New Music Monday: Blackberry Smoke, and tributes to Fleetwood Mac and Supertramp

New Music Monday is highlighted this time by new platters that matter from Blackberry Smoke, the Dust Busters with John Cohen, the Prog Collective, and intriguing tributes to Fleetwood Mac and Supertramp.

Reissues and live dates arriving this week include Chaka Khan, while we’re also talking up fresh stuff from Fozzy, Hot Club of Detroit, Jasmine Lovell-Smith’s Towering Poppies, Renaissance, Sean Noonan and Texas Hippie Coalition, among others.

SO, LET’S GET TO IT: NEW MUSIC MONDAY FOR AUGUST 13, 2012 …

BLACKBERRY SMOKE – WHIPPOORWILL (COUNTRY): Hands down, my favorite record of the year so far. It’s a great, grooving, soulful slab of Southern rock that hits me right where I’m living right now. No other record this year has a chance. (More here.) — Fred Phillips

Bobby LyleGenie/New Warrior (Jazz)
Bobby SanabriaMultiverse (Jazz)
BushRazorblade Suitcase [Vinyl] (Pop/Rock)
Cheryl BentyneLet’s Misbehave: Cole Porter Songbook (Vocals)

CHAKA KHAN – GREATEST HITS LIVE (R&B): An explosive, first-ever concert recording from this 10-time Grammy Award winner, put to tape in 2007, opens with a new rambunctious take on Khan’s solo career-making 1984 cover of Prince’s “I Feel for You.” Elsewhere, she mixes in familiar moments from her time as a member of the deeply underrated funk group Rufus, a very welcome thing. Key tracks include “Ain’t Nobody” (Rufus’ final charting song, from 1983), “Everlasting Love” (a No. 17 R&B for Rufus in 1977), “Sweet Thing” (a No. 1 R&B/No. 5 pop hit in 1975), “I’m Every Woman,” (the Nickolas Ashford-Valerie Simpson composed soul-disco crossover song from 1978, which went to No. 1 R&B/No. 21 pop) “Tell Me Something Good” (a Stevie Wonder collaboration with Rufus that went to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974) — and a very effective take on the jazz standard “My Funny Valentine,” originally found on the 1995 soundtrack “Waiting to Exhale.” Decades later, Khan’s voice isn’t always in perfect form, but there’s no denying the energy here. — Nick DeRiso

Charlie MarsBlackberry Light (Pop/Rock)
Citizen CopeOne Lovely Day (Pop/Rock)
David BixlerThe Nearest Exit May Be Inside Your Head (Jazz)
Dead Can DanceAnastasis (Pop/Rock)
Donald VegaSpiritual Nature (Jazz)

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FOZZY – SIN AND BONES (POP/ROCK): It’s hard for me to believe what started as a cover band collaboration between professional wrestler Chris Jericho and former Stuck Mojo guitarist Rich Ward has lasted this long. I still don’t like it much, but they’re hanging in. — Fred Phillips

HOT CLUB OF DETROIT – JUNCTION (JAZZ) This album arrives after a period of loss for the throwback gypsy jazz group, as both original saxophonist Carl Cafagna and bassist Andrew Kratzat departed. But Hot Club has rebounded nicely, even stretched out some, with the addition of Jon Irabagon on sax, Shawn Conley on bass and, for the first time, a singer — Cyrille Aimee, who was born in Django Reinhardt’s hometown. Still, the central voices remain those of accordionist Julien Labro and guitarist Evan Perri, co-creators of the Pat Metheny-inflected reverie of the title track, the waltzing balladry “Midnight in Detroit,” and “Song for Gabriel,” named for the prog legend Peter Gabriel. And, they’ve stuck to their guns on performing without a drummer — something that’s always given Hot Club’s music such a diaphanous atmosphere. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

IncubusIncubus HQ Live [Special Edition] (Pop/Rock)

INSANE CLOWN POSSE – THE MIGHTY DEATH POP (POP/ROCK) Speaking of acts that have lived long past their extremely limited novelty appeal … — Fred Phillips

In This MomentBlood (Pop/Rock)

JASMINE LOVELL-SMITH’S TOWERING POPPIES – FORTUNE SONGS (JAZZ): The eight Lovell-Smith originals that make up Fortune Songs don’t overheat with hard bopping numbers but rather, kept to a slow to mid-tempo cadence. That’s a tribute of the reflective nature of these songs, opting to subtly evoke moods in a thoughtful, deliberative manner, falling into the advanced modern area of the jazz spectrum. Lovell-Smith’s euphonious soprano sax affirms her vocal beginnings, enunciating her notes in a flow similar to a singer. The rest of the band seem to buy into her vision wholeheartedly, using their skills not to show off, but to bring out all the facets of her songs, of which there are many. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Jerry BergonziShifting Gears (Jazz)
King Biscuit BoyHoodoo in My Soul (Blues)
LiarsDrum’s Not Dead; Liars; They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top; They Were Wrong, So We Drowned [Vinyl] (Pop/Rock)

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LoverboyRock N Roll Revival (Pop/Rock)
Meri WilsonTelephone Man (Vocals)
Mondo GeneratorHell Comes To Your Heart (Pop/Rock)
Pat Donohue and Butch ThompsonVicksburg Blues (Blues)
Pat MartinoAlone Together (Jazz)
Ranee LeeDeep Song: A Tribute to Billie Holiday (Vocals)

RENAISSANCE – TURN OF THE CARDS/SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER STORIES: LIVE (POP/ROCK): Prog-rock vets Renaissance — led by vocalist/lyricist Annie Haslam and guitarist/composer Michael Dunford — return with a live project focusing on two of their signature releases. Up next: their long-awaited, highly anticipated new studio effort — the band’s first in more than a decade. Haslam certainly stoked the fires when, as they continued work on the fan-funded Kickstarter recording project, she described Grandine il Vento as one of “the best Renaissance albums ever recorded.” (More here.)

