New Music Monday: Joe Lovano, Iced Earth, A Fragile Tomorrow, Phil Anselmo, Jeff Beck, S.U.N.

A new year is finally, blessedly, bringing us some new music. After too long away, we’ve got new jazz, new indie pop, new metal and a sleighful of notable reissues to delve into.

Joe Lovano gets us off to a quick start on the new Blue Note effort Cross Current, with his delightfully complex backing group Us Five, featuring the amazing West African Lionel Loueke on guitar. Esperanza Spalding also sits in on a few tracks.

A Fragile Tomorrow, an indie-pop favorite of ours since their terrific 2010 release Tripping Over Nothing, has teamed up with Mitch Easter of early R.E.M. and Let’s Active fame to produce what can only be called the South Carolina band’s most complete effort yet. Plus, it’s got a couple of Bangles on it.

Can’t go wrong there, right?

Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Down) returns as a solo act, and we also get a full length from S.U.N., a new group featuring Sass Jordan and Brian Tichy that issued a well-received advance single late last year. Tichy announced this week that he was leaving Whitesnake to focus exclusively on S.U.N.

Elsewhere, we delve into recommended reissues from the likes of Black Sabbath, Bob Dylan, Dream Evil, Iced Earth, Jeff Beck and Miles Davis, among others.

We’re particularly high on the Sabbath throwback release, which focuses attention on one of their most underrated albums …

A FRAGILE TOMORROW – BE NICE BE CAREFUL (POP/ROCK): A terrific new Mitch Easter-helmed effort, highlighted by the lead single “Kernersville,” which also features the Bangles’ Vicki and Debbi Peterson. (Easter produced R.E.M.’s early albums, and led the critically acclaimed band Let’s Active.) Though singing with a bittersweet melancholy, Sean Kelly is surrounded by this zippy 1980s-era indie-pop sound courtesy of guitarist Brendan Kelly, bassist Shaun Rhoades and drummer Dominic Kelly. (Yeah, AFT features three brothers.) That juxtaposition gives the track — and, in turn, much of Be Nice Be Careful — this ever-intriguing depth and momentum. Meanwhile, their smart sense of purpose, and a determination well beyond their years, ensures that A Fragile Tomorrow holds its own, even among much more famous contributors. This album ought to be the one that gets them there, too.(More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Anita O’DayAnd the Three Sounds/Time for Two; Compact Jazz: Anita O’Day (Jazz)
Art Farmer/Benny Golson JazztetHere And Now/Another Git Together (Jazz)
Arthur Prysock/Percy SledgeCountry Side Of (R&B)
Arvella Gray and FriendsBlues From Maxwell Street 1960 & 1965 (Blues)
Benny GolsonTurning Point/Free (Jazz)
Big Brother and the Holding CompanyCheap Thrills [Mono Vinyl LP] (Pop/Rock)
Bill EvansEmpathy/A Simple Matter of Conviction (Jazz)

BLACK SABBATH – SABOTAGE (POP/ROCK): Being reissued along with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, this album isn’t likely to overtake the groundbreaking debut record or the hit-filled Paranoid as Sabbath’s best work in most people’s minds, and I understand that. But the next time you’re looking for a Sabbath fix, dig a little deeper and give it a listen, especially if you haven’t heard it in a while. It might just be a much better record than you remember. Recorded at a time when the relationships in the band were just beginning to fracture, the album has a slightly different feel than the first five Sabbath albums. Sabotage represents a band still at the height of its powers, but just on the brink of slipping into chaos, and that translates into the music. (More here.) — Fred Phillips

Black Veil BridesWretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones (Pop/Rock)
Bob BrozmanFire in the Mind (Blues)

BOB DYLAN – BOB DYLAN (1963): In the beginning, Dylan had an affinity for folk songs stirred vigorously with the syncopations of a blues — and that’s best experienced here, and on the early 1990s compilation The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3. In fact, the original liner notes to this, his debut album, call Dylan “one of the most compelling white blues singers ever recorded.” That only goes so far, though. “Talkin’ New York” shows where he’ll actually go, and boldly: toward a roughly hewn folk pentameter that shambles to the very thick of meaning. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

BroadcastBerberian Sound Studio (Pop/Rock)
Charlie ByrdJazz Samba/Jazz Samba Encore! [with Stan Getz]; Latin Impressions/Bossa Nova (Jazz)
Charlie ChristianAir Mail Special (Jazz)
Chester ThompsonMixology (Jazz)
Chris TomlinBurning Lights (Pop/Rock)
Connie FrancisSings Modern Italian Hits (Vocals)
David Allan CoeGhost of Hank Williams (Country)
DionYo Frankie (Pop/Rock)

DREAM EVIL – THE BOOK OF HEAVY METAL [Limited Edition MFTM 2013 release] (POP/ROCK): A re-release of one of my favorite Dream Evil albums, and the last to feature Firewind/Ozzy guitarist Gus G. It’s a shameless, fun and at times cheesy, tribute to classic metal acts. It also sets up a new Dream Evil record due later this month. — Fred Phillips

Dropkick MurphysSigned and Sealed in Blood (Pop/Rock)
Eberhard WeberResume (Jazz)
Enrico RavaRava On the Dance Floor (Jazz)
Eydie Gorme and Steve LawrenceCozy & Two on the Aisle (Vocals)
Gavin DeGrawSweeter: Live (Pop/Rock)
George JonesSeasons of My Heart (Country)
Gram RabbitWelcome To The Country (Country)
Hollywood UndeadNotes From The Underground: Unabridged (Pop/Rock)

