A series of terrific collaborations highlight this May 6, 2013 edition of New Music Monday — beginning with Brian May’s out-there turn with those pioneering space-music gurus in Tangerine Dream.
Patty Griffin has emerged with a new studio effort that includes several tunes alongside Robert Plant.
And, in what may be our favorite of them all, Robben Ford sets a new Michael McDonald EP aflame.
Elsewhere, Rod Stewart has returned to rock and pop music, after a long detour into songbook asides.
Harp icon James Cotton joins with a gaggle of famous friends — including several notables from the Allman Brothers Band — on his tremendous new album, too.
In other blues news, the legendary Little Walter is remembered by folks like Billy Boy Arnold, Sugar Ray Norcia and Charlie Musselwhite.
We’ve got a live set from Jimmy Vivino, the Conan O’Brien bandleader who’s previously worked with Al Kooper and the Band’s Levon Helm; some Jack White coolness from the Gatsby soundtrack; and a fun album from those goofy bluegrass hipsters the Austin Lounge Lizards.
Elsewhere, check out hip jazz from Emily Bear and Daniel Bennett, reissues from the Little River Band and Styx, and some cathartic heaviness from Vicious Rumors and Dug Pinnick …
AUSTIN LOUNGE LIZARDS – HOME AND DERANGED (POP/ROCK): As intoxicatingly strange as they are deliriously talented, the Austin Lounge Lizards may have dropped an original member since their last studio effort, but they’ve lost none of the string-a-ding sense of madcap musical mayhem that always makes them such a delight. Home and Deranged also makes a case for the new guys, both of whom make terrific contributions. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Billy Lester – Storytime (Jazz)
Carey Appel – House of Cards (Pop/Rock)
Climax Blues Band – Tightly Knit (Pop/Rock)
David Armey – 8 (Jazz)
DANIEL BENNETT GROUP – CLOCKHEAD GOES TO CAMP (JAZZ): Using bright harmonies and agile arrangements, Clockhead is deceptively easy sounding, bolstered by the usage of folk style strains. It’s even music you can clap along to, and handclaps are indeed used on the first couple of tracks, “Muskrat” and “Elephant,” the latter involving a real tricky time signature. Using a tone and articulation similar to Spyro Gyra’s Jay Beckenstein, Bennett suggests what that band’s music might have sounded like in an organic setting. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron
Deftones – The Document (Pop/Rock)
Dennis DeYoung – Desert Moon; Back to the World (Pop/Rock)
DUG PINNICK – NAKED (ROCK/METAL): I’ve always been a huge fan of King’s X, but somehow Dug Pinnick’s solo work has never connected with me in the same way. The same can be said for Naked. There’s not really anything I dislike on it, but I find myself wishing I had a new King’s X record instead. — Fred Phillips
EMILY BEAR – DIVERSITY (JAZZ): Emily Bear plays her piano with a finely nuanced touch, with both her comping left hand and a right hand that can cascade notes like sand pouring out of your hands. The song, her own, is a circular figure to which she discreetly adds graceful touches, such as lifting it up to a higher key and then bringing back down down again. Sounds pretty good, huh? What if I were to tell you that Emily is only 11 years old? (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron
Gap Band – Gap Band VII (R&B)
George Clinton – Computer Games (R&B)
Gilbert O’Sullivan – In the Key of G; Sounds of the Loop (Pop/Rock)
JAMES COTTON – COTTON MOUTH MAN (BLUES): Cotton, the Chicago harp legend, is joined here by a bevy of big names — among them Gregg Allman, Ruthie Foster, Joe Bonamassa and Delbert McClinton. Still, don’t get the idea that Cotton is relegated to a sideman role on his own album. Cotton Mouth Man remains firmly within Cotton’s grasp, as he unleashes run after blast-furnace run on the harmonica, even while weaving his own story through the album’s raft of original material. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Jerry Lee Lewis – Return of Rock; Soul My Way (Pop/Rock)
Joe Satriani – Unstoppable Momentum (Rock/Metal)
JIMMY VIVINO AND THE BLACK ITALIANS – 13 LIVE (BLUES): Some magic was bound to surround this, as Jimmy Vivino reunited with long-time former collaborators for the first time in years. But doing so in Levon Helm’s old-barn studio, where Vivino had made so many memories, only heightened the date’s sense of emotional reminiscence. The results play out like the very best of reunions — with no small amount of joy, but also some memorable twinges of sadness. 13 Live, in fact, picks up like a conversation once interrupted amongst old friends — right where it left off. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Johnny Copeland – It’s Me: Classic Texas Soul 1965-72 (Blues)
Joshua Redman – Walking Shadows (Jazz)
Lady Antebellum – Golden (Country)
Lindsey Horner and Andy Goessling – Heyday Maker (Jazz)
LITTLE RIVER BAND – AFTER HOURS; DIAMANTINA COCKTAIL; SLEEPCATCHER; FIRST UNDER THE WIRE (POP/ROCK): Some rock acts start out edgy, later mellowing out to adult contemporary … sometimes blissfully, sometimes not. Little River Band was playing the adult contemporary format from the word “go,” and in its classic configuration of original band leaders Glenn Shorrock, Beeb Birtles and Graeham Goble, they provided some of the best the genre had to offer in the late 1970s. That’s not to say they couldn’t rock out once in a while, which they did on the track that immediately followed their signature hit “Reminiscing” on Sleeper Catcher: “Red-Headed Wild Flower.” It always comes back to those harmonies, though, skating over the loud guitars. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Lynyrd Skynyrd (Pop/Rock)
