February 5th, 2015

Live From The Artists Den just entered its 9th season last week when the Zac Brown Band aired on national TV. This week, the Alabama Shakes will be rocking and rolling in your living room on a PBS station in your area. Most homes will be able to tune in on Friday night, February 6th, but be sure to check your local listings for the specific PBS station and air time. Their official site lists a few of the affiliates in various cities that will be airing the episode.

The band was filmed in Nashville last year at the Loveless Cafe. Around four interviews, the hour long episode follows the band performing songs from their debut album and calling upon a few that they’ve been working on for the sophomore album, which is due later in 2015.

While their breakout hit, “Hold On,” was played that night per a set list that showed up on the official Artists Den page for the band, it didn’t end up making the cut for the episode (along with a handful of other performances). However, with the energy spewed across the rest of their set, you’ll hardly miss it. The Alabama-based band imbue southern rock and blues into a firestorm of a concert.

Starting with “Hang Loose,” we hear hints of organ over some pounding piano with Brittany Howard yowling ferociously. Howard jumps from preacher mode to conversationalist and singer all throughout the night’s performance and never sounds out of place in any mode. While she can cook up a firestorm, she can also beautifully emote on a track like “Boys And Girls,” which slowly paces. Her voice sometimes quivers and other times snickers while sounding fully sincere in either territory.

The band gets labeled as blues-rock, and that can be true of some their work, but they even venture into a near gospel-punk zone on “The Greatest.” Steve Johnson’s kit anchors the track while Heath Fogg puts down some sizzling guitar work. Zac Cockrell’s bass on “Gimme All Your Love” ventures into James Jamerson territory near the end. Howard often gets the lion’s share of press, but each band member adds a lot to the presence of sound on each track performed.

If you’re going to be out on the town Friday night, be sure to set your DVR to record this performance. It’s the first glimpse a national audience will get to see of tracks like “Joe,” “Miss You,” and the aforementioned “Gimme All Your Love” that are vying for a slot on their second album. Their studio work is wholly enjoyable, but it’s on the live stage where the band erupts into something greater. The Artists Den provides a wonderful opportunity for those who haven’t had the pleasure of attending the band’s live show to see that.

RELEASE TUESDAY: December 2, 9, and 16, 2014

December 20th, 2014

Catching up on the last couple of weeks


D’Angelo And The Vanguard: Black Messiah (RCA)
File Under: Soul

Long-awaited, indeed, and then it snuck up on us at the last minute. Social media and the internet was buzzing big time when the album came out early Monday morning via digital outlets.

If you buy only one album this year, this is it. Crazy good. More info is available at the album’s official website.

Mary J Blige: The London Sessions (Capitol)
File Under: R&B

Still singing with pride and passion like no other, Mary J. teams up with singers and producers from the UK for her latest project

She & Him: Classics (Columbia)
File Under: Pop

M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel make their major label debut but are continuing with their brand of breezy and classic-sounding pop.

AC/DC: Rock Or Bust (Columbia)
File Under: Rock

D’Angelo wasn’t the only artist to break a long silence of new material. AC/DC releases their first new album in nearly 7 years.

Wu-Tang Clan: A Better Tomorrow (Warner)
File Under: Hip-Hop

Not to be confused with their song of the same name for Wu-Tang Forever, their latest album also sees a new release from a group that has been absent for many years. The entire clan is still out to prove that Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nuthin’ to f wit’.

Johnny Gill: Game Changer (10 Spot)
File Under: R&B

R&B radio is embracing this new album. Hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since Johnny Gill debuted.

Smashing Pumpkins: Monuments To An Elegy (BMG)
File Under: Rock

Billy Corgan has rounded up yet another cast of musicians to form under the Pumpkins moniker.

LL Cool J: Mama Said Knock You Out (Deluxe Edition (Def Jam)
File Under: Hip-Hop, Vinyl

The title track still can you get you hyped up during a workout. Universal is reviving this title via their Respect The Classics venture. The vinyl release has a fun lenticular cover while the 2-CD deluxe edition compiles some period remixes onto the second disc of material for the title track, “Around The Way Girl,” “The Boomin’ System,” and more.

Carrie Underwood: Greatest Hits Decade #1 (Sony Music Nashville)
File Under: Country

The superstar releases a jam-packed double disc worth of material. With an astounding 18 #1s to her name, she also adds a handful of new tracks.

RELEASE MONDAY: November 24, 2014

November 23rd, 2014

A second Monday release week in a row.


Various Artists: Shady XV (Interscope)
File Under: Hip-Hop, Compilation

Covering the Shady record label roster, Shady XV gives us hits from the likes of 50 Cent, D12, Obie Trice, and Eminem.

Best Buy is offering an exclusive version with a bonus track.

