New Music Monday: Steven Wilson, the Mavericks, Justin Hayward, Antonio Sanchez, Johnny Marr

The Fabulous Thunderbirds return with an R&B-soaked groover. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell combine for a long-awaited Americana reunion. Johnny Marr is ready to reclaim his throne as a guitar god for a new generation.

And that’s just the tip of the proverbial New Music Monday iceberg.

There’s also a smart new set from Joan Armatrading, and a solo album from Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues that was a decade in the making.

For our jazzheads, we have sizzling new stuff from Antonio Sanchez (drummer with Pat Metheny), a swinging new album dedicated to the music of Carole King and James Taylor by vocalist Amanda Brecker, a terrific duo recording with Charles Lloyd and his regular working pianist, and an intriguing new recording from the Next Collective.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Justin Hayward talks about Moody Blues moments like "Gemini Dream" and "Tuesday Afternoon," as well as key tunes from his long-awaited new solo effort.]

Also, we’re totally geeked about the latest project from Cajun supergroup BeauSoleil, and a slamming new EP from Down. There is new music to check out from Enforcer, Hadden Sayers and James Hunter, too.

As for reissues, we take a look back at classic recordings from Iron Maiden and John Fogerty, among others.

Time to dig in. Hope you brought your musical appetite …

Albert KingThe Big Blues (Blues)

ANTONIO SANCHEZ – NEW LIFE (JAZZ): He’s been Metheny’s best Pat Metheny Group drummer (which is saying a lot, since Dan Gottlieb and Paul Wertico are hardly slouches) and performed other notable sideman work for Chick Corea, Dianne Reeves, Michael Brecker, Gary Burton and many others. Though both Metheny and Corea appeared on Migration, both are nowhere to be found on New Life, but that’s better for Sanchez to prove himself to the world as someone who can flourish outside their long shadows. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

AMANDA BRECKER – BLOSSOM (POP/ROCK): A recommended set of James Taylor and Carole King covers by the daughter of Randy Brecker and Eliane Elias. Whereas King always sounded brittle and papery to my ear, Brecker imbues songs like “It’s Too Late” with a warmer approachability, and — this is where Blossom soars — she can swing. Meanwhile, producer Jesse Harris (Madeleine Peyroux, Norah Jones) updates these polyester-era pieces with a smart new instrumentation — understated and spacious, but with enough distinctive flourishes to keep the project from becoming too featureless. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Atoms For PeaceAmok (Pop/Rock)

BEAUSOLEIL avec MICHAEL DOUCET – FROM BAMAKO TO CARENCRO (INTERNATIONAL): Much of what’s here sounds of a piece with BeauSoleil’s 24 previous releases, as Doucet and Co. blend jazz, swamp pop, country, blues into the intriguing musical gumbo that is Cajun and zydeco. In fact, they are so consistent, so authentic, so stunningly brilliant that it’s easy to take BeauSoleil for granted. Until they throw you a curve ball. And, once again, From Bamako to Carencro certainly boasts a few. Rather than settling for being keepers of the Creole flame, they once again picked up that torch and simply ran like hell. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Bill FrisellSilent Comedy (Jazz)

CHARLES LLOYD AND JASON MORAN – HAGAR’S SONG (JAZZ): Charles Lloyd, the jazz legend hidden in plain sight, is as productive and vibrant coming up on his 75th birthday as he’s ever been. As he reaches an advanced age, he looks not ahead to mortality but back — way back — at his own lineage. Performed with only his pianist from his current quartet, the sublimely talented Jason Moran, Hagar’s Song consists of many graceful readings of jazz standards, a couple of pop ones and a suite Lloyd composed for his great-great-grandmother, who grew up as a slave in the antebellum South. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Charles FloresImpressions of Graffiti (Jazz)
Chita RiveraChita; And Now I Sing (Vocals)
Chris Duarte GroupMy Soul Alone (Blues)

DOWN – DOWN IV PART I: THE PURPLE EP (POP/ROCK): Vocalist Phil Anselmo and guitarist Pepper Keenan have taken their time producing new music. After the first release NOLA in 1995, their follow-up Down II: A Bustle in Your Hedgerow didn’t arrive until 2002, followed by Down III: Over the Under in 2007. Down IV has been rumored for several years, only to finally begin appearing last year as a series of EPs. (More here.) — Fred Phillips

