Friday, August 12, 2016

Album reviews: Rusty Anderson Afternoon, Kelly B Himself, Sonny & Cher, The Rave-Ups, Kate & Anna McGarrigle

Rusty Anderson, left, and Todd O'Keefe of Rusty Anderson Afternoon.
Photo: Courtesy of the Artist

A mix of welcome returns from several area Southern California artists, as well as three deluxe reissues make for a strong crop of much recommended new releases.

Artist: Rusty Anderson Afternoon
Title: RAA (Oxide Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Fountains of Wayne, Paul McCartney
Tell me more: Rusty Anderson has enjoyed the ultimate dream gig playing lead guitar on stage and in studio for Sir Paul McCartney since 2001. But that doesn't mean the talented singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso hasn't extended his solo reach through a thriving career that has highlighted his own artistic voice. Anderson's latest project, Rusty Anderson Afternoon, has delivered RAA, the most eclectic and stirring of his solo efforts. The strength and range of the nine-song set is enhanced by Anderson's astounding guitar work, which casts its reach beyond speedy leads and includes nuanced, melodic and experimental touches. Even apart from the impressive fretwork the introspective "Evidence," alluring "Colleen," psychedelic rocker "Big Black Hole" and shimmering "Tether" are simply great songs. Information:

Artist: Kelly B Himself
Title: Forgiveness (Spare Room Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Beastie Boys, Snoop Dog, NWA
Tell me more: Southern California rapper Kelly B Himself tells it like it is. Using catchy rhythms in the support of his straightforward and honest lyrics, Kelly B Himself chronicles everything from suicide, the dangers of substance abuse and gang violence to faith and the joys found with forging a loving family on his latest full-length album Forgiveness. "Sinny Sin Sin" is a hard-hitting confessional rap Kelly B delivers to the ethereal backing of Gregorian Chant; "Baby Girl" allows the artist to chronicle the joys of fatherhood. "They Want Me Dead" addresses the dangers of living outside the law; "Listen Up" allows the rapper to ponder his own death even while fearing for the ones he would leave behind. Information:

Artist: Sonny & Cher
Title: Good Times - Original Film Soundtrack (Varese Sarabande)
You might like if you enjoy: Sonny & Cher
Tell me more: The late 1960s generated its good share of interesting and groundbreaking music-anchored films including "Wonderwall" (scored by George Harrison), "Head" (featuring the Monkees) and "Good Times," the latter a 1967 flick featuring Sonny & Cher. A new reissue of the soundtrack sheds new light on the famed duo's early career. The Dixieland-styled "Good Times" the lovely baroque pop duet "Trust Me" and blues original "I'm Gonna Love You" (featuring some of Cher's best ever singing) are among the far-flung tracks on this fascinating collection. The soundtrack reissue not only includes new recordings of the duo's #1 hit "I Got You Babe," but includes three bonus tracks. Additionally, a colorful booklet includes a wealth of liner notes detailing the film and its music. Information:

Artist: The Rave-Ups
Title: Town + Country (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: The Plimsouls, Dawes, the Jayhawks, Tom Petty
Tell me more: The Rave-Ups' 1985 album Town + Country is a glorious reminder that the best of music can sadly be overlooked. A new deluxe reissue of the disc includes all 10 songs featured on the original edition of Town + Country as well as 11 bonus tracks. The Rave-Ups were an Americana band that fused roots rock with the power of punk and college rock and had the sharp tunes and musical chops to forge a sound that is as fresh today as the time of the album's original release. The undeniable rocker "Positively Lost Me" (featured in the film "Pretty in Pink"), wistful "Radio," country rocker "By the Way" and bonus track "Nine Pound Hammer" (a rollicking cover of the Merle Travis song recorded on KCRW in 1986) are standouts. Information:

Artist: Kate & Anna McGarrigle
Title: Pronto Monto (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris
Tell me more: Blending folk and world music with a touch of '70s soft rock, Kate & Anna McGarrigle's Pronto Monto marked the Canadian sister-duo's third album but was never issued commercially beyond its initial release on vinyl in 1978. The sisters' beautiful harmonies are showcased in the service of a dozen terrific songs. The pretty "Just Another Broken Heart," the bluesy romp "Tryin' to Get to You" and country ballad "Fixture in the Park" are among the winning tracks on the album. Information:

Robert Kinsler

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