New Music Monday: Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Mike Keneally, The Rides, Sly and the Family Stone

Massive box sets devoted to the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and Sly and the Family Stone took us on wildly disparate musical journeys this week. Then, there was Stephen Stills’ blues-rocking new trio, the Rides.

Mike Keneally, who rose to fame as Zappa’s stunt guitarist, offers a final collaborative moment with XTC’s Andy Partridge — tucked inside a varied and amazing solo effort. And the uber-busy Steven Wilson drops in for a key assist on the latest Blackfield project.

Elsewhere, we’re deep in the groove with new jazz from Fred Fried, Jeff Lorber, Linda Oh, Roberto Fonseca and Will Bernard, among others. Blues titan James Cotton sits in with Quicksilver Messenger Service on a newly released classic jam, too.

Ailing ex-Toto singer Fergie Frederiksen has a tough, upbeat new release out, while Darden Smith returns with an in-the-pocket country-folk album of his own. We’re also loving the new Michael Monroe, and only so-so on Avenged Sevenfold and Tarja.

Finally, there’s also a last blast of full-on rock from Ritchie Blackmore before he made a sharp left turn into ren-faire rock …

AlabamaAlabama and Friends (Country)

AVENGED SEVENFOLD – HAIL TO THE KING (ROCK/METAL): I’ve always wanted to like Avenged Sevenfold, but their output runs hot and cold for me. There are always a few songs on the record that I really, really like, and a lot that just don’t connect. The title track from this album is pretty cool, with kind of an old school metal feel. — Fred Phillips

Bad CompanyDangerous Age; Holy Water (Pop/Rock)
BarbezBella Ciao (Pop/Rock)

BLACKFIELD – IV (POP/ROCK): Even as Steven Wilson focuses more determinedly on his solo career, Blackfield — his concurrent, more pop-focused project with Aviv Geffen — continues forward. All signs pointed to Blackfield IV as a complete departure — and it may well be, with news that a series of guest stars including former touring mate Vincent Cavanagh of Anathema are on board. But the advance track “Pills,” in fact, makes one final case for what they once had as a partnership. Perhaps more than anything on 2011′s Welcome to my DNA, it recalls Blackfield’s earliest emotionally complex, darkly layered sound. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Bo DiddleyThe Single Collection (R&B)

BOB DYLAN – ANOTHER SELF PORTRAIT (1969-1971): THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 10 (POP/ROCK): Bob Dylan’s bootleg series typically offers a opportunity to dig deeper into his enigmatic and often quite personal musical history. This new edition, despite being subtitled Another Self Portrait, is different. And, really, it’s a good thing. After all, The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 Another Self Portrait: 1969-1971 isn’t exactly focused on the most highly regarded period in Dylan’s own discography. But also featured are a series of tracks alongside George Harrison and the Band, and in both cases Dylan’s collaborators are at the peak of their powers. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

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Booker ErvinBook Cooks (Jazz)
Charles MingusJazz Experiments (Jazz)
Chris ConnorLullabys For Lovers (Vocals)
Chris Duarte GroupLive (Blues)

DARDEN SMITH – LOVE CALLING (POP/ROCK): This new project, Smith’s first in three years, was also his first to be recorded in Nashville — yet, as the lead track “Seven Wonders” illustrates, he hasn’t strayed from the country-folk sound that helped propel him from the Texas hill country onto the national stage via a deal with Epic. If Love Calling sounds like it’s going to have a lot in common with Native Soil, then that’s probably a tribute to the deep musical roots that support these songs. Smith has known bassist Michael Rhodes for nearly 25 years; he’s known Stewart since 1989. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Def LeppardSlang (Pop/Rock)
Dexter Gordon QuartetDaddy Plays The Horn (Jazz)
EverlastLife Acoustic (Pop/Rock)

FERGIE FREDERIKSEN – ANY GIVEN MOMENT (POP/ROCK): Frederiksen is the living embodiment of the old saw: If you’re going through hell, keep going. Rather than wallowing in any kind of pity, much less anger, the former Toto frontman is charging headlong into a hopeful future — with this new single as his tailwind. After a stunning and inoperable liver cancer diagnosis, Frederiksen made an emotional return with 2011′s Happiness Is The Road — and was emboldened by the response. The results of this new-found sense of purpose can be found everywhere on Any Given Moment. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Franz FerdinandRight Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (Pop/Rock)

