New Music Monday: Cowboy Junkies, Papa Grows Funk, Steve Lehman, Tommy Bolin

Monday morning offers another chance to dig into the bounty of new music scheduled for release this week, a list topped by Cowboy Junkies, Justin Townes Earle, Papa Grows Funk, Steve Lehman and Tommy Bolin. There are key reissues and live dates, as well, from Clint Eastwood (yes, that Clint Eastwood), Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot, and Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders. Also hitting store shelves and Web sites: Angel Witch, the Bob Beldon-led jazz group Animation, God Forbid, Joan Osborne, Lorenzo Feliciati, Macy Gray, Overkill, and Three Inches of Blood, among others.

AND NEW MUSIC MONDAY FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 26, 2012 …

Alan JacksonPrecious Memories (Country)

ANGEL WITCH – AS ABOVE, SO BELOW (POP/ROCK): One of the pioneering new wave of British heavy metal bands returns with its first new studio album since 1986. It’s a mix of newly written tracks and a few songs from the early days of the band that were played live but never recorded. A solid effort and in keeping with the band’s sound – somewhere between the doomy, gloomy heaviness of Black Sabbath and the faster, more energetic sounds of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. — Fred Phillips

ANIMATION – AGEMO (JAZZ): A boiling cauldron of bass-heavy funk mashed up with the unpredictable improvisation of jazz. Add to that the electronic effects of DJ Logic, and there are a lot of elements swirling around in these songs, both in the originals and the Bob Belden-led Animation’s interpretations. The swooshing noise generated by Logic on “Pharaoh’s Dance” moves around not just from left to right, but up and down as well. Tim Hagan’s horn resonates with more, well, resonance on “Bitches Brew.” The dense noise on “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down” seems to envelope your ears, and the fragmented rhythms on “John McLaughlin” really pop. (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

AXEL RUDI PELL – CIRCLE OF THE OATH (POP/ROCK): Expect another fairly reliable collection of melodic/power metal. If you like Pell, you’ll like this one. — Fred Phillips

Benny GoodmanBig Bands Live: Benny Goodman Orchestra featuring Anita O’Day, 1959 (Jazz)
Cannonball Adderley QuintetLegends Live: Stuttgart, March 20, 1969 (Jazz)

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Clay AikenSteadfast (Vocals)
Chuck LeavellBack to the Woods (Pop/Rock)

CLINT EASTWOOD – RAWHIDE’S CLINT EASTWOOD SINGS COWBOY FAVORITES (COUNTRY): Yeah, I’m going to have to rubberneck at this train wreck. — Fred Phillips

COWBOY JUNKIES – WILDERNESS (POP/ROCK): It’s taken some time, maybe longer than the Timmons siblings ever would have guessed, but this is a masterwork success for the Cowboy Junkies — something that both reminds you of, and then finally supersedes, the shimmering decades-old successes of The Trinity Sessions. In other words, something far more than the sum of their haunting, deeply impactful on that earlier melancholic combining of country, folk, blues and echoing rock balladry. The Wilderness certainly references the quietly assertive, deeply atmospheric tone of Trinity — but it never capitulates to rote imitation. The Cowboy Junkies have grown too much, accomplished so many things, since then. And this album is oh so much the better for that. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

Dark EmpireFrom Refuge to Ruin (Pop/Rock)
Eric BibbDeeper in the Well (Blues)
Flying ColorsFlying Colors (Pop/Rock)
Frankie AvalonMuscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions CD (Pop/Rock)
FuryonGravitas (Pop/Rock)
Gerry Mulligan SextetLegends Live: Stuttgart, Nov. 22, 1977 (Jazz)

GOD FORBID – EQUILIBRIUM (ROCK/POP): I was interested to see how the loss of guitarist and melodic vocalist Dallas Coyle would change the band, and it has, but not as much as perhaps expected. Matt Wicklund of Himsa joins on guitar and Dallas ’ brother Doc Coyle takes over the clean vocals. There’s still a nice mix of heavy and melodic influences, and there’s some really good stuff here. It still doesn’t grab me like 2005’s outstanding Constitution of Treason or even 2009’s Earthsblood. — Fred Phillips

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IRON MAIDEN – EN VIVO! (ROCK/POP): There’s no band in the metal world that can milk money from its fans the way Iron Maiden can. There’s a new live CD/DVD or compilation every year, if not more often. Here’s another. True, most of them are very good, but come on guys. — Fred Phillips

