New Music Monday: Mike Keneally, Peter Green, Sugar, Pantera, Booker T. and the MGs

The latest edition of New Music Monday is highlighted by Mike Keneally’s fascinating new collaboration with Andy Partridge of XTC fame, some rare new blues sides from Fleetwood Mac co-founder Peter Green and a complete discography from Bob Mould’s early-1990s band Sugar.

Among those with key reissues and in-concert recordings arriving this week are Booker T. and the MGs and Pantera. Also out with new stuff: Alice Donut, Bill Cantrall, Bruce Kaphan, Hafez Modirzadeh, the Mandingo Ambassadors and Slipknot, among many, many others.

SO, AWAY WE GO FOR THE JULY 23, 2012 EDITION OF NEW MUSIC MONDAY …

ALICE DONUT – FREAKS IN LOVE (POP/ROCK): Not a big fan of the band and don’t know much about this release, but I can’t let it pass without mentioning they have one of my favorite song titles ever: “The Son of a Disgruntled Ex-Postal Worker Reflects on his Life While Getting Stoned in the Parking Lot of a Winn Dixie and Listening to Metallica.” — Fred Phillips

Beyonce4 [Deluxe] (R&B)

BILL CANTRALL – LIVE AT THE KITANO (JAZZ): Cantrall belatedly returns with an originals-packed 2010 set: “BBM” and the later minor-key “Sharphead” are both new compositions, while the rest of the originals are from Cantrall’s terrific 2007 debut Axiom. Cole Porter’s little-covered “After You,” the lone cover, is given a hip bossa nova sheen. Recommended: The trombonist’s main quartet of saxophonist Stacy Dillard, pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Gerald Cannon and drummer Darrell Green is joined by altoist Mike DiRubbo and trumpeter Freddie Hendrix for a daring, model-themed 24-minute workout of the title track. My only complaint is that we’ve had to wait so long for this collection. Here’s hoping the follow up to Kitano isn’t so long in the making. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Bonnie ‘Prince’ BillyNow Here’s My Plan EP (Pop/Rock)

BOOKER T. AND THE MGs – GREEN ONIONS (R&B): A sizzling outburst of lean pre-funk soul-rock, Green Onions introduced the world to the genre-jumping delights of Booker T, and the MGs. Unfortunately, after the debut title-track hit, Booker T. and the MGs would settle back into an essential anonymity — notable mostly to careful liner-note readers after years as the house band for Stax Records in Memphis. Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame righted that wrong in 1992, but two decades later it might be time for a refresher course: The song selection on this great reissue, going beyond the familiar “Green Onions” and its sequel “Mo’ Onions,” reflects the essential diversity — musically, socially — at the heart of this hard-grooving group of multi-culti hipsters. They were a group designed both to move hips, and to change minds. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

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BRUCE KAPHAN – BRUCE KAPHAN QUARTET (JAZZ): The pedal steel guitar hasn’t been used much in jazz, of course, and Kaphan isn’t likely to kick off a revolution despite his great efforts here. After all, even all the buzz surrounding the emergence of Robert Randolph hasn’t exactly sparked a legion of wannabes. But man, it sure does sound good. I can’t think of a lot of examples of the instrument being used in jazz or jazz fusion ahead of Kaphan, but perhaps the first time I can recall is on Charlie Hunter’s Bing, Bing, Bing album from ’95, where Dave Philips’s pedal steel on “Fistful of Haggis” not only fit, but was just as funky as the second line beat behind it. That said, Kaphan’s first record with a formal ensemble reveals still more possibilities sprung forth from a creative musical mind. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Etta JamesLive at Montreux 1975-1993 (Blues)

HAFEZ MODIRZADEH – POST-CHROMODAL OUT! (JAZZ): The first full manifestation of post-chromodal came two years ago in a collaboration Modirzadeh made with Iraqi-American trumpet player Amir ElSaffar entitled Radif Suite (2010). This forthcoming release is yet another exercise in equal temperament-free tonality, but with an added twist: a piano is added to the mix. You might wonder how an instrument with equal, full intervals can be employed toward this kind of music, and the answer is, Modirzadeh rigged (tuned) the piano so that it can be used that way. You might further ask, who in the world did he get to play a piano outfitted in this way? Vijay Iyer, that’s who. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Jennifer LopezDance Again: The Hits (Pop/Rock)
Johnny AceAce’s Wild (R&B)
Laetitia Sadier, of StereolabSilencio (Pop/Rock)

