One of the most fun bits of blues and twang that I've heard in the last couple years comes from former psycho-surf-rockabilly-garage-punk Flat Duo Jets leader Dexter Romweber. Released on YepRoc Records, Romweber's reverb-happy Blues That Defy My Soul CD is a wild amalgam of punkish rockabilly energy with a '50s blues-rock vibe and a "shake, rattle and roll" low-fi style. Every song on the 14-track album clocks in at less than 3 minutes, and they all leave your head in mid-nod, begging for more. If you like truly old fashioned sock-hop-on-the-beach rock 'n' roll, don't miss this nostalgic but modern take on a familiar, retro-rock sound. It's like a comfortable red vinyl stool in a forgotten diner next to a Twilight Zone jukebox. Check out www.ruraltone.com/dex.
If you've a hankering for that ol' fashioned '50s twang, ordained with the seal of religion, you might want to discover (or rediscover) the music of Fern Jones on the new The Glory Road CD. The teen wife of an Arkansas minister in the '40s, Fern began a long, but ultimately largely unnoticed career of mixing an Elvis Presley/Patsy Cline vibe with a gospel sensibility to produce a couple of albums and some rare singles. She also wrote the song Jimmie Davis would add his name to and Johnny Cash would later discover and sing for much of his career, "I Was There When It Happened." Jones' last album was Singing a Happy Song, featuring several members of Elvis Presley's studio band and a re-recorded version of "I Was There When It Happened." It was released in 1959 on Dot Records, a division of Paramount Pictures, but went nowhere because the label killed its gospel division almost as soon as it opened it.
Jones performed her last concert a year later. After 20 years of singing everywhere from revival tents to auditoriums, Jones simply stopped performing, and while her "I Was There When It Happened" has turned up on many country and gospel albums, her own career has been unheralded. Now the Numero CD label, which specializes in unearthing forgotten niche music, has re-issued some of the final tapes she recorded for Singing a Happy Song and more as The Glory Road. It's an intriguing time capsule filled with energy and charisma that defies 50 years in the vaults. More information: www.numerogroup.comnumero.html.
Aly & AJ
Into the Rush
Disney is out to create some new pop culture multimedia stars to rival the Simpson sisters in teenagers Aly & AJ.
Sisters aged 16 and 14, the girls already have had multiple TV and movie roles and scored soundtrack hits by remaking the hits "Walking on Sunshine" and "Do You Believe in Magic" (which appeared in the movies Herbie: Fully Loaded and Now You See It respectively.)
Aly starred in Disney's "Now You See It" movie as well as some TV roles and currently appears in the Disney Channel's "Phil of the Future" series (which has also featured an AJ & Aly song, "Protecting Me." Her younger sister AJ has appeared on "Six Feet Under," "General Hospital" and more. Their single "No One" also appeared in The Ice Princess movie and went on to be featured in TV's "Alias."
Now Disney's star-making machine has brought it all together, and all of those tracks plus 10 more co-written by the talented sibs are collected on their debut CD Into the Rush on Hollywood Records. It's an album of sweet harmonies and sharp, sugary pop songs.
The title track "Into the Rush" will sell to fans of Ashlee Simpson, while their unaffected harmonies will win over fans of another Disney girl group — M2M. If you enjoy catchy, crunchy guitars and girlish but wonderfully intertwined pop harmonies, this disc is worth a spin. More information is at www.alyandajmusic.com.
Let There Be Morning
Borrowing a reflective, low-slow foot-gazing vibe from early Radiohead, Sweden's The Perishers released an understated but deceptively evocative disc on Canada's Nettwerk Records called Let There Be Morning in the spring.
From the building introspective glow of "Weekends" to the Gerry Rafferty chime of "Sway," the album builds a mood of contemplation and moody dreaminess. "Pills," the disc's strongest and penultimate track, offers a melancholic indictment of modern chemically assisted life, and pairs singer Ola Kluft in a duet with the enchantingly vulnerable-sounding Sara Isaksson, his former vocal coach.
Let There Be Morning is one of those insidious collections of music that seems unobtrusive at first, but then gets under your skin more with each listen. Recommended.
To be hypnotized by their dreamy guitar and piano daze sound, catch them live Friday at the Metro in Chicago and check their Web site at www.perishersmusic.com.