New Music Monday: Dr. John, Ian Anderson, Tab Benoit, James Taylor, David Sylvian

Another Monday, another teetering stack of new music goodness — just waiting to be tipped over, then rifled through. Highlights include fresh stuff from Ben Howard, Dr. John and Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, as well as as reissues and live dates from the likes of David Sylvian, James Taylor, Jeff Healey, Michael Franks, Stevie Wonder and Tab Benoit. Also new and of interest this week are David Axelrod, Hellectrokuters, Ike Turner, Jared Gold and others.

AND NOW, NEW MUSIC MONDAY FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 3, 2012 …

Addison GrooveTransistor Rhythm (Pop/Rock)
Bear in HeavenI Love You It’s Cool (Pop/Rock)
Beegie AdairPiano Music for Moms: Mother’s Day Music Collection (Jazz)

BEN HOWARD – EVERY KINGDOM (FOLK): Howard’s finger-picking style of guitar can be both pastoral and percussive, giving this album a layered complexity that belies folk’s old cardboard genre box. The British singer-songwriter’s initial release, out since last fall in his homeland but just seeing U.S. release this week, was produced in a converted barn studio — “neatly nestled,” Howard says, “between the moors and the sea.” In keeping, the album often has the feel of a last-call hootenanny. His vocal style perfectly matches that creative curvature, stretching and pulling with an equal and opposite force as the tunes — from the Mumford and Sons-ish pub howlings of “The Wolves” to the sing-along sunshine-streaked anthem “Keep Your Head Up” to the intricately wrought “Three Tree Down” — journey across a surprising range of musical impulses. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

CandleboxLove Stories and Other Musings (Pop/Rock)
Chris Cagle10 Great Songs (Country)

DAVID AXELROD – ROCK MESSIAH (POP/ROCK): The mastermind/crazy dude behind the Electric Prunes’ wackadoo 1967 album Mass in F Minor returns — or should we say, “goes for Baroque?” Rim shot! — four years later with another leftfield update. Working with frequent collaborator Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, who conducted the orchestra, Axelrod adds psychedelic guitars, a funk rhythm section and electric piano for a contemporary take on Georg Friedrich Handel’s signature work. Described at the time as “Jesus Christ Superstar on a bad trip,” Rock Messiah is being reissued for the first time ever, with new liner notes and photos, from Real Gone music.Nick DeRiso

DAVID SYLVIAN – VICTIM OF STARS, 1982-2012 (POP/ROCK): This compilation brings together the last 30 years of Sylvian’s career since the band Japan, encompassing solo material released with Virgin Records along with more recent work released on his own Samadhisound label. It begins with “Taking the Veil,” from perhaps his greatest solo triumph, 1986’s Gone To Earth, recorded with Robert Fripp and Mel Collins of King Crimson fame. Other high points include the Japan song “Ghosts,” presented after a solo remodel; and “Jean the Birdman” from The First Day, another Fripp/Sylvian collaboration. Victim of Stars is capped by the new recording “Where’s Your Gravity?,” which is exclusive to this set. (More here)Tom Johnson

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DR. JOHN – LOCKED DOWN (2012): The project begins with a humid closeness, as night sounds surround the title track’s lean rhythms, and it never backs away. Auerbach matches Dr. John’s cranky hoodoo-man vocals, song by song, with his own brown-gravy groove — and, in a move that gives the album its signature sound, encouraged Dr. John to explore his familiar penchant for spooky funk at the organ. What you end up with is the best Dr. John album in ages, as swampy and oozy as the Night Tripper’s 1968 triumph Gris Gris but as gnarled and tough as 1998’s Anutha Zone. (More here.) Nick DeRiso

Elvis CostelloThe Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook (Pop/Rock)
fIREHOSElowFLOWs: The Columbia Anthology 1991-93 (Pop/Rock)

HELLECTROKUTERS – ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BEGGARS (POP/ROCK): I have no idea what this band sounds like but, with a name like this one, I know I like them. — Fred Phillips

High on FireDe Vermis Mysteriis (Pop/Rock)

IAN ANDERSON OF JETHRO TULL – THICK AS A BRICK 2 (POP/ROCK): Fans will remember that the concept for the initial 1972 release — which, even though it was presented as one continuous nearly 44-minute song, shot to No. 1 on the Billboard charts — centered on a fictitious child named Gerald Bostock. Anderson’s new song cycle again follows Bostock, who would be 50 in 2012, through the many different paths his life might have taken. “As we baby-boomers look back on our own lives, we must often feel an occasional ‘what-if’ moment,” Anderson says in pre-release materials. “Might we, like Gerald, have become instead preacher, soldier, down-and-out, shopkeeper or finance tycoon? And those of more tender years — the social media and internet generation — may choose to ponder well the myriad of chance possibilities ahead of them at every turn …” (More here.)Nick DeRiso

