Whether your tastes are rooted in the blues, tuneful power pop, retro rockabilly or more, the latest crop of releases offers plenty to please everyone.
Artist: Ken Sharp
Title: New Mourning (Jet Fighter Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Rick Springfield, Three O'Clock, The Knack
Tell me more: The best albums are often distinguished for pushing an artist and musical style forward while simultaneously conjuring up classic works from the past. Such is the measure that is magically met across singer-songwriter Ken Sharp's wonderful return "New Mourning," a power pop celebration that doubles as a concept confessional of his own jaunt through life's highs and lows over the past few years. Whether exploring Philadelphia soul (the glorious "Solid Ground," a track that would make Hall & Oates proud), the melodic Pugwash-meets-Queen worthy "Burn & Crash" (which also features some memorable lead guitar work from Rick Springfield), or propulsive tuneful rock via "Satellite," Sharp and his collection of star players impress. Everywhere there are masterful musical touches that enhance Sharp's smart song craft: lush harmonies on the beautiful ballad "Haunts Me," Sharp's 12-string electric guitar layers on the baroque rocker "Bad News" and an artfully lush soundscape on "I Should Have Known" are just a few worth mentioning. Information: ken-sharp.com.
Artist: The Kingbees
Title: The Big Rock (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Eddie Cochran, the Stray Cats, Lee Rocker
Tell me more: Thirty-five years after the release of the Kingbees' The Big Rock, the album has been reissued as a deluxe edition by Omnivore Recordings that is bolstered by four bonus tracks. The '50s-styled performances featured on the trio's final album for RSO Records sound as fresh and powerful as they did in 1981. Singer-guitarist Jamie James, bassist Michael Rummans and drummer Rex Roberts blended Eddie Cochran-styled rock with the energy of late '70s punk rock on straightforward and infectious James-penned originals including "The Big Rock" and "Burnin' the Town Tonite," as well as a terrific take on the tender Buddy Holly classic "Wishing" and the Charlie Rich rockabilly gem "Right Behind You Baby." Information: omnivorerecordings.com.
Artist: Jerry Lee Lewis
Title: Rockin' My Life Away (Varese Sarabande)
You might like if you enjoy: Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan
Tell me more: For lovers of early rock 'n' roll, the new Jerry Lee Lewis collection Rockin' My Life Away is essential. The 14-track disc focuses on The Killer's late '70s and early '80s country music hits. The material will surprise those who only know the Louisiana native for "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" and "Great Balls of Fire" because his baritone vocals and overall approach frequently extend beyond the rock realm. In particular, a lovely performance of the Charlie Rich country blues ballad "Who Will the Next Fool Be," the symphonic tearjerker "When Two Worlds Collide," the aptly-pegged "Honky Tonk Stuff" and accomplished piano-anchored reworking of "Over the Rainbow" showcase this overlooked period of Lewis' career. Fans of Lewis' rock hits will be happy to hear him pounding away on the keys on the '50s-styled rocker "Rockin' My Life Away" and "Don't Let Go." Information: VareseSarabande.com.
Artist: Moreland & Arbuckle
Title: Promised Land or Bust (Alligator Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Record Company, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite's 2013 masterpiece "Get Up!"
Tell me more: The latest album from Moreland & Arbuckle, Promised Land or Bust, reaches far beyond the Kansas-spawned trio's previous efforts to equal the power and emotional depth of their live performances. The rock-meets-blues opener "Take Me With You (When You Go)" conjures up an emotional depth that brings chills, as does the driving "Mean and Evil" and traditional "Long Did I Hide It" that finds Aaron Moreland (electric, acoustic, and cigar box guitars), Dustin Arbuckle (lead vocals, harmonica) and Kendall Newby (drums, backing vocals) locking in with a power that so often alludes studio efforts from top-tier live acts. The themes explored are not new to the blues; however, love gone bad, wrestling with the Devil and the loner down on his luck are explored with authenticity and sway. Information: alligator.com.