Luther Russell - Medium Cool (Fluff & Gravy)
Add Date: 02/19/2019
Focus Tracks: 8, 2, 5 & 3
Formats: Americana, College, & Triple A
RIYL: Big Star, Robyn Hitchcock & Those Pretty Wrongs
Artist Info: Luther Russell is a songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist who was born in Los Angeles, CA. His career began with DGC/American Recording artists, The Freewheelers, twenty-five years ago. More recently, he has worked with Robyn Hitchcock, Jody Stephens of Big Star (as part of their duo, Those Pretty Wrongs), and written songs with Weezer for their Grammy-Nominated White Album. As a solo artist he has released an eclectic series of albums, culminating in 2018’s highly-praised two-CD retrospective, entitled Selective Memories: An Anthology on Hanky Panky Records, and SoCal’s own underground sensation, Burger Records. His music has been featured on NBC, ABC, CBS, HBO and Showtime.
Luther’s sixth studio album, Medium Cool, will be released on LP and CD on February 22, via Portland’s Fluff and Gravy Records. It was preceded in November, 2018 by the 7″ single “The Sound of Rock and Roll” b/w “Saturday’s Child” (a non-album track). Containing music that swings wildly between the madly rambunctious and starkly personal, Medium Cool is described by Luther as “a rough rock & roll album, roughly about rock & roll,” though, in many ways the album is a kind of lament for the Los Angeles of his youth. Thankfully, Luther’s version of a ‘lament’ these days appears to be plugging in the guitar, cranking up the amp and blasting out his thoughts and feelings straight to tape.
“With these songs, I thought I could maybe capture the essence of growing up in the San Fernando Valley during the heyday of rock ’n’ roll radio,” explains Russell. It’s unmistakably there in the drag strip reverie of “Corvette Summer,” in the kinetic multi-city shout-out “Have You Heard?” and the shredding solos of “Can’t Be Sad.” Along for the drive are echoes of the slightly off-kilter power pop that emerged from Memphis’ Ardent Studios in the 1970s. You can hear it in tracks such as the slamming opener “Deep Feelings,” and the downcast jangler “Talkin’ to Myself”. Makes sense, since Luther’s been working there regularly with Jody Stephens of Big Star in their duo Those Pretty Wrongs.
Luther was joined by Derek Brown of the Eels on drums for this project, and Liam Hayes of Plush makes a rare appearance, playing guitar on the poignant elegy, “Blue Balloon.”