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MANDINGO AMBASSADORS – TOUGNA (JAZZ): An eight-piece band that draws from Guineans and westerners alike, the ensemble boasts a couple of guitarists, two jazz horn players who are heavily into the world-music scene (including Oran Etkin), an electric bassist, a drummer, percussionist and vocalist. Together, they’re enriching and delighting American audiences with the lively, lyrical music of Guinea. Contemporary dance music coming from a country in West Africa makes it tempting to label it “Afrobeat” and the music shares some similarities with it. But this isn’t Afrobeat. The music is joyful, with more guitar, less horn — or at least, less of the big horn riffs — and closer to the local folk music from which it’s derived. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

MIKE KENEALLY, WITH ANDY PARTRIDGE – WING BEAT FANTASTIC (POP/ROCK): Note, though, that this is not an Andy Partridge project. The collaboration between the two was behind the scenes, with Partridge and Keneally crafting the songs together but Keneally recording the songs on his own. Either way, the result is a peak in Keneally’s career, one that has had a pretty good share of peaks in different forms, if they’ve sadly gone unrecognized by the general music world. Maybe pairing up with the XTC frontman wasn’t the best idea to right that wrong, as that band has, aside from a few key singles, gone almost as ignored as Keneally. But artistically speaking, this is a meeting of the minds that results in something fans of both artists are going to cherish for ages. (More here.) — Tom Johnson

PANTERA – THE GREAT SOUTHERN TRENDKILL; OFFICIAL LIVE: 101 PROOF; REINVENTING THE STEEL (POP/ROCK): Pantera’s final three albums get the vinyl treatment from Rhino. The two studio projects are the weakest of the band’s heavier years, but it’s still a treat for fans of Pantera and vinyl. — Fred Phillips

Passion PitGossamer (Pop/Rock)

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PETER GREEN – BLUES DON’T CHANGE (BLUES): Peter Green, a key figure in the blues revival scene of the late 1960s, dives headlong into seminar recordings that shaped his sound — from Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Albert King, B.B. King, Freddie King and Jimmy Reed, among others. Recorded in 2001, but only available before now at shows and through the band’s Web site, Blues Don’t Change speaks both to the timelessness of these recordings, but also to the still often-overlooked white-blues genius of Green — who replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and then co-founded the original, roots-rocking incarnation of Fleetwood Mac. His current Peter Green Splinter Group also features keyboardist Roger Cotton, bassist Pete Stroud, drummer Larry Tolfree and guitarist/vocalist Nigel Watson. Highlights include “Little Red Rooster,” “Honest I Do,” “Take Out Some Insurance” and “Honey Bee.” (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Reverend Horton Heat25 to Life (Pop/Rock)
RodriguezSearching for Sugar Man (Pop/Rock)

SLIPKNOT – ANTENNAS TO HELL (POP/ROCK): This is yet another one of those bands that most metal fans seem to like that I just don’t get. Never did anything for me. — Fred Phillips

Stevie WonderFulfillingness’ First Finale (R&B)

SUGAR – COPPER BLUE; BEASTER [Deluxe Edition] (POP/ROCK): That Sugar’s debut, 1992’s Copper Blue and the rest of their catalog, actually had escaped reissuing until now seems impossible. Good news, though: When it comes to the remastered reissues of Copper Blue, “mini-album” Beaster, and File Under: Easy Listening, each comes with exactly what’s needed. All the original songs, plenty of extras, and insightful commentary from a wide variety of those involved in and around Sugar at the time. What we get here in these packages is the best representation of what Sugar could be. They complete the story for those of us who felt like so much more was left to be said from this great little band. (More here.) — Tom Johnson

The Gaslight AnthemHandwritten (Pop/Rock)
The MonkeesInstant Replay [180 Gram Vinyl/Limited Edition] (Pop/Rock)
Will DowningTomorrow (R&B)

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