I travelled a bit around the Mid-West recently and discovered some new (& old) music, mostly while in Detroit. I came away with a pretty darn good box of new music. Some of these were heard on restaurant sound systems, a good number were discovered when I visited Third Man Records in Detroit, and a few after visiting the Motown museum. In no particular order, here's what I found.
1. Puss'N'Boots - No Fools, No Fun. This is a great side-band that includes Norah Jones. It's a mix of country, jazz, bluegrass & Americana. Listen to: Leaving London, GTO
2. Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth A great outlaw-country-ish record with tinges of modern sounds. Simpson has a classic voice with similarities to Waylon Jennings. A good thumpy-country record. Listen to: Brace For Impact(Live A Little)
3. Olivia Jean - Bathtub Love Killings - The former singer from Nashville band , The Black Belles, Olivia steps out on her own with a groovy 60s-garage tinged record that's hard to pigeon-hole into a specific genre other than pure-American Rock'n'Roll. It's also produced by Jack White. Listen to: Reminisce
4. Black Belles - Black Belles - After discovering Olivia Jean I went back and listened to her previous band. Also a great sound, Black Belles are more straight-forward garage rock. Listen to: Wishing Well
5. Seasick Steve - Keeping' The Horse Between Me And The Ground - Awesome gritty blues-guitar here. Seasick Steve's rough graveled voice blends nicely with the sparse blues-rock. Listen to the title track: Keep That Horse Between Me & The Ground
6. Pokey Lafarge - Something In The Water - This was a pleasant surprise. I was not expecting this upbeat - Django Reinhardt, Western- style swing. Brilliant guitar, harmonicas and stand-up bass. Get your dancing shoes on. Listen to: Underground Honorable Mention: Check out his self-titled previous album as well.
7. Karen Elson - The Ghost Who Walks - This one dates back to 2010. Elson happens to be the x-wife of Jack White and he produced the record as well as sitting in as the drummer. I'd heard bits and pieces of their story but didn't realize she recorded a record. Their personal lives aside, this is a brilliant album. The songs are kind of 20s-30s torch-song, smoky-jazz-bar numbers that are sultry and swinging. Listen to: The Ghost Who Walks, 100 Years from Now
8. Vulfpeck - The Beautiful Game - Found this one via Facebook. A friend posted a video of the band playing in their living room. A group of guys who were all educated at the University Of Michigan's School Of Music. Oddly, I had just visited the Motown Museum earlier in the day and was pleasantly surprised by the funkiness of these guys. They are definitely influenced by the Motown sound. Fantastic funk-bass playing on every track. A lot of instrumentals, but damn, these tracks really groove. Listen to: Conscious Club, El Chepe. Honorable mention: Check out their previous record Thrill Of The Arts and the tracks 'Funy Duck' and 'Back Pocket'
9. Dough Rollers - Gone Baby Gone - Really good, Earthy American rock and soul. Singer Malcom Ford's howling, hollering voice drips with soul. Listen to: Friend Of Mine, Gone Baby Gone
10. The Detroit Cobras- Life Love and Leaving - I've heard of this band since the 90s, but never really gave them a listen. That was a mistake. They started out as a cover band playing rare and deep-cut 50s and 60s R&B and Rock'N'Roll B-sides. Strong female vocals from long-time singer Rachel Nagy. Listen to: Hey Sa-Lo-Ney also Cha-CHa Twist off of their album 'Mink Rat or Rabbit'
11. Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter - Vintage-style country similar to Loretta Lynn and other the Appalachian or Nashville style singers-songwriters. Listen to: Tennessee Song, Hurtin'(On The Bottle)
12. Jeremy and the Harlequins - If you love classic 50s and 60s greaser-rock'n'roll, you'll love these guys. Tinges of Stray Cats abound and it's absolutely a danceable rock record. Listen to: Rhythm Don't Lie
13. Various Artists - Those Shocking, Shaking Days - Ok, this is a weird one. It's a compilation of 1970s prog and psychedelic-rock bands out of Indonesia. It caught me totally off guard, but I love it. Listen to: Evil War by Shark Move, Bad News by Rollie and AntiGanDJa by Brim
14. Chris Clark - The Motown Collection - There are a ton of Motown artists you've never heard of. One stand out is female vocalist Chris Clark. She's got a more hard-edged vocal style than most Motown artists. Listen to: Love's Gone Bad
15. Brenda Holloway - The Artistry of Brenda Holloway - Another Motown singer I'd not heard of, she had a string of hits in the mid 60s. Listen to: Every little Bit Hurts, Just Look What You've Done
Bonus. The Kills - Ash & Ice - I've been following this band for some time & have seen them live before. Singer Alison Mosshart has one of the best female voices in modern rock. They recently released a new album in 2016. I dig every song on the new record, but my favorite tracks are: Bitter Fruit and Impossible Tracks