Mental Jukebox: Week of November 10-14

Royal Blood is a British rock duo from Brighton, formed in 2013 by Mike Kerr (vocals) and Ben Thatcher (drums). They were nominated for the BBC Sound of 2014, and scored a slot opening for the Arctic Monkeys earlier this year. Their self-titled debut album was released on August 25th to critical acclaim, and comparisons to bands like White Stripes. The single “Figure It Out” with its “straight up loud, swagger-filled blues rock” is currently climbing the alternative/rock charts.

Tuesday: Benjamin Booker “Violent Shiver”

This “New Orleans rocker croons, roars and plays guitar like a grunge-soaked Chuck Berry” – that’s what The Guardian had to say about Benjamin Booker, whose self-titled debut (recorded in Nashville) was released in August. Mixing distorted guitar shredding with tribal drums, fiddle and mandolin in a remarkable combination of blues, boogie, soul and bluegrass, 25-year old Booker cites The Gun Club, Blind Willie Johnson and T-Rex among his musical influences. His music also draws frequent comparisons to The Strokes. Suffice it to say that his style is both unique and highly evocative. Spin Magazine called “Violent Shiver” a “contender for Rock Record of the Year.”

Wednesday: The Orwells “The Righteous Ones”

Here’s a real ear-grabber from Chicago-based rock band The Orwells. The band, a family mix of brothers and cousins, released their debut album in 2012 while still in high school, and were named one of the “most criminally overlooked artists” of the year by MTV. In 2013, they toured the US with Arctic Monkeys and released two EPs. The band’s punk sensibilities were showcased on their now infamous Letterman appearance this past January. Their sophomore LP Disgraceland, released in June 2014, features melodic sing-along garage rock/indie pop with catchy energetic riffs that generates comparisons ranging from The Doors to Nirvana.

Throwback Thursday: Blow Monkeys “Digging Your Scene”

Classic 80s: The Blow Monkeys are a British new-wave “sophisti-pop” band fronted by Scottish singer/songwriter and guitarist/pianist Dr. Robert (aka Bruce Robert Howard). They debuted in 1984, but their biggest hit came from their 2nd album Animal Magic in 1986. “Digging Your Scene” reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the UK, they had four albums and 11 singles on the charts between 1986-1990, and in the US they contributed songs to movie soundtracks including Police Academy 4 and Dirty Dancing before splitting in 1990. After a solo career that included collaborations with Paul Weller and Beth Orton, Dr. Robert reunited with bandmates in 2007 and the band has released four subsequent albums as well as a box set in 2013. Not sure why the original MTV video is so hard to find, but it’s such an 80’s classic I just couldn’t go with any alternate version. Here it is courtesy of Vimeo:

Friday: Little Big Town “Day Drinking”

This feels like a Friday kind of song! “Day Drinking” might be considered the 2014 version of “Afternoon Delight” – except that this daytime euphoria comes courtesy of liquid inebriation. The Alabama-based country quartet Little Big Town was founded in 1998, and released their self-titled debut in 2002. Their musical style relies on four-part harmonies and alternating lead singers, drawing comparisons to 60’s folk-pop groups like The Mamas and Papas or Peter Paul & Mary. The platinum-selling, Grammy award-winning group has charted 14 songs on the Billboard Hot Country charts including a Christmas single, a live cover of Dream Academy’s “Life In A Northern Town” with Sugarland and Jake Owen, and the 2012 #1 hit “Pontoon”. The new album Pain Killer featuring this single was released on October 21.

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