MICHAEL McDONALD WITH ROBBEN FORD – UNFINISHED BUSINESS EP (R&B): The lead single, called “Judgement Day,” offers a stirring glimpse into this sizzling new collaborative triumph: It has a ballsy gumption that McDonald’s smoothed-out pop hits like “Real Love” — not to mention his more recent plasticine Motown remakes — could scarcely aspire to. I’d argue that this is the setting he should have been working in all along, being as he fits so perfectly into the down-home, shotgun-shack rattling vibes that Ford is laying down here. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Miki Purnell – Swingin’ to the Sea (Vocals)
Mr. Averell – Gridlock (Pop/Rock)
Natalie Maines – Mother (Country)
98 Degrees – 2.0 (Pop/Rock)
PATTY GRIFFIN – AMERICAN KID (POP/ROCK): This album got a considerable amount of pre-release buzz with the news that it would include three tracks with Robert Plant, two of which were previewed last December during a joint performance at an Austin benefit. Her crack band includes the Dickinson siblings, Cody and Luther, of the North Mississippi All Stars — who opened for the Band of Joy on its most recent tour. Together, they create a lonesome intrigue, closer to a real blues than anything Plant once aped early on with Led Zeppelin, but at the same time go deeper into the holler — like a canny update of the celebrated Raising Sand. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Ravi Shankar – Living Room Sessions Part 2 (Folk)
Richard Lanhal – Thou Swell (Vocals)
ROD STEWART – TIME (POP/ROCK): Stewart’s first original studio release in two decades is aptly titled: Sparked in part by Stewart’s work on a memoir, it’s the sound of someone looking determinedly backward. That leads to a comfy sense of nostalgia, as Stewart touches all of the bases on a victory lap through a varied career that started with his tenure in the rough-and-tumble Faces before taking a series of detours as a solo artist — from stripped-down balladeer to synthesized disco maven to songbook slickster. It’s all here, for good or for ill. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Shalamar – Friends (R&B)
Small Faces – There Are But Four Small Faces (Pop/Rock)
Stray Cats – The Toronto Strut (Pop/Rock)
STYX – THE GRAND ILLUSION AND PIECES OF EIGHT LIVE (POP/ROCK): A deluxe souvenir from the first time Styx ever performed these two seminal 1970s albums in their entirety on stage, recorded in 2010 at Memphis. 1977′s Grand Illusion became the band’s first triple platinum album on the strength of the Top 10 hit “Come Sail Away” and “Fooling Yourself,” which went Top 30. The follow up, 1978′s Pieces of Eight, likewise went triple platinum as Styx returned to its prog-rock roots. That album included two Tommy Shaw-sung radio favorites, “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” and “Renegade.” (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
TANGERINE DREAM AND BRIAN MAY – STARMUS: SONIC UNIVERSE (POP/ROCK): Sure, May has a well-known interest in the cosmos and its exploration, having earned a doctorate degree in astrophysics. But, for all of the many styles that May has excelled at over the years, for all of the times he’s played completely in service of the song — showing such great flamboyance, then such sharp-edged restraint — I still didn’t know what to expect once that famously bushy mane was dropped in amidst this kind of long-form, open-ended improvisational music. We will, we will … space you? Actually, he did space me. Big time. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
The Blow Monkeys – Feels Like A New Morning (Pop/Rock)
Tommy James and the Shondells – Hanky Panky; It’s Only Love; I Think Were Alone Now (Pop/Rock)
Various artists – History Of New Orleans Rhythm And Blues Vol 3 1953-55 (R&B)
VARIOUS ARTISTS – REMEMBERING LITTLE WALTER [Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Hummel, Sugar Boy Norcia, others] (BLUES): he standard-bearing harp influence of Walter Jacobs — he established the vocabulary still used by nearly every amplified modern player — is well documented. This guest-packed concert tribute reminds you of his composing prowess, too. After all, Little Walter would write some 14 Top 10 R&B solo hits in the 1950s, well after his muscular, jazz-influenced style changed the direction of Muddy Waters’ music forever. That legacy lives on in the blues, and on Remembering Little Walter, through the work of Charlie Musselwhite and Billy Boy Arnold, two modern-day successors who knew Jacobs personally. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
VARIOUS ARTISTS – THE GREAT GATSBY (SOUNDTRACK): Head straight over to Jack White’s scorching update of the U2 deep cut “Love is Blindness” on this new star-packed set. With a watery organ, a decayed backbeat, and a simply devastated vocal, White sets about simply dismantling the closing track from 1991′s Achtung Baby, until ultimately he’s descended into a howling mess — complete with a jagged, almost violent turn on the guitar. If Bono approached the lyric with a detached sense of heartbreak, White pulls the song’s hurt up close, then unleashes every bit of his rage, nose to nose. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Various artists – Varese Sarabande: 35th Anniversary Celebration (Pop/Rock)
VICIOUS RUMORS – ELECTRIC PUNISHMENT (ROCK/METAL): Vicious Rumors’ comeback album, Razorback Killers in 2011, was fantastic. I can’t wait to hear this one. — Fred Phillips