Luther Russell has drifted under the radar of many for the past few decades, but his 2018 double album anthology, Selective Memories helped clue in the uninitiated to his brilliant knack for writing Power Pop and Rock songs that brim with substance. His latest, Medium Cool, continues that streak, shunning trendy musical fades for a timeless set of guitar-driven, strong narrative songs that could have come out at any time over the past 40 years.
influence of his sometime-collaborator Jody Stephens shines through on a
bulk of these songs, that sport a strong Big Star influence (“The Sound
of Rock & Roll,” “Can’t Be
Sad”), but elsewhere he is straight up, prefix-free rock (“Corvette
Summer,” “Sad Lady”). There are one or few tracks here that don’t quite
measure up to the rest, but that hardly takes away from the overall
Themes of cruising around, checking out
bands and teenage
romance drama fill out the record, that sounds like the perfect summer
soundtrack to a world before cell phones and Instagram stories.