Four new collections are highlighted this week.
Artist: Tedeschi Trucks Band
Title: Live From the Fox Oakland (Concord Music Group)
You might like if you enjoy: Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi
Tell me more: One of modern music's most exciting live ensembles, it is no wonder that the Tedeschi Trucks Band's new two-disc concert recording Live From the Fox Oakland is such a treasure. Recorded in a single night, the release captures singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi and guitarist Derek Trucks and their 10-member group showcasing their wide-ranging approach to music making. The talented troupe excels in performing Allman Brothers Band-styled Southern jam rock (an 11-minute version of Derek and the Dominos' "Keep On Growing"), soul (a moving interpretation of Leonard Cohen's "Bird on the Wire," the original "Crying Over You"), virtuoso musicianship showcases (Trucks' stratospheric slide guitar work shines everywhere, including on the original "Let Me Get By" and a short cover of George Harrison's "Within You, Without You"), blues ("Just as Strange," a fantastic take on Bobby "Blue" Bland's "I Pity the Fool" featuring Tedeschi's potent soprano). Information: TedeschiTrucksBand.com.
Artist: Southern Avenue
Title: Southern Avenue (Stax)
You might like if you enjoy: Bonnie Raitt, Ruthie Foster, Susan Tedeschi
Tell me more: There is plenty of soul on the self-titled debut from Memphis-based quintet Southern Avenue. Anchored by church-trained sisters Tierinii Jackson (lead vocals) and Tikyra Jackson (drums, percussion), the group also includes guitarist Ori Naftaly, bassist Daniel McKee and keyboardist Jeremy Powell. The young group's rich understanding of soul, blues and R&B manifests itself via 10 solid tracks, including the uptempo original "Don't Give Up" (featuring slide guitar work from guest Luther Dickinson), the heartfelt ballad "Love Me Right" and the infectious blues rocker "No Time to Lose" (featuring some hot fretwork from Naftaly). Additional notable guest players who join Southern Avenue include trumpeter Marc Franklin of the Bo-Keys, sax player Kevin Houston and trombonist Suavo Jones. Information: SouthernAvenueBand.com.
Artist: The Muffs
Title: Happy Birthday To Me (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: The Muffs, The Pandoras, The Pixies
Tell me more: The reissue of The Muffs' 1997 album Happy Birthday To Me is filled with raucous, hard-hitting punk rock that shines thanks to solid and memorable songs delivered with fire and precision. The classic album has been reissued by seven bonus tracks and is essential for fans of the Los Angeles band. The material ranges from blistering punk tracks where singer-guitarist Kim Shattuck's voice is at a scream (the apt "That Awful Man," "Nothing") to beautiful alternative gems ("Honeymoon," "All Blue Baby," "Where Only I Could Go"). Produced by the Muffs, "Happy Birthday To Me" is a timeless collection from one of Southern California's greatest punk artists. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.
Artist: Raul Midon
Title: Bad Ass and Blind (Mack Ave / Artistry Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Beck, George Benson
Tell me more: If originality counts, than singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Raul Midon is on the right track. On Bad Ass and Blind, his 9th full-length album, the New Mexico native proves the best path going forward is to continue to explore and fuse the rock, funk, soul, R&B and jazz sounds together in the service of original song craft. His smooth tenor vocals are easy on the ears (notably on the jazzy "Wings of Mind" and the creative cover of the Steve Miller Band classic "Fly Like An Eagle"), and he can rap with bona fide authenticity too (as evidenced by the title track). Midon, blind since birth, is equally a force on lead guitar. Whether just adding artistic little fills ("Red Green Yellow") or playing flat out (just listen to "Gotta Gotta Give"), his guitar playing is always impressive. Mido is currently on tour, and he will be performing at Bluewhale, 123 Astronaut E S Onizuka, Suite 301, Los Angeles on April 21 and April 22. Information: bluewhalemusic.com or raulmidon.com.