New Music Monday: Robben Ford, Kevin Eubanks, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Stick Men, Dream Theater

This is one of those whip-you-around New Music Mondays that requires a fastened seat belt. Hold on tight, kids!

We’ve got a fantastic reunion with the Bad Seeds from Nick Cave, and intriguing narrative prog from the Stick Men, good-rocking stuff from Buckcherry and some more weird pirate shit from Tom Waits, underground metal from Manilla Road and and a sweet vinyl reissue from Dream Theater.

Oh, and tons and tons of jazz fun — from drummer Barry Altschul to trumpeter Brad Goode, from the Confusion Bleue ensemble and pianist Yelena Eckemoff to guitarist Kevin Eubanks, from the Wolff and Clark Expedition to the Marbin duo.

There’s even a choice throwback from Herb Alpert. Meanwhile, Ben Goldberg has not one, but two new releases, as well — and one of them features the great Nels Cline.

Listen for a great new blues discovery in the Andy T-Nick Nixon Band out of Nashville, with special smoking-hot guest Anson Funderburgh, and two Louisiana-flavored projects — one from soul-blues favorite Bobby Rush, and another from Robben Ford that’s already been tabbing as an early album-of-the-year candidate.

And we’re just getting revved up …

ANDY T-NICK NIXON BAND – DRINK DRANK DRUNK (BLUES): Dallas guitar-slinger Anson Funderburgh both produces and makes a series of sizzling guest turns on this new recording from the Nashville blues duo of Andy “T” Talamantez and James “Nick” Nixon. Andy T, a former axe-wielding sideman with Smokey Wilson and Guitar Shorty, more than holds his own with Fungerburgh, too: Check out their entertaining instrumental “Dos Danos.” Elsewhere Nixon — who recorded the original version of “Behind Closed Doors” for Chess, before Charlie Rich made it a country charttopper — breathes new life in songs from Gatemouth Brown (“Midnight Hour”), T-Bone Walker (“Life’s Too Short”) and the hilarious title track, as well as a number of Andy T’s originals — the best of which just has to be “Have You Seen My Monkey?” — Nick DeRiso

Arthur ‘Big Boy’ CrudupSunny Road (Blues)
Atlas GeniusWhen It Was Now (Pop/Rock)

BARRY ALTSCHUL – THE 3DOM FACTOR (JAZZ): A respected drummer with Paul Bley, Chick Corea, Sam Rivers and Anthony Braxton, Altschul hadn’t cut an album solely under his name for more than a quarter century. For this long overdue return, Altschul brought in former FAB Trio bassist Joe Fonda and the ubiquitous Jon Irabagon on tenor sax. Ultimately, however, Altschul doesn’t step outside his persona and try anything new. He’s just reminding everybody why he’s been such a highly respected and demanded drummer for so long, especially by those in avant garde jazz circles. This is the kind of record expected from jazz legends, and one hopes Altschul will keep the comeback going. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

BEN GOLDBERG – UNFOLD ORDINARY MIND; SUBATOMIC PARTICLE HOMESICK BLUES (JAZZ): Unfold is really an extension of the ideas Goldberg put forth on Subatomic — though only drummer Ches Smith and of course, Goldberg, are carried over. To underscore the continuity running between the two projects, Goldberg is issuing these two discs at the same time. Unfold, to be sure, has a different sonic quality to it — Nels Cline’s presence alone assures that — but Goldberg’s zest for musical adventure is the same. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Bobby LongWishbone (Pop/Rock)

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BOBBY RUSH – DOWN IN LOUISIANA (BLUES): Underneath Bobby Rush’s good-timing, groove-slinging persona is a canny musician, someone who traverses musical styles with such a broad, contagious smile that he makes it all look deceptively easy. Down in Louisiana, featuring nine originals over its 11-song length, makes it clear all over again just how much true talent, and very real emotion, lies beneath Rush’s outsized persona — honed after decades along the Deep South’s chitlin circuit. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