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FRED FRIED AND CORE – CORE BACHARACH (JAZZ): The master of the eight-string acoustic guitar follows a laudable collection of originals performed by his Core trio with a set of pop standards. Core Bacharach, as the title gives away, is a batch of classic tunes all written by Burt Bacharach and his lyricist, the late Hal David. This is a good choice for source material; with the passage of time the songs of Bacharach/David seem to sound even better now than they did then. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Jars of ClayInland (Pop/Rock)

JEFF LORBER FUSION – HACIENDA (JAZZ): Back with official band members comprised of keyboard ace Lorber, ex-Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip and ex-Chick Corea Elektric Band saxophonist Eric Marienthal — with either Vinnie Colaiuta or David Weckl on drums — Hacienda will also feature the talents of Lenny Castro, Paul Jackson, Jr. and Jean-Luc Ponty. It’s almost like a thirty year fusion class reunion. Key track “Solar Wind” features the guitar services of yet another longtime studio vet, Larry Koonse. He lent a big hand on Lorber’s previous Galaxy and he’s back for an encore, which is welcome news. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Jim CroceThe Lost Recordings (Pop/Rock)
Leah JeeThe Rest is Ours (Pop/Rock)

LINDA OH – SUN PICTURES (JAZZ): The inspiration for the Sun Pictures material she wrote came from her world travels, from gigs and from going back home to western Australia. The music is accordingly reflective and wistful. To help carry out these compositions, she enlisted saxophonist Ben Wendel, guitarist and fellow Aussie James Muller and drummer Ted Poor. Throughout these seven songs, Oh leads this group with an invisible hand, allowing the members to let their musical personalities show, using well placed notes to leave markers that function as directional guides for the others. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

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Marnix BusstraSync Dreams (Jazz)

MICHAEL MONROE – HORNS AND HALOS (ROCK/METAL): One of the legends of 1980s glam and sleaze rock unleashes his latest collection of tunes. While I wasn’t crazy about the punk-influenced “Ballad of the Lower East Side” that was released a couple months back, the newest single “Trick of the Wrist” is a lot of fun. Just great, old-school party hard rock. — Fred Phillips

MIKE KENEALLY – YOU MUST BE THIS TALL (POP/ROCK): You Must Be This Tall comes out of nowhere after 2012′s collaboration with former XTC leader Andy Partridge, Wing Beat Fantastic, where Keneally performed songs he and Partridge wrote together. Their work together has clearly brushed off on Keneally. While he has always had a strong ear for hooks, something has changed with the pairing, and his penchant for happy brain-worm hooks has tightened considerably, as if Partridge was the Yoda to his Luke Skywalker. The result is an album that comes across as a kind of condensed companion to 1999′s instrumental Nonkertompf blended with some of the oddball sensibility that came back to the fore in the later Scambot 1, and even a little guitar heroics of Dog mixed in for good measure. (More here.) — Tom Johnson

MinistryEnjoy the Quiet: Live at Wacken 2012 (Pop/Rock)
Nina SimoneLittle Girl Blue (Jazz)
Oscar PettifordModern Quintet (Jazz)
Placido DomingoVerdi (Vocals)

QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE, with JAMES COTTON – LIVE AT THE OLD MILL TAVERN: MARCH 29, 1970 (POP/ROCK): On the precipice of some very bad vibes — they were about to lose Nicky Hopkins then David Freiberg before going into a folk-rock abyss with Dino Valenti — Quicksilver Messenger Service put on one of its last truly great shows. Appearing in 1970 at their home base of Mill Valley, California, this unjustly forgotten group was touring behind a solid studio effort in Shady Grove. Forget that. What makes Live at the Old Mill Tavern so amazing is something far more unexpected than rehashing their then-new songs: That moment when James Cotton joins in to close things out for a pair of lengthy free-form jams. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

