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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: George Strait, Lindsey Buckingham and more...
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

COUNTRY

George Strait

“Here For a Good Time”

MCA Nashville

★★ 1/2

On the rocking title track of his latest album, country icon George Strait sings that, “I ain’t here for a long time ...” The lie to that, of course, is that Strait has been around for 41 hitmaking years, and this is his 39th studio album. He’s a country singer’s country singer, a traditional holdout who’s happy to keep the fiddles wailing and the pedal steels weeping while the young ’uns try to cross over to the pop charts. But the characters that populate most of these 11 tracks don’t quite get the “Good Time” Strait promises in the title. While there are moments of levity and lightness in the smooth and slightly frisky “Love’s Gonna Make it Alright,” the title track and Strait’s album-closing tribute to his fans, “I’ll Always Remember You,” the majority of the album mines some surprisingly dark and downcast territory. Strait, who co-wrote seven of the songs with his son Bubba and Dean Dillon, takes on alcoholism (“Drinkin’ Man”), romantic turmoil (“Shame on Me,” “House Across the Bay”) and all manners of misfortune from a bull that ups and dies during a championship ride on the Texas-swing flavored “Lone Star Blues” to the fish that won’t bite on the “Blue Marlin Blues.” Strait is in typically strong vocal form throughout, and his firm, unwavering tenor provides a kind of reassurance that even the darkest tales have a shot to turn out well.



POP

Lindsey Buckingham, “Seeds We Sow” (Mind Kit Records) ★★★

Lindsey Buckingham’s sixth solo album starts with a shimmering guitar pattern that sounds similar to Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again,” but rest assured no one will mistake this 11-song set for a Mac attack. As is his wont, Buckingham takes an arty and often airy approach that harks back to “Tusk,” with a dry ambience and plenty of sonic space. The politically tinged “One Take” rocks out in furious fashion, while “Illumination” and “That’s the Way Love Goes” are hooky pop gems. But it’s the emotive solo acoustic pieces such as “Stars Are Crazy,” “Rock Away Blind,” a hushed cover of the Rolling Stones’ “She Smiled Sweetly” and the title track that really bring these “Seeds” to fruition.

New & Noteworthy

Boss Hogg Outlawz, “Serve and Collect 3 (Immahogg)” (eOne): The Houston collective led by Slim Thug delivers a third album to follow up the boss’ 2010 set “Tha Thug Show.”

Cast Recording, “Godspell: 40th Anniversary Edition” (Sony Masterworks): As the pop opera prepares for its Broadway revival, its 1971 original cast album and 1976 movie soundtrack are packaged together, with new liner notes from composer Stephen Schwartz.

Gary Jr. Clark, “Bright Lights EP” (Warner Bros): The Texas singer-guitarist starts his major-label life with a four-track set that includes a pair of new recordings plus two live solo acoustic songs.

Slaid Cleaves, “Sorry & Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge” (Music Road): This rabble-rousing concert set from the Maine expatriate was recorded in his current home of Austin, Texas.

The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra, “All Out of Peaches” (self-released): The Minneapolis troupe rolls out another set mixing jazz, prog rock, world music and bluegrass.

Roger Glover and the Guilty Party, “If Life Was Easy” (Eagle Rock): The Deep Purple bassist’s first solo album in nine years shoots stylistically wide over 16 tracks that feature guest appearances by members of Nazareth and Rainbow, as well as Glover’s daughter Gillian.

Hank3, “Ghost To a Ghost/Gutter Town,” Attention Deficit Domination” and Cattle Callin” (all Hank3 Records): Hank Williams III -- yes, of that Williams family -- takes his newfound independence to heart, issuing a two-CD country set, a doom rock outing and a “cattlecore” album mixing speed metal with genuine, professional cattle calls.

The Horrible Crows, “Elsie” (SideOneDummy): The first offering from a side band formed by Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon with his guitar tech, Ian Perkins.

Jessy J, “Hot Sauce” (Heads Up International): The singing, saxophone-playing Portland artist mixes originals with covers of Duke Ellington and Eg White favorites on her third studio album.

Hugh Laurie, “Let Them Talk” (Warner Bros.: The star of TV’s “House” sings and plays piano on this set of New Orleans blues covers, produced by Rochester Adams graduate Joe Henry and featuring guest appearances by Dr. John, Tom Jones and Irma Thomas.

Jim Peterik’s Lifeforce, “Forces at Play” (World Stage International/SMC): The former Survivor guitarist and “Eye of the Tiger” composer takes a jazz path with guests such as Jessy J, Mindia Abair, former Santana frontman Alex Ligertwood and Ambrosia’s David Pack.

Roy Jay Band, “Joy Ray” (self-released): A melodic, song-oriented set from the Louisiana quintet that’s also known for covering the Grateful Dead.

The Rapture, “In the Grace of Your Love” (DFA/Modular): The New York dance-punk outfit recorded its fourth album, and first in five years, in Brooklyn and Paris with Cassius’ Philippe Zdar.

Tom Russell, “Mesabi” (Shout! Factory): The Los Angeles-born troubador’s latest release features guests such as Calexico, Van Dyke Parks and, on a cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” Lucinda Williams.

Samiam, “Trips” (Hopeless): The eighth album, and first full-length in five years, from the Berkeley, Calif., punk quintet.

The Tierney Sutton Band, “American Road” (Varese Fontana): The jazz songstress from Wisconsin explores American themes on her latest release.

Various Artists, “Listen to Me: Buddy Holly” (Verve Forecast): The second Holly tribute album in his 75th birthday year includes remakes by Stevie Nicks, Jackson Brown, Ringo Starr, the Fray, Brian Wilson, Train’s Pat Monahan and more.

Various Artists, “True Blood: Music from the HBO Original Series, Volume 3” (WaterTower Music): Donovan, Nick Lowe, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Massive Attack are among those contributing songs to the bloody good vampire series’ latest soundtrack.

Wu Lyf, “Go Tell Fire to the Mountain” (LYF): The debut full-length from the British “heavy pop” quartet that’s determinedly stayed away from media attention since emerging in 2008.

From The Vaults: Paul Kelly, “Greatest Hits — Songs From the South: Volumes 1 & 2” (Gawdaggie Music/CEN)



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