New Music Monday: Paul McCartney's Kisses, Van Halen's Truth and Owl City in concert

New offerings from Paul McCartney, Owl City and Van Halen top our weekly list of notable upcoming music projects, both new and reissue. Also arriving in the coming days is fresh product from Battles, Carmen Lundy, Emma-Lee, Jenny Owen Youngs, Pete Robbins and Roberta Flack; as well as interesting updates of older items by Genesis’s Anthony Phillips, Chicago (well, not really) and John Coltrane, among others.

PRESENTING NEW MUSIC MONDAY FOR THE WEEK OF FEB. 6, 2012 …

Andrew Lloyd WebberPhantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall: In Celebration of 25 Years (Stage and Screen)

ANTHONY PHILLIPS – PRIVATE PARTS AND PIECES III AND IV (POP/ROCK): Reissues from the early 1980s by the former early member of Genesis, these albums again collected a series of musical snippets — including material written for other projects, in-studio experiments, reworked originals and random improvisations. Phillips, a founding member of Genesis who left in 1970 because of an on-going bout with stage fright, has thus far done 10 of these sound-collage compilations dating back to 1978. The last was in 1999. For fans of his earlier association with Phil Collins and Co., the series has happily included collaborations with Mike Rutherford, and a solo version of Genesis’ “Let Us Now Make Love.” — Nick DeRiso

BAHAMAS – BARCHORDS (FOLK): Toronto singer-songwriter/guitarist Afie Jurvanen, fresh off his Juno-nominated debut Pink Strat (best roots and traditional album), returns with a similarly constructed but far more complex effort. Similarly lean and stark — with another batch of spacious, darkly interesting licks by Jurvanen, who has played with Feist and Amy Millan — Barchords is embolden by the textured presence of his regular touring band of drummer Jason Tait and bassist Darcy Yates. — Nick DeRiso

BATTLES – DROSS GLOP 1 (POP/ROCK): The first in a series of remixes from Battles’ 2011 album Gloss Drop, released this week to 12-inch vinyl and including similar reworkings of the original album art. Featured are Gui Boratto from the German label Kompakt, who adds a Brazilian techno feel to “Wall Street”; and the Field, who re-work “Sweetie & Shag” into a itchy dance-meets-math rock amalgam. — Nick DeRiso

Ben KwellerGo Fly A Kite (Pop/Rock)
Brian Courtney WilsonSo Proud (Gospel)

CARMEN LUNDY – CHANGES (JAZZ): Recorded with Lundy’s regular trio of pianist Anthony Wonsey, bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Jamison Ross, this nine-track album is all original — save for one well-placed cover of “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.” Lundy, over the years, has been rightly compared with Sarah Vaughn, Betty Carter and Billie Holiday. Combine that here with a master guitarist in the classical Brazilian style in Oscar Castro-Neves. Special guests include trumpeter Nolan Shaheed and trombonist George Bohanon. The all-star production team for Changes includes engineer Don Murray (The Spinners, Lee Ritenour, Whitney Houston, Ray Charles), with mastering by the legendary Doug Sax (The Who, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond). — Nick DeRiso

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CHICAGO – IF YOU LEAVE ME NOW (AND OTHER HITS) (POP/ROCK): A re-release of yet another in the endless repackaging projects for Chicago, this one focuses on the band’s most recognizable pre-David Foster hits — beginning with the title track. Of passing interest are the less well-worn tracks “Another Rainy Day in New York City,” from Robert Lamm, and “Song for You” from Peter Cetera. But all of it has been issued, and reissued and reissued, elsewhere. Hard to believe everyone who wants this stuff doesn’t already own it. — Nick DeRiso

Chick CoreaOn Two Pianos [with Nicolaus Economou]; The Continents: Concerto for Jazz Quintet & Chamber Orchestra (Classical)
Choo Choo SoulChoo Choo Soul (Children’s)
Chuck ProphetTemple Beautiful (Pop/Rock)
Del the Funky HomosapienI Wish My Brother George Was Here (Rap)
Dick DaleTribal Thunder/Unknown Territory (Pop/Rock)
Die AntwoordTEN$ION (Pop/Rock)
Dierks BentleyHome (Country)

