DISClaimer: Nashville’s Pop/Rock Scene On Fire

The-Black-Keys

The Black Keys

The Nashville pop/rock community is on fire this summer. Last month, The Black Keys’ new album debuted at No. 1 on the pop charts, ahead of Michael Jackson. This month, Paramore notches a Top 10 single, and Jack White is on the cover of Rolling Stone.

Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Ben Folds and The Features continue to kick butt. Wild Cub and The Wild Feathers are buzz bands. Veterans like Leon Russell and John Hiatt are proving they still have the goods. Our honorees in this stack of current Nashville pop/rock platters are The Black Keys, who win the Disc of the Day award, and Cherub, the dance-mad kids who earn this week’s DisCovery Award.

PUJOL/Circles
Writers: Daniel Pujol; Producer: D. Shroader; Publishers: Hard Days Pete, BMI; Saddle Creek
-The sophomore album by Nashville’s PUJOL is titled Kludge, and it RAWKS. The single is a fast, frenetic, fuzz fest with a sonically processed snotty tenor vocal. It is made for fist pumping, pogo dancing, physical thrashing and all other manner of post-punk aggressive behavior. Bob your head and shake your brain.

PARAMORE/Ain’t It Fun
Writers: Hayley Williams/Taylor York; Producer: Justin Meldal-Johnsen; Publishers: WB/But Father I Just Want To Sing/FBR/Hunterboro, ASCAP; Atlantic (track)
-Paramore has had two other hit singles from its current, self-titled CD, including DisClaimer’s previously reviewed “Still Into You.” Now this choppy bopper has become a bona fide top-10 smash. You get totally hooked by its catchy pop verses, then knocked out by its breezy, vindictive-smiley choruses. Stay tuned for the group-chanted, addictive-repetitive bridge.

cherub1CHERUB/Doses & Mimosas
Writers: Jordan Kelley/Jason Huber/Nick Curtis; Producers: Cherub & Nick Curtis; Publishers: none listed; Columbia (track)
-Everybody dance now! This Nashville electro-pop duo has been signed to a major-label deal thanks to the three-million-plus views of this creamy-smooth track’s video. The word-of-mouth momentum continued with a big-stage slot at last week’s Bonnaroo Festival. Lilting, high vocals are punctuated with synth hand claps and plenty of bass undertow for a thoroughly trippy and delightful ear tickle.

JOHN HAITT/Terms of My Surrender
Writers: none listed; Producer: Doug Lanclo; Publisher: none listed; New West (track)
-This Music City rock vet previews his upcoming 22nd album with its title tune. Hiatt’s trademark, mordant, wry, gritty voice glides through this languid blues ballad with the wit and panache of the master stylist he is. If you’re not already in love with this Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member, your musical education is in serious remedial trouble.

MOON TAXI/Running Wild
Writers: Bailey/Turndrup/Thomson; Producer: Spencer Thomson; Publishers: none listed; 12th South (track)
-The group’s current Mountains Beaches Cities CD kicks off with this plea for an escape into good times. The band rumbles nicely with multiple percussion licks and echoey electronic figures while the vocalists shout their desires heavenward. Pleasingly plaintive pop.

THE BLACK KEYS/Fever
Writers: D. Auerbach/D. Carney/B. Burton; Producer: Danger Mouse & The Black Keys; Publishers: none listed; Nonesuch (track)
-The lead single from The Black Keys’ new Turn Blue album is a neo-’80s, new-wavey track with a relentless beat and goofy-cheesy-cool keyboard flourishes in a herky-jerky tune sung with a winsome pop vocal and wacky, twangy guitar touches. In other words, fantastically listenable.

CLEAR PLASTIC MASKS/So Real
Writers: Clear Plastic Masks; Producer: Andrija Tokic; Publishers: Clear Plastic Masks, ASCAP; Serpents & Snakes
-This Nashville combo’s CD is titled Being There. Its single is a jumbled rocker with jangly ‘60s guitars and a simple, blues-based chord progression. Garage rock for moderns.

JACK WHITE/High Ball Stepper
Writers: Jack White III; Producer: Jack White III; Publishers: Third String, BMI; Third Man (track)
-The first single from White’s just-released Lazaretto is a squawking, time-shifting, spazzy-guitar, instrumental workout. Being different is good. Being perverse, not so much.

CLAY McCLINTON/Stories We Can Tell
Writers: Clay McClinton/Gary Nicholson; Producer: Gary Nicholson; Publisher: none listed; Red Chili (track)
-The shadow of Clay’s dad, Delbert McClinton, looms large over the Nashville blues-rock landscape. Perhaps that’s why the son plies his trade in Austin. He calls his blues-rock-country sound “Texas gumbo,” which is pretty accurate. This righteous, rollicking “outlaw” sounding country-rocker appears on Clay’s Bitin’ at the Bit CD. The disc includes reworkings of such classics as “Poison Love,” “Just Dropped In” and his pop’s “Victim of Life’s Circumstances,” as well as a clutch of excellent originals like this. Nashville luminaries in on the sessions include Dan Dugmore, Guthrie Trapp, Bob Britt, Kenny Vaughn and Colin Linden, as well as producer/writer Nicholson and Delbert, hisself.

ED FITZGERALD & CIVIC DUTY/Left Handed Gun
Writers: Ed Fitzgerald; Producer: Gary Laney & Ed Fitzgerald; Publisher: none listed; Telephone (track)
-Return with us now to those thrilling days of the Nashville pop/rock scene of the 1980s. Bands like Warm Dark Pocket, Government Cheese, The Thieves, Jet Black Factory, Factual/Actuel, The Royal Court of China, Raging Fire, Dessau, Chagall Guevera, Velcro Pygmies, The Bisquits, Fur Trade, Valentine Saloon, The Movement, The Grinning Plowmen, Bedlam, The Nerve, Radio One, The Questionnaires, Little Saints, In Pursuit, Clockhammer, Guilt and more filled our clubs. One of them is still putting out records, Ed Fitzgerald & Civic Duty. This guitar groover kicks off a CD titled Shelter. It has echoes of Talking Heads or Television with a doomy dash of Lou Reed, but infused with Fitzgerald’s special vocal personality and his undeniably gripping guitar style. Recommended without reservation.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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