A new two-disc audio title celebrates blues great Walter Trout while the latest disc from alternative rockers Biffy Clyro finds that trio mining new territory. Elsewhere a new soundtrack and an essential reissue provide great listens sure to please discerning fans of an eclectic range of styles.
Artist: Walter Trout
Title: Alive In Amsterdam (Provogue)
You might like if you enjoy: Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy
Tell me more: Blues-rock fans who have seen singer-songwriter-guitar great Walter Trout know how powerful he is in concert. Now they can pick up Alive In Amsterdam, a full-length performance captured at Amsterdam's Royal Theatre Carre on Nov. 28, 2015. It is thrilling when Trout opens the song "I'm Back" and is greeted by thousands of cheers (Trout was near death before receiving a life-saving liver transplant in May 2014). Trout delivers one mighty and potent performance after another on "Alive In Amsterdam," with his awe-inspiring electric guitar work a wonder at every turn. In fact, he opens the set with "Play the Guitar," a impressive quick instrumental before launching his band (bassist Johnny Griparic, keyboardist Sammy Avila and drummer Michael Leasure) into "Help Me," a song loaded with searing guitar work and his emotive vocals. Other standouts include the Chicago blues-flavored "Say Goodbye to the Blues" (dedicated to his friend B.B. King) and confessional "Tomorrow Seems So Far Away" and "Haunted by the Night." Information: mascotlabelgroup.com.
Artist: Biffy Clyro
Title: Ellipsis (Warner Bros.)
You might like if you enjoy: Foals, The Kills
Tell me more: Biffy Clyro's singer-guitarist Simon Neil and brothers James (bass) and Ben (drums) Johnston have delivered another album filled with challenging and articulate alt-meets-experimental rock. Ellipsis is a 11-track disc that finds the Scottish band delving into personal issues with songs that span from the tender (the lovely "Re-arrange" and acoustic-flavored "Medicine") to rage ("Wolves of Winter," "On a Bang") and hopeful anthems (especially the spirited "Flammable" and vibrant "Howl"). The tight riffs and melodic choruses always play out in the service of interesting and strong songcraft. Information: biffyclyro.com.
Artists: Vince Giordano & the Nighthawks, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, more
Title: Cafe Society - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Sony Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Benny Goodman, Count Basie
Tell me more: Music from the 1930s and penned by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart is at the heart of the original motion picture soundtrack for the new Woody Allen film Cafe Society. Wonderful instrumentals of "The Lady Is A Tramp," "Jeepers Creepers" and "Have You Met Miss Jones? (the latter filled with sweet guitar work from Chris Flory) are performed by Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks, while a wistful version of "Mountain Greenery" features singer Kat Edmonson. Classic recordings from the titans of the era include a Benny Goodman & His Orchestra performance of "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" and Count Basie & His Orchestra's "Taxi War Dance." Information: SonyMusicMasterworks.com.
Artist: Velvet Crush
Title: Pre-Teen Symphonies (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Game Theory, Big Star, Three O'Clock
Tell me more: Velvet Crush's Pre-Teen Symphonies is filled with previously unissued tracks that are as infectious as they are authentic, and highlights abound. The 16-track disc opener, a demo of "Hold Me Up," crackles with unbridled indie rock perfection. The melodic "Time Wraps Around You" is heard twice on the disc (via a demo and live performance); both sound terrific and showcase the trio's skills. The driving power-pop nugget "Not Standing Down" highlights how the Rhode Island-based threesome was able to fuse '60s and early '70s song craft with '80s college rock (think R.E.M. and Let's Active) to carve out its own distinctive style of rock. The last half of "Pre-Teen Symphonies" features eight songs captured live at Cabaret Metro, in Chicago in November 1994 and further celebrates the legacy of Paul Chastain, Jeffrey Underhill and Ric Menck. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.