DR. DOG – BE THE VOID (POP/ROCK): Bassist/vocalist Toby Leaman’s Philadelphia-based psychedelic rock group follows up 2010′s Shame, Shame with a new project featuring newly added drummer Eric Slick, along with guitarist/percussionist Dmitri Manos. The result: A leaner, live-sounding record — with less symphonic pop, and more scalding guitars. Key tracks include the punky “Over Here Over There,” the Neil Young-ish “That Old Black Hole,” and the fuzz-rock jam “Warrior Man.” — Nick DeRiso

Edith PiafEdith Piaf (International)

EMMA-LEE – BACKSEAT HEROINE (POP/ROCK): You’ll find a decidedly more alt-country sound from this Canadian singer-songwriter, something of a surprise after the arty cabaret pop of her 2009 debut, Never Just a Dream. But, over the course of Backseat Heroine, it becomes obvious that this is a far more appropriate setting, considering the smoky blues feel of Emma-Lee’s voice. She drops the winky pretense, and hits a series of emotional bull’s eyes on songs like “You’re Not Coming By” and “Just Looking.” — Nick DeRiso

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FoghatLast Train Home [Blue Vinyl] (Pop/Rock)
Garland GreenI Should’ve Been the One (Blues)
Glen CampbellMeet Glen Campbell (Country)
GoldfrappThe Singles (Pop/Rock)
HulonAfter Hours (Jazz)

JENNY OWEN YOUNGS – AN UNWAVERING BAND OF LIGHT (POP/ROCK): The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter, having left the Nettwerk label, updates her indie folk-pop sound with a fan-funded DIY release that’s simultaneously more rambunctious and far more direct. Working again with producer and multi-instrumentalist Dan Romer (Ingrid Michaelson, April Smith and the Great Picture Show, Jukebox The Ghost), Youngs commands a new level of respect here. You expected an appealing kind of sun-drenched melodicism; she’s now sporting a very welcome bit of whip-smart attitude, too. — Nick DeRiso

JOHN COLTRANE – EXPRESSION; LIVE AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD AGAIN! (JAZZ): Two important reissues from this mythical performer, both from 1967. The first, featuring Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane, includes John Coltrane’s final studio recording (the title track) as well as his only flute-led recording, “To Be.” Meanwhile, the live date from a May 1966 date, finds the same group tearing through free-jazz reworkings of “Naima,” and “My Favorite Things” — the two of which lasts an astounding 35 minutes. In between is a stirring six-minute bass solo from Jimmy Garrison, one of the only times he (or anyone else, for that matter, including guest percussionist Emanuel Rahim, drummer Rashied Ali or Alice Coltrane) can be heard over the transfixing din created by Sanders and John Coltrane. — Nick DeRiso

Josh GinsburgZembla Variations (Jazz)
Manhattan TransferLive/Extensions (Jazz)
Mark Lanegan BandBlues Funeral (Pop/Rock)

OWL CITY – LIVE FROM LOS ANGELES DVD/Blu-ray (POP/ROCK): Owl City’s music is awash in a kind of magical exuberance, something that at first gives it this whooshing, squelchy energy. Over time, though, it all begins to feel too polite, too perfect. It’s all soaring optimism, and fearless flights of fancy, with none of the nasty consequences or regrets associated with what comes next. Despite the escapist feel to Owl City’s dreamscape ruminations, they only go so far, and for so long. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Patrice O’NealMr. P (Comedy)

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PAUL McCARTNEY – KISSES ON THE BOTTOM (JAZZ): The ex-Beatle has, over the last 15 years, put out better music than many have given him credit for. In fact, I’d argue this period has been the most consistent and creative of any in his solo career. In keeping, Paul McCartney has every right to the odd vanity project. That this one makes so much sense, and connects on such a deeply personal level, isn’t so much a surprise as it is another welcome success in a period that’s been so unexpectedly filled with them. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Pet Shop BoysFormat: B-sides [Import] (Pop/Rock)

