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The Listening Room: Coldplay, The Roots and more...
The ghosts on Coldplay's sixth studio album are deceptively gentle apparitions -- not conventionally frightening, but still doing plenty of damage as they go bump in the night. Even if frontman Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow hadn't announced their separation in March, lyrics such as "with all your magic/I disappear from view" and "when I'm rolling with the punches and hope is gone/leave a light...on" leave little doubt about what kind of demons Martin is dealing with on these nine tracks (12 on the Target edition). It's not the kind of terrain that lends itself to big anthems like "Clocks," "Vida La Vida" and "Paradise," nor does it handle the subject in the muscular manner of, say, Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" or Bruce Springsteen's "Tunnel Of Love." Rather, "Ghost Stories" is the most restrained and subtle album the British quartet has ever made, framing delicate melodies with keyboard-heavy textures, quiet dynamic drones and plenty of air crafted by a corps of producers that includes the band members and helpers such as Paul Epworth and Timbaland; only the Avicii-assisted "A Sky Full of Stars" cuts loose, levitating into pulsating EDM about halfway through. It's boldly honest but not as overtly engaging as its predecessors -- and in spots downright wispy as, well, a ghost floating through the walls, which will certainly not be everybody's Coldplay cup of tea.
The Roots, "...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin" (Def Jam)***
Rest assured that little the Roots do on network late-night TV, especially now that they've ascended to grail of "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," reflects the arty and surrealistic reality that the troupe pursues on record. "...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin" is the group at its most ambitious, an aural satire about harsh street life, "the trap where things go crack" and hope is about the only four-letter word that's seldom uttered -- at least not until the last couple of sparsely, but carefully, arranged tracks. Guests such as Dice Raw, Raheem DeVaughn and Greg Porn give these characters life, and if it's not entirely entertaining the album is certainly illuminating.
New & Noteworthy:
Blue Mother Tupelo, "Only Sunshine" (Diggin' Music): The fourth studio album from the husband-wife Americana duo comes a full five years after its predecessor.
Joe Bonamassa, "Tour De Force: Live in London -- The Borderline" (J&R Adventures): The first of four two-CD and DVD sets to come from the guitar slinger's special four-night stand in London last year, this one at the intimate Borderline club.
Brian Jonestown Massacre, "Revelation" (A): Original guitarist Ricky Maymi returns for the San Francisco psychedelic group's latest album, which also features guest appearances by members of Teddybears, Dimmer, Asteroid #4 and more.
California Breed, "California Breed" (Frontiers): The debut album from the new hard-rocking trio formed by Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham from the ashes of Black Country Communion.
Chatham County Line, "Tightrope" (Yep Rock): The sixth studio album from the North Carolina bluegrass quartet.
Brody Dalle, "Diploid Love" (Caroline): The well-credentialed Ausralian rocker goes solo for the first time with help from members of Garbage, the Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age and Warpaint.
Kenny Davin Fine, "Son of the Heart" (Higher Ground): The "physician with a mission" gluten-free advocate and singer songwriter delivers his ninth album.
Toumani Diabate and Sidiki Diabate, "Toumani & Sidiki" (Nonesuch): The Malian brother duo recorded this set of kora duets live on the floor, without even rehearsing.
John Flynn, "Poor Man's Diamonds" (johnflynn.net): The acclaimed Pennsylvania singer-songwriter mixes Americana and Celtic styles on his 11th release.
Brantley Gilbert, "Just As I Am" (Valory Music): The country singer wrote or co-wrote all 11 tracks on his third album.
Jolie Holland, "Wine Dark Sea" (Anti-): The Texas singer, songwriter and Be Good Tanyas co-founder explores all sorts of new sonic terrain on her sixth solo album.
David J, "An Eclipse of Ships" (self-released): The former Bauhaus and Love & Rockets member's wide-ranging latest solo effort is billed as a tribute to womankind.
Conor Oberst, "Upside Down Mountain" (Nonesuch): The ninth solo album from the Bright Eyes leader and Monsters of Folk member.
Pray For Brain, "None of the Above" (7d Media): The funky prog troupe's new album is its first with King Crimson member Trey Gunn's record label.
Neal Schon, "So U" (Frontiers): The Journey co-founder's latest solo set features plenty of six-string showmanship, with several tracks co-written by Night Ranger's Jack Blades.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, "Goin' Home" (Concord): The Louisiana guitar prodigy goes home, literally. to record this set of blues favorites with help from Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, Keb' Mo' and more.
Dave Specter, "Message in Blue" (Delmark): Otis Clay, Brother John Kattke and Bob Corritore join the Chicago blues and jazz guitarist on his latest release.
Yann Tiersen, "Infinity" (Mute): The avant garde French artist turned to Iceland for inspiration for his eighth studio album.
War, "Evolutionary" (Far Out/UMe): The "Low Rider" group packages its first new album in 20 years -- featuring guest appearances by Cheech & Chong, Joe Walsh, Yusuf, Tower of Power and the USC Trojan Marching Band -- with a digital remaster of its 1976 "Greatest Hits" album.
Bry Webb, "Free Will" (Idee Fixe): The Canadian troubadour's two-year-old son provided the muse for his sophomore album.
From The Vaults:>/b> Devo, "Something Else For Everybody" (Booji Boy); John Doe, "The Best of John Doe: This Far" (Yep Rock); The Doors, "Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine" (Rhino); Billy Joel, "A Matter of Trust: The Bridge to Russia" (Columbia/Legacy); R. Kelly, "The Essential R. Kelly" (RCA/Legacy); Oasis, "Definitely Maybe (Deluxe Edition)" (Ingrooves); Roy Orbison, "Mystery Girl Deluxe" (Roy's Boys/Legacy); R.E.M., "Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions" (Rhino); Rick Springfield, Rock of Life" (Rock Candy); Hank Williams, "The Garden Spot Programs, 1950" (Omnivore)
Soundtracks: Original Broadway Cast, "Bridges of Madison County" (Ghostlight); Various Artists, "The Fault in Our Stars" (Atlantic); Various Artists, "Million Dollar Arm" (Walt Disney)
New Music DVDS: Rob Zombie, "The Zombie Horror Picture Show" (Zodiac Swan/T-Boy/UMe
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