New Music Monday: Bob Dylan, David Byrne and St. Vincent, Neal Morse, Dio, ZZ Top

Time for a cup o’ joe and a stack of great new music — courtesy of Bob Dylan, Chris Knight, David Byrne and St. Vincent, Fred Hersch, Neal Morse, Patterson Hood, Steve Forbert and ZZ Top.

Forthcoming reissues and live projects set for release this week include Circle II Circle, Dio, Flotsam and Jetsam, Massive Attack, and the Rolling Stones with Muddy Waters.

Also issuing fresh product are Staind’s Aaron Lewis, Florian Weber, Jordan Young, Joy Mega, Michael Feinberg, Psychotic Quartet, SCUO, Stephen Kalinich and Jon Tiven, Spheric Universe Experience, William Hooker Strings and, of course, many, many more.


AARON LEWIS – THE ROAD (COUNTRY): Oh goodie. Staind singer Aaron Lewis has “found his roots” and recorded a full-length “country” record. Here’s a tip, adding a fiddle, dobro and laundry list lyrics about country life to a Staind song doesn’t make it country. Then again, maybe it does in today’s Nashville. — Fred Phillips

Amanda PalmerTheatre Is Evil (Pop/Rock)

BOB DYLAN – TEMPEST (POP/ROCK): For all of the album’s off-handed menace, for its many betrayals, for all of its fiery condemnations, Tempest offers commiserate moments of community, of gritty determination, of desire, of grace. Nobody ever gets saved, or even forgiven, as far as I can tell, But there are tender mercies, things worth grabbing onto, fleeting pleasures for those who’ve made it this far. Dylan — occupying simultaneously the role of leathered curmudgeon who’s seen it all, and tender-eyed romantic baring his chest — once more walks the fine line of contradiction, a place he has called home for so long that it ought to be re-christened in his honor. And, wouldn’t you know it? Even 50 years in, he still never loses his balance. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Brandi DisterheftGratitude (Jazz)
CalexicoAlgiers (Pop/Rock)

CHRIS KNIGHT – LITTLE VICTORIES (COUNTRY): Now this, my friends, is a country record. Knight is one of the best songwriters out there right now, and his newest release continues that tradition with a collection of songs filled with sadness, pain, resilience and a certain blue collar mentality that seems far more genuine than the average country song today. — Fred Phillips

Chris Robinson BrotherhoodThe Magic Door (Pop/Rock)

CIRCLE II CIRCLE – FULL CIRCLE: BEST OF (POP/ROCK): Here’s hoping this two-disc collection from the band of former Savatage frontman Zak Stevens fixes some of the sound issues that the albums had. Circle II Circle has put out a string of pretty good albums, most of which have been plagued by pretty bad production. I’d love to get some better sounding versions. — Fred Phillips

Connie FrancisSings Folk Song Favorites; Sing Along With Connie Francis (Vocals)
Dave Matthews BandAway From The World (Pop/Rock)

DAVID BYRNE AND ST. VINCENT – LOVE THIS GIANT (POP/ROCK): Somehow, working with St. Vincent has brought Byrne back to the textures, tics and triumphs of his time with the Talking Heads. After years of exploring the outer edges of his writing craft (a process that occasionally has seemed more curatorial than effervescent, almost like a studiously focused act of moving away from the thing that made him most famous), Byrne appears to have come full circle without necessarily even trying to. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Denise DonatelliSoul Shadows (Vocals)

DIO – SINGLES BOX SET (POP/ROCK): I find the approach on this box set interesting. The 14 CDs have 48 songs from his original singles, all arranged as exact replicas of those singles. Disc 15 is a 12-song video collection. I’m not sure it’s worth the $100-plus price tag on it, but the packaging looks super cool. — Fred Phillips

Emerson Lake and PalmerEmerson, Lake and Palmer; Tarkus [Deluxe Edition] (Pop/Rock)