Jack BladesRock N Roll Ride (Pop/Rock)
Jay BrannanRob Me Blind (Folk)
Jeff Scott SotoDamage Control (Pop/Rock)

JOAN OSBORNE – BRING IT ON HOME (BLUES): A detour into African American music forms, Osborne takes on Sonny Boy Williamson’s title track and Muddy Waters’ “I Want To Be Loved,” but also more modern R&B tracks from the likes of Ray Charles (“I Don’t Need No Doctor”), Al Green (“Rhymes”) and Otis Redding (“Champagne and Wine”). She again collaborates with guitarist/keyboardist/producer Jack Petruzzelli, with whom Osborne has worked since 1988. That only strengthens the project’s throwback theme: “When we first started playing together, it was blues, R&B and some originals,” Petruzzelli says. “During those years, New York City was full of clubs with great bands. It was nostalgic and refreshing to be playing this music again on Bring it on Home.” In an effort to recreate the era’s warm analog sound, Osbourne recorded live in the Waterfront Studios in Hudson, New York on an original 3M 24-track tape machine. Guests include Allen Toussaint, who plays piano on his own “Shoorah! Shoorah!”; “Conan” TV show musical director Jimmy Vivino, who did the horn arrangements and also played Wurlitzer on “I Don’t Need No Doctor”; along with the Holmes Brothers and Rufus Thomas’ daughter Vaneese on vocals. — Nick DeRiso

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JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE – NOTHING’S GOING TO CHANGE THE WAY YOU FEEL ABOUT ME NOW (POP/ROCK): There are, in fact, a series of particular delights here — almost in spite of the expectation in his very name. By the end, Nothing’s Going to Change has offered so many moments of chest-splashing specificity that it feels inauthentic to even mention Justin Townes Earle’s lineage. He’s his own man, with his own thoughts, his own story. And Earle has the scars, not to mention the dancing girl tattoo on his left forearm, to show for it. Also, thankfully, albums of brilliant, bruised beauty — and of tough-minded, ragged resolve — like this one. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

Katy PerryTeenage Dream: The Complete Confection (Pop/Rock)
Lionel RichieTuskegee (Pop/Rock)

LORENZO FELICIATI – FREQUENT FLYER (JAZZ): With only one studio album, one live album and an ensemble album under his belt, Feliciati has already established himself as a worldwide-recognized electric bassist. His second official studio album can be considered the “Lorenzo Feliciati And Friends” record, as each track hosts a different guest star or two either from Feliciati’s native Italy scene or an international jazz/fusion luminary, making each track distinctive. Constantly shifting lineups and song structures set up the challenges that Feliciati takes on with poise, resulting in a record that never gets too comfortable with itself and, even has some fun. (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

Lou RaglandI Travel Alone (R&B)
MadonnaMDNA (Pop/Rock)

MACY GRAY – COVERED (R&B): Working with producer Hal Willner (Lou Reed, Marianne Faithfull, Laurie Anderson), Gray folds her arms around this group of cover tunes — and then holds on so tight that it’s like they were hers all along. Unfortunately, a series of short skits featuring the likes of J.B. Smoove and Nicole Scherzinger, so common on hip hip projects of two decades ago, end up working more as thematic speed bumps. Skip past those, however, and Covered holds together quite well. In fact, it’s just as weirdly interesting, and compelling offbeat, as the original compositions that have sold more than 25 million albums for Gray, garnering her multiple Grammys and MTV awards. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

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MeshuggahKoloss (Pop/Rock)
MinistryRelapse (Pop/Rock)
Mirel WagnerMirel Wagner (Folk)
My Darkest DaysSick and Twisted Affair (Pop/Rock)

OVERKILL – THE ELECTRIC AGE (POP/ROCK): The thrash survivors’ 2010 album Ironbound was arguably the best of their career — and easily one of the best of that year — as Overkill captured an energy and aggression that few metal bands can muster 25 years on. It will be interesting to see if they can match it with the follow-up. If the lead single “Electric Rattlesnake” is any indication, there’s a good chance they can. — Fred Phillips