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ROBERTO FONSECA – YO (JAZZ): Yo, in this instance, isn’t meant to be the word of the “Yo, Adrian!” variety. To Fonseca and other Spanish speakers, it means “me” or “I.” This signals an intent for the artist to present a more accurate picture of his true musical personality. If so, it just goes to show how incredibly diverse and in-tune Fonseca is to music both ancient and contemporary, because Yo sweeps across both worlds as if there are no distinctions between the two. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Robbie FulksGone Away Backward (Pop/Rock)

RITCHIE BLACKMORE’S RAINBOW – BLACK MASQUERADE (POP/ROCK): Detailing almost the precise moment that Ritchie Blackmore began his transition toward ren-faire rock, this 1995 Rainbow performance for Germany’s Rockpalast isn’t by any means essential — but it sure is interesting. We find Blackmore, not long after his second (and apparently final) departure from Deep Purple, touring behind a new album called Stranger in Us All with a reconstituted edition of Rainbow featuring Blackmore’s wife Candice Night. Two years later, the couple would found Blackmore’s Night, and they’ve since released some eight albums that couldn’t be further away from the heady mix of rock styles found on Black Masquerade. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE – HIGHER! (R&B): Over four discs and a staggering 77 tracks, Higher! traces this uniquely American story — from Sly Stone’s out-of-nowhere beginnings to his explosively creative (thought terribly brief) period of back-to-back-to-back hitmaking to his strange descent into quiet solitude. The set then expands upon that narrative with mono single mixes, studio outtakes, unreleased items, live recordings and rare instrumentals — not to mention a 104-page book that includes expansive liner notes from Stone’s biographer and fascinating track-by-track notes. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

TARJA – COLOURS IN THE DARK (ROCK/METAL): Yes, former Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen has a fantastic voice, but the constant operatic soprano wears on me, and that’s pretty much all we get on this record. The album is pretty over the top metal opera and Tarja’s soaring vocals push it even farther, but there’s just not enough attitude in them for me. It’s one of the reasons I hold the near-sacrilegious-in-some-circles view that Annette Olzon is the better vocalist of Nightwish. Sometimes in rock and metal you’ve just got to snarl a little. — Fred Phillips

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THE BEACH BOYS – MADE IN CALIFORNIA (POP/ROCK): Brian Wilson remains the acknowledged mastermind behind the Beach Boys legacy, but history — and this sprawling new rarity-packed set — reminds us that he was absent from the day-to-day operations for long periods, appearing only at odd intervals from the SMiLE period through very recently. In keeping, the first two discs of Made in California tend to focus on Wilson, while the next two — which cover the post-1967 output of the band — underscore the typically dismissed contributions made by the rest of the band. Its message is clear: Brian Wilson gave this band its spark, but there was always more to it than that. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

THE RIDES – CAN’T GET ENOUGH (BLUES/ROCK): The joy surrounding this blues-rock collaboration is found not just in the Rides’ meaty originals — four of the 10 tracks are new — but in the way this trio happily attacks the cover tunes. Featuring Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg, the Rides boast too much brawny grit to be compared to a certain other famous trio featuring Stills — and too many flashes of singer-songwriterly depth to fit in with Shepherd’s next-gen blues albums, or even the Super Session project that first united Stills and Goldberg. Instead, there’s a fizzy sense of discovery, both with the newfound intertwining of their voices and the rediscovery of age-old favorites. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Tony BennettArt of Excellence; If I Ruled the World: Songs for the Jet Set; In Person; Sings a String of Harold Arlen; When Lights Are Low; Yesterday I Heard the Rain (Vocals)
Trio 3 and Jason MoranRefraction Breakin’ Glass (Jazz)
Waclaw Zimpel QuartetStone Fog (Jazz)

WILL BERNARD – JUST LIKE DOWNTOWN (JAZZ): Bernard’s B3 organ fixation continues but not a whole lot else carries over from last year’s funky Outdoor Living. Instead of Wil Blades on Hammond, we get Brian Charette. Simon Lott is swapped out for Rudy Royston. And Bernard gains a front line foil by adding saxophonist John Ellis. But in spite of this talent-loaded roster, the big deal about the impending Just Like Downtown is that Bernard doesn’t so much want to groove like before. He wants to swing. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

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