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New music on the way from Willie Nelson, Alice Cooper, Edie Brickell

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The hits just keep on coming. Here’s a look at some just-released and soon-to-come music offerings, with plenty of tunes from old friends and new faces alike.

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – “Hunter and the Dog Star” (Thirty Tigers; out now)

The band that gave us the 1988 hit “What I Am” has returned with their fifth studio record, and it’s a seriously impressive effort. Continuing where they left off after 2018’s excellent “Rocket,” Brickell’s warmly recognizable voice lures the listener as she and the band unpack what could be their best collection of songs to date. One of the great things about this eclectic group is that it’s never been easy to categorize them, and this album follows that tradition with elements of alt-rock, pop, dance, psychedelia, folk and even a bit of country thrown into the mix. More than just stylistically broad, the songs themselves, some born from improvisation, have depth and staying power.

Hearty Har – “Radio Astro(BMG Rights Management; out now)

In the early ‘70s, a double LP compilation called “Nuggets” gathered some of the best psych/garage rock classics of the mid-1960s, signaling a new wave for that genre and influencing countless bands over the next several decades. I’m guessing that Tyler and Shane Fogerty, (sons of John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival) are fans of that collection, because they’ve just created an all-new record in that style, and it’s a gas. For fans of the 13th Floor Elevators, Count Five, The Blues Magoos, et al, you’ll find a lot to like on this record, laced with a dose of humor.

Alice Cooper – “Detroit Stories” (earMUSIC; Feb. 26)

Alice takes a trip back to his early Detroit days on this album, which reunites him with the surviving members of his original band and producer, Bob Ezrin, on a record of new material and some choice covers. Guests include Michigan’s Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, Wayne Kramer of the MC5, and Johnny “Bee” Badanjeck of Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. For fans wishing Alice would make a record like he did in the good old days, this is as close as he’s likely to come and it was a successful experiment. The rocking single “Social Debris” wouldn’t have sounded out of place on 1971’s “Killer,” and the covers, including “Rock and Roll” (Velvet Underground) and “Our Love Will Change the World” (Detroit psych/pop band Outrageous Cherry) are truly great.

Willie Nelson – “That’s Life” (Legacy Recordings; February 26)

Willie’s 71st solo album is his second installment of covers associated with Frank Sinatra (following “My Way” issued in 2018) some captured in the same room, Capitol Studios, where Frank recorded some of his versions, and others in Nelson’s studio in Austin. The material, including standards like “Luck Be a Lady,” “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “Just in Time” and “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” features brass and strings but thankfully the arrangements don’t overwhelm the singer, because the highlight, of course, is Nelson’s voice. It’s a little worn, and maybe a little drier than the last time you heard it, but what an instrument, and if anyone deserves a crack at this material, it’s Willie. The cover image is a painting depicting Willie in an homage to Sinatra’s “In The Wee Small Hours.”

Ally Venable – “Heart of Fire” (Ruf; February 26)

She’s a 21-year-old guitar slinger from Kilgore, Texas with a heart deeply immersed in the blues. Venable’s fourth LP will hopefully see her expand her already substantial audience and help bring the blues forward to a new generation of listeners. She’s naturally influenced by greats like Stevie Ray Vaughan (to whom she pays tribute on this record) but also Vaughan’s descendants, including Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who appears here on “Bring on the Pain,” which begins with a Hendrix quote from “Manic Depression” and Devon Allman (son of Gregg) who guests on “Road to Nowhere.” There are some great moments on this record, and even if it isn’t a game-changer like “Texas Flood” was for Stevie Ray, she’s got the goods, and hopefully the longevity to get her there.

Last modified on Wednesday, 24 February 2021 07:46

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