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The Listening Room: The Band Perry, New Kids on the Block and more...
The Band Perry
Step aside Taylor and put the kerosene down, Miranda -- Kimberly Perry is about to become country music's new man-slaying warrior for women done wrong. At least that's what we get at the outset of her sibling trio's sophomore album, a worthy successor to 2010's platinum "The Band Perry." "Pioneer" starts with "Better Dig Two," a chart-topping single already whose protagonist says "I do" for better, for worse and forever -- no matter what, a level of devotion that's both sweet and sinister. And in "Done," one of nine tracks co-written by the trio, a spurned Perry warns her unworthy paramore that "You play with dynamite, don't be surprised when I blow up in your face," while "Chainsaw" takes the titular tool to a tree that bears a heart and initials from two lovers' childhood. "Pioneer" isn't all about laying waste, though; "Mother Like Mine" is an apple pie tribute to the Perry's own matriarch, while the Celtic-flavored title track salutes those who braved the wild west and "Night Gone Wasted" is a breezy slice of country-western swing with an amiably rowdy spirit. Kimberly gives her vocal chops a workout on ballads like "Don't Let Me Be Lonely" and "End of Time," and "Forever Mine Nevermind," a Band Perry co-write with Brad Paisley, is a pop epic that sounds like a twangy version of fun. The youthful group is still occasionally wanting in the lyric department, but "Pioneer" mostly shows that the path the trio blazed with its debut was no mere fluke.
New Kids on the Block, "10" (The Block/Boston Five Kobalt): **
The veteran vocal group is in an interesting and not altogether comfortable spot on its sixth album, and first in five years. The right stuff for the contemporary marketplace is not necessarily "The Right Stuff" its longtime fans know, love and want more of, so the quintet somewhat tentatively straddles the line on these 13 tracks, incorporating electronic sounds and production techniques alongside the smooth melodies and rich harmonies that are its trademarks. It often sounds like a reach though is successful in spots, including the clubby first single "Remix (I Like The)" and ballads such as "Jealous (Blue)" and "Back to Life." "Crash," meanwhile, sounds like LMFAO lite, while the bulk of "10" is pleasantly anonymous without consequence on way or the other.
New & Noteworthy:
Alkaline Trio, "My Shame is True" and "Broken Wing EP" (Heart & Skull/Epitaph): The Illinois punk trio's ninth album features guest appearances by Rise Against's Tim McIlrath and Brendan Kelly of the Lawrence Arms, while the EP features four more tracks from the same sessions.
Black Angels, "Indigo Meadow" (Blue Horizon Ventures): The psychedelic rock quartet from Austin, Texas, issues its fourth full-length album.
Charles Bradley, "Victim of Love" (Daptone/Dunham): The second modern-day album from the aptly nicknamed "Screaming Eagle of Soul," who at 64 is more dynamic than peers half or even a quarter of his age.
Bring Me the Horizon, "Sempiternal" (Epitaph): The British hard rockers incorporate more electronic and pop elements on their fourth studio album.
Petula Clark, "Lost In You" (The End): The veteran British chanteuse's latest album features covers of John Lennon's "Imagine" and Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender," as well as a new version of her signature hit "Downtown."
Cold War Kids, "Dear Miss Lonelyhearts" (Downtown/V2): The Long Beach, Calif., modern rock troupe's fourth album was preceded by the buzz-generating single "Miracle Mile."
The Dear Hunter, "Migrant" (Equal Vision): The fifth album by the Rhode Island indie rock group that's become a duo since 2011's "The Color Spectrum."
Beth Hart, "Bang Bang Boom Boom" (Mascot): A new outing from the powerful L.A. singer who lit up last year's Kennedy Center Honors paying tribute to Buddy Guy in tandem with Jeff Beck (which is included as a bonus track here).
Hem, "Departure and Farewell" (Waveland): The Brooklyn folky pop trio's first album in six years follows its acclaimed score for the New YOrk Public Theatre's 2009 production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."
Killswitch Engage, "Disarm the Descent" (Roadrunner): The Massachusetts headbanger's first album in nearly four years marks the return of original frontman Jesse Leach for the first time since 2002.
Ed Kowalczyk, "Garden" (Soul Whisper): The former Live frontman's latest EP gets a physical release after its digital rollout in November.
Josh Krajcik, "Blindly Lonely Lovely" (BMG): The first full-length release from the Ohio-born singer-songwriter and former "The X Factor USA" contestant.
Mudhoney, "Vanishing Point" (Sub Pop): The Seattle rock mainstays' ninth album follows the February release of the career documentary "I'm Now: The Story of Mudhoney."
Rilo Kiley, "RKives" (Little Record Co.): Jenny Lewis' much-loved L.A. modern rock group compiles 16 demos, B-sides and rarities on this gap-filling collection.
Spock's Beard, "Brief Nocturnes & Dreamless Sleep" (InsideOut Music): The U.S. prog rock group stretches out on another set of intricately constructed songs, including one co-written by former guitarist Neal Morse.
BJ Thomas, "Living Room Sessions" (Redeye): Raindrops still keep fallin' on his head as the veteran singer revises a dozen of his songs in Nashville with help from Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, Keb' Mo', Richard Marx, the Fray's Isaac Slade and more.
Tyler, The Creator, "Wolf" (Odd Future/Sony): The Odd Future leader's third solo album features guests such as group cohorts Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt, as well as Pharrell Williams and Erykah Badu.
Various Artists, "Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver" (ATO): Dave Matthews, My Morning Jacket, Train, Kathleen Edwards and more give their own distinctive props to the late Denver's mountain of hits.
Gin Wigmore, "Gravel & Wine" (Mercury): The New Zealand singer-songwriter's second album gets a U.S. release a year and a half after it debuted at No. 1 and went double platinum in her homeland.
Gretchen Wilson, "Right on Time" (Redneck): Faded but unbowed, the country maverick delivers her fifth album and first of new material since 2010.
From The Vaults: Four Tops, "50th Anniversary: Singles Collection 1962-1972" (Motown/UMe); Albert King, "Born Under a Bad Sign" (Stax); Mad Season, "Above (Deluxe Edition)" (Columbia/Legacy); Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, "50th Anniversary: Singles Collection 1962-1972" (Motown/UMe)
Soundtracks: Jeff Beal, "House of Cards" (Varese Sarabande)
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