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The Listening Room: Jane's Addiction, T Bone Burnett and more...
"The Great Escape Artist"
New Jane's Addiction albums are something of an event simply because they don't happen very much. This is only the fourth of all-new material in the Los Angeles alt.rock group's 26 years together, a tumultuous career marked by some rugged interpersonal dynamics and both hiatuses and actual break-ups. "The Great Escape Artist" makes the eight years since "Strays" worth the wait, however, and may be the most readily accessible of the group's handful of releases. The 10 tracks here share a dark ambience, droning trippiness and explosive dynamics, but new collaborators such as co-producer Rich Costey and TV On the Radio's Dave Sitek, who co-wrote songs and plays bass on much of the album, bring Jane's melodies more to the forefront than ever before -- as does Guns N'Roses/Velvet Revolver alumnus Duff McKagan, who co-wrote three of the tracks during a short tenure with the band in 2010. There's plenty of anthemic muscle to be found in the taut grooves of "Underground," the beefy choruses of "Curiosity Kills" and "Hit You Back," the decadent reminiscences of "Splash a Little Water On It" and the propulsive thrash of "Words Right Out of My Mouth." An appropriately swirling melodicism drives "Twisted Tales," while "Irresistible Force (Me the Immovable Object)" boasts an almost prog-rock countenance and the airy "Broken People" is a downright pretty counterpoint to the weighty murk throughout the rest of the album. There isn't a "Jane Says" or "Been Caught Stealing" here, but there's a rich tonal unity that delivers the kind of satisfying sonic trip that's Jane's stock in trade.
Various Artists, "T Bone Burnett Presents the Speaking Clock Revue -- Live From the Beacon Theatre" (Shout! Factory) ***
The only thing wrong with this lauded chronicle of the October 2010 benefit concert in New York is there's not enough of it on this disc. The set features 11 selections from the evening, all show-stoppers from Elvis Costello's "Jimmie Standing in the Rain" to a twanged-up rendition of the Allman Brothers Band's "Midnight Rider," Neko Case's exuberant "Hold On, Hold On," John Mellencamp's pounding "Troubled Land," Elton John and Leon Russell's rowdy "Monkey Suit" and a moving "Lift Him Up That's All" by Ralph Stanley. Burnett, as producer, is the unifying force here, but even those he hasn't worked with -- My Morning Jacket's Yim [cq] Yames, Karen Elson, the Punch Brothers -- deliver stirring contributions. Here's hoping for a second volume.
New & Noteworthy:
Cherry Bomb, "Stark" (Hollywood): The all-female quartet covers Foo Fighters "The Pretener" as part of this five-song EP.
Cradle of Filth, "Evermore Darkly" (Nuclear Blast): This eight-song EP from the British headbangers mixes rarities with new tracks, plus a DVD featuring a documentary and live show.
Everlast, "Songs of the Ungrateful Living" (Martyr Inc.): The House of Pain MC returns to his acoustic singer-songwriter mode for what he considers a "spiritual follow-up" to his 1998 success "Whitey Ford Sings the Blues."
Family Force 5, "III" (Transparent Media Group/Tooth & Nail): The Christian crunk rock group from Atlanta delivers its third proper full-length to follow an EP of the same name that came out earlier this year.
Brantley Gilbert, "Modern Day Prodigal Son" (Valory): The Georgia country singer's third album follows his Top 5 set "Halfway to Heaven."
Lalah Hathaway, "Where It All Begins" (Stax/Concord): The Chicago-born singer and daughter of the late Donny Hathaway digs deeper into her soul roots on her sixth album.
Iced Earth, "Dystopia" (Century Media): The 10th studio set from the Florida heavy metal veterans follows a unifying, futuristic theme without being a full-on concept album.
Chris Isaak, "Beyond the Sun" (Vanguard): The singer, songwriter and exuberant entertainer journeyed to Sun Studios in Nashville for prolific sessions that yielded both single- and double-disc editions of this spirited homage.
David J, "Not Long For This World" (Starry): The eighth solo album, and first in eight years, from the Bauhaus/Love and Rockets bassist.
Joe, "The Good, The Bad, The Sexy" (Kedar): The Georgia R&B singer teams primarily with producer Brandon "B.A.M." Alexander, as well as the Ambassadorz, on his ninth studio album.
Jim Keller, "Soul Candy" (Elisha James Music): The former Tommy Tutone leader ("867-5309/Jenny") returns with a followup to 2010's "Sunshine in My Pocket."
Kentucky HeadHunters, "Dixie Lullabys" (Red Dirt): This 14-song set finds the Bluegrass State natives still pickin', pluckin' and rockin' 25 years on.
Bobby Kimball and Jimi Jamison, "Kimball Jamison)" (Frontiers): A vocal summit meeting between the singers from Toto and Survivor.
Shelby Lynne, "Revelation Road" (Everso): The singer considers this 11-track album, which follows 2010's "Merry Christmas" collection, to be the most personal of her 13- album career.
Montgomery Gentry, "Rebels on the Run" (Average Joe's): The maverick country duo has slipped a golden ticket for a custom-made bike from Demented Cycles into one copy of its seventh studio album.
M83, "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (Mute): The French electronic group's sixth studio set is a two-disc opus crafted by majordomo Anthony Gonzalez after his relocation to Los Angeles.
Real Estate, "Days" (Domino): The second album from the psychedelic-flavored quartet form Ridgewood, N.J.
Kierra "KiKi" Sheard, "Free" (EMI Gospel): The Detroit-born daughter of the Clark Sisters' Karen Clark Sheard features guests James Fortune, JDS and S.O.M. on her fourth album.
Sounds of Blackness, "Fly Again" (Malaco): The title track of the Minneapolis chorale's 10th anniversary album is a reflection on the 911 terrorist attacks.
Patrick Stump, "Soul Punk" (Island): The Fall Out Boy frontman's solo debut takes a more R&B- and dance-flavored turn, with a few hints to his punk rock past.
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, "Evening" (Severn): Singer and harp ace Sugar Ray Norcia returns to the studio with guitarist "Monster" Mike Welch and the rest of his stellar Bluetones.
June Tabor & Oysterband, "Ragged Kingdom" (Topic): The British folk-rock acts reunite to recreate the magic of their lauded 1990 set "Freedom and Rain."
Us3, "Lie, Cheat & Steal" (The Orchard): The British hip-hop/jazz collective is still around, with an eighth album boasting a collective of players from all over the world.
From The Vaults: George Benson, "Benson Burner" (Wounded Bird); Alberta Hunter, "Downhearted Blues: Live at the Cookery" (RockBeat); Iron Butterfly, "Fillmore 1968" (Rhino Handmade); Etta James, "Heart & Soul/A Retrospective"; Wynton Marsalis, "Swingin' Into the 21st" (Sony Legacy); Geoff Muldaur and his Futuristic Ensemble, "Private Astronomy" (Shefa); Oscar Peterson, "Unmistakable" (Zenph/Sony Masterworks); Screaming Trees, "Last Words: The Final Recordings" (Sunyata Music); The Smiths, "The Smiths Complete" (Sire/Rhino); Sting, "Best of 25 Years" (A&M); Various Artists, "Phil Spector Presents the Philles Album Collection" (Philles/Legacy)
Soundtracks: Melissa Errico, "Legrand Affair" (Ghostlight); Various Artists, "Courageous" (Reunion)
Holiday Albums: Dave Koz, "Ultimate Christmas" (Capitol)
New Music DVDs: Talking Heads, "Chronology" (Eagle Rock)
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