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The Listening Room: Drive-By Truckers, Bright Eyes and more...
If anyone’s ever doubted that Drive-By Truckers have soul, this is their comeuppance. The 14-track set hails from the same sessions as last year’s magnificent “The Big To Do” and is just as good, if not a bit better, as it delves deeper into the Southern R&B roots that are in frontman Patterson Hood’s blood thanks to a father, bassist David Hood, who was part of the famed Muscle Shoals (Ala.) Rhythm Section. The younger Hood has certainly exercised his lineage in producing albums for Bettye LaVette and Booker T. Jones, with DBT in tow, and he brings it to the fore under the band name in the aching funk of the title track, the lengthy narrative “Used to Be a Cop,” the spare melodicism of “The Thanksgiving Filter” and the rocking soul of “Mercy Buckets.” “Go-Go Boots” also pays homage to the late Muscle Shoals guitarist Eddie Hinton on a pair of covers, “Everybody Needs Love” and “Where’s Eddie,” the latter sung by bassist Shonna Tucker. Tucker and guitarist Mike Cooley, meanwhile, expand the album’s scope on their songs, with Cooley pursuing a more country direction on “Cartoon Gold,” “The Weakest Man” and “Pulaski” while Tucker weighs in with the melancholy “Dancin’ Ricky.” It’s diverse but easy on the ears, bolstering DBT’s stature as one of America’s finest bands.
Bright Eyes, "The People’s Key” (Saddle Creek) ***
Conor Oberst and company cast a broad sonic net on Bright Eyes’ first new album in nearly four years, which will disarm some of the Nebraska collective’s following. The 10-song set throws a lot at the listener, from the philosophical ramblings of Texas musician Denny Brewer to the trancey epics “Firewall” and “One For You, One For Me,” the pompy bounce of “Shell Games,” the impressionistic ambience of “Approximate Sunlight” and the big-beat rock of “Triple Spiral” and “Haile Selassie.” Early on Oberst declares that “I do my best to sleep through the caterwaul,” but there’s no question he and his troupe — including Bright Eyes fixtures Mike Mogos and Nate Walcott — are thoroughly engaged here, as ambitious and creatively daring now as they were 13 years and nine previous albums ago.
New & Noteworthy
A Skylit Drive, “Identity On Fire” (Fearless): The Lodi, Calif., modern rock sextet rolls out its third album after heaving touring to promote 2009’s “Adelphia.”
Hayes Carll, “KMAG YOYO” (Lost Highway): The title of the Texas singer-songwriter’s second album is an acronym for a military kiss-off.
Celtic Woman, “Lullaby” (EMI/Manhattan): The all-female troupe adds a few new songs to gentler selections from its previous releases.
Cowboy Junkies, “Demons” (Latent): The Canadian group’s second Nomad Series album focuses on the songs of the late Vic Chesnutt, including “Betty Lonely,” “Ladle,” “West of Roam” and “Wrong Piano.”
Deicide, “To Hell With God” (Century Media): The American death metal group’s first release in three years finds the quintet “Empowered By Blasphemy,” which probably means you don’t need to save any seats in church this week.
The Disciplines, “Virgins of Menace” (Spark & Shine): The second full-length album from the Norwegian garage rock group fronted by the Posies’ Ken Stringfellow.
Tommy Emmanuel, “Little By Little” (Favored Nations): The Australian guitar hero spreads his fluid “finger style” playing over two discs and 24 songs on his latest outing.
Emmure, “Speaker of the Dead” (Victory): The headbangers’ fourth album features 15 breakneck songs — several under two minutes — and plenty of bad attitude.
Ginuwine, “Elgin” (Notifi): The Washington, D.C. R&B singer employs his given first name (he’s Elgin Baylor Lumpkin on his driver’s license) as the title of his seventh album.
PJ Harvey, “Let England Shake” (Vagrant): The itinerant British blues and rock songwriter recorded her eighth album in a 19th Century church overlooking the sea in Dorset, England.
Delfeayo Marsalis, “Sweet Thunder (Duke & Shak)” (Troubadour Jass): The trombone-playing Marsalis brother’s latest pays homage to Duke Ellington and William Shakespeare — together again for the first time — with help from brothers Branford and Jason Marsalis, Mulgrew Miller and others.
Mr. Big, “What If” (Frontiers): The mainstream rockers’ first album in a decade also marks guitarist Paul Gilbert’s first recording with the “To Be With You” group since 1996.
Mogwai, “Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will” (Sub Pop): The Scottish quintet stayed home to record its seventh album, including a closing track called “You’re Lionel Richie.”
Nelson, “Lightning Strikes Twice” (Frontiers): Ricky Nelson’s twins re-record a selection of their previous favorites, thinking we need to be reminded of “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection” and “After The Rain.”
Ben Ottewell, “Shapes & Shadows” (ATO): The Gomez member recorded his first solo album in Los Angeles, writing with childhood friend Sam Genders.
Rev Theory, “Justice” (Interscope/Geffen/A&M): The New York hard rockers recorded their third album with producer Terry Date (Pantera, Slipknot, deftones).
Saigon, “Greatest Story Never Told” (Fort Knocks/Suburban Noize): The “Entourage” rapper’s first studio album sports guest appearances by Jay-Z, Raheem DeVaughn, Q-Tip, Swizz Beatz, Faith Evans and a host of others.
Sonic Youth, “Simon Werner a Disparu” (SYR): The New York art rockers’ soundtrack to French director Fabrice Gobert’s latest film.
Soundtrack, “Gnomeo & Juliet” (Buena Vista): A number of Elton John classics — including a new version of “Crocodile Rock” with Nelly Furtado — and two new songs highlight the companion to the new animated film.
Eddie Spaghetti, “Sundowner” (Bloodshot): The Supersuckers frontman’s third solo album includes covers of songs by the Dwarves, Del Reeves, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle...and Dean Martin.
Stryper, “The Covering” (Big3): The Christian heavy metal icons nod to one side of their roots by covering songs by Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and other groups that have been banned in various churches.
June Tabor, “Ashore"(Topic): The British folk singer’s latest release includes a version of Elvis Costello’s “Shipbuilding” and a pair of songs written by Cyril Tawney.
Twilight Singers, “Dynamite Steps” (Sub Pop): Greg Dulli and company deliver their fifth full-length album after a five-year wait.
Various Artists, “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat: Disney Jazz, Volume 1" (Disney Pearl): Dave Brubeck, Esperanza Spalding, Dianne Reeves, Roy Hargrove and Regina Carter are among the rings lending their particular style to this set of Disney movie favorites.
From the Vaults: Teena Marie, “Icon” (Motown/UMe); Smokey Robinson, “Solo Albums 4” (Motown/UMe); The Wailers Band, “Majestic Warriors” (Island/Ume)
New Music DVDs: "Lemmy: 49% Motherf**ker, 51% Son of a Bitch" (Damage Case Films)
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