PETE ROBBINS TRANSATLANTIC QUARTET – LIVE IN BASEL (JAZZ): Recorded in Switzerland two years ago by a local radio station at the end of a tour, Pete Robbins’ forthcoming project can’t help but to draw comparisons to its immediate predecessor — since they are both live recordings, and even one tune, “Eliotsong,” appears on both. That’s where you can really notice the difference in the mode of attack: the Silent Z band is more tightly wound, driven by precision and the polyrhythmic magic of Tyshawn Sorey. The Transatlantic Quartet tackles the same song with a more relaxed looseness, and relying more on the instinct that you get from playing 50+ dates together for about two years as this crew has. (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

PetraClassic Petra: Back To The Rock Live (Religious)
Philip GlassEssential Philip Glass (Classical)
PsycropticInherited Repression (Pop/Rock)
Richard MarxStories to Tell [CD/DVD] (Pop/Rock)
Richard and Linda ThompsonShoot Out the Lights (Pop/Rock)
Rob TognoniBoogie Like You Never Did (Blues)

ROBERTA FLACK – LET IT BE ROBERTA: ROBERTA FLACK SINGS THE BEATLES (POP/ROCK): The crossover artist’s crossover artist, Robert Flack’s very first hit — a cover of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” — was a multi-chart No. 1 in 1972. So, it makes some sense that the pop-soul stylist would take on the Beatles as a focus for her first album in eight years. Produced by Sherrod Barnes (Beyonce, Angie Stone), the project ends up moving from the obvious (“Hey Jude” and “Let It Be”) to the interesting (“We Can Work It Out” and “Come Together”), from heart-warming (“If I Fell” and “In My Life,” the emotional opener) to simply head-scratching (George Harrison’s “Isn’t It A Pity,” the only solo track here). Sometimes the material suffers because of the definitive nature of the originals; other times, the modern R&B production is simply too jarring. But then Flack adds a smoky blues sizzle to “Oh Darling,” and all is forgiven. Whatever the album’s pitfalls, her personal connection to the Beatles work here never wavers: “Love, inspiration, friendship and my own life’s lessons comes together when I sing the songs they created,” Flack says in pre-release materials. It shows. — Nick DeRiso

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ShaggySummer in Kingston (International)
Sharon Van EttenTramp (Pop/Rock)
SilversteinShort Songs (Pop/Rock)
Steve TyrellI’ll Take Romance (Jazz)
Thelonious MonkThe Unique Thelonious Monk [Vinyl] (Jazz)
The FrayScars & Stories (Pop/Rock)
The LemonheadsHotel Sessions (Pop/Rock)
The ResidentsCoochie Brake (Pop/Rock)
The Twilight SadNo One Can Never Know (Pop/Rock)
The UnthanksThe Songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & the Johnsons: Live at the Union Chapel (Folk)
Tim BerneSnakeoil (Jazz)
Tony BennettIsn’t It Romantic? (Jazz)

TORD GUSTAVSEN TRIO – THE WELL (JAZZ): Every piece is unhurried, spiritual and contemplative, playing folk-ish type melodies in a style of jazz that is almost as much new age. But listen closely to Gustavsen’s pieces and his understated playing style and you definitely won’t confuse him with Jim Brickman — even if you wouldn’t mistake him for Keith Jarrett, either. The calm mood is carefully consistent throughout. (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

VAN HALEN – A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRUTH (POP/ROCK): Better than expected, Van Halen’s A Different Kind of Truth is a return to form in the most complete sense of the word. They sound — and, given the history of these tracks, that’s no surprise — like their old selves again. To complain that some of the album is based on older unreleased tracks is to miss how much ass-shaking, riff-taking fun all of it ultimately turns out to be. Tracks like “China Town” and “The Trouble With Never” actually end up representing their own high points for the group, even at this late date. There, and elsewhere, you find new licks and new sounds, and a darker complexity, but also a break-neck attitude — familiar on records like 1981′s Fair Warning — that you worried was beyond Van Halen at this point. (More here.) (And more here, too!)Nick DeRiso

Various artistsRockabye Baby: Lullaby Renditions of Depeche Mode (Children’s)
Various artistsSongs & Story: Sleeping Beauty (Children’s)
Various artistsWaylon: Music Inside – Collaboration 2 (Country)
Willie NelsonOn The Road Again: Live On Air (Country)
WireThe Black Session – Paris 10 May 2011 (Pop/Rock)

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