FLORIAN WEBER – BIOSPHERE (JAZZ): Weber keeps his music fresh by introducing not just any foreign concept into jazz but ones that actually fit. And like Vijay Iyer, he doesn’t just experiment with melody, he heads to the frontiers on rhythm, too. And lastly, he like Iyer looks in places for covers where no one else thinks to look. All told, Biosphere reveals a bold artist willing to take calculated chances in order to create something interesting apart from the rest within the field of jazz. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

FLOTSAM AND JETSAM – DOOMSDAY FOR THE DECEIVER (POP/ROCK): A two-disc reissue of the thrash band’s debut album, featuring bassist Jason Newsted, who went on to play for Metallica. The second disc is demos. It’s not the band’s best work, but worth checking out if you don’t have it already. — Fred Phillips

FRED HERSCH TRIO – ALIVE AT THE VANGUARD (JAZZ): By the time these 15 tracks conclude, Hersch and Co. have zipped through every possible permutation — inside and out, blues and showtunes, originals and covers, ballads and bop. Along the way, they not only hold their own, they’ve provided stirring new insights at each stop. Brimming with enthusiasm, so very glad to be Alive, Hersch isn’t just trying to keep up, isn’t just running through the changes. He’s interpolated the standards, absorbed the lessons and ideas of the greats, made them his own — and moves now at his own brilliant pace. Long may he run. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Greg Skaff116th and Park (Jazz)
Guy ForsythFreedom to Fail (Pop/Rock)
HoobastankFight Or Flight (Pop/Rock)
Joanne Shaw TaylorAlmost Always Never (Blues)

JORDAN YOUNG – CYMBAL MELODIES – (JAZZ): An appropriate moment of tribute arrives just as Hal David passed with the inclusion on this album of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” the 1969, Oscar-winning chart topper as sung by B.J. Thomas. Here, it’s handled in a creative way by Young and his band: Young makes the song a tale of three rhythms, starting with boogaloo, moving on to a James Brown funk cadence and then shifting to the double-time swing hinted at earlier. It’s a powerful, and timely, reminder that David’s songs, his conversational lyrics, will always remain fresh and youthful. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

JOY MEGA – FOREVER IS SOMETHING INSIDE OF YOU (JAZZ): Any band that inlcudes Mary Halvorson, Jessica Pavone, Chad Taylor, Matt Bauder and Jason Ajemian has my full attention. And just as what you’d expect from a collection of musicians who’ve made their mark on the outside in music, Joy Mega is outsider music. It’s raucous, improvision-laden and moves unpredictably. They gleefully subjugate styles in coming up with one all their own. That’s the “joy” of Joy Mega. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Kathy MatteaCalling Me Home (Country)
Kix BrooksNew To This Town (Country)
Leo KottkeShout Toward Noon/Regards from Chuck Pink (Folk)
Little Big TownTornado (Country)

NEAL MORSE – MOMENTUM (POP/ROCK): Loved the advance title track, as the former Spock’s Beard frontman not only returns to solo mainstream prog rock, but dives headlong into the genre’s most familiar sounds. Yet, there’s nothing derivative about “Momentum,” thanks to the unabashedly joyful figure Morse cuts at the song’s center. And it’s not just the lyric, which incorporates so much of the sun-filled optimism Morse has radiated since turning toward faith music over the last decade. Morse’s vocal style itself represents chance taking here of a different sort: Where so many of today’s neo-proggers have only embraced the darker, more mystery-filled elements of the music, Morse will allow himself to sing at times with a delirious, early-rock abandon. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

NektarA Spoonful Of Time [with Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, Derek Sherinian, Rod Argent, others] (Pop/Rock)
Nicholas ColeEndless Possibilities (Jazz)

MASSIVE ATTACK – BLUE LINES [Vinyl] (POP/ROCK): Like few other albums, this one broke down barriers and even created its own genre –”trip-hop.” A group ahead of their time, they created the now-classic “Unfinished Sympathy” and faithfully covered “Be Thankful for What You’ve Got” as a nod to their R&B roots. — Kit O’Toole

