It’s Only Rock’N’Roll

But I like it ... Some albums by acts who make my favorite kind of rock music. CD: Still Waiting for the Sunset by Shurman — I have a new favorite hometown band, something I love. This group moved to Austin, Texas, at the end of last year after a decade based in Los Angeles and steadily touring the US and Europe and winning fans the good old-fashioned way: by delivering the goods fans love. They’ve been compared to Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (even by that band’s guitarist Mike Campbell), and it’s an apt compliment. They deliver twangy, muscular uptempo tunes, gloriously loping midtempo numbers and powerfully emotive ballads, all songs that have the believable resonance of real life and people in the stories they tell. If you, like me, find today’s country music lacking in the qualities that made C&W music great in the past, you’ll love their tune “Country Just Ain’t Country.” And they look at the plight of our young men going off to war with sensitivity and telling insight on “Here’s To Rock’n’Roll.” (Full disclosure: I wrote the PR bio for this album. I love what I do, getting to help bands I love promote themselves.)

CD: Lean Forward by The Bottle Rockets — The same qualities I ascribe to Shurman above also apply here, with Shurman having a more Texas/Southern flair and these guys being more Midwestern, hailing from the Mississippi River town of Festus, Mo. Another favorite band that has already built a wonderful catalog of populist rock’n’roll with the occasional country accent, and this set is their best yet. Same deal as Shurman: believable real life tales set in catchy tunes that explore the concerns and travails of regular folks with eloquence and solidarity with the common man. And they as well have a song about going off to war, “Kid Next Door,” that brings the tragedy of lives sacrificed in the senselessness of such conflicts right back to the home and heart. (Full disclosure: I’ve written two bios for this group in the past, and this album’s producer, Eric Ambel, was in a band I worked with in my PR days.)

CD: Man Overboard by Ian Hunter — The 70-year-old former leader of Mott The Hoople proves that age doesn’t mean a man still can’t rock, but it also brings a mature perspective to this set of wonderful songs that, again, focus on tangible matters and concerns we can all relate to. This is smart, sensitive and powerful stuff that harkens back to the late 1960s glory days of British rock, and on a few numbers reminds me of the timeless music made by Rod Stewart on his early solo albums before he went all Hollywood and cheesy. There’s still much greatness to be created from the basic building blocks of rock’n’roll, and there’s few wining demonstrations of that by a veteran than this disc. (More full disclosure: His full name is Ian Hunter Patterson, and I claim him as some kind of distant cousin. And this album’s producer as well, Andy York, was in another band I worked with in my PR days.)

From The Progressive Populist, October 1, 2009


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