New Music Monday: The Beatles, Mogwai, Billy Branch, Chrome Division, Tommy Castro

Mogwai, those hipster post-rockers, could probably issue just about anything (really, they kinda did with Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will three years ago) and it would sell. This time, they have something actually worth buying.

We’re completely stoked about new Chrome Division music arriving this week, too, along with records from Damon Fowler of Southern Hospitality fame and Doug Paisley — who’s again working with ace-in-the-hole instrumentalist Garth Hudson, of the Band.

Then we have a pair of veteran bluesmen in Billy Branch and Tommy Castro making big impressions in wildly different situations.

Branch is worked with his tried-and-true backing band, the Sons of Blues, for some 15 years between releases — and has finally emerged with an exciting new release that’s worth every bit of the wait. Meanwhile, Castro enlivens his own sound, but this time with a whole new group of youthful collaborators.

There’s intriguing new jazz from Matt Wilson, who’s working with John Medeski this time; Ensemble Et Al.; and Sarah Manning, as well. We start, however, with a curious new reissue from the Beatles …

BEATLES – THE U.S. ALBUMS (POP/ROCK): Strange orphans from another time, these chopped up projects — deleted at the advent of the CD era, after sweeping the nation a generation before — are talismanic to people of a certain age. After all, these editions of Rubber Soul and Revolver made stand as pale, crudely edited shadows compared to the properly sequenced originals, but if that’s the way they sounded when you bought them new — we’re looking at you, boomers! — then they’re YOUR pale, crudely edited shadows, right? This set is being made available strictly for nostalgia’s sake. In particular, because they’re not including the utterly appropriate butcher-shop image found on the original copies of the odds-and-ends collection Yesterday and Today.Nick DeRiso

Beegie Adair – By Myself (Pop/Rock)
Benny Goodman and His Orchestra, Quintet and SextetAFRS Benny Goodman Show, Volume 20 (Jazz)
Billie HolidayEssential Brunswick Collection (Vocals)

BILLY BRANCH – BLUES SHOCK [with the Sons of the Blues] (BLUES): Billy Branch, a fire-kissed harp-playing protegé of blues great Willie Dixon, took some 15 years between studio recordings — waiting for a new sound to come together. With Blues Shock, it did: Branch and his regular working group the Sons of Blues have constructed a daring new release, one that blends a series of tough-minded, cliche-free originals with inventively reimagined takes on classic tracks — never giving an inch to age, convention or expectations. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Boz ScaggsLive at the Fillmore West: 30th June 1971 (Pop/Rock)

CHROME DIVISION – INFERNAL ROCK ETERNAL (POP/ROCK): I’ve been impressed with these black metal dudes who crank out some good, old-fashioned hard rock ‘n’ roll. Here’s hoping their fourth record will be as much fun as the first three. — Fred Phillips

Colin BlunstoneOn The Air Tonight (Pop/Rock)
Cowboy JunkiesThe Kennedy Suite (Pop/Rock)

DAMON FOWLER – SOUNDS OF HOME (BLUES): Who would have guessed how easily he’d slip into Elvis Costello’s “Alison,” giving it a new patina of gritty emotion? That Fowler dove so giddily into Winters’ “TV Mama,” well, that’s to be expected. But the gospel profundity of “I Shall Not Be Moved”? Fowler is clearly in the mood to push himself into new corners of his craft, and he picked just the right collaborator to do that in Tab Benoit. Having a new voice in the room clearly sent Fowler in search of other vistas — and he found them on Sounds of Home. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Dan HartmanDelight My Fire (Pop/Rock)
Deep PurpleNow What?! Box Set: Limited Edition [Import] (Pop/Rock)

DOUG PAISLEY, with THE BAND’S GARTH HUDSON – STRONG FEELINGS (COUNTRY/ROCK): This forthcoming album’s unquestioned centerpiece is the ruminative “What’s Up Is Down” — a song that explores, without artiface or cutesy feints, the feeling of falling ass over teakettle for someone. Then there’s “Song My Love Can Sing,” a gruff examination of a once-troubled, now-departed love, that finds Hudson adding just the right amount of melancholy introspection. He remains, as he always was with the Band, Paisley’s secret weapon. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Duke Ellington and His Famous OrchestraLive At Cabaret L’Alcazar (Jazz)

ENSEMBLE, ET AL. – PRESENT POINT PASSED (JAZZ): This is a four-piece band that could have just as easily been named “Percussion, Unlimited” for its makeup of all-percussive instruments: marimba, vibraphone, glockenspiel, drums, Indian cowbells and Tibetan Bowls. Only the spare use of a Moog synthesizers strays from the mission. Still, there isn’t a cluster of drum solos or an overload of tribal beats. This quartet’s specialty is its leveraging of the intersection of harmony and rhythm inherent in these instruments. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Evelyn KingLong Time Coming: Deluxe Edition; So Romantic: Expanded Edition (R&B)
Glen CampbellLove and Live (Country)