MICHAEL FEINBERG – THE ELVIN JONES PROJECT (JAZZ): For his third album Michael Feinberg originally sought to pay tribute to all the great bassists before him, but a funny thing happened on the way to making this record. Elvin Jones happened. So who was going to play the part of Jones?: Billy Hart. What Feinberg does with this tribute is not have Hart mimic Jones or have anyone mimic their respective counterpoints so closely. The point is to explore the relationship between drums and bass. Sure, there’s some Coltrane tunes in here, but Feinberg dug deep to find the songs that best exemplify Jones’ rapport with his bass player. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Matthew SilbermanQuestionable Creatures (Jazz)
Miles DavisMilestones (Jazz)

PATTERSON HOOD – HEAT LIGHTNING RUMBLES IN THE DISTANCE (POP/ROCK): This project accomplishes with song what Hood’s recently shelved novel set out to do, drawing upon personal experiences to sketch out a first-person narrative of a character who was lost from the vantage point of the same character who is older, wiser and more mature. That in itself isn’t a terribly compelling storyline, but Hood has a commanding ability to draw you in with the little, plainspoken details with which he patiently builds a vivid montage. With a fragile drawl that betrays an anxiety lurking just underneath a reserved posture, he inhabits the soul of a Southern Man. It’s a natural for him, because he IS a Southern Man. We’ve seen this talent grace so many DBT records and his prior two solo albums (and most of DBTs even play on this album), but the more personal nature of Heat makes his gift for storytelling all the more crucial for the success of this album. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Pete SeegerLive At Mandel Hall 1957 (Folk)
Pet Shop BoysElysium (Pop/Rock)

PSYCHOTIC QUARTET – CORDYCEPS (JAZZ): The all-acoustic group of this batch, consisting of trombonist Dan Blacksberg, violinist Katt Hernandez, bassist Evan Lipson and percussionist Michael Evans. The juxtaposition of a trombone and violin makes for an interesting group tonality, made even more so by Hernandez’s predilection for microtones. That’s what makes this a little different than what a meeting between Billy Bang and Roswell Rudd might sound like. Nonetheless, the extemporaneous interactions amongst them and the foursome as a whole forms the music heard here, the music acting like an organism that reveals its intentions over time, through several listens. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Quadro NuevoGrand Voyage (International)
RaveonettesObservator (Pop/Rock)

SCUO – 5678765 (JAZZ): Scott Clark (drums) and Scott Burton (guitar) make up this Richmond, Virginia experimental, instrumental rock band. Sometimes math-y, sometimes free from, sometimes a savvy mixture of both (“Toes”), SCUO emits a full sonic blast for just two instruments; it never sounds like anything’s missing. Perhaps the reason for this is niether really solos, they are both piloting through impossibly tricky lines together. In what might be a first for this kind of music, there’s a track (“Armsth”) that’s a remix of another track (“Arms”). Not really rock, not really jazz, SCUO simply takes elements of both to create a quirky, intriguing stew. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Sean HayesBefore We Turn To Dust (Folk)

STEPHEN KALINICH AND JON TIVEN – SYMPTOMOLOGY/ SHORTCUTS TO INFINITY (POP/ROCK): The twin releases sound nothing like the Beach Boys — and that’s saying something, considering lyricist Steve Kalinich’s long history with the band. Instead, Kalinich and producer/multi-instrumentalist Jon Tiven (Big Star, the Rolling Stones, the Alabama Shakes) offer a two-disc frenzy of blistering psychedelia and rollicking roots rock, a smattering of goofball humor (check out Zappa-esque titles like “Once My Zits Go Away,” “I Believe in Elephants,” “Grow a Pair” and “Don’t Fuck with Me”), and — finally, right? — a dollop or two of classic 1960s-era transcendentalism (“When I Leave My Body,” “Fight for Peace”). (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

