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The Listening Room: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mumford & Sons, Little Big Town, Neil Young and more...
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Not that they ever sounded formulaic, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been locked into a formula for the past 25 years, recording its six most successful -- and, within them, best -- albums with producer Rick Rubin. "The Getaway," albeit potentially referencing a broken relationship that inspired some of frontman Anthony Keidis' lyrics here, is also an apt reference to the quartet's decision to try something new things time out, bringing in producer Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, the Black Keys, Gorillaz and more) as a new collaborator, and his impact is substantial -- and positive. Deploying subtle ear candy, textures and spacial ambience while still maintaining the Chili Peppers' funky roots, Danger Mouse brings out a different kind of pop melodicism and more psychedelic flavors than the group has explored in the past, although they were certainly in the mix before. A kind of chill assurance has replaced frenetic fury as the Chili Peppers' dominant characteristic, though there's still some kinetic edge in tracks such as the messy "This Ticonderoga" and in "Detroit," a tribute that name checks Henry Ford, the Stooges, J. Dilla and, of course, Funkadelic, with a chorus cheerleading the city out of its economic woes. The prevailing smoothness of "Dark Necessities," "Encore" and the title track is equally appealing, however, as is the playfulness of "We Turn Red" and the new wavey "Go Robot." The suite-like "Dreams of a Samurai" gives the album an epic finale, while "Sick Love" appropriates "Benny and the Jets" -- with full credit to and piano playing by Elton John himself. "The Getaway" is another ambitious sonic adventure from a band that's never shied away from change, living up to the "metamorphisis samurai" tag Keidis adopts in that closing track.
New & Noteworthy:
case/lang/veirs, "case/lang/viers" (Anti-/Epitaph): A potent musical summit meeting between Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs -- a veritable Crosby, Stills & Nash for 2016.
Bruce Hornsby, "Rehab Reunion" (Savoy): Love all those Hornsby piano opuses? Not this time; Hornsby has stepped away from the 88s here, instead playing hammer dulcimer a typically rich set of songs that includes a rootsy remake of his hit "The Valley Road."
Kris Kristofferson, "The Cedar Creek Sessions" (KK): A battle with lyme disease has not dulled this iconic singer-songwriter's abilities as evidenced by this live set, recorded during June of 2014, featuring a crack band and Sheryl Crow dueting on a version of Johnny and June Carter Cash's "The Loving Gift."
Little Big Town, "Wanderlust" (Capitol Nashville): The country quartet takes a step out of the Nashville mainstream to work with producer Pharrell Williams, with a guest appearance by Justin Timberlake on the track "C'mon."
Mumford & Sons, "Johannesburg" (Glassnote): A five-song EP recorded during February in South Africa, featuring collaborations with Baaba Maal, The Very Best and Beatenberg.
Radiohead, "A Moon Shaped Pool" (XL): The physical release of the latest album from the British art rock troupe, which appeared on online services on May 8.
Tragically Hip, "Man Machine Poem" (Caroline): The Canadian rockers' 13th album comes in the revelation of frontman Gordon Downie's inoperable brain cancer.
Neil Young, "Earth" (Warner Bros.): Young embellishes this live album from 2015 dates with Promise of the Real with all sorts of sonic touches, from insects to city street sounds, making for an intriguing if eccentric listen.
Also Out: Chat Noir, "Nine Thoughts For One World" (Rare Noise); Sam Cohen, "Cool It" (30th Century); Elizabeth Cook, "Exodus of Venues" (Agent Love); The Game, "Streets of Compton" (eOne); Gojira, "Magma" (Roadrunner); Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, "It Is What It Is" (Blue Front); Derik Hultquist, "Southern Iron" (Carnival/Thirty Tigers); Sarah Jarosz, "Undercurrent" (Sugar Hill); Kaleo, "A/B" (Atlantic); Locash, "The Fighters" (Reviver); Magnet Animals, "Butterfly Killer" (Rare Noise); J.D. Malone & the Experts, "Town and Country" (self-released); Hudson Moore, "Getaway" (self-released); Clint Morgan, "Scofflaw" (Lost Cause); The Misfits, "Friday the 13th" (Misfits); Nails, "You Will Never Be One Of Us" (Nuclear Blast); Not Blood Paint, "Believing Is Believing" (self-released); Jon Pardi, "California Sunset" (Liberty); Stitched Up Heart, "Never Alone" (Another Record Co.); Jim Sulher & Monkey Beat, "Live at the Kessler" (Underworld); Swans, "The Glowing Man" (Young God); Thousand Foot Krutch, "Exhale" (TFK Music); Walter Trout, "Alive in Amsterdam" (Provogue)
From The Vaults: Chicago, Chicago Quadio Box" (Rhino); The Who, "Volume 4: The Polydor Singles 1975-2015" (UME)
Soundtracks: Thomas Newman, "Finding Dory" (Walt Disney)
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