New Music Revue – 5.17.18

Wherein I occasionally crawl out of my blues/jazz cave and listen to something different. (Well, some blues on here but by no means entirely.)

Wikipedia: Mushy Callahan* is a Canadian indie rock band based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The band’s lineup consists of four members: Lucas (guitar, keyboard, backing vocals), Joel (drums, backing vocals), Noah (guitar, vocals) and Jacob McCann (bass guitar, backing vocals) and has remained constant since the band became active in 2010. (That’s right – a band of brothers.) 

From their Revelations EP comes “Deep Meadow.” I like the feel of this tune. “We wanted the song to have a happy, upbeat tone. It’s meant to evoke positive feelings, with general optimism about starting anew. We like to open with it during our live performances – so naturally, we thought it should lead off the record.”

Spotify link

From Nicki Bluhm’s website: After spending the last six years as lead singer and front person of Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, as well as recent high-profile collaborations and performances with the likes of Phil Lesh, Ryan Adams, and The Infamous Stringdusters, Nicki Bluhm is stepping out on her own with her new album, To Rise You Gotta Fall.

The album, recorded in Memphis at legendary Sam Phillips Recording, is a chronicle of Bluhm’s state of mind following both a divorce and a separation from the only band she had ever known.  Said Bluhm, “These songs are quite personal. They are the conversations I never got to have, the words I never had the chance to say, and the catharsis I wouldn’t have survived without.”

Here’s the title track, a shuffling bluesy confection that reminds me a little bit of Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.”

Spotify link

And so what would a New Music Revue be without Woody Allen once called “heaviosity?” From Denton, Texas, somewhere around Dallas-Fort Worth comes the band Remain. (Pictured on top of post.) Together since 2014, they have a nice, melodious hard-rock crunch. Their sound, they inform us, is best described as powerful poetic rock that produces both lighthearted jams and anthem-like songs.

“The mission of Remain is to span the ages and stand the test of time through the music made. It is not about individuals or agendas, but rather a consistent, everlasting, and all-encompassing purpose through constant striving toward an unknown.” They inform us here about the “Millennial Nation,” surely the most maligned generation since Baby Boomers.

Spotify link

Reverb Nation

Even though she has her own Wikipedia page and is listed as singing soul, blues, R&B, funk, country, Americana and gospel, the odds are pretty good you’ve never heard of Bettye Lavette. From her first recording (at 16) in 1962 (“My Man, He’s a Lovin’ Man”) through 2005 she labored in relative obscurity. She toured with Ben E. King and Otis Redding and was briefly part of the James Brown Revue.

It was 2005’s I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise – an album of songs written entirely by women – that got her some attention. In December 2008 at the Kennedy Center Honors, LaVette sang her version of 1973’s “Love, Reign o’er Me” in tribute to Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend who were among the year’s honorees.

Her most recent album is called Things Have Changed and yes, it’s an album of Bob Dylan covers. Here she is aided and abetted by Keith Richards on “Political World” from Oh Mercy.

Spotify link

From Toronto, Ontario comes a nice pop confection from a band called First Ghost. “With a penchant for catchy hooks and a DIY ethos flowing through our veins, we’re determined to take our music to the next level. Our sights are set on releasing our debut full-length this year, followed by playing as many shows as we can handle.

Shot in Toronto featuring the waterfront, High Park, and a few talented friends of ours, this video is a bittersweet reflection on being in the moment and enjoying the little things in our relationships that we often take for granted.”

Here’s “Burnt Out:”


*Mushy Callahan was an LA-based 20th Century welterweight boxer.


10 thoughts on “New Music Revue – 5.17.18

  1. Really like Bluhm… definitely right about the echoes of Dusty. Lavette is someone that’s been recommended to me previously, but I never followed it up.


    1. Yeah, Bettye is one of those “been out there forever, under-the-radar” types. Doesn’t surprise me at all that Keef knows her..


  2. Thanks for highlighting these artists, Jim. It’s definitely good to “step outside the usual” – I should probably do this more often myself instead of bitching how mediocre most of today’s music is. The reality is there is still quality stuff out there; however, typically, it’s not in the limelight and as such harder to find.

    As for these specific artists, I’m mostly intrigued about Nicki Bluhm and Betty Lavette. But hey, two out of five isn’t bad. I doubt I’d even find one tune among the top 50 in the current charts that would sufficiently motivate to take a closer look at the artist.

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    1. The consensus thus far seems to be for the ladies. The rock I featured here isn’t my typical cup of tea but I came across them and wanted to feature what I thought was some of the better rock I’m hearing today. It’s changed over time and is less blues/rootsy. But I think it’s for me to listen without prejudice and see if I can find some gold in stuff I don’t ordinarily listen to.

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