New Music Monday: Blues Traveler, Jerry Douglas, Joe Jackson, Little Feat, Pink Floyd

Saddle up for another ride through the latest musical musings from the likes of Ben Tyree, Blues Traveler, Cassandra Wilson, Jerry Douglas, Joe Jackson, Left Lane Cruiser and James Leg and Little Feat, along with freshly minted reissues from Anthrax, Limp Bizkit and Pink Floyd. Also new this week: Animetal USA, Cory Wong and Jacam Mandricks, among many others.

SO WE’RE OFF! … FOR THE JUNE 25, 2012 CHAPTER OF NEW MUSIC MONDAY …

ABC&D of Boogie WoogieLive in Paris (Blues)
Amit Friedman SextetSurprise (Jazz)

ANIMETAL USA – ANIMETAL USA (POP/ROCK): An anime-inspired power metal supergroup of sorts, this makeup and costume-clad band features singer Mike Vescera (Loudness, Yngwie Malmsteen) as Metal-Rider, guitarist Chris Impellitteri as Speed King, bassist Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, Dio, Ozzy) as Storm Bringer, and drummer Jon Dette (Testament, Slayer), who replaced Judas Priest’s Scott Travis, as Tank. I’m not overly impressed with what I’ve heard so far, but it’s too weird not to take note of. — Fred Phillips

ANTHRAX – MADHOUSE: THE VERY BEST OF ANTHRAX (POP/ROCK): Sorry, but no dice. It’s a decent collection of the biggest songs from the first Joey Belladonna stint, but with no songs from the John Bush era, it’s definitely not “the very best of Anthrax.” In fairness, I believe this is a re-issue, but my opinion stands. — Fred Phillips

BEN TYREE – THOUGHTFORM VARIATIONS (JAZZ): What becomes clear as you go through the record, is that Tyree doesn’t make things sound labored for the sake of showing off chops, there are more direct, simpler tunes than they are difficult ones. He goes for a certain impression with each song. Eight years in the making, Ben Tyree’s solo guitar album is a full-bodied musical portrait of a guitar playing sonic architect that marshals his diverse skills to make a solo acoustic guitar record that stands out above most others. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Beachwood SparksThe Tarnished Gold (Pop/Rock)

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BLUES TRAVELER – SUZIE CRACKS THE WHIP (POP/ROCK): It’s been 17 years since this band swept into the public consciousness with a harmonica-honking, Grammy-winning hit called “Run-Around.” Frontman John Popper and Co. return for their 11th studio album, and debut for 429 Records/SLG, working for the first time with outside songwriters (among them, Ron Sexsmith) and a production team whose credits include Gym Class Heroes and Katy Perry. Not to worry, though: If anything, these new faces seemed to have come in as fans of Blues Traveler at its original best. At the same time, they push these longtime bandmates in new directions, adding imaginative new wrinkles to their tried and true jam-band sound. If you like ‘em in the 1990s, you’ll still like ‘em now. — Nick DeRiso

CASSANDRA WILSON – ANOTHER COUNTRY (VOCALS): Wilson’s 18th long-player actually began as a series of musical conversations inside her New Orleans home studio, as she added lyrics to guitarist Fabrizio Sotti’s lithe chordings. From there, they switched to Florence, Italy, where additional musicians were added. Each only contributes the lightest dustings of flavor, however, as Another Country traverses through jazz, blues, soulful balladry, world music and a gutty brand of back-porch folk. Yet for all of these sweeping variances in music styles, Another Country plays with a deceptive quietude. Wilson’s voice remains the centerpiece, and its oaken, endlessly mystifying character completely occupies the spotlight. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Charles CompoFoolish Pleasure (Jazz)
Chris CagleBack in the Saddle (Country)
Chris Greene QuartetA Group Effort (Jazz)
Chris O’LearyWaiting for the Phone to Ring (Blues)

CORY WONG – QUARTET/QUINTET (JAZZ): Making a jazz record covering referencing so many styles and two distinct approaches would be an ambitious project for anyone. It requires a lot of aptitude in composing, band leading and performance. Not to mention, diversity, vision and creativity. For Cory Wong, a guitar player whose played alongside Bootsy Collins, Jimmie Vaughan and The Blind Boys of Alabama, making such a sweeping record as he proved with Quartet/Quintet isn’t outside his capabilities. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

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Dan DeChellis TrioMy Age of Anxiety (Jazz)
Duane EddyDuane Eddy (Pop/Rock)
EverclearInvisible Stars (Pop/Rock)
Forum for Electro-Acoustic ResearchMirage (Jazz)
GojiraL’Enfant Sauvage (Pop/Rock)
Grateful DeadDick’s Picks Vol. 30, New York City, 3/25 and 3/28/72 (Pop/Rock)

