The new Graveyard album is "Lights Out" and it's on the truth in advertising Nuclear Blast label. It's in you face hard rock, too often so strident that the typical graveyard inhabitants might go the zombie route just to get away from all this noise. Some Rolling Stone geezer called them "a nimbler Black Sabbath;" whatever - do we really miss Black Sabbath all that much? These guys are Swedish hard rockers with their own brand of beer, but it's just fist in the air, head in the ass metal malarkey.
Singer/songwriter Erin McKeown has a new one called "Manifesta," just out on TVP Records. The alleged selling point is that there is a tune co-written by every lefty's favorite lesbian newscaster, Rachel Maddow. All of bomb throwing anarchists who know that privatization is just another word for stealing public money - we all love Rachel to pieces but McKeown should've chosen another co-writer - Rhett Miller, maybe. She has an OK voice but it's back to Songwriting 101 on most of these mundane melodies that you won't want to hear twice. Also, there's a bonus CD of acoustic music removing all doubt that McKeown and songwriting skill remain complete strangers.
The latest from Midwestern troubadour Martin Zellar & the Hardways is "Rooster Crow" and it's on his own Owen Lee Recordings. Zellar was the frontman for the Gear Daddies, one of the great underappreciated country rock bands - "Billy's Live Bait" and "Let's Go Scare Al" are classics and "Zamboni" is their most famous song. Zellar wrote most of the Gear Daddies tunes but that's old news and he has been fronting the Hardways for two decades as he remains one of the saddest living men with wrists yet unslit. It's still low tech Americana with emotions on the sleeve as Zellar holds nothing back on tunes such as "Wore Me Down" and "I'm The Problem." Not as good as the Gear Daddies but it's still the same dude doing cool stuff while remaining the poster boy for "we have to talk." Zellar is one of the greatest artists out of Minnesota, the state that gave us Bob Himself, Senator Al Franken, Prince, the Replacements and also whistlehead congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who probably would not wear a Zellar shirt.