Coldplay: Ghost Stories: Live 2014 (CD/DVD) (Atlantic/Parlophone)
File Under: Pop, Rock, Live

This aired back on NBC earlier this year, and now you can bring the audio and video to your library. While we’re not always fans of Coldplay live, the album this material comes from has grown on us quite a bit from when it was initially released.

A CD-only version of this is also being released, but for another $2.00, why not spring for the whole package? The DVD contains some alternate videos.

Bryan Adams: Reckless (Super Deluxe Edition) (A&M)
File Under: Pop, Rock, Reissue

One of the great ’80s albums featuring hits like “Summer Of ’69,” “Run To You,” and “Heaven.” Here, it sees the super deluxe treatment with bonus tracks, a full live show from 1985, and a 5.1 surround mix. Here’s to 30 years, Bryan Adams!

Prince Fatty Meets Nostalgia 77: Medicine Chest Dub/Skeletons Dub (Single) (Tru Thoughts)
File Under: Reggae, Dub

Fantastic single featuring production work from Prince Fatty and Nostalgia 77 with Alice Russell on vocals.

Dave Matthews Band: Under The Table And Dreaming (Expanded Edition) (Legacy)
File Under: Pop, Rock, Reissue, Vinyl

The album that brought DMB national recognition is now being reissued with a couple of acoustic versions for bonus tracks (“Dancing Nancies” and “The Song That Jane Likes”). A vinyl reissues is also being released.

Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (Deluxe Edition) (Def Jam/Universal)
Public Enemy: Fear Of A Black Planet (Deluxe Edition) (Def Jam/Universal)
File Under: Hip-Hop, Reissue

The sticker on the CD reissue of It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back reads “The Greatest Hip-Hop Album Ever Made.” You won’t hear many arguments from us. Included on the second disc are various b-sides of remixes, instrumentals, a capellas, and so forth. A DVD entitled Fight The Power Live rounds out the reissue featuring live performances and music videos. It was previously only available via VHS.

Furthermore they followed it up with an album as strong as FOABP featuring tracks like “Welcome To The Terrordome,” “Fight The Power,” and “Brothers Gonna Work It Out.” The bonus disc again contains various b-side remixes and instrumentals.

Vinyl reissues of both albums are also being released and contain 3D lenticular covers.

RELEASE MONDAY: November 17, 2014

November 16th, 2014

Here we go with another Monday release week.


TV On The Radio: Seeds (Harvest)
File Under: Rock

The album has been garnering a lot of praise through Rolling Stone and more. Hear the lead single below.

Henry Mancini: The Classic Soundtrack Collection (Legacy)
File Under: Score, Popular, Easy Listening

You could be forgiven for thinking of the “The Pink Panther Theme” when you hear Mancini’s name mentioned. It is certainly a classic work. But the man had so much more music in him. With a ridiculously long list of soundtracks, albums and more to his credit, he was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award on top of 10 Grammys, 4 Academy Awards, and more accolades.

He also was responsible for this beautiful track:

Featured on this box set is a collection of 9 CDs of his scores including Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Arabesque, Me, Natalie, and more.

You absolutely cannot go wrong with this set.

RELEASE TUESDAY: November 11, 2014

November 10th, 2014


Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways (RCA)
File Under: Rock

Dave Grohl and his bandmates travelled ’round the country to different cities to record their new album. In fact, they filmed material for a show on HBO of the same name to document each city’s musical heritage.

Tears For Fears: Songs From The Big Chair (Universal)
File Under: Pop, Rock, Reissue, Box Set

In 1985, it was hard to find a bigger album than this. With singles like “Shout,” “Head Over Heels,” and “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” it was everywhere that year. It’s now being reissued on various formats, but the super deluxe edition includes 4 CDs of the album, remixes, and early mixes as well as 2 DVDs that include music videos, TV appearances, a surround sound mix and more.

Portishead: Dummy (Vinyl Reissue) (Universal/Mercury)
File Under: Trip-Hop, Reissue

Even 20 years later, this album is still a crowning achievement. Beautiful, yet haunting songs like “Mysterons,” “Numb,” and “Glory Box.”

Garth Brooks: Man Against Machine (Sony Music Nashville)
File Under: Country

It’s been a while since Brooks has released new material (not counting last year’s Wal-Mart-only release of covers in a box set). After quite the delay, he (the man) takes on the machine (the music industry?). We’re not sure, but foresee it selling quite well.

RELEASE TUESDAY: November 4, 2014

November 2nd, 2014


Calvin Harris: Motion (Columbia)
File Under: Dance, Pop, EDM

The heavily-accoladed dance artist returns with his latest album fueled by the hit “Summer.”

