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The Listeing Room: Zac Brown Band, Parmalee and more...
The Zac Brown Band
"The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1"
(Southern Ground Artists)
Although they're becoming more prevalent in the digital music age, EPs seldom carry the same weight or sense of event as full-length albums. But the Zac Brown Band busts a big move here, teaming with -- as the title indicates -- Foo Fighters leader and Nirvana alumnus Dave Grohl for a four-song set that's anything but modest and, in fact, may be the most adventurous release the Georgia group has put out during the past 10 years. "The Grohl Sessions' " material deftly straddles the country/rock divide in a decidedly Grateful Dead kind of manner, with a loose, open, organic and analog character that pushes past typical country conventions and lets the ZBB gallop in a manner closer to its live performances. Everything is certainly not "All Alright" on the opening track, a rootsy rumination about lost love marked by soul and gospel flavors -- it even references Sodom and Gomorra -- while "Let It Rain," on which Grohl plays drums, has a more pronounced Dead quality with its winding rhythm and group-chant vocals as well as a more hopeful countenance ("There's no room left for darkness/When you're filled with the light it comes out~"). "The Muse" flaunts plenty of rootsy, Southern dynamics, while the philosophical "Day For the Dead," which the ZBB performed with Grohl at this year's Country Music Association Awards, has an epic, anthemic urgency marked by its own intricate dynamics and a sense that, live, it could turn into a true opus. "Times like these (are) so sweet and true," Brown exults in "The Muse," and the ZBB certainly catches a special moment that will have us waiting for more volumes in the future.
Parmalee, "Feels Like Carolina" (Stoney Creek): **1/2
The quartet from Parmele, N.C., wears its home state stars 'n' bars pride loudly on its first national album -- and fourth overall -- and leaves no question what rockin' red state country sounds like in 2013. The group echos the rowdy spirit of its calling-card first single, the hangover celebrating "Musta Had a Good Time," on tracks such as "Day Drinkin'," "Dance," "I'll Bring the Music" and the nostalgic "Back in the Day." It isn't all a party, however; the troupe mixes in some tender moments as well, and you can bet the buoyant "Already Callin' You Mine" will wind up being a hit in the new year.
New & Noteworthy:
Sierra Broggess, "Awakening: Live at 54 Below" (Broadway): A selection of favorites in concert from the Broadway star of "The Little Mermaid," "The Phantom of the Opera" and the upcoming "Phantom" sequel "Love Never Dies."
E-40, "The Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil 4-6" (Heavy on the Grind Entertainment): The California rapper agains steps out of The Click with three more guest-filled volumes of "The Block Brochure" concept he started in 2012.
Evergreen Terrace, "Dead Horses" (Rise): The Florida headbangers weigh in with more of the heavy on their sixth studio album, and first in four years.
Childish Gambino, "Because the Internet" (Glassnote/Universal): The Georgia rapper handled much of the production for his sophomore album, a 19-track set which features guests such as Chance the Rapper and Azealia Banks.
Keith Jarrett, "Concerts: Bregenz Munich" (ECM): The avant pianist continues to stretch out and break boundaries on the two epic concert performances featured on this three-disc set.
R. Kelly, "Black Panties" (RCA): The title and cover art (trust us) of the Chicago soulster's 12th album serve fair warning about his lyrical intent here, and pals such as Kelly Rowland, 2 Chainz, Ludacris and Young Jeezy are along for the ride.
Krystal Keith, "Whiskey & Lace" (Show Dog/Universal Music): Toby Keith's singing daughter makes her full-length debut after an EP earlier this year and some spotlight-grabbing guest appearances with dad.
Shelby Lynne, "Thanks" (EVERSO): The eclectic and adventurous Americana singer is in a soulful, gospel frame of mind on her new EP, which features the legendary Maxine Waters.
My Epic, "Behold" (Facedown): The Christian metal quartet keeps the faith on its third album, a heavily conceptual set that marks the return of two original members to the flock.
Nightwish, "Showtime Storytime" (Nuclear Blast): This CD/DVD set captures the Finnish symphonic metal band is captured live at an August festival, marking the first recorded performance of new female vocalist Floor Jansen.
Sevyn Streeter, "Call Me Crazy, But.." (Atlantic): The Florida R&B singer and songwriter breaks out of her past with TG4 and RichGirl with this debut EP, which features Chris Brown on the single "It Won't Stop."
The Texas Tenors, "You Should Dream" (Select-O-Hits): The crossover classical trio covers songs by Lee Greenwood, the Righteous Brothers and the Rolling Stones -- Ten Gallon hats 'n' all.
Various Artists, "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" (Decca): U2's new "Ordinary Love" highlights this companion album to the new biopic, which also features material from Bob Marley, the Special AKA, Art Blakey and more.
Various Artists, "The Music of Nashville, Season 2, Vol. 1" (Big Machine): More musical adventures await from the melodramatic NBC series.
Neil Young, "Live at the Cellar Door" (Reprise): The latest edition of Young`s Archives Performance Series captures an intimate, solitary Washington D.C. set at the down of his solo career in 1970 -- including a piano rendition of "Cinnamon Girl."
From The Vaults: David Ackles, "David Ackles" (1972); Badfinger, "Icon -- Timeless: The Musical Legacy" (UMe); Eric Clapton, "Give Me Strength: The 1974/1975 Recordings" (UMe); Nick Drake, "Truck Box" (UMe); Jellyfish, "Radio Jellyfish"; John Mellencamp, "1978-2012" (UMe); Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico, "Le Bataclan Paris, Jan. 29 '72" (Keyhole); Various Artists, "Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 12B: 1972" (Motown/UMe); Various Artists, "I Heard the Angels Singing: Electrifying Black Gospel from the Nashboro Label 1951-1983" (Tompkins Square); Various Artists, "Verve: The Sound of America -- The Singles Collection" (Verve/UMe); The Velvet Underground, "White Light/White Heat (45th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)" (UMe)
Soundtracks: John Debney, "Bonnie & Clyde" (La-la Land); Alex Heffes, "Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom Original Score" (Decca); Thomas Newman, etc. "Saving Mr. Banks" (Disney); Original Cast, "Natasha Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812" (Ghostlight); Howard Shore, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (WaterTower)
New Music DVDs: Various Artists, "Concert For Ronnie Montrose -- A Celebration of his Life In Music" (RoMoCo)
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