Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Musical Diversity Works Wonders

Fans of original rock, power pop and Americana will want to check out a strong crop of recent releases now available.

Artist: Dorothy
Title: 28 Days In The Valley (Roc Nation)
You might like if you enjoy: Jefferson Airplane, Pvris, Florence + the Machine
Tell me more: Greta Van Fleet isn't the only young act taping into classic rock as part of a glorious search for something new. Los Angeles-based outfit Dorothy has found sonic paydirt in the art of '60s and '70s classic rock as evidenced across the new 28 Days In The Valley. Led by singer-songwriter Dorothy Martin (whose voice draws strong and favorable comparisons with a young Grace Slick) and her surrounding musical cast of players unleash more than a dozen tracks that resonate with a blend of the artfulness of Surrealistic Pillow-era Jefferson Airplane, style of Oasis and the contemporary approach of the best work from Florence + the Machine and PvrisThe wealth and range of material rewards at every turn. The soaring "Who Do You Love" is a driving rocker that has a decidedly Hollywood vibe; the spiritual-tinged sing-along "Mountain" and psychedelia-laced anthem "Freedom" find Martin unleashing her inner blues singer with wonderful results. The swirling rocker "White Butterfly," the haunting Spaghetti-Western flavored "28 Days In The Valley (Interlude)" and a cover of Linda Perry's "Black Tar & Nicotine" are among the other standouts on this terrific album. Information: DorothyTheBand.com.

Artist: Stone Temple Pilots
Title: Stone Temple Pilots (Rhino)
You might like if you enjoy: Altered State, STP
Tell me more: Stone Temple Pilots are back. Just listen to the San Diego-spawned quartet's new self-titled album, a collection of strong and inviting songs that mark the first batch of tracks with new singer Jeff Gutt (original vocalist Scott Weiland passed away in December 2015 and subsequent vocalist Chester Bennington died in July 2017). Sure there are songs that rock ("Middle of Nowhere," "Guilty," "Roll Me Under," "Meadow"), but STP (whose line-up also includes brothers Robert DeLeo and Dean DeLeo, and drummer Eric Kretz) has found life anew via a great collection of creative and winning songs that are among the band's best ever. Just listen to the gorgeous "Thought She'd Be Mine," the shimmering "Finest Hour" and wistful "Reds & Blues." The aptly-titled Stone Temple Pilots is a wonderful and masterful return. A much-recommended deluxe edition of the album (available at Best Buy stores) features two exceptional bonus tracks (the rip roaring "Already Gone" and the lush melodic track "Forget Forever"). Information: StoneTemplePilots.com.

Artist: Jim White
Title: Waffles, Triangles & Jesus (People in a Place to Know Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Dr. Dog, Otis Taylor
Tell me more: To be sure, Jim White's latest album Waffles, Triangles & Jesus defies easy categorization even while the art damage-drenched Americana splashed across the 11-track album makes for an exhilarating listen. The myriad of musical instruments and equally-diverse range of subject matter begins to outline the unique approach of White; the infusion of wit, humor and the artist's Southern-mining style further carve out the territory explored here. The immersive "Drift Away" finds White's voice tapping into a far-away character able to escape his existence diving into a river with dreams of moving with those natural waters to the sea; the redolent sound of a banjo anchors White's narrative before gradually being overrun by a Celtic jam. The mischievous old-styled country romp "Playing Guitars" features White sharing vocals with indie songstress Holly Golightly. The buoyant indie rocker "Silver Threads" is enhanced by the contributions of Dead Rock West (Los Angeles' Cindy Wasserman and Frank Drennen); the unsettling "Prisoner's Dilemma" blends jazz stylings, trumpets, spoken word and probing storytelling to reveal its dark tale. "Waffles, Triangles & Jesus" is a work of considerable ambition, with White's own contributions (guitar, vocals, banjo, piano and more) enhanced by a parade of talented guests including the duo Cicada Rhythm, guitarist Ali Farka Toure, fiddler Jason Cade, multi-instrumentalist Rob McMaken, trumpeter Josh Klein and many more. Information: JimWhite.net.

Artists: Ray Paul, P. Hux, the Smithereens, the Rubinoos, Popdudes, others
Title: Dana & Carl present: This is Rock 'n' Roll Radio - Volume 4 (Kool Kat Musik)
You might like if you enjoy: Power pop music, Badfinger, Matthew Sweet
Tell me more: Lovers of tuneful, melodic and well-crafted rock will absolutely love the latest volume of Dana & Carl present: This is Rock 'n' Roll Radio. Volume 4 includes more than two dozen tracks that capture the enduring spirit of power pop with nuggets shining across the disc. Master singer-songwriter Ray Paul's new offering "I Need Your Love" is an early high mark on the disc, but plenty more follow. Circe Link and Christian Nesmith join forces on the couple's shining baroque pop original "I'm On Your Side"; P. Hux reveals a lush and majestic "Better Than Good" sure to appeal to fans of classic melodic rock; Irene Peña sings the tender "Must've Been Good"; the excellent liner notes on the collection note speak for yours truly with the note that "Michael Oliver blew us away with a new song ('You Won't Do') that should be playing on every radio station in the country right now". Other top-flight contributions includes the Rubinoos' glimmering "Nowheresville," The Smithereens' rollicking "Got Me A Girl," and Popdudes' beautiful cover of Torbjorn Petersson’s "(She Is Funny) In That Way." Information: koolkatmusik.com.

Artist: The Furious Seasons
Title: Now Residing Abroad (Stonegarden Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Chris Hillman, Bruce Cockburn, America
Tell me more: Songcraft still matters. Just listen to the Furious Seasons' excellent sixth album Now Residing Abroad, the second full-length set featuring the specific lineup of singer-songwriter/guitarist David Steinhart, his brother Jeff Steinhart on upright bass and Paul Nelson on guitar and harmony vocals. The trio paints vivid and luxurious Americana tapestries that enhance lyrical tales covering everything from life in Los Angeles and the pain of divorce to subliminal political jabs ("The Loyal Canadians") and love songs ("So Sorry Adele"). Several of the most impressive cuts take an authentic look at life's fast-moving years; the opener "Expo Line" and "Tethered" are both poignant and deeply affecting. Information: TheFuriousSeasons.com.

Robert Kinsler

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