The Doobie Brothers: Southbound (Arista Nashville)
File Under: Rock, Country

The classic rock band teams up with a plethora of modern country acts like Zac Brown Band, Blake Shelton, and Brad Paisley to play many of their greatest hits like “Black Water,” “Listen To The Music,” and “Rockin’ Down The Highway.”

Wings: Venus And Mars (Super Deluxe Edition) (MPL/Hear Music/Concord Music Group)
Wings: At The Speed Of Sound (Super Deluxe Edition) (MPL/Hear Music/Concord Music Group)
File Under: Rock, Reissue, Box Set

The archive series continues with two mid-70s albums getting the latest book treatment. Look for full reviews for each set that we wrote over at American Songwriter this week!

Best Buy will be having an exclusive bonus 45 for each album as advertised in this week’s flyer:
At The Speed Of Sound
Venus And Mars

Various Artists: The One-derful! Collection: One-derful! Records (Secret Stash)
File Under: R&B, Soul, Compilation

We forgot to include this one in last week’s feature. One-derful! (and its subsidiaries) was a Chicago-based label that released tons of soul 45s in the ’60s and ’70s. This is the first of many volumes planned for the series. Secret Stash even has a special subscription service that includes some terrific extras (45s or a CD, depending upon the format you choose).

RELEASE MONDAY: October 27, 2014

October 27th, 2014

This is one of those weeks where the new titles came out on Monday as opposed to Tuesday.


Taylor Swift: 1989 (Big Machine Records)
File Under: Pop

Taylor Swift is going with a decidedly more pop sound with this album. The catchy “Shake It Off” shows a fun new direction for her.

Target is offering three exclusive tracks (“Wonderland,” “You Are In Love,” and “New Romantics”) as well as a handful of 3 voice memos of three of the tracks from the standard edition and exclusive photo prints. See your local Target ad for other things being tied in with this release from Swift.

Led Zeppelin: IV (Super Deluxe Edition) (Atlantic/Rhino)
Led Zeppelin: Houses Of The Holy (Super Deluxe Edition) (Atlantic/Rhino)
File Under: Rock, Reissue, Box Set

Led Zeppelin fans are ecstatic about these reissues, and they are putting them out at a fairly aggressive pace. While the super deluxe sets top the $100 mark, for the fan wanting to spend less have the option for a regular deluxe edition for each title

Paul McCartney: New (Collector’s Edition) (Concord/MPL)
File Under: Rock, Reissue

It was about a year ago that McCartney’s latest studio effort of pop music was released. While various bonus tracks abounded on international and retailer exclusives, now they are all collected in a DVD-sized booklet across 2 CDs and 1 DVD. For the latter part, footage from events around the world and behind the scenes moments are collected.

Next week, Paul and his Wings cohorts are guaranteed to get some more ink from us as the Paul McCartney Archive Collection campaign will roll on (after a brief delay from earlier this summer).

Jerry Lee Lewis: Rock And Roll Time (Vanguard)
File Under: Rock & Roll

The Killer teams up with Keith Richards, Neil Young, Shelby Lynne, and more on this new collection of songs.

Dianne Reeves: I Remember (Blue Note/Universal)
Horace Silver: Horace Silver And The Jazz Messengers (Blue Note/Universal)
Thelonius Monk: Genius Of Modern Music, Vol. 1 (Blue Note/Universal)
Hank Mobley: No Room For Squares (Blue Note/Universal)
File Under: Jazz, Vinyl

The Blue Note vinyl reissue campaign continues with four more titles!

RELEASE TUESDAY: October 21, 2014

October 19th, 2014


The Budos Band: Burnt Offering (Daptone)
File Under: Rock

The Budos Band explores a more rock-oriented sound on their fourth album. Look for an interview we conducted with band member Tom Brenneck in issue 60 of Wax Poetics out later this fall. The title track can be heard below.

Boyz II Men: Collide (BMG)
File Under: R&B

Motownphilly’s back again. Target is offering a version with two additional tracks, “Beautiful” and “Can’t Let Go.”

In the world of exclusive deals, iTunes is offering a different bonus track called “Ladies Man.” Amazon is offering an autographed version.

Gavin Degraw: Finest Hour: The Best Of Gavin Degraw (RCA)
File Under: Pop

His subsequent albums after his fantastic debut, Chariot, have been uneven, but this collection grabs some of his best material.

Various Artists: Tru Thoughts 15th Anniversary (Tru Thoughts)
File Under: R&B

This is the pared down version of a box set, and even it’s two discs worth of material from the likes of Alice Russell, Nostalgia 77, Bonobo, Hidden Orchestra, and more.

