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The Listening Room: Jack White, Chrissie Hynde and more...
"I'm becoming a ghost, so nobody can know me," Jack White sings during the latter half of his second solo album. But on "Lazaretto" the Detroit native and White Stripes/Raconteurs/Dead Weather principal is, characteristically, more of a shape-shifter, engaging in gleeful sonic alchemy throughout its 11 tracks as he stirs together a dizzying array of influences, from garagey psychedelia to earthy Americana. White starts "Lazaretto" re-telling Blind Wilie McTell's lament "Three Women Blues" in "Three Women" (one, of course, is in Michigan), playfully weaving his guitar through a punchy, psychedelic-flavored arrangement punctuated with Delta field cries of "Lawdy lawd!" The title track is funky and just as trippy, while "Temporary Ground" softens the aural terrain female harmony vocals and fiddles. The stylistic thrill ride continues throughout "Lazaretto," with some songs White has said are based on short stories and plays he wrote during his late teens. "High Ball Stepper" is a careening instrumental sporting back-and-forth dynamics and some of his fiercest guitar playing, while "Just One Drink" and "That Black Bat Licorice" take him back to the garage and the acoustic guitar-driven "Alone in My Home" sounds like an homage to "Led Zeppelin III." White nods to country & western on "Entitlement," but like everything else there are touches and textures of the many other genres he's so well-versed in. "Lazaretto" ends with the stark piano accompaniment of "Want and Able," a quiet conclusion for another of the explosive, wide-ranging expositions that make White such a singular and consistently captivating figure.
Chrissie Hynde, "Stockholm" (Will Travel/Caroline) ***
You can argue that Pretenders albums have essentially been Chrissie Hynde solo efforts for most of the last three decades, but this 11-song set marks the first time she's put her own name on a release (not counting 2010's J.P., Chrissie and the Fairground Boys effort). There's no denying she's mellowed since her hard-biting late 70s and early 80s, but this is hardly an album full of "I'll Stand By You"s; rather, Hynde and Peter Bjorn and John's Bjorn Yittling paint these songs with a high degree of craft and an inviting lushness on tracks such as "You Or No One," "Sweet Nuthin' " and "You're The One." But Hynde can still get her dander up and deliver a knockout punch, as evidenced on "Down the Wrong Way" and the darkly grooving "House of Cards."
New & Noteworthy:
Amon Duul II, "Duulirium" (Cleopatra): The first new album in 20 years from the German experimental rock outfit.
Selwyn Birchwood, "Don't Call No Ambulance" (Alligator): The first national outing by the winner of the 2013 International Blues Challenge.
Body Count, "Manslaughter" (Sumerian): Rapper Ice-T leads his thrash metal band back into active duty with its first new release in eight years
Hellyeah, "Blood For Blood" (Eleven Seven): Despite significant personnel changes, the metal all-star group hits as hard as ever on its fourth studio album.
Jose James, "While You Were Sleeping" (Blue Note): The Minneapolis-born singer continues to blend jazz with hip-hop and neo-soul touches on his fourth album.
Jim Keller, "Heaven Can Wait" (Jim Keller Music): The third solo album from the former Tommy Tutone frontman.
Night Ranger, "High Road" (Frontiers): The 80s hitmakers celebrate their 30th anniversary by showing that, yes, you CAN still rock in America.
O.A.R., "The Rockville LP" (Vanguard): The jam band community staple returned to its original home base of Rockville, Md., to make its eighth studio album.
Passenger, "Whispers" (Nettwerk): Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, goes for a bigger, more ambitious sound on his fifth studio album.
Rebelution, "Count Me In" (87 Music/Easy Star): The California reggae/rock quartet collaborates with dancehall singer Collie Buddz and roots reggae icon Don Carlos on its latest set.
The Rippingtons, "Fountain of Youth" (eOne): The title of the jazz troupe's latest adequately describes what its members must be drinking from after nearly 30 years of playing.
Royal Southern Brotherhood, "heartsoulblood" (Ruf): The second studio set from the soulful all-star band that features Cyril Neville and Devon Allman.
Say Anything, "Hebrews" (Equal Vision): Max Bemis "casts" the songs on his deeply personal new album with guest vocalists from bands such as blink-182, Manchester Orchestra, Every Time I Die, the Get Up Kids, mewithoutyou and Bemis' wife Sherri-DuPree Bemis from Eisley.
Spanish Gold, "South of Nowhere" (BMG/Del Mar): The debut set from the semi-supergroup trio featuring members of My Morning Jacket, Hacienda, City and Colour, and Grupo Fantasma.
Tesla, "Simplicity" (Tesla Electric Co.): Fans will have no trouble recognizing the only rock band named after a famed physicist, though the opening track, "MP3," shows it's been keeping up with current trends.
Glenn Tilbrook, "Happy Ending" (Anchor and Hope Music): The Squeeze mainstay gets help from both of his young songs on one track, "Boingo Bill," from his fifth album outside the band.
Walter Trout, "The Blues Came Callin' " (Provogue/MLG): The blues guitarist`s latest album comes out just two weeks after he underwent a live transplant in Nebraska.
Umphrey's McGee, "Similar Skin" (Nothing Too Fancy): The Michigan/Illinois/Indiana jam band focuses on its rock side on its latest release, with plenty of guitars and even some prog touches.
Uriah Heep, "Outsider" (Frontiers): The British hard rockers are still around, still 'eavy and still 'umble on its first new album in three years.
Various Artists, "2014 Warped Tour Compilation" (SideOneDummy): Punk rock's summer camp gets under way with this 50-song, two-CD set that'll keep you company while waiting in the traffic jam to get into the show.
Seth Walker, "Sky Still Blue" (Royal Potato Family): The North Carolina troubadour's latest effort is his first since relocating to New Orleans.
The Who, "Quadrophenia: Live in London" (UMe): The venerable British group celebrates the 40th anniversary of its venerable second rock opera at this home town show, captured for both audio and visual releases.
Jason D. Williams, "Holy Rollers" (Rockabilly Records): The piano-pounding Jerry Lee Lewis devotee pays homage to the iconic Sun Studios on this typically energetic release.
From The Vaults: Neville Marriner and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, "The Argo Years" (Decca); Toby Keith, "5 Rounds" (Show Dog/Universal)
Soundtracks: Original Broadway Cast, "Bullets Over Broadway" (Sony Masterworks)
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