PAPA GROWS FUNK – NEEDLE IN THE GROOVE (FUNK): There remains a strong sense of this band’s grease-popping propulsion, but Papa Grows Funk’s new project also boasts a tight, pop-influenced narrative focus that hasn’t always been there before. Tracks like “Make It Right Now,” which have become wide-open vehicles for these titanic solos in the live setting, are harnessed here into sharp shocks of cunning wit. Credit there probably goes to initial producer Tom Drummond, bassist with the college-rock band Better Than Ezra. You certainly hear that group’s whip-smart bar-band smarts at play during stand out cuts like “Do You Want It,” with its sizzling drum signature; and “Needle in the Groove,” as Papa Grows Funk bops over a fiercely coiled rhythm. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

Paul WellerSonik Kicks (Pop/Rock)
Pretty MaidsIt Comes Alive (Pop/Rock)

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QUIET RIOT – LIVE AT THE US FESTIVAL 1983 (POP/ROCK): The first metal release in the series of DVDs coming on the US Festival, this one captures Quiet Riot at the height of their power. It’s an outstanding show. (More here.)Fred Phillips

Ray Wylie HubbardThe Grifter’s Hymnal (Country)
Rick SpringfieldBeginnings (Pop/Rock)
ShinedownAmaryllis (Pop/Rock)

STEVE LEHMAN TRIO – DIALECT FLUORESCENT (JAZZ): Lehman’s 2009 project Travail, Transformation and Flow served notice that everyone’s favorite up and coming alto saxophonist had arrived. Now, he’s poised to build on that here, as he abandons the enigmatic, spiritually defined octet of the prior record to explore his concepts as applied in a simpler, sax/bass/drums framework. A lot of very talented jazz musicians of his generation do the same, but Lehman does so without creating a hybrid of jazz with some other music form; he comes up with ideas seemingly out of nowhere but from his own imagination, rooted firmly in tradition, and the resulting sound can be describe as strange, eccentric, unique, or a number of other things, but it can also be identified as wholly jazz. (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

The All-American RejectsKids in the Street (Pop/Rock)
The BoxcarsAll In (Folk)
The Chemical BrothersDon’t Think [Live CD/DVD] (Pop/Rock)
The Mars VoltaNoctourniquet (Pop/Rock)

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The UsedVulnerable (Pop/Rock)
The TubesYoung & Rich/Now (Pop/Rock)

THREE INCHES OF BLOOD – LONG LIVE HEAVY METAL (POP/ROCK): Your tolerance for 3 Inches of Blood probably depends on your tolerance for cheese and singer Cam Pipes’ screechy “I want to be Rob Halford” vocals. I love them in short bursts, but the formula gets old pretty quickly. That doesn’t change with this record. — Fred Phillips

tobyMacDubbed & Freq’d: A Remix Project (Pop/Rock)

TOMMY BOLIN – GREAT GYPSY SOUL (POP/ROCK): The featured guest performers — typical, really, with these type of projects — cross a sweeping landscape of styles. They include Joe Bonamassa, Wilco’s Nels Cline, Peter Frampton, Toto’s Steve Lukather, Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford, two members of the Allman Brothers Band in Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, and two members of Deep Purple in Bolin bandmate Glenn Hughes and Steve Morse. The difference on Great Gypsy Soul, however, is that each plays a distinctively collaborative role since original outtakes and alternative versions of tracks from Bolin’s two solo projects are used as foundations for the music. That makes this labor of love from Haynes and producer Greg Hampton, who previously worked on the 2006′s archival Bolin release Whips and Roses, both an emotional valedictory and a fresh new opportunity to hear Bolin’s short-lived, ass-whipping genius. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

WAYNE FONTANA AND THE MINDBENDERS – ERIC, RICK, WAYNE, ROB PLUS (POP/ROCK): Hailing from Manchester, England, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders were just one of dozens upon dozens of combos working the British beat boom of the early 1960s. Nailing silky smooth soul samplings to a bright and shiny pop complexion, the band proved to be a tight and spirited lot. A new chance to check them out arrives with this reissue of the group’s sophomore effort, which features Eric Stewart (later of 10cc, and a Paul McCartney sideman) on the Top 20 smash “It’s a Little Bit Too Late.” Also included: nine Fontana/UK bonus tracks, the hard to come by Pomus/Spector single B-side “First Taste Of Love” and the even more rare Walking On Air EP from 1965. (More here.)Beverly Paterson

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