JACAM MANRICKS – CLOUD NINE (JAZZ): Manricks trades in the sax/trumpet/trombone sextet for a sax/organ/guitar/drums quartet and the lineup is even more impressive than before: Sam Yahel (organ), Adam Rogers (guitar) and Matt Wilson (drums), all legit composers and leaders in their on right, form Manricks’ backing band for this outing. Oh, and David Weiss adds his trumpet for one track. I’m not gonna lie to you, stocking the roster with all-stars at the peak of their own careers makes the record better, heck, it’s almost an unfair advantage. But Manricks definitely belongs in that group. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Jamie ReynoldsTime with People (Jazz)

JERRY DOUGLAS – TRAVELER (FOLK): Dobro ace Jerry Douglas might have been expected to do some picking and grinning here. Happily, in keeping with the name, the album moves far afield of such easy assumptions. Credit Douglas for pushing his craft, even after playing on more than 1,500 records and collecting more than a dozen Grammys. Recording in Nashville, New Orleans, New York and Banbury, U.K., with producer Russ Titelman, Douglas’ first solo release since 2009′s fun Jerry Christmas moves with a clever deftness through stomping blues asides, delicately executed folk songs, second-line Big Easy funk, even a scorching jazz-rock instrumental — with a smart sprinkling of the expected (though nevertheless involvingly virtuosic) heartland Americana asides in between. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

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JOE JACKSON – THE DUKE (JAZZ): For this project, Jackson decided to radically reinterpret many of Ellington’s best known works. Curiously, he chose to eliminate all horns. Typically, Jackson likes to turn listener expectations on their heads, which is admirable. Yet this move drains classics like “Isfahan” of vibrancy. Instead, his ethereal rearrangement makes the track sound like smooth jazz or “chill” music. Would Ellington really appreciate his gorgeous melody flattened by electric guitar or ghostly piano? Some remakes emit sparks, but all too few. Sometimes radically rebuilding familiar tracks robs them of their original qualities. In other words, the cliché often rings true: you simply cannot improve on perfection. (More here.) — Kit O’Toole

Julian CopePsychedelic Revolution (Pop/Rock)
KasabianLive!: Live at the O2 (Pop/Rock)
Katherine JenkinsBest of British (Vocals)
Kenny G & Rahul SharmaNamaste (Jazz)

LEFT LANE CRUISER AND JAMES LEG – PAINKILLERS (POP/ROCK): Containing nothing but covers of mostly well-worn blues and blues-inflected rock songs that suit the sandpaper texture favored by these Alive Natural Sound label mates, Painkillers can be viewed as a stopgap for both acts until their next proper albums. It might be a stopgap but it’s hardly a throwaway set of tracks. The main draw of either Left Lane Cruiser or James Leg aren’t so much the songs they write, it’s the ragged, rough way they deliver them. All the same, Painkillers makes its case because they tackle the covers in the same way. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

LIMP BIZKIT – GREATEST HITZ (POP/ROCK): Otherwise known as 60 minutes of blank CD? — Fred Phillips

Linkin ParkLiving Things (Pop/Rock)

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LITTLE FEAT – ROOSTER RAG (POP/ROCK): 1973′s Dixie Chicken set a template for Southern-fried funkiness that Little Feat (despite a number of lineup changes over the decades) has never felt the need to redraw — right through to Rooster Rag, the band’s first album in four years.The difference here is a welcome new focus on songwriting, versus the rangy but sometimes ultimately unsatisfying jam-based structures of their more recent outings. Of course, even as Little Feat seems to be working to more clearly define the parameters of its music, a sense of loose-limbed camaraderie remains. This is still Little Feat, after all. The result is an album in which each song arrives like a gift-wrapped delight, not too long — but also not too light on detail and emotion, either. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Malynda HaleThe Train Ride Home (R&B)
Maroon 5Overexposed (Pop/Rock)

PINK FLOYD – THE STORY OF ‘WISH YOU WERE HERE’ (POP/ROCK): This new documentary focuses on Floyd’s theme of absence, and the spectral presence of former band member Syd Barrett — who famously made an unexpected visit to Abbey Road during the recording. That moved Pink Floyd to create “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” which both opens and closes the album. Thaet decision to split “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” into two sections, the film reveals, became the catalyst for the album’s successful completion. Bonus material includes Waters and Gilmour performing excerpts from Wish You Were Here. In addition, original recording engineer Brian Humphries revisits the master tapes at Abbey Road Studios to illustrate aspects of the songs’ construction. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

R. KellyWrite Me Back (R&B)
Stone Temple PilotsAlive in the Windy City (Pop/Rock)
Sumi TonookaNow: Live at the Howland (Jazz)
The Flaming LipsAnd Heady Fwends (Pop/Rock)
The GlammersThe Glammers (Pop/Rock)
The MiraclesRenaissance; Do It Baby (R&B)
The OffspringDays Go By (Pop/Rock)

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