STEVE FORBERT – OVER WITH YOU (POP/ROCK): Still witty, if a little more weathered, Steve Forbert returns with a full-band album marked by this notable spaciousness. There’s a thrilling willingness to let things play out. Credit for that, in many ways, goes to producer Chris Goldsmith (Ben Harper, Big Head Todd, Charlie Musselwhite, Ruthie Foster), who not only narrowed a stack of songs down to the 10 originals on Over With You, he also hand selected the sidemen. Turns out, they are the perfect accompaniment for a thinker of such specificity and grace in that each knows what to play and — far more importantly — what, and when, not to play. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

SPHERIC UNIVERSE EXPERIENCE – THE NEW EVE (POP/ROCK): SUE’s last album, 2009’s Unreal, surprised me at a time when my review plate was overloaded with prog-metal releases and I was really sick of the genre. It delivered a tight, entertaining set of songs that made use of some interesting instrumentation and avoided the pitfalls of most prog metal outfits. I look forward to hearing this one. — Fred Phillips

The Avett BrothersThe Carpenter (Pop/Rock)
The Grateful DeadClosing of Winterland (Pop/Rock)

THE ROLLING STONES – WITH MUDDY WATERS: LIVE AT THE CHECKERBOARD LOUNGE 1981 [Vinyl] (BLUES): On November 22, 1981, the touring Stones had a night off in Chicago, Illinois. What to do? The decision was a no-brainer. Waters, who would pass just two years later, was in town that night performing at his own juke-joint, the Checkerboard Lounge. It didn’t take long before the Master called up to the stage his students — vocalist Mick Jagger, guitarists Ron Wood and Keith Richards and piano player Ian Stewart. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

The xxCoexist (Pop/Rock)
Various artistsBoppin’ By The Bayou [Al Ferrier, Jay Chevalier, Nathan Abshire and the Pine Grove Boys, Warren Storm] (Pop/Rock)
Various artistsBroadway in a Box: Essential Broadway Musicals (Vocals)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – JOY ROAD: THE COMPLETE WORKS OF PEPPER ADAMS (JAZZ): This authoritative, deeply involving, and grandly entertaining set, focusing on the underrated baritone saxist Pepper Adams, is split into various settings that highlight the intricacies and swinging force of Adams at his best: Volumes 1 and 4 of the set, which focus on trio and quartet settings respectively, were led by pianist Jeremy Kahn, with an key assist from Adams acolyte Gary Smulyan. Volume 2 is led by pianist Kevin Bales, and also features guitarist Barry Greene. Volume 3 is a sextet date, arranged by saxophonist Frank Basile. The fifth volume focuses on vocals, with new lyrics by poet Barry Wallenstein added to classic Adams ballads — a lifelong wish of the late saxophonist’s — as interpreted by Alexis Cole. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Various artistsThank You Les [Steve Miller, Keith Richards, Slash, Bucky Pizzarelli, others] (Jazz)

WILLIAM HOOKER STRINGS 3 – A POSTCARD FROM THE ROAD (JAZZ): Hooker is a stalwart in the NYC Downtown scene, having arrived there back in ’74. Since then, this drummer has worked with everyone from David Murray to Billy Bang to Thurston Moore. A Postcard From The Road is from a Toronto date while on tour with D.C./Ohio guitar heavyweight Edward Ricart and New York City’s Dave Ross. Taped by a member of the audience, the balance amongst the three (Canadian tenor saxophonists sits in for a couple of tracks, including a drums/sax duet) is remarkably good. And yet, the vocal exclamations — presumably from Hooker — can be picked up as well, proof of the jubilance that went into this set of performances. This is a live date that deserved to a rescued from bootleg status. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

ZZ TOP – LA FUTURA (POP/ROCK): I’ve rarely been disappointed by ZZ Top, but this is the best thing they’ve done in a long, long time. I’d argue that it might be their best record since my personal fave Deguello. (More here.) — Fred Phillips


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