fourth album Vicious. There’s nothing country about this Grammy-winning outfit, however. Lead singer Lizzy Hale gives her vocal cords a workout on ‘Black Vultures’, a symbolism for circling darkness. She puts her attitude right out there on ‘Uncomfortable’, a fast-paced rocker and also the album’s first single, and she delivers aggressive bedroom lyrics on ‘Do Not Disturb’, backed by Joe Hottinger’s lead guitar licks. ‘Conflicted’ is another track about a fiery relationship, while ‘Heart Of Novocaine’ has the band in a rare acoustic mood, although normal hard rock mode is resumed on ‘Skulls’ and ‘Painkiller’. Hale is one of most powerful vocalists around, and as a unit (including brother Arejay Hale on drums) Halestorm is pure rock at its best.
QUIET MAN Roo Panes
CRC Records www.crcmusic.co.uk
Singersongwriter Andrew ‘Roo’ Panes, from English county Dorset, has found himself in a peaceful place with his aptly titled third album Quiet Man. Recorded away from the hustle and bustle of city life in nearby Devon, Panes delivers 12 mostly introspective tracks, including ‘Sketches Of Summer’, an ambient song with minimalist piano backing. There’s a positive message in ‘Warrior’, a track that, with the aid of a horn section, builds in intensity. Panes offers hope to a loved one on ‘Ophelia’, a song notable for its choir-like harmonies, while on title track ‘Quiet Man’ he reflects on past shortcomings with an air of optimism. At times drawing comparisons with fellow Englishman Ben Howard and US ambient folk band Bon Iver, Panes has his own distinctive sound, mainly due to his deep and unaffected vocals.
SHADOWPARTY ShadowParty Mute/[PIAS] www.mute.com
Four-piece band ShadowParty is somewhat of a supergroup, its individual members having been part of an assortment of successful bands. Jeff Friedl formerly drummed with Devo, Tom Chapman and guitarist Phil Cunningham both played with New Order and later in UK rock band Bad Lieutenant, and guitarist Josh Hager is a current member of the latest incarnation of Devo and formerly of The Rentals. There are guest artists too on this ShadowParty self-titled debut album, including The Verve’s Nick McCabe and Denise Johnson from Primal Scream, the latter taking lead vocals on the poppy ‘Present Tense’. Radio single ‘Celebrate’, as the title suggests, is bouncy and upbeat, and ‘Taking Over’, with its vibrato guitar backing and mid-tempo beat, is even better. There’s a funk beat to ‘Reverse The Curse’ while ‘Marigold’ has definite Brit-pop qualities. Eleven tracks of catchy electronic pop-rock.