Drew Holcomb and the NeighborsGood Light (Pop/Rock)

EMMYLOU HARRIS AND RODNEY CROWELL – OLD YELLOW MOON (COUNTRY): Gloriously free of the spit-shine that’s turned so much of Nashville’s product into pop pap, Old Yellow Moon has a homey, lived-in feel — like a conversation amongst old friends, with everyone showing their scars. That’s because, well, it went almost just like that. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell offer an ageless blending of Americana sounds over four Crowell tracks, plus eight cover tunes hand selected by producer Brian Ahern — reportedly around the table in his Nashville kitchen. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

ENFORCER – DEATH BY FIRE (POP/ROCK): This is a collection of interesting, old-school speed metal with some New Wave of British Heavy Metal influence, as well as a healthy dose of Kill ‘Em All-era Metallica. — Fred Phillips

ENNIO MORRICONE – LA MIGLIORE OFFERTA (SOUNDTRACK): Be honest. You just whistled the theme to “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” — Fred Phillips

FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS – ON THE VERGE (BLUES): Kim Wilson, in detouring through the slow-simmering joys of R&B on this new Fabulous Thunderbirds recording, has allowed himself a remarkable depth of feeling. It is, to my ear, the best he’s ever sung. Throughout, On the Verge hews closer to the Stax Records aesthetic than it does the Texas roadhouse. Not that you can’t peg this as the Fabulous Thunderbirds, whatever the album’s atmospherics. There’s just suddenly a lot more going on around what was once a straight-forward sound. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Freddie KingThe Complete King Federal Singles (Blues)
Giovanni MoltoniTomorrow’s Past (Jazz)

HADDEN SAYERS – ROLLING SOUL (BLUES): Rolling Soul, a reference to the 1962 Airstream he hauls around to hundreds of gigs across the country, is literally a road journal, with each song coming with the city and year the song was written and what inspired them printed in the CD inside sleeve. Apparently, Sayers likes to tell stories so much, he even enjoys telling stories about writing stories. The passion for that — as well as his devotion to the blues and his faculty for Texas blues guitar — all bleed through on Rolling Soul. More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

IRON MAIDEN – SEVENTH SON (POP/ROCK): There’s no simple way to put it: Iron Maiden is a huge part of my musical life. I found them — they found me, maybe — in that sweet spot in every heavy metal fan’s life, that period of waffling confusion that hovers around your 16th birthday. Decades later, as this first album I ever bought from Maiden is reissued, I’m still into them. I even tried a couple of times in my 20s to convince myself that I had outgrown Iron Maiden. I found out the hard way that just isn’t going to happen: Iron Maiden is a part of me, and I am a part of what’s kept Iron Maiden around. Also reissued this week: Somewhere in Time. (More here.) — Tom Johnson

JAMES HUNTER SIX – MINUTE BY MINUTE (BLUES): Hunter is back after a five-year recording hiatus, and the British belter hasn’t lost a step. He’s a heel-toeing James Brown one minute, a down-trodden Bobby “Blue” Bland” the minute after that, and then a thunderstruck Sam Cooke the next. These Brooklyn-recorded sessions do a particularly good job of highlighting the punchy contributions of baritone Lee Badau and tenor man Damian Hand, too. Hunter’s previous albums had been done at London’s lo-fi Toe Rag studios, an environment that never afforded his band this kind of separation. Every thwack on Jonathan Lee’s drums resonates with the immediacy of a front-row juke-joint seat. — Nick DeRiso

Jeff HealeyHouse on Fire: Demos and Rarities (Blues)

JOHN FOGERTY – CENTERFIELD (POP/ROCK): I’ve got to admit, even in the throes of my metal-rules, everything-else-sucks mid-1980s mindset, I played the hell out of this record. Now that I’ve heard it will be reissued, I’ll be humming the guitar riff from “The Old Man Down the Road” for the rest of the night. — Fred Phillips

