From South America to Ireland via Iceland, from great white soul out of the Deep South to the paisley revival, here is a dynamite variety with further evidence of the long demise of the CD: The first album is only available digitally — and on vinyl.
Diamante Eléctrico, Buitres (Altafonte)
Formed in Bogotá, Colombia, in 2012, Diamante Eléctrico make alternative rock en Español with cross-the-border zeal. Singer-bassist Juan Galeano, guitarist Daniel Álvarez and drummer Andee Zax recorded 2016’s La Gran Oscillacion with Joshua V. Smith, Jack White’s house engineer at Third Man Records; made the 2017 single “Los Dias Raros” with a Texas-grit guest, Z.Z. Top guitarist Billy Gibbons; and mixed their latest album, Buitres (“Vultures”), at Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios. Galeano, the main lyricist, writes in Spanish, but the brooding march “Hacia La Noche” (“Into the Void)” and the crackling urgency of “Rotos” (“Broken”) are power-trio modernism with a universal edge — funky and foreboding, like the Rolling Stones’ “Midnight Rambler” with the Black Keys at the wheel. Diamante Eléctrico’s roots in British blues-rock and Seventies American soul were more overt on their 2013 self-titled debut and 2015’s B, both largely cut live in the studio. With more hip-hop undercurrent and studio flair in the radio-savvy choruses and cadence of “Nefertiti” and “Oro” (“Gold”), Buitres is Diamante Eléctrico’s black-leather-jacket classicism rolling forward.
Fontaines D.C., “Too Real” (Partisan)
The most exciting new band that I saw at this year’s Iceland Airwaves, in Reykjavík a few weeks back, was not local action but a young Irish quintet with a fistful of singles. Founded in Dublin and first emerging on seven-inch vinyl in 2017, Fontaines D.C. shot through the humid crush of the upstairs bar at Gaukurinn with the railroad thrust of the Strokes; the flying-shrapnel distortion and feedback of Sonic Youth; and, in singer Grian Chatten, the slicing vocal harangue of John Lydon at the dawn of Public Image Ltd. A debut album looms in early 2019 along with U.S. dates. Until then, “Too Real,” Fontaines D.C.’s fourth single, is rushing, thumping sustenance, marked by scouring, upward sweeps of guitar and Chatten’s repeated challenge (“Is it too real fuh ya?”). The rest of the canon so far, out of print on 45, can be streamed with ease, including the band’s sign-off at Airwaves, “Boys in a Better Land,” which sounds like conquest achieved.
3X4: The Bangles, The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate, The Rain Parade (Yep Roc)
The so-called Paisley Underground was always more a circle of friends than a scene, rising out of the hardcore mayhem of early-Eighties Los Angeles with a shared, sunnier optimism and a punky-jangle spin on psychedelic songwriting. Members of these four charter bands contributed to the 1984 collaboration Rainy Day, a collective Pin-Ups of covers drawn from the inspirational songbooks of Neil Young, Lou Reed and Alex Chilton, among others. On 3X4, everyone covers each other with both affection and interpretive vigor. The Bangles turn the gender and hurt around in the Dream Syndicate’s “That’s What You Always Say,” lining the original’s serrated grind with harmonic Sixties-girl-group challenge. The latter band, in turn, plows through the Bangles’ “Hero Takes a Fall” with hardened-Nuggets force. The Three O’Clock bring out even more of the space-ride Byrds lurking in the Rain Parade’s 1982 single “What She’s Done to Your Mind,” while the Rain Parade address the Dream Syndicate’s “When You Smile” — a feedback-scarred crawl on that group’s 1982 debut EP — as a folk ballad with outbursts of colorful, rolling thunder suggesting original gospel: the Beatles’ “It’s All Too Much.”
Cover Me: The Eddie Hinton Songbook (Ace)
The British reissue label’s ongoing series of anthologies celebrating producers and songwriters of the Sixties and Seventies — the gilded age of the recording studio — turns to the Muscle Shoals session guitarist and composer Eddie Hinton, whose reputation among the best voices in pop and soul was undercut by private troubles and an early death in 1995, from a heart attack at 51. Hinton was white but wrote with a crossover soul — often in collaboration with writers such as Dan Penn, Donnie Fritts and Marlin Greene — confirmed by the roll call here. There are the multiple Souths of Tony Joe White’s “300 Pounds of Hongry” from 1972 (spelled like he’s drawling the title); Alabama’s Oscar Toney Jr. belting “Down in Texas” in 1969; and Gregg Allman with his brother Duane and the majestic ache of “Home for the Summer” from a 1969 LP as the Hour Glass. Hinton’s sensitivity for a woman’s work in love also meant strong covers by Dusty Springfield (“Breakfast in Bed,” 1969), Aretha Franklin (“Every Little Thing,” 1974) and Jackie Moore (this set’s title gem, a 1971 B side). For all of his gifts, the guitarist recorded infrequently under his own name, making Hinton’s 1967 demo here, “It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right,” both welcome and prescient epitaph.