Lone Ranger lookalikes and Mexican wrestlers are quite the thing and it’s not just the virus that has them covering their faces.
Also a classic Nina Simone is rescued and re released and the next Lucinda Williams puts her game face on.
Fodder on my wings
Largely unavailable since its 1982 release, Fodder was recorded when Nina was on the positive side of the curve.
That means that the burning anger that seethed through her soulful, jazz tunes was kept in check. Her cover of the pop hit Alone Again (Naturally) is transformed from a sappy ballad into a merciless indictment of her father whom she is happy to see dying in the other room.
It’s not all doom and gloom though: I Sing Just to Know I’m Alive is a joyous and defiant Simone tune.
Nina never respected segregation and here she veers from Africa to all the Americas. She recounts the night she danced nude in the Liberian nightclub and that’s what this album sounds just like.
Katie Crutchfield is another one of those fiery women songwriters in the tradition of Lucinda Williams – she has issues, she has a dark past and she wants to tell us about it.
This second Waxahatchie LP is rooted in solid acoustic-guitarish songwriting, but then flavoured with spooky ‘90s ambience in places.
Tunes such as Fire are quite seductive. Recently sober Crutchfield takes her vocal to interesting places.
Country music just keeps getting further and further out there.
Leading the posse is Orville Peck whose 19 inch LP Pony was one of the highlights of last year.
His growling baritone is a bit menacing and a bit romantic like a Morrissey imitating Johnny Cash.
Peck, not his real name, apparently has a background in punk and alternative rock which accounts for the hard edges to his songs.
Orville is never seen without his mask which is part Lone Ranger and part harem girl. But the songs actually transcend the fancy dress. Could well be a next big thing.
Nick Lowe & Los Straightjackets
What is it about men in stupid masks?
Los Straightjackets are an instrumental surf band that dress like Mexican wrestlers. But boy, can they rock as the lucky few who caught Nick’s recent tour will attest.
Nick was one of the architects of punk rock, producing Elvis Costello and the Damned and his own work during the 1970s and ‘80s.
He exchanged the leather jacket for a cardigan and has quietly turned out a solid body of work – songs in the traditional style performed with grace and a sense of humour.
This album was assembled from earlier Eps plus six instrumental Nick Lowe hits including (What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding. An album for when the relos come over for a spot of tea.
Toby Creswell is a music journalist and pop-culture writer, as well as a former editor of Rolling Stone (Australia) and founding editor of Juice.