JOAN ARMATRADING – STARLIGHT (POP/ROCK): This isn’t a jazz album, anymore than Joan Armatrading’s 2007 UK charttopper Into The Blues was about something so simple as the blues. She’s always had a roving eye, a restless muse. Her lyrics, angular, fizzy and typically confessional, certainly point you in the direction of jazz, but as with each of her more recent projects, Armatrading plays all of the instruments — save for drums, which she programs with an idiosyncratic verve. They are sometimes strangely busy, often weirdly off-kilter. This gives the album more of a found-art avant-pop sensibility, and in that way recalls almost nothing that she’s done before. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

JOHNNY MARR – THE MESSENGER (POP/ROCK): Credentialed alterno-god Johnny Marr, who was cool when today’s hipsters weren’t even glimmers in their parents’ eyes, returns with a stark, riff-fueled message: “The underground is overground.” In an age when most of today’s so-called upstarts are nothing more than corporate shills, it’s harder than ever to find real attitude — real rebellion. Leave it to the old man to show you how it’s done. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

JUSTIN HAYWARD – SPIRITS OF THE WESTERN SKY (POP/ROCK): Recorded in Genoa, Italy and in Nashville, Spirits of the Western Sky sounds just as varied. The long-time Moody Blues frontman moves from acoustic balladry to soaring orchestral songs, from experiments with dance music to bluegrass, on his initial solo effort in 17 years. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

KMFDMKunst (Pop/Rock)
Mark WeinsteinTodo Corazon (Jazz)
Michael BoltonAin’t No Mountain High Enough: Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A. (Pop/Rock)
Monica RameyAnd the Beegie Adair Trio (Jazz)
Nancy WilsonHello Young Lovers (Vocals)

NEXT COLLECTIVE – COVER ART (JAZZ): The Next Collective is democratic to an extreme not often seen even in bands ostensibly formed to be leaderless. Each of the members got to select one or two tunes from the canon of contemporary mainstream music, and produce and arrange that track for the band. Together, they cover a series of songs all pulled from the contemporary side of music. The purpose of this project seems to be to embrace the jazz of the past within its harmonic/rhythmic framework while filling up that framework with the language of these more popular forms. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Nick DrakePink Moon [Vinyl] (Pop/Rock)
PlumbNeed You Now (Pop/Rock)
Robb Cappelletto Group!!! (Jazz)
Shout Out LoudsOptica (Pop/Rock)

STEVEN WILSON – THE RAVEN THAT REFUSED TO SING (POP/ROCK): Ambitious, connective and simply unforgettable, this new project is held together by Wilson’s passion for prog’s storied past. The Raven, even has it stuns and delights, unfolds like a road map through his influences. Across a six-song suite, Wilson references, by turns, the sweeping narratives of Yes’ signature projects (“The Watchmaker”), the spacey nihilism of Pink Floyd in all of its pre-Wall splendor (“Drive Home”), the boisterous musculature of classic Billy Cobham and Weather Report (“Luminol”), the nervy musical intellect of King Crimson (“The Holy Drinker”), and the literary aspirations of the Alan Parsons Project (on his title track). Yet, The Raven never sounds second-hand or pasted together. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

STRATOVARIUS – NEMESIS (POP/ROCK): I have something of a love-hate relationship with Stratovarius. Occasionally one of their records hits me in the right frame of mind and I really like it. Other times it just strikes me as cheesy, generic power metal. I like what I’ve heard of Nemesis so far. Maybe I’m a cheesy mood. — Fred Phillips

Sweet Honey in the RockA Tribute: Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center (Vocals)

THE MAVERICKS – IN TIME (POP/ROCK): We have here all of the things that made the Mavericks such a great band: great song writing and arrangements; the ability as players to move effortlessly between many different styles; and an image that is easily marketed to the general public but appeals to critics as well. In some ways it’s easy to see this album as a case of the same old song and dance – after all, the Mavericks have always been gifted in these areas. On the other hand, the band seems to have done something very obvious, yet very subtle; very essential, yet very unnoticeable: they just do the same as they always did, but continue to do it even better. (More here.) — JC Mosquito

WAYNE HANCOCK – RIDE (COUNTRY): Country doesn’t get more traditional than Wayne “The Train,” and he was doing it long before it was cool. This is another fine collection of songs in the style of Hank Sr. — Fred Phillips


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