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IKE TURNER – STUDIO PRODUCTIONS: NEW ORLEANS AND LOS ANGELES 1963-65 (R&B): When the rumbling Ike and Tina Turner Revue was on tour — which was pretty much always in the 1960s — Ike would stop off in local studios to produce tracks using members of his travelling band. This CD includes some of the highlights of these drive-by R&B triumphs, recorded at newly minted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Cosimo Matassa’s studio in New Orleans and at Modern Records in LA — and featuring original songs by Ike, as well as Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler and Lowman Pauling, among others. Tina, unfortunately, is featured on just two tracks — but that mild disappointment is more than made up for with the appearance of a slew of other talented soul belters, including Jessie Smith, Stacy Johnson, Jimmy Thomas, Venetta Fields, Ernest Lane, Dee Dee Johnson, Bobby John, Jackie Brenston and Vernon Guy. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

James TaylorMud Slide Jim and the Blue Horizon [24kt Gold Disc] (Pop/Rock)

JARED GOLD – GOLDEN CHILD (JAZZ): Gold is back with another parade of advanced B3 articulations. Whereas on his last project Gold delved more into knotty arrangements and modalisms atypical of organ jazz, he returns to the organ/guitar/drums attack used on 2010’s Out Of Line. As on that record, Gold creatively reworks the covers which again mines both the pop (“A Change is Gonna Come,” “Wichita Lineman”) and the jazz (“When It’s Sleepy Time Down South,” “In A Sentimental Mood”) canons, plus a old spiritual (“I Wanna Walk”). (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

JEFF HEALEY – LIVE IN BELGIUM CD/DVD (BLUES): Jeff Healey’s very sightlessness — he lost his eyes to a rare cancer of the eyes at age one — helped him settle into his own unique sound in blues music. Healey eventually taught himself to play the electric guitar on his lap, like a dobro, something that allowed him to unfurl these distinctively long lines. Yet, in many ways, Healey was never able to make good on his own dizzying promise, first because an out-of-nowhere radio hit seemed to steer Healey into more pop-influenced environs, then by a left turn into jazz, then by his own losing battle with cancer. Live in Belgium — a straight-blues release, put to tape when the Canadian guitarist was at the peak of his powers — gives Healey a retroactive chance to get back on track. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

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JezabelsThe Prisoner (Pop/Rock)
John MayallSmokin’ Blues (Blues)
Johnny CashBootleg Vol. IV: The Soul of Truth (Country)
Keith FrankFollow the Leader/Boot Up (International)
Kerong ChokGood Company (Jazz)
Liza MinnelliLive at the Winter Garden (Vocals)
Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real – Wasted (Country)
Marvin SappI Win (Religious)

MICHAEL FRANKS – THE DREAM 1973-2011 (JAZZ): A sprawling 73-song, 5 CD set include tons of rarities, album cuts, even a rare live recording with the Australian band Crossfire. Forgive me if I head straight for “Popsicle Toes.” In case you’re not familiar with it, it’s vintage Franks back in his early, classic days. That is to say, a light, bouncy jazz tune full of clever double entendres with saucy couplets. It’s made complete by the presence of Joe Sample on electric piano and most of other Crusaders providing the instrumentation. Sure, “Popsicle Toes” is silly as hell, but man, it was fun to sing along to. (More here.)S. Victor Aaron

Michael KiwanukaHome Again (R&B)

MINISTRY – RELAPSE (POP/ROCK): It’s better than most of Al Jourgensen’s output over the last decade-plus, but that’s not saying a whole lot. At least, thankfully, not every song on the record is about George W. Bush. — Fred Phillips

MxPxPlans Within Plans (Pop/Rock)
New World BeatAfter Carnival (Jazz)

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Nicki MinajPink Friday: Roman Reloaded (Pop/Rock)
Of Monsters And MenMy Head Is an Animal (Pop/Rock)
OrbitalWonky (Pop/Rock)
Paul van DykEvolution (Pop/Rock)
Rascal FlattsChanged (Country)
Stevie WonderInnervision [24kt Gold Disc] (R&B)

TAB BENOIT – LEGACY: BEST OF TAB BENOIT (BLUES): By the time this set rumbles through 14 tracks from 13 years of recording for Telarc Records, comparisons become almost impossible. Like the strange cultural mix of peoples and cultures in Louisiana, Benoit’s one of a kind. In the way that he plays, in the focus of his songs, in the way he mixes and matches textures and influences, he seems to be holding a mirror up to Louisiana’s difficulties with its own history, with its own dwindling resources, with its difficult battles against the natural forces of water, of wind, of erosion. Yet, Benoit never gets bogged down, never lets himself become prisoner to empty slogans, or to the overworked blues cliche. And he never, ever lets it get him down. (More here.)Nick DeRiso

Tenthing10 (Pop/Rock)
The Carrier Brothers/The Lawtell PlayboysLa La (International)
The FacesFirst Steps [180 Gram Vinyl] (Pop/Rock)
The LumineersThe Lumineers (Folk)
Trace Adkins10 Great Songs (Country)
Willis Earl BealAcousmatic Sorcery (Pop/Rock)
Wilson PhillipsDedicated (Pop/Rock)
WillowKnees and Elbows (Pop/Rock)
wzrdwzrd (Pop/Rock)

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