Despite (or, more likely, due to) the fact that I sometimes blast through hundreds of songs a day, tons of worthy releases manage to whiz above, beneath and beyond my radar. Glossed-over singles, long-forgotten deep cuts, crazy cover tunes, oddball ditties from who knows where; they’re all out there somewhere, just waiting to be (re)discovered. Thankfully, online streaming algorithms are always ready, willing and able to churn up those buried treasures and add them to my playlist (and, by extension, yours). Here are some recently discovered gems from way down the digital rabbit hole:
Elizabeth Cook | El Camino
I am ashamed to say that even though I reviewed her 2020 album Aftermath, I totally blanked on this Nashville singer-songwriter when this cut popped up on my screen a few weeks back. But I’ve been addicted to it ever since I pushed play. Even though it came out way back in 2010, it’s my favourite song of 2023, based on the number of times I’ve played it. The slashing guitar, the low-rider groove, the tinkly piano, the kooky lyrics, the sassy delivery — it’s got everything you need and nothing you don’t. Unsurprisingly, I’ve checked out plenty more of her stuff since then. I haven’t found anything that matches the cool perfection of this song, but she’s definitely more interesting and idiosyncratic than your typical country singer-songwriter.
The Bottle Rockets | Nancy Sinatra
Another oldie. And another goodie. I have been a Bottle Rockets fan for a while now, but I have still have a few holes in my collection — notably their 1999 album Brand New Year, which contains this little sizzler. It’s basically the greatest song ZZ Top never wrote, which takes nothing away from either band or the song. And yep, it’s an ode to Frankie’s daughter, in all her white-go-go-booted late-’60s glory: “She’s so hot-ta / Take all I got-ta / Just to be in the company of / Miss Nancy Sinatra.” You got better lyrics than that, let’s hear ’em.
Ryan Scott | Stomp Your Feet And Clap Your Hands
Here’s somebody I never heard — or even heard of — before a few weeks ago. According to his bio: “Scott is a New York-based musician, and most notably, a guitar man. He’s been described as a genius, axe murderer, and shredder extraordinaire. Ryan embodies rock ‘n roll and soul in its purest form, influenced by the blues-rock guitar lineage, New York’s jazz tradition, New Orleans R&B, Brazilian psychedelia, and much more. His mastery of technique, groove, and aesthetic are undeniable.” That’s what he says. I say this track is a satisfying dose of spaced-out psychedelic rock with offbeat (in every sense of the word) lyrics and some seriously volcanic guitar work. It comes from his 2019 album. A Freak Grows In Brooklyn.
The Bug Club | The Fixer
Back in January, I featured this Welsh garage-pop trio’s album Green Dream In F#. Somehow, I missed seeing their next release Pure Particles, which apparently landed on their Bandcamp page in April. According to the internet, it actually came out in 2021, before Green Dream, but I have no idea if that’s really true or not. All I know is that this track is a sweet little nugget of Jonathan Richman / Modern Lovers-style rock ’n’ roll. It’ll fix everything.
Cher | I Walk On Guilded Splinters
For some weird reason that may or may not be known only to itself, Spotify recently decided to start serving me every version of the bayou classic I Walk On Guilded Splinters that it could find — Paul Weller, Humble Pie, Widespread Panic and more (along with Dr. John’s definitive hoodoo-voodoo take, of course). But this swampy version from (believe it or not) Cher threw me for a loop. It comes from her 1969 album 3614 Jackson Highway — which just happens to be the address of Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, where she recorded the LP with the legendary Swampers and producers Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin. Best of all: No trace of Sonny (except on the cover pic). Guess I’m gonna be listening to some Cher in the short term.
Fearless Flyers | Reelin’ In The Years
Yep, it’s a cover of the ’70s Steely Dan chestnut — tastefully converted into a jazzy guitar instrumental by this recurring side project from the Michigan funk outfit Vulfpeck. You might remember them for releasing a silent album in 2014 that exploited a loophole in Spotify’s royalty scheme and helped fund their tour. Rest assured this track has actual sounds on it. And cool ones.