Earth, Wind, & Fire: Holiday (Legacy)
File Under: Christmas, R&B

‘Tis the season. The Christmas titles are starting to roll out, and EWF covers some of the genre’s classics like “What Child Is This,” “The Drummer Boy,” and “Sleigh Ride.”

T.I.: Paperwork (Grand Hustle/Columbia)
File Under: Hip-Hop

T.I. teams up with Pharrell, Iggy Azalea, Chris Brown, Skylar Grey, and more for his latest effort.

El Michels Affair: Sounding Out The City (Deluxe Edition) (Truth & Soul)
File Under: Soul, Reissue

This came out last week, and we forgot to mention it. A decade ago, Leon Michels and his cronies put together this beautiful instrumental soul album. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the label is reissuing it with a bonus disc of some previously unreleased material. Additionally, that bonus material is being issued on vinyl on a 10″ called Loose Change.

RELEASE TUESDAY: September 30; October 7; October 14, 2014

October 13th, 2014


Weezer: Everything Will Be Alright In The End (Universal Republic)
File Under: Rock

Rivers Cuomo and his bandmates deliver another album, their ninth, this time via Universal Republic.

Oasis: (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (Big Brother Recordings)
File Under: Rock, Reissue

A super deluxe version of this reissue exists, but with all the audio available in this 3-CD package at $20, it’s hard to turn this one down.

Kenny Drew: Undercurrent (Blue Note/Universal)
Sonny Clark: Cool Struttin’ (Blue Note/Universal)
Stanley Turrentine: That’s Where It’s At (Blue Note/Universal)
Freddie Hubbard: Ready For Freddie (Blue Note/Universal)
File Under: Jazz, Vinyl, Reissue

The Blue Note train rolls on with these vinyl reissues. Have we said how much we love old Blue Note album covers?

The Heliocentrics & Melvin Van Peebles: The Last Transmission (Now Again)
File Under: Psychedelic

The Heliocentrics launch yet another oneoff project, this time with Melvin Van Peebles. A second disc is included with the instrumentals of the tracks as well. If you’re a member of Now Again’s subscription, it’s available there now as well.

Various Artists: Peru Bravo: Funk, Soul, & Psych From Peru’s Radical Decade (Tiger’s Milk)
File Under: Global Grooves, Compilation

As a follow-up to the label’s Peru Maravilloso, the funk, soul, and psych scenes of the country’s musical history are explored.

Wax Poetics recently debuted a track from the compilation.

Bonobo: North Borders Tour: Live (Ninja Tune)
File Under: Live, DVD

The album comes with both the audio on CD and a companion DVD of the live show. A vinyl version is also offered.

Bob Seger: Ride Out (Universal)
File Under: Rock

He may be (even) older now, but Bob Seger is still runnin’ against the wind. From the title, are we to expect this may be his ride into the sunset?

The soundclips up at Amazon are certainly in line with what you’d expect from a Seger release.

U2: Songs Of Innocence (Interscope)
File Under: Pop, Rock

If you weren’t one of the half-billion people to receive the album for free via iTunes last month; or if you were one of those people who felt intruded upon by Apple; or if you just want the physical object of the album, well, then this is your release.

RELEASE TUESDAY: September 23, 2014

September 23rd, 2014


Gary Clark, Jr.: Live (2-CD) (Warner)
File Under: Blues, Rock, Live

Gary Clark, Jr.’s, latest release showcases where she shines best: on stage. His debut album had moments but was mostly an uneven affair. But live… that’s another story!

Lenny Kravitz: Strut (Target Exclusive Edition) (Kobalt)
File Under: Pop, Rock

Lenny Kravitz shows off his strut and even covers the Miracles’ “Ooo Baby Baby” with fantastic results. Target has an exclusive edition that includes “Lift Me Out Of My Head” and “It Won’t Feel The Same” as bonus offerings. Meanwhile, iTunes has a couple of exclusives of their own like “Sweet Gitchey Rose” and “Can’t Stop Thinkin’ ‘Bout You.”

Smashing Pumpkins: Adore (Super Deluxe Edition) (Virgin)
File Under: Rock, Alternative

The super deluxe madness continues with the Pumpkins, this time exploring their recording sessions during 1998’s Adore. Altogether, 107 tracks are spread across 6 CDs and a DVD that highlights their Fox Theater performance in Atlanta in August of 1998.

George Harrison: The Apple Years 1968-75 (Apple/Capitol)
File Under: Pop, Box Set

Experimental albums and a solo Beatle masterpiece are the centerpieces of this multiple disc box set chronicling George’s music as released by Apple Records both during and after the Beatles’ breakup.

Imelda May: Tribal (Verve)
File Under: Pop, Rockabilly

A queen in her genre, Imelda May’s junior album has what it takes to keep your boots kickin’. “It’s Good To Be Alive,” yes indeed.