Robin and Linda WilliamsThese Old Dark Hills (Folk)

SEAN NOONAN – A GAMBLER’S HAND (POP/ROCK): Subtitle this one Sean Noonan’s Chamber Music, Brewed By Noon Style. Sure, we’ve long heard chamber music put in the torture chamber, contorted into things Mozart never could have imagined — notably, by Anti-Social Music. What we hadn’t really heard is a string quartet led by a drummer, and especially an unconventional drummer as Noonan. For his part, the inclusion of Mat Maneri and his viola in the Brewed By Noon band — and the way it had been used at times — had already tipped us off that Noonan isn’t a stranger to the stuff. With his flair for theatrics in his music, liberally moving back and forth from violent passages to softer ones and back again, chamber music provides a great conduit for his temperament. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Shirley BasseyFive Classic Albums Plus (Vocals)
ShoesIgnition (Pop/Rock)
StaindLive from Mohegan Sun (Pop/Rock)

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Steve VaiStory of Light (Pop/Rock)
Tamela MannBest Days (Pop/Rock)

TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION – PEACEMAKER (POP/ROCK): I didn’t even know this was coming out. Now I’ve got a mission for this week. For those unfamiliar, THC is pretty much where Pantera, Southern rock and Red Dirt meet. If that sounds like your kind of thing, it probably is. — Fred Phillips

The Dirty Guv’nahsSomewhere Beneath These Southern Skies (Pop/Rock)

THE DUST BUSTERS, WITH JOHN COHEN – OLD MAN BELOW (FOLK): A series of reanimated old folk tunes from 1920s and ’30s recordings, made complete with the addition of Cohen — the New Lost City Rambler who served as an early mentor when this group of 20-somethings began their unlikely love affair with hootenanny folk, jug-band blues and heart-bursting country balladry. A highlight is this rip-snorting, fiddle-sawing take on “Black Jack Daisy.” Fans will remember the New Lost City Ramblers did their own version of “Black Jack Daisy,” on the 1973 Folkways recording Remembrance of Things to Come. This new one very nearly bests it. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

The FacelessAutotheism (Pop/Rock)

THE PROG COLLECTIVE – THE PROG COLLECTIVE (POP/ROCK): The lineup virtually mirrors producer Billy Sherwood’s concurrent Supertramp tribute project, but that’s where the similarities end. This time, an all-star cast — including Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Geoff Downes (who, like Sherwood, are members of the Yes family tree), Alan Parsons (of Project fame), Richard Page (Mr. Mister), John Wesley (Porcupine Tree) and Colin Moulding (XTC) — focuses on all-original material done in the extended free-form style of classic 1970s progressive rock. Its advance track just might be the Prog Collective’s best, as John Wetton (King Crimson, UK, Asia), Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, John Lennon), Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jan Hammer, Dixie Dregs) and Sherwood take a driving prog-pop tune called “The Laws of Nature” into a thrilling twilight reverie over the song’s second half. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

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Van SheIdea of Happiness (Pop/Rock)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – JUST TELL ME THAT YOU WANT ME: A TRIBUTE TO FLEETWOOD MAC (POP/ROCK): This boasts a group of contributors that’s as diverse as its subject: Marianne Faithfull (“Angel”), Lykke Li (“Silver Springs”), the Crystal Ark (“Tusk”), the New Pornographers (“Think About Me”), the Kills (“Dreams”), Washed Out (“Straight Back”) and Tame Impala (“That’s All For Everyone”) offer standout takes on tracks from Rumours, Tusk, and Mirage. Elsewhere, Best Coast adds a surf-rock influenced “Rhiannon,” and MGMT conjures a nine-minute take of “Future Games,” composed by the late Bob Welch. None of that, however, compares to Billy Gibbons’ blistering take on the Peter Green-era 1969 track “Oh Well.” Together with Blake Mills and Matt Sweeney, he ramps it up from this distorted, shivering portent into a raw, dangerous stomp. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

VARIOUS ARTISTS – SONGS OF THE CENTURY: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE TO SUPERTRAMP (POP/ROCK): Producer Billy Sherwood compiles a group that includes Yes’ Chris Squire and Rick Wakeman, The Doors’ Robby Krieger, Deep Purple’s Steve Morse, Mickey Thomas of Starship fame (who handles vocal duties on “The Logical Song”), King Crimson’s Tony Levin (who backs up Sherwood for “Crime of the Century”), Steve Porcaro (co-founder of Toto, a band that Sherwood has also collaborated with in the past), Mr. Mister’s Richard Page (handling the timeless Roger Hodgson-penned hit “Give A Little Bit”), and Larry Fast (Peter Gabriel, Foreigner, Hall and Oates). Highlights include XTC’s Colin Moulding on “It’s Raining Again, and a new original composition that reunites Sherwood with his 1990s-era Yes bandmates Chris Squire and Tony Kaye. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

White VioletHiding, Mingling (Pop/Rock)
YellowcardSouthern Air (Pop/Rock)

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