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The Listening Room: Bob Seger, Florida Georgia Line, Jessie J, , U2 and more...
On the title track of his first new album in eight years, Bob Seger sings about indeed riding out "to a bold new horizon" -- a dubious claim for any artist deemed a "classic" figure, whose fans would just as soon consign them to sounding just as they did two or three decades ago. But the veteran Michigan rocker does find those new horizons on his 17th studio release, which is amplified even more by the 13-track deluxe version than the 10-song standard edition. Rest assured there are the requisite rockers -- including Seger's roar through John Hiatt's "Detroit Made," the bluesy Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute "Hey Gypsy" and the sinewy, brass-pumped title track -- as well as heart-wringing ballads like "You Take Me In." But the heart of "Ride Out" is Seger's foray into contemporary Americana, a genre you could argue he's always been part of and which he handles here with enthusiastic affinity. His covers of Steve Earle's "The Devil's Right Hand," Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson's "Adam and Eve" (sporting a muscular echo performance by Silver Bullet Band backup singer Laura Creamer) and the Wilco/Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie mash-up "California Sky" are spot-on and as authentic as the originals, while that sensibility spills over into Seger's own songs such as the fiddle-led "All of the Roads," the jaunty "The Fireman's Talkin' " and the folky "Listen," with Vince Gill providing harmony vocals. "Gates of Eden" and "Let the Rivers Run," the latter ending the deluxe set with a swelling string arrangement, are the album's richly crafted sonic epics, and while Seger also sings here about reaching "the end, when our time is done," "Ride Out" makes it clear that there's plenty of creative gas still in his tank.
New & Noteworthy:
Exodus, "Blood In Blood Out" (Nuclear Blast): The veteran thrash outfit gets original guitarist Kirk Hammett, now of Metallica, to return for a solo on the track "Salt the Wound" for its 10th studio album.
Florida Georgia Line, "Anything Goes" (Republic Nashville): The hot "bro country" duo's sophomore album has already produced a No. 1 single in its lead track, "Dirt."
Jessie J, "Sweet Talker" (Lava/Republic): The British pop singer's third outing teams her with Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj (on "Bang Bang"), 2 Chainz, Lindsey Stirling and De La Soul.
Mary Lambert, "Heart on My Sleeve" (Capitol): The debut full-length from the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis cohort follows a pair of forthright and provocative EPs.
OK Go, "Hungry Ghosts" (Paracadute): The California alt.rockers' fourth album pushes its moody extremes a bit further than its predecessors but still has plenty of engaging pop -- including the first single, "The Writing's On the Wall."
U2, "Songs of Innocence" (Island): If the Irish quartet's iTunes "gift" wasn't enough, the hard copy features four bonus tracks as well as acoustic versions of a bunch of the album's other songs.
The Acacia Strain, "Coma Witch" (Rise); Alabama & Friends, "At the Ryman" (Eagle Rock); Devon Allman, "Ragged & Dirty" (Ruf); Kenny Barron and Dave Holland, "Art of Conversation" (Blue Note); Jeff Bridges & the Abiders, "Live" (Mailboat); Ani DiFranco, "Allergic To Water" (Righteous Babe); DJ Quik, "The Midnight Life" (Mad Science/INgrooves); Chris Duarte, "Lucky 13" (Blues Bureau); Foxygen, "...And Star Power" (Jagjaguwar); The Game, "Blood Moon: The Year of the Wolf" (Blood Money/eOne); Godflesh, "A World Lit Only By Fire" (Avalanche); Grinder Blues, "Grinder Blues" (Megaforce); Sammy Hagar and Vic Johnson, "Lite Roast" (Mailboat); Bryan Hayes, "Still Just a Man...10 Years Later" (self-released); Christina Holmes, "Peace Love & C. Holmes" (Tarpan); Kele, "Trick" (Lilac); Kmfdm, "Our Time Will Come" (Metropolis/KMFDM); Jennifer Knapp, "Set Me Free" (Righteous Babe); Lo'Jo, "310 Lunes" (WorldDisc); Christian Lopez Band, "Pilot" (Blaster EP); Dean Magraw and Eric Kamau Gravatt, "Fire on the Nile" (Red House); Raul Malo, "Around the World" (UMe); Charlie Mars, "The Money" (Rockingham); Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, "Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness" (Vanguard); Melvins, "Hold It In" (Ipecac); Milky Chance, "Sadnecessary" (Lichtdicht); New Orleans Suspects, "Ouroboros" (Louisiana Red Hot); Larkin Poe, "Kin" (RH Music); Popa Chubby, "I'm Feelin' Lucky" (Cleopatra); Angaleena Presley, "American Middle Class" (Slate Creek); Right The Stars, "The Only Thing" (self-released); Sanctuary, "Year the Sun Died" (Century Media); Scar Symmetry, "The Singularity" (Nuclear Blast); Stars, "No One Is Lost" (ATO); The Swon Brothers, "The Swon Brothers" (Arista Nashville); Tove Lo, "Queen of the Clouds" (Island/UMG); Widespread Panic, "Wood" (Widespread)
From The Vaults: Ry Cooder, "Soundtracks" (Rhino); Foreigner, "The Complete Atlantic Studio Albums 1977-1991" (Atlantic/Rhino); The Kinks, "The Essential Kinks" (RCA/Arista/Legacy); Ozzy Osbourne, "Memoirs of a Madman" (Epic/Legacy); Madeleine Peyroux, "Keep Me In Your Hear For a While: The Best of Madeleine Peyroux" (Rounder)
Soundtracks: Various Artists, "Love is Strange" (Madison Gate)
New Holiday Albums: Michael Feinstein, "Michael Feinstein Christmas" (Concord); Renee Fleming, "Christmas in New York" (Universal Music Classics); Idina Menzel, "Holiday Wishes" (Warner Bros.); Sandi Patty, "Christmas Blessings" (Reflections); Various Artists, "An Americana Christmas" (New West)
New Music DVDs: Alabama & Friends, "At the Ryman" (Eagle Rock); Lamb of God, "As the Palaces Burn" (Epic)
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