A multifaceted view of the modern-day rock landscape is revealed via a crop of excellent summer 2016 releases including the latest releases from Paul Kelly and Don DiLego, as well as the debut from the Shelters and a live collection from 10,000 Maniacs.
Artist: Paul Kelly
Title: Seven Sonnets & A Song (Cooking Vinyl)
You might like if you enjoy: Leonard Cohen, Neil Finn
Tell me more: One of the world's most interesting and talented songwriters, Australia-based Paul Kelly has surprised yet again with his newly-released Seven Sonnets & A Song, an ambitious collection anchored by original songs created using six William Shakespeare sonnets. The Clown's Song ("O Mistress Mine") from the Bard of Avon's "Twelfth Night" as well as a lyrical work penned by Shakespeare contemporary Sir Philip Sidney titled "My True Love Hath My Heart" (the latter featuring soprano Vika Bull on lead vocals) round out the wonderful collection. The splendid verse is adorned with Kelly's lush soundscapes which range from jazz ("Sonnet 138) and folk ("Sonnet 73," "O Mistress Mine") to Americana ("Sonnet 18") and piano-anchored ballads ("Sonnets 44 & 45"). Information: paulkelly.com.au.
Artist: The Shelters
Title: The Shelters (Warner Bros. Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Tom Petty, Mudcrutch, Tommy Keene
Tell me more: It has become cool for rock 'n' roll to be fun again. Just listen to the great self-titled debut album from Los Angeles rockers the Shelters. Like Ireland's Strypes, the Shelters have dipped back into the past to conjure up rock that thrives on cool hooks and great riffs. What sets apart the Shelters is the quartet (singer-guitarist Chase Simpson, singer-guitarist Josh Jove, drummer Sebastian Harris and bassist Jacob Pillot) also incorporates Laurel Canyon harmonies (just listen to "Liar" and the shimmering psychedelic rocker "Gold") and folk rock touches (as evidenced by "Nothin' in the World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl") into its sonic brew. "Rebel Heart," and "Surely Burn" are among the rockers that burst out of the gate and impress with the power of their rocking ancestors. Information: warnerbrosrecords.com or thesheltersmusic.com.
Artist: Don DiLego
Title: Magnificent Ram A (One Little Indian/Velvet Elk)
You might like if you enjoy: The Decemberists, Dandy Warhols, the Shins
Tell me more: Don DiLego's Magnificent Ram A is eclectic, beautiful and never less than involving for lovers of smart contemporary rock. "Karma King" explodes with a symphonic approach. The beautiful "A Wishful Poem" is just lovely, but rooted in the baroque folk rock that has yielded stunning efforts from Portland's Shins and Decemberists. Other songs are bolstered by the same buoyant approach, but are rooted in other sounds. The sing-along "Drive Like Pirates," rootsy acoustic ballad "Go Pack Your Suitcase" and anthemic Americana opus "Russin in Place with a Desperate Heart" are other strong tracks. Information: dondilego.com.
Artist: 10,000 Maniacs
Title: Playing Favorites (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: 10,000 Maniacs, the Corrs
Tell me more: Recorded live on Sept. 13, 2014 in its hometown of Jamestown, New York, 10,000 Maniacs' Playing Favorites finds the enduring ensemble playing a mix of original favorites and artful covers. The 14-song disc allows plenty of time for the six-member troupe (joined by five guest players) to showcase its style blending alternative and college rock with folk rock. Standouts include spirited takes on band hits ("What's The Matter Here," "Like the Weather," "Trouble Me") and a joyful take on Bryan Ferry's Roxy Music hit "More Than This" and fiddle-anchored version of the Patti Smith/Bruce Springsteen rocker "Because the Night." Information: omnivorerecordings.com.