New Music Monday: Aimee Mann, Band of Horses, Ben Folds Five, Lonnie Smith, Marillion

New Music Monday gets off to a quick start with great stuff from Aimee Mann, Band of Horses, Ben Folds Five, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Marillion.

We’re also gassed up about reissues and live sets from the likes of Bad English, Peter Gabriel and the English Beat, among others. You might want to make a pit stop for product from Darren Jay, Down, Dwight Yoakam, Ensiferum, Iris Ornig, James Falzone, Rickie Lee Jones and Vision of Disorder, as well.


AIMEE MANN – CHARMER (POP/ROCK): I love the way Mann continues to incorporate the throwback keyboards from @#%&! Smilers onto the 1980s-ish title track here, even as she explores more layered emotions during songs like the broken-hearted “Disappeared” and — even more effectively — on the devastatingly honest “Labrador.” Charmer finds that perfect balance between Mann’s twin impulses of quirky pop and introspective ruminations, even while adding all of these deft musical touches. By the end, this one is starting to feel like her tour de force effort. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Andrea BrachfeldLady of the Island (Jazz)

BAD ENGLISH – BAD ENGLISH (POP/ROCK) Back in my day, this forthcoming Neal Schon-led reissue was one of those records that metal guys like me put on the stereo when they managed to get a girl in the vehicle with them — and rarely played otherwise. Still, I have to admit there are a few decent hard rockers lurking among the ballads. — Fred Phillips

BAND OF HORSES – MIRAGE ROCK (POP/ROCK): The Band of Horses shake things up on the forthcoming Mirage Rock, blending in a series of backyard foot-stompers with the expected melancholy polyester-era laments and plucky Appalachian curios. With that, they’re starting to feel like one of the legitimate inheritors of the mythical Americana vibe established by the Band — by turns heartfelt, loose and shaggy, then rough and tumble. A bar band with a heart of gold. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Bright Little FieldTreatment Bound: A Ukulele Tribute to the Replacements (Pop/Rock)

BEN FOLDS FIVE – THE SOUND OF THE LIFE OF THE MIND (POP/ROCK): Loved the title track from Ben Folds Five’s first album of original material in 13 years. As it builds from a plaintive Folds piano, through an overactive rhythmic cadence courtesy of bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jessee, into a series of episodic outbursts of sound and verse, “The Sound” recalls, and then very nearly supersedes, everything this group once accomplished on standout albums like 1997′s Whatever and Ever Amen and its too-soon 1999 farewell Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

The Brad Mehldau TrioWhere Do You Start (Jazz)
Carly Rae JepsenKiss (Pop/Rock)

DARREN JAY AND THE DELTA SOULS – DRINK MY WINE (BLUES): A U.S. Navy reservist currently serving in Kuwait, Darren Jay opens on a tear with “Rider,” this tasty instrumental with just the right amount of grease. His sound is close, right up front, and so hot your eyebrows are nearly singed. But Darren Jay is only just begun to mash down on the gas pedal for what ends up as a very entertaining journey. Recommended: Wayne Jackson of the legendary Memphis Horns stops by for a pair of boisterous cuts, the fleet “Workday Blues” and the rumbling “Too Late Baby.” On the first, Darren Jay takes the mic for a rockabilly-inspired romp, while he approaches the second with the easy-going approachability of modern-day B.B. King at his best. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Dave FieldsDonation Lands (Blues)
Dinosaur Jr.I Bet On Sky (Pop/Rock)

DOWN – DOWN IV PART 1: THE PURPLE EP (POP/ROCK): Finally, after several years of rumors, we get to hear some new music from New Orleans sludge supergroup Down. The songs I’ve heard so far are great. Can’t wait to hear the rest. It’s definitely one of my most anticipated releases of the year. — Fred Phillips

DWIGHT YOAKAM – 3 PEARS (COUNTRY): In the late 1980s, Yoakam’s chosen field was speed-bumped with crap country record after crap country record — until Dwight’s debut CD, a pointy-toed triumph called Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. He returned the music to its best mid-century influences, Buck Owens and the Bakersfield honky tonks. This was so new sounding then that the so-called “alternative rock” stations on college campuses played it. 3 Pears, his first album of original material since 2005, follows a throwback path to the those times. There’s even two tracks produced by Beck, “Heart Like Mine” and “Missing Heart,” on Yoakam’s 12-song return to Warner Bros. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

ENSIFERUM – UNSUNG HEROES (POP/ROCK): Folk/Viking metal at its best, I always look forward to a new record from these Finns. — Fred Phillips

FourplayEspirit De Four (Jazz)

IRIS ORNIG – NO RESTRICTIONS (JAZZ): The first place where one notices where she lives up to the album title is the personnel used to make this album. Helen Sung (piano), Michael Rodriguez (trumpet), Marcus Gilmore (drums) and Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar) are all forces in their own right, with their own sharply defined musical personalities. Like her, they’re part of a generation of jazz musicians that are in the process of taking over from the old guard. The reason these are fine choices for musicians go beyond just that, though. Rodriguez, Sung and Rosenwinkel can bring out a good harmony from smart utilization of tone and cadence alone, never having to lean heavily upon flashy technique. That makes this both an easy album to listen to, and also easier to gain an appreciation of Ornig’s compositions, since they are so clearly carried out. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

JAMES FALZONE AND KLANG – BROOKLYN LINES … CHICAGO SPACES (2012): Falzone is part of a young, resurgent cadre of clarinet players that also includes the likes of Ben Goldberg and Anat Cohen, determined to prove the continued vitality of this sometimes-forgotten wood instrument of jazz. Coming from the Windy City, Falzone has applied some of the AACM principles — as well the groundbreaking work of Jimmy Giuffre — in finding a place for the clarinet in 21st century jazz. Not an unhinged or particularly rambunctious clarinetist, the introspective Falzone mines for the tactful notes within the natural range of the instrument, exploring the outer rings of jazz without leaving tradition completely out of his sight. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Jimmy LaFaveDepending on the Distance (Folk)
Kanye WestKanye West Presents Good Music Cruel Summer (R&B)