ICED EARTH – PLAGUES OF BABYLON (POP/ROCK): The second Iced Earth release featuring vocalist Stu Block is a mixed bag. Block sounds more comfortable and confident in the band, and his vocals are not overloaded with effects like they were on the last record. Many of the songs, though, sound a lot like, more or less, the same song Jon Schaffer has been writing for a while now. A cover of The Highwaymen’s “Highwayman” featuring Schaffer, Block, Russell Allen (Symphony X) and Michael Poulsen (Volbeat) in place of the famous country legends is one of the more interesting pieces here. (More here.) — Fred Phillips

Ike and Tina TurnerThe Songs of Ike and Tina Turner (R&B)
Jeff BeckLive in Japan 2006 (Pop/Rock)
Jermaine JacksonPlaylist: Very Best of Jermaine Jackson (R&B)

Johnny Cash and Bob DylanThe Singer and the Song (Folk)
John HammondTimeless (Blues)
JourneyPlaylist: Very Best of Journey (Pop/Rock)

LOS LONELY BOYS – REVELATION (POP/ROCK): Los Lonely Boys have never sounded more cosmopolitan, never more engaged in the wider musical landscape around them, and yet Revelation isn’t all about previously untried sounds. They’ll offer a burst of sunny pop on “There’s Always Tomorrow,” and the pastoral stoicism of “It’s Just My Heart Talkin,’” but without abandoning the more-expected R&B-inflected joys of “Can’t Slow Down” or the scalding growl of “Rule the World.” (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

MATT WILSON QUARTET, with JOHN MEDESKI – GATHERING CALL (JAZZ): The thing about Matt Wilson isn’t that he leads a band from behind a drum kit…shoot, man, that’s been done at least since Chick Webb in the 1930s. Rather, it’s that he is able to bring out the fun in all of his players. He steadfastly refuses to buy into the idea that jazz is some museum piece to be carefully handled and meticulously replicated the way it was sixty years ago — and that infectious attitude rubs off. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

MOGWAI – RAVE TAPES (POP/ROCK): Already a post-rock institution, almost no one dares to criticize this Scottish band anymore. Mogwai could release a three-second throwaway and it would be praised as a masterpiece. Now, three years since they released Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will — an incoherent, rather tepid affair — they return with Rave Tapes. The album finds Mogwi making a much-needed return to the sound of their hey day, even while adding new wrinkles (More here.) — Mike Dostert

NektarMagic Is a Child (Pop/Rock)
Nick DrakeTuck Box (Pop/Rock)

Nona HendryxThe Heat: Expanded Edition (R&B)
Ohio PlayersEverybody Up: Expanded Edition (R&B)
Paul McCartneyOff the Ground (Pop/Rock)
Pomus and ShumanThe Songs of Pomus and Shuman (Pop/Rock)
Pro PainFinal Revolution (Pop/Rock)
Reverend Horton HeatREV (Pop/Rock)
Ronnie SpectorPlaylist: The Very Best of Ronnie Spector (Pop/Rock)

SARAH MANNING – HARMONIOUS CREATURE (JAZZ): Four years ago, up-and-coming alto saxophonist Sarah Manning marked her arrival to the NYC scene with her first album with Posi-Tone, Dandelion Clock (2010), and it made waves. She impressed as both a performer and composer with this record, and it led me to believe that even more ambitious things were in store the next time around. Inspired by a fellowship in composition at the McDowell Colony, that promise came to fruition: Harmonious Creature marks real artistic growth for an artist who was already striking her own path. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

Sarah McLachlanPlaylist: Very Best of Sarah McLachlan (Pop/Rock)
ScorpionsMTV Unplugged (Pop/Rock)
Simon and GarfunkelPlaylist: The Very Best of Simon and Garfunkel (Pop/Rock)
Small FacesGreatest Hits: Immediate Years (Pop/Rock)
SpongePlaylist: Very Best of Sponge (Pop/Rock)
Steve RoachLong Night (Pop/Rock)

TOMMY CASTRO – THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (BLUES): There’s a different attitude surrounding these recordings, which find Tommy Castro collaborating with a tough new group of blues-rock loving youngsters. Even tracks like the subsequent “Second Mind,” which starts with a loping cadence powered along by original Castro Band bassist Randy McDonald, soon catch another gear — and they proceed to rattle along like a classic muscle car running with a serrated muffler: They are strong, they are a little scary and they are loud as hell. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

YesWonderous Stories: Best Of (Pop/Rock)


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