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New Raconteurs LP headlines new music offerings

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Leading the pack of new releases this week is the first LP from Jack White and Brendan Benson’s The Raconteurs since 2008’s “Consolers of the Lonely.” The 12 new songs that make up “Help Us Stranger” (Third Man Records; June 21) signal a return to the riff-rich joy that made the band’s first two releases so much fun. Heavy on guitars, the album’s warm analog sound (White’s preferred method of recording) lends an air of timelessness while also allowing the music to breathe. Welcome back, fellows.

Producer Mark Ronson’s first album in four years seems to be the flipside of 2015’s “Uptown Special” (which featured Bruno Mars channeling Prince and James Brown on “Uptown Funk”). While that album emphasized Ronson’s collaborations with male vocalists, including Stevie Wonder, Andrew Wyatt and Mystikal, it’s ladies’ night on 2019’s “Late Night Feelings” (Sony; June 21). A distinctly lower-key affair, guests include Camila Cabello, YEBBA, Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus.

Prolific indie country rebel Aaron Watson was the first artist since the Nielsen Music Era began in 1991 to rocket an album to the top of the Billboard country chart without the help of a major label. Defying expectations again, Watson has essentially released a double album with the 20-track, 69-minute “Red Bandana” (Big Label Records; June 21) consisting entirely of originals. Highlights include the first single “Kiss That Girl Goodbye,” Watson’s tribute to his heroes – “Legends” and his heartfelt homage to the golden age of “Country Radio.” Rejected by the majors for the first 15 years of his career, it’s gratifying to see an artist like Watson win on their own terms.

Thirty years after the release of their first album, Hershey, Pennsylvania indie-pop band The Ocean Blue return with 11 stylistically varied tracks on “Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves” (Korda; June 21). Stressing meoldy and jangly acoustic guitars, the record is a celebration of infectious dreamy pop from the opening title song to the final moody notes of "Frozen." "It Takes So Long" sounds like an early-80s REM track, while even Morrissey might not mind having "Love Doesn't Make It Easy On Us" for his own. This album makes a welcome addition to the band's discography.

Willie Nelson has rescued 70 horses from slaughter and sees to it that they have whatever they need as they roam freely around his 700-acre Luck Ranch in Spicewood, Texas. Producer Buddy Cannon (Kenny Chesney) returns for his 14th Nelson collaboration on the legend’s 69th studio album, “Ride Me Back Home” (Legacy Recordings; June 21). First listen highlights include the J.J. Cale-like shuffle “Come on Time,” the torch ballad “Stay Away From Lonely Places,” the hilarious sing along “It’s Hard to Be Humble” (with sons Lukas and Michah) and the autobiographical “One More Song to Write.” The song comes first for Willie and his co-writes with Cannon sit proudly next to songs by Guy Clark, Mac Davis, Buzz Rabin and Billy Joel, on an album addressing themes of mortality, love and humility. There is something very moving about hearing Nelson’s iconic voice deliver these heartfelt songs. Not to be missed: Son Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real’s “Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)” released on June 14.

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 June 2019 17:21

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