Laura OsnesDream A Little Dream: Live at the Cafe Carlyle (Vocals)
Letizia GambiIntroducing Letizia Gambi (Jazz)

DR. LONNIE SMITH – THE HEALER (JAZZ): This terrific new live album begins not with a fiery assertion of his soul-jazz supremacy, but with a smoky rumination called “Back Track” — and Dr. Lonnie Smith and Co. remain right there, stubbornly outside of expectations. Shadowing, and then leading, guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg, the legendary jazz organist deftly avoids all of the typical patois associated with his instrument. There’s not a hint of blues, and no hard bop either — at least not yet. Instead, the pair explore wide-open spaces closer in nature to 1970s fusion jazz, even as drummer Jamire Williams offers an insistent, almost menacing cadence. The humorously titled “Mellow Mood” likewise showcases an unsentimental artist who’s giving no ground — and The Healer is stronger for it. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

MARILLION – SOUNDS THAT CAN’T BE MADE (POP/ROCK): My only complaint about this dramatic return to form is the sequencing of “Gaza” — a career-making triumph, perhaps misplaced so early in this song cycle. A 17-minute album-opening examination of the dangers of nationalism, the often-shocking aftermath, and the small things we grab for in order to make sense of the emotional dissonance surrounding war, “Gaza” pulls no punches, musically — or lyrically. Perhaps inevitably, the remaining album feels like a bit of a let down, at least on initial listenings. Keep going, though. All of these sounds are worth hearing. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Michael JacksonBad: 25th Anniversary Edition (Pop/Rock)
Nelly FurtadoThe Spirit Indestructible (Pop/Rock)
Paul SimonLive in New York City (Pop/Rock)

PETER GABRIEL – SO: CLASSIC ALBUM DVD (POP/ROCK): An look inside this 1986 masterpiece from the former Genesis frontman. Working within a sound palette that gives him some room to stretch, Gabriel actually gets within himself — avoiding the kitsch, bare-knuckle sax fills and sometimes too-jaunty pop stuff that had marred earlier efforts at updating the prog-rock framework. Radio-ready offerings like “Sledgehammer” haven’t aged as well, but this album’s enduring pleasures were always found as “Red Rain” erupts, “Don’t Give Up” tearfully overemotes, “In Your Eyes” descends from the heavens, and “That Voice Again” crashes down. Each mines a deep well of musicality, featuring far-off tablas, Youssou N’Dour strolling up and yelping with joy, cumulus synthesizers. With a low-key assist from Lanois, his offbeat vision was finally fully realized. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

PinkThe Truth About Love (Pop/Rock)

RICKIE LEE JONES – THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (POP/ROCK): Loved the advance track, Jones’ brilliant new take on “Sympathy for the Devil.” No, Jones doesn’t approach this with the nervy cocksuredness that we’ve all come to associate with Mick Jagger’s original reading for the Rolling Stones. Neither, however, did she apply the winking coo of her seminal hit “Chuck E’s in Love.” Instead, Jones sounds like a dusty-booted Delta singer, channeling some bad spirit, remembering something that sends shivers, singing it then through clinched lips, or in a guttural whisper (as if saying these things too loudly would conjure the devil himself between her and the audience), then moving finally into a high-pitched reverie at the end — like someone who’s said too much, and must simply give herself over to the fates. If these are the kind of unexpected treasures awaiting on The Devil You Know, then it’s going to be a deeply intriguing journey. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Ryan BinghamTomorrowland (Pop/Rock)
Ry Cooder, Terry Evans, Hans TheessinkDelta Time (Blues)
Smokin’ Joe Kubek with Bnois KingClose To The Bone: Unplugged (Blues)

THE ENGLISH BEAT – LIVE AT THE US FESTIVAL ’82-’83 (POP/ROCK): A two-disc set with a CD featuring the best of the band’s appearances at the US Festival, plus a DVD that includes the English Beat’s full sets from both 1982 and ’83 — providing another entry point for this deeply underrated band. Their heady mixing of ska and punk with calypso, reggae, 2-tone toasting, Motown, 1960s garage rock, samba, dance hall, world beat, and synthesized pop to form a memorable burst of creativity. For that moment in time, the English Beat helped define the promise of a new decade for me — a period when the twin aesthetics of punk and DiY seemed to hail a new, rapidly broadening creative landscape. Much of that promise, of course, would become synthesized into the marketing machine of MTV, and the English Beat was simply too strange for that stylized corporate atmosphere: They issued three thrillingly experimental albums over just four years, and then they were gone. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

The Grateful DeadSpring 1990, So Glad You Made It (Pop/Rock)
The GroundhogsLive at the Astoria (Pop/Rock)
The KillersBattle Born (Pop/Rock)
The Urban Renewal ProjectGo Big or Go Home (Jazz)
Tracy Nelson, Dorothy Morrison, Annie Sampson and Angela StrehliThe Blues Broads (Blues)
Various ArtistsQuiet About It: Tribute to Jesse Winchester [James Taylor, Rosanne Cash, Allen Toussaint, Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams, Little Feat, Elvis Costello] (Folk)
Vision DivineDestination Set to Nowhere (Pop/Rock)

VISION OF DISORDER – THE CURSED REMAIN CURSED (POP/ROCK): It’s been 11 years since their last studio album, but Vision of Disorder is still as angry as ever. There’s a lot more melody to this record, but their hardcore roots remain. — Fred Phillips

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