ICED EARTH – DYSTOPIA [Limited Edition MFTM 2013 release] (POP/ROCK): Almost a year and a half out from this record’s original release, I still haven’t quite decided how I feel about it. Stu Block, who I liked in Into Eternity, turns in a strange, effects-laden vocal performance that’s tough to adjust to for fans of previous singers Matt Barlow and Tim Owens. That aside, there are still some good songs, including “Anthem,” which is one of the best tunes they’ve recorded in years. (More here.) — Fred Phillips

Jason LytleDept. of Disappearance [LP/CD] (Pop/Rock)
Jack JonesI’ve Got a Lot of Livin to Do; Gift of Love (Vocals)

JEFF BECK – JEFF BECK’S GUITAR SHOP (POP/ROCK): A new reissue highlighted by “Where Were You,” this lovely 1989 ballad with Terry Bozzio and Tony Hymas. It’s a prime example of Jeff Beck’s less-is-more approach to the guitar. With precision and deft use of the volume knob and whammy bar, Beck tells a story with gorgeous artificial harmonics, plucked notes, and shimmering, attack-free tones. For a man who can lay down the burn, “Where Were You” takes the opposite approach, filling the space with subtlety and emotion. (More here.) — Mark Saleski

Jennifer WarnesThe Hunter [Vinyl] (Vocals)
Jermaine JacksonDynamite: Expanded Edition (R&B)
Jimmy SmithBashin’; Hobo Flats (Jazz)
Joan Watson-JonesQuiet Conversations: A Duet (Jazz)

JOE LOVANO – CROSS CULTURE (JAZZ): I expected Joe Lovano, after an association dating back to 1981, to offer tribute to Paul Motian — the legend who died just two months before the saxist began Cross Culture. Instead, Lovano begins with a sun-drenched burst of joy on “Blessings in May,” swinging with a floorboard-rearranging verve — and then stays right there for much of this new Blue Note release. Not until the album-closing “PM” does Lovano directly reference Motian. It’s more than worth the wait, as the adventuresome West African guitarist Lionel Loueke moves to the fore. Throughout, Lovano continues to push himself, even in times when anyone else — and perhaps understandably — might have fallen into a moment of quiet nostalgia. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Lowell FulsonLowell Fulson (Blues)
Luciano PavarottiIntimate Pavarotti; Essential Performances; Pavarotti and the Divas; Introduction To Pavarotti (Vocals)
Martha WainwrightAyoye (Pop/Rock)
Masters Of RealityMasters Of Reality (Pop/Rock)

MILES DAVIS – MILES AHEAD [Mono] (JAZZ): After a burst of creativity in the late 1940s — the clearest result being the very cool but obviously embryonic Birth of the Cool on Capitol — Evans didn’t work with Miles Davis again until the late 1950s. Davis seemed better for the reunion, as this record touched off an incredible rejuvenation. Highlights, and there are many, included the title track (embedded below), Dave Brubeck‘s “The Duke,” and “The Maids of Cadiz” by Leo Delibes, Davis’ initial stab at reformulating European classical music. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Michel LegrandBroadway Is My Beat (Jazz)
Nicola BenedettiThe Silver Violin (Vocals)
Original Broadway CastChaplin: The Musical (Vocals)
Pere UbuLady From Shanghai (Pop/Rock)

PHIL ANSELMO AND WARBEAST – WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS SPLIT EP (POP/ROCK): We get our first taste of Anselmo’s solo work, which he promises to be varied. The samples of the two Anselmo tracks featured here that are currently available online show some definite signs of Pantera groove metal along with a little of the punk/hardcore flavor of later projects. — Fred Phillips

Pure Prairie LeagueSomething In The Night (Pop/Rock)
Quicksilver Messenger ServiceHappy Trails [Limited Edition 180 Gram Vinyl] (Pop/Rock)
Quincy JonesPlays the Hip Hits; Golden Boy (R&B)
Roland KirkDomino; Reeds and Deeds (Jazz)
RomeHell Money (Pop/Rock)
Salvador TrioTristeza (Jazz)
SaxonPower and the Glory; Denim & Leather; Wheels of Steel; Innocence Is No Excuse; Rock the Nations; Crusader; Strong Arm of the Law (Pop/Rock)
SolangeTrue (R&B)

S.U.N. – SOMETHING UNTO NOTHING (POP/ROCK): I really dug “Nomad,” the first track I heard from this project featuring Sass Jordan and Brian Tichy (on guitar, not drums) last year. I’m looking forward to hearing the whole release. (More here.) — Fred Phillips

The O’Farrill Brothers BandSensing Flight (Jazz)
The Living SistersRun For Cover EP (Pop/Rock)
Various artistsCooler Than Ice: Arctic Records and the Rise Of Philly Soul [Barbara Mason, Daryl Hall, Kenny Gamble, others] (R&B)
Various artistsFeeling High: The Psychedelic Sound of Memphis [Sealing Smoke, The Changin' Tymes, The Wallabys, others] (Pop/Rock)
YesClose to the Edge [Gold Disc] (Pop/Rock)
Wooden WandBlood Oaths of the New Blues (Pop/Rock)

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