BRAD GOODE – CHICAGO RED (JAZZ): The red headed trumpeter from Chicago, Brad Goode, is a fine technician who mastered the bop language thanks to stints with such heavy hitters as Red Rodney, Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Harris, Ira Sullivan, Frank Morgan, Curtis Fuller, Jack DeJohnette, and Rosemary Clooney. What’s interesting is how Goode, who has been leading his own bands and making his own records since the late ’80s, switches here to fusion — showing that a dedicated bop player can do it without abandoning any of their principles. The music is just as improvisational, inventive and dynamic as most of the best acoustic straight jazz, and, it’s nice and funky to boot. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

BUCKCHERRY – CONFESSIONS (POP/ROCK): When Buckcherry’s debut album landed in 1999, I thought it had a lot of promise, but they’ve never really lived up to it in my ears. I lost the faith completely with their annoying 1996 single “Crazy Bitch,” a misogynistic song that was only a hit because of its classless lyrics. This album seems to be a concept record revolving around the seven deadly sins. I’ve only heard samples, but I don’t hear anything with the punch of “Lit Up” from their debut record. — Fred Phillips

CONFUSION BLEUE – EAST SIDE BANQUET (JAZZ): Confusion Bleue is a self-described “total improvisation unit” led by Japanese pianist Nobu Stowe and Omaha-native drummer Ray Sage. An extension of Stowe’s 2010 release Confusion Bleue, this new project features seven songs, Movements I-VII, though they are presented in a different order. No matter, it still has the feel of a connected suite — mainly because these songs don’t swing or groove: they flow. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

DREAM THEATER – IMAGES AND WORDS (POP/ROCK): This is a limited vinyl pressing of Dream Theater’s first album with vocalist James Labrie. If you only own one Dream Theater record, this is the one, in my opinion. And why not have it on vinyl? — Fred Phillips

Etta JamesEtta Is Betta Than Evvah! (R&B)

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HERB ALPERT – FANDANGO (JAZZ): Best known, of course, for “Route 101,” a springy Top 40 hit from the summer of 1982 — then, as now, a transfixing blend of insistent rhythms and throwback strings. With Fandango seeing reissue from Shout! Factory, I find myself — once again — trying to shake Herb Alpert. His silky smooth trumpet musings were my introduction to something like jazz, though, and I’ve always associated his music with a time of unvarnished musical enthusiasm. So, yeah, this one remains one of the best examples of an album that I try — I really do — not to like, thinking my taste have become too sophisticated, but then end up falling for anyway. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

James Montgomery BandFrom Detroit to the Delta (Blues)
Jason Marsalis Vibes QuartetIn A World of Mallets (Jazz)
Jonathan KriesbergOne (Jazz)

KEVIN EUBANKS – MESSENGER (JAZZ): Now two years removed from his fifteen year stint leading the Tonight Show band for Jay Leno, Kevin Eubanks makes his second post-Leno album. However, this is probably the first one entirely conceived and recorded since he left that show. With Hollywood a fast-fading image in his rear-view mirror, how will the full-time gig as an independent musician impact the kind of record Eubanks makes today? I think the answer is, just how you’d expect someone to sound like whose mind is entirely engaged in making music for the sake of making music. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

MANILLA ROAD – MYSTERIUM (POP/ROCK): A new album from one of the true classic underground metal acts. Though they’ve never quite achieved the fame of some of their contemporaries, they’ve been a consistent force. — Fred Phillips

MARBIN – LAST CHAPTER OF DREAMING (JAZZ): Marbin is presumably a hybrid of the last names of founders Danny Markovitch (saxophones) and Dani Rabin (guitar). The music of their latest album, Last Chapter Of Dreaming, is also a hybrid, but a hybrid that’s a little bit harder to describe. Nominally it’s jazz-rock, with dashes of klezmer, Spanish, new age, and prog-rock. From power fusion strains to Middle Eastern folk to even quaint French cafe ditties, Marbin is a crazy talented group making music hard to pin down but easy to appreciate why such prime musicians such as Paul Wertico and Steve Rodby like to hang out with them. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

