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Pink Floyd

"The Endless River"

(Columbia)

Grade: B+


There was no reason we'd expect to hear a "new" Pink Floyd album in 2014. The group, save for archival releases and a quick reunion for the 2005 Live 8 concerts, has been dormant since touring during the mid-90s in support of its last album, "The Division Bell." Bassist Roger Waters had been gone long before that, and keyboardist Richard Wright died in 2008. But the latter's passing inspired guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason to create this new and, they say, final Pink Floyd work, an 18-track farewell and salute to Wright culled from unreleased "Division Bell" material that's almost entirely instrumental and smacks (positively) of vintage Floyd totems, heavy with ambient tone poems and song suites that occasionally erupt into majestic guitar showpieces for Gilmour. The latter include the two "Allons-y" pieces, "Sum" and "Surfacing," while the appropriately titled "Skins" puts Mason in the spotlight and Wright references his trademark piano figure from "The Dark Side of the Moon's" "Us & Them" in "Anisina." The opening "Things Left Unsaid" and "It's What We Do" echo the epic "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," and "The Endless River" ends with its only traditional song, "Louder Than Words," an introspective piece (lyrics by Gilmour's wife Polly Samson) that even though "we bitch and we fight/diss each other on sight," nearly 50 years on the Floyd members appreciate that "the sum of our parts" still yields something special.

New & Noteworthy:

Antemasque, "Antemasque" (Nadie Sound); Former At the Drive-In/Mars Volta mates Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala reunite in this new project that should continue to please fans of their intricate, arty brand of rock.

Garth Brooks, "Man Against Machine" (RCA Nashville): The country icon returns to active music duty with his first new album in 13 years, a hard-rocking set that shows he's not ready to consign himself to elder statesman status.

The Doors, "Feast of Friends" (Eagle Rock): The legendary group finally releases the much-bootlegged film it started making and abandoned 45 years ago, along with bonus documentary and concert footage.

Marianne Faithfull, "Give My Love to London" (Easy Sound): The pop chanteuse celebrates her 50th anniversary in music with this new set that features collaborations with Nick Cave, Steve Earle, Roger Waters, Ed Harcourt and more.

Foo Fighters, "Sonic Highways" (Roswell/RCA): Despite weekly HBO appearances and song leaks, there's still material you haven't heard from the Foos' eighth studio album, each song recorded at a legendary studio in eight different cities and rocking with the untethered ebullience we've come to expect from the band.

Rush, "R40" (Rounder): A massive and impressively packaged DVD and Blu-ray box set featuring 50 years of concert footage and plenty of rare material -- including three previously unreleased songs.

Also Out: And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, "IX" (Superball); Jeff Bates, "Me & Conway" (Red River); Big K.R.I.T.,, "Cadillactica" (Def Jam); Carcass, "Surgical Remission/Surplus Steel" (Nuclear Blast); Devilment, "Great & Secret Show" (Nuclear Blast); Hail Mary Mallon, "Bestiary" (Rhymesayers); Adam Hood, "Welcome to the Big World" (self-released); Job For A Cowboy, "Sun Eater" (Metal Blade); King Diamond, "Dreams of Horror" (Metal Blade); Knife Party, "Abandon Ship" (Big Beat); Machine Head, "Bloodstone & Diamonds Jewel" (Nuclear Blast); Lisa Mills, "I'm Changing" (Mills Bluz); Phillips and Craig & Dean, "Above It All" (Fair Trade); Rated X, "Rated X" (Capitol); Damien Rice, "My Favourite Faded Fantasy" (Vector/Warner Bros.); Royksopp, "The Inevitable End" (Interscope); Slang, "Devastation in the Void" (Cleopatra); Son Little, "Things I Forgot" EP (Anti-); Such Gold, "Sidewalk" (Razor & Tie); Tenth Avenue North, "Cathedrals" (Reunion); Within Temptation, "Enter & Dance" (Nuclear Blast); Wyatt, "Here Comes Everybody" EP (MNRCH)

From The Vaults: Drowning Pool, "Sinner (Unlucky 13th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)" (Bicycle); Whitney Houston, "Live: Her Greatest Performances" (Legacy); The Kinks, "Muswell Hillbillies (Legacy Edition)" (Legacy); Whitesnake, "Live in 84 -- Back To The Bone" (Frontiers); Zac Brown Band, "Greatest Hits So Far..." (Southern Ground/Atlantic)

Soundtracks: Various Artists, "Halo 2, "Anniversary Original Soundtrack" (Ingrooves)

New Holiday Albums: Heart & Friends, "Home For the Holidays" (Caroline); Karajan, "The Christmas Album" (Universal Music Classics); Mannheim Steamroller, "30/40 Ultimate Collection" (American Gramophone); Various Artists, "Christmas at Downton Abbey" (Warner Bros.); Various Artists, "Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever" (Caroline)

New Music DVDs: Colt Ford, "Crank It Up! Cold Ford Live at Wild Adventures" (Average Joes/Eagle Rock); Monty Python, "Live (mostly) -- One Down Five To Go" (Eagle Rock); Pink Floyd, "50 Years on the Dark Side" (eOne)



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