DISClaimer: The Black Keys, Keb’ Mo’ Offer Fresh Tracks

I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a Nashville pop/rock listening session as much as this one.

This stack of platters has it all — our reigning rock monarchs The Raconteurs and The Black Keys, a legend-among-us Peter Frampton, enchanting new pop by Amy Stroup and *repeat repeat plus blues from Whitey Johnson and Keb Mo (as well as Frampton).

Finishing in a dead heat for Disc of the Day are The Black Keys and Keb Mo. Keys drummer Patrick Carney is also present as the producer of *repeat repeat and Jessy Wilson, who finish in another tie, for the DisCovery Award.

KEB’ MO’/Oklahoma
Writers: Keb Mo/Dara Tucker; Producer: Colin Linden; Publisher: none listed; Concord
– Music City’s resident bluesman returns with this delightfully groove-soaked title tune of a new collection. The song is about hope and resilience, but makes sidelong references to Oklahoma’s troubled racial and Native American issues. The great Robert Randolph adds a delicious lap-steel solo. Other guests on the new album include Rosanne Cash (on the feminist “Put a Woman In Charge”), Taj Mahal (with whom Keb won one of his four Grammys) and Latina-Christian pop star Jaci Velasquez (on the immigrant saga “This Is My Home”). This just might be the album of his career. Unreservedly recommended.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Cleveland
– The recent transplants to Nashville have a new album titled Looking For a Good Land that explores the roots-rock idiom of Mellencamp, Springsteen et al. Its lead single pumps out blue-collar rhythm and stirring, anthemic, reach-for-the-sky melody. I defy you to sit still.

Writers: none listed; Producers: Frampton/Chuck Ainlay; Publishers: none listed; UMe
– He’s on his farewell tour because of health issues, but the star is also breaking new ground with his first blues album and a six-week “The Peter Frampton Show” on Sirius/XM. The collection, titled All Blues, is on blue vinyl (via his website) and contains all covers. Some are quite familiar (”The Thrill Is Gone,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover”). Others not so much. This lead track and single features Kim Wilson of The Fabulous Thunderbirds on a sweaty, searing, slow-grind workout with, no surprise, plenty of stinging electric guitar.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Doublecamp
– Consisting of Joe Neary and Jordan Burmeister, this Nashville indie-pop duo has issued this bopping, atmospheric, electro track as its first single. It’s a sunny, shiny, feel-good, upbeat, dizzy and ultimately positive love ditty. The guys were previously in a Milwaukee outfit called The Middle Ground. A promising debut.

Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Nonesuch
– Members Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have reunited after five years apart pursuing individual projects and producing others. Their new collaboration, Let’s Rock, releases on June 28. Its first advance single, “Lo/Hi,” topped Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs, Adult Alternative Songs, Rock Airplay and Alternative Songs charts. Now comes this as the second single and debut video. The ridiculously catchy track has loads of snap, crackle and pop. The video is laugh-out-loud hilarious, featuring the sourpuss boys attending the “Happy Trails Intentional Community and Spiritual Retreat” to get over the issue that they hate each other and aren’t speaking. They rock the robed hippies, but still aren’t speaking at the rural facility that advertises “Mediation, Spiritual Growth and Validated Parking.” I am told that The Black Keys will be touring again in September, with or without dialogue.

Writers: none listed; Producer: Supercookies; Publishers: none listed; Milkglass (track)
– This 2019 Bonnaroo performer decided to vacation from Nashville and record in L.A. last year. The resulting Helen of Memphis album, her third, is the singer-songwriter’s pop, pop, poppiest. This drum-loopy, burbling, hooky, trance-y single appeared on the soundtrack of the recent Jennifer Lopez movie Second Act. Which is not unusual for Stroup. To date, her voice has been heard in 467 movie/TV placements, including This Is Us, Grey’s Anatomy and Despicable Me 3. Honey-dipped beats and charming vocals like this are why she gets to open for such esteemed acts as Kings of Leon, Kacey Musgraves and Ingrid Michaelson.

THE RACONTEURS/Bored and Razed
Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Third Man
– The band issues its new CD, Help Us Stranger, tomorrow (6/21). Members Jack White, Brenden Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler will celebrate it with an epic world tour starting next month. Back here at home, we can bob our heads to this steamrolling rocker from the new collection. The furious drumming, screaming vocals and ferocious electric guitar are all classic elements of this group’s sound. For those of you yearning for honest-to-goodness ROCK, here is the for-real deal.

WHITEY JOHNSON/If It’s Really Gotta Be This Way
Writers: Gary Nicholson/Arthur Alexander/Donnie Fritts; Producer: Gary Nicholson; Publisher: none listed; Blue Corn (track)
– Whitey Johnson is the blues-playing alter ego of Nashville mega songwriter Gary Nicholson. His new More Days Like This collection finds him collaborating with the likes of Delbert McClinton, Colin Linden and The McCrary Sisters. This melodic, stately, lonely-sounding, heartsick tune has already been recorded by Robert Plant, among others. It features Nicholson cowriting with the late, legendary soul man Arthur Alexander (”You Better Move On,” “Anna,” “Soldier of Love”) and Muscle Shoals legend Donnie Fritts (”Breakfast In Bed,” “You’re Gonna Love Yourself in the Morning,” “We Had It All”). Moody and mellow.

*repeat repeat/Hi, I’m Waiting
Writers: none listed; Producer: Patrick Carney; Publisher: none listed; Dangerbird
– This Nashville power-pop trio has a new album titled Glazed. As you can clearly see in the music video for this fizzy, fuzzy, fine lead single, Patrick Carney of The Black Keys is drumming, as well as producing. A delectable synth/guitar/vocal combo with touches of surf, punk and new wave.

JESSY WILSON/Love & Sophistication
Writers: none listed; Producer: Patrick Carney; Publishers: none listed; Thirty Tigers
Phase is Wilson’s debut album. But you might remember this Nashvillian from her work in the bi-racial country/rock duo The Muddy Magnolias. This haunting, dreamy, neo-soul single from the new solo CD casts an audio spell that’s hard to resist. Her soft, seductive vocal is set in an echo chamber while rhythm patterns swirl around her. Beautifully pleasing.


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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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