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MICHAEL WOLFF AND MIKE CLARK – WOLFF AND CLARK EXPEDITION (JAZZ): Past associations with Cannonball Adderley and the Headhunters seemed to point toward a new melding of R&B and jazz here. Instead, Michael Wolff and Mike Clark have created a nimble, adventurous trio recording that takes intriguing liberties with songs across a broad swath of styles. Oddly enough, their approach here is perhaps best understood during their take on the songbook warhorse “What Is This Thing Called Love” — a moment as ecstatic as it is revelatory. Attacking at a frenetic pace, they simply pull this thread-bare old Cole Porter song apart, only to find glittering new treasures inside. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS – PUSH THE SKY AWAY (POP/ROCK): “We No Who U R,” the lead single from this 15th studio album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, is this sharp left from Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! — a darkly forboding, deeply malevolent meditation whose central image is a stoic tree reaching up to the morning light. Whereas 2008′s Lazarus, Cave’s most recent album with the Bad Seeds, was dominated by churning, two-note garage rock, “We No Who U R” points toward a more contemplative mood — a very welcome thing — surrounding Push the Sky Away. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Paul HardcastlePaul Hardcastle VII (Pop/Rock)

ROBBEN FORD – BRINGING IT BACK HOME (BLUES): Robben Ford’s most focused, unembellished album in like, forever, may have also been the easiest album the virtuosic blues/jazz/rock/you-name-it guitarist has made in a long spell, too. Playing only a ’63 Epiphone guitar kept exclusively on rhythm pickup mode, and no effects pedals or other modern day technological tricks that I was able to detect, this is the undiluted Robben Ford. He doesn’t play blindingly fast or outwardly flashy as he could have easily done, because his licks are so tasty. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Robin TrowerRoots and Branches (Blues)

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STICK MEN – DEEP (POP/ROCK): You might have expected, upon hearing this would be on a theme of whale watching, that there would follow these cerulean moments of oceanic calm. Instead, Deep hurtles out with a tensile force. It must be very much like watching a glass-smooth expanse of sea water transformed from its quiet placidity into a roiling explosion of sight and sound as a whale suddenly ascends toward the sky. As odd as it once might have sounded, this album’s thrilling, and very considered cacophony ends up making complete sense. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Tarmac AdamThe History Effect (Pop/Rock)
The Jerry Garcia BandGarciaLive Vol. 1: Capitol Theatre> (Pop/Rock)
The Slide BrothersRobert Randolph Presents (Blues)
The ViewCheeky for a Reason (Pop/Rock)
Various artistsRockin’ Rhythm ‘n’ Blues From Memphis [Willie Mitchell, the '5' Royales, Larry Birdsong, Dave Dixon, others] (R&B)

VARIOUS ARTISTS – SON OF ROGUES GALLERY: PIRATE BALLADS, SEA SONGS AND CHANTEYS (POP/ROCK): The team that brought you the Pirates of the Caribbean series has once again turned its attention to pirate ballads, chanteys and sea songs. You have to be intrigued, based on “Shenandoah,” the lead track, which finds Tom Waits and Keith Richards in a shared vocal that sounds like the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir in the midst of a barrel roll down a steep gravel incline. Son of Rogue’s, curated by Pirates star Johnny Depp, director Hal Willner and producer Gore Verbinski, also features offbeat collaborations between Michael Stipe and Courtney Love, and Depp with Patti Smith. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

YELENA ECKEMOFF – GLASS SONG [with PETER ERSKINE] (JAZZ): Russian-born Yelena Eckemoff is a classically trained concert pianist who has more recently in her career taken on jazz, but has done so strictly on her terms. Her terms means she brings a European styled chamber approach to the idiom that doesn’t eschew using their chops, but does eschew showing off chops just for the sake of doing so. This means she isn’t giving us a not-so genuine take of over-tread standards aping Bill Evans or Brad Mehldau. For the record, I love how those guys played piano, but Eckemoff offers a refreshing break from those styles as she maintains a high level of musicianship, and that’s just as worthy of admiration, too. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

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