New album coming from Butch Walker. Really.

ButchWalker-1024x680None of Butch Walker’s seven albums have reached the Top 100 on the US charts. His most recent record, 2015’s Afraid of Ghosts, crawled to 104 with Billboard.

Kinda odd, I think, because they sound authentic and of-the-moment but still seated firmly at the table with their influences.  It’s rock and roll.  But it’s shiny pop too, sometimes winding their way around each other in the same song. Sugary.  Truthy.  Hooky.  Holy. Smart.

His audience is cult-sized. Those who know and like, well, are glad they know and like, because his music kinda digs in and finds way into a listeners gut.  And heart.

Walker, raised in Georgia, has found his success with his producer’s golden-boy touch on records by Taylor Swift, Fall Out Boy, Avril Lavigne, Pink, Keith Urban, and worked on the new solo record from Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon.

His go-to sound? Layered vocals that build a wall of cotton candy around a bottle of whiskey. A big-and-loud pop sound. It’s also back to the 80’s.  FM radio.  And AM radio too, full of static and sex.

Not too often that kind of material gets stitched together and heard, like Butch Walker does it, as a big ol’ blanket of 2016 goodness, covering you with a feeling of both nostalgia and like the song may be the newest little treasure that nobody else has found yet.

Walker’s new record, Stay Gold, is due soon. There’s a teaser video out today.   And here’s a couple other of my favorites from him (and his recent work with Fallon) to test drive.

New Peter Wolf album; Throwback video

peterwolfIt’s criminal, you know, that the J. Geils Band is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  And it matters for one selfish reason: there is a credibility bump that translates to dollars available on the road. Simply put, you get in, your career gets better.

So selfishly – and correctly, I might add – the Boston band needs to get in.  They need to earn a spot for one main reason: so they will continue to play live as a band, and more fans (like me) can see Peter Wolf and the band blaze through the rock and blues and soul revue that they do so well.

Wolf, meanwhile, rolls right on along, all 135 pounds of him.  The 70 year-old singer, who has reunited with the Geils boys as recently as last year for the opening slot on the Bob Seger tour, has his own band, and they are set to hit the road for a tour. On April 8, Wolf released A Cure For Loneliness,  a followup to 2010s Midnight Souvenirs.  While the previous album leaned on a rootsy, country-ish Memphis groove, the new record is a soul album, lashed with country, with the always-present Boston R&B.  Plus, there is a reworked cover take on the J. Geils hit “Love Stinks”, tipped musically to bluegrass.

A couple links follow, one for the first single “Wastin’ Time”, one of the two or three best songs on the record, The second link is to a brilliant and unseen-outside-of-Boston PSA for the Boston library.  It is a bit of subversive video work before it was cool for libraries and NPR to play things a bit more hip.  Plus, a nice job of keeping the acting straight from the “Woofa Goofa”.

ADDENDUM: I got into a discussion at a music club one night with a friend, and we ended up trying to rank the top 5 rock and roll frontmen of all time. (Not the singer/songwriter Springsteen/Prince/Sly  Stone model – frontmen, you see,  can’t be known for playing instruments.  They sing.  They play some tambourine). I said Peter Wolf belongs on that top 5 list.  May have even said he was top 3.  We were drinking. I probably mentioned that if you really think about it, Wolf may be the most underrated frontman of all rock and roll time.  I think we agreed on Jagger at the top, and then it got murky real quick.  Freddie Mercury? Steven Tyler?  Eddie Vedder?  Roger Daltrey?  Paul Rodgers? Jim Morrison? Elvis?