Editors' August Reviews

August 19, 2013

Steve Earle
Steve Earle fans will appreciate the scope of this four CD set, which includes the albums Train A Comin’ (his first release after coming out of rehab in 1994), 1996’s I Feel Alright, the bluegrass-tinged El Corazon, and Live at the Polk Theater, Nashville, TN, December 1, 1995, an album that features cameo appearances by Bill Monroe and Emmylou Harris, and has cool versions of some of Earl’s most iconic tunes, such as “Copperhead Road” and “Devil’s Right Hand.” Also included is a DVD of his 1996 performance at Tennessee’s Cold Creek Correctional Facility (apparently a condition of his sentence!), and a booklet with liner notes, track listings, lyrics, and Earle’s own musings about the three aforementioned studio albums, which, for better or worse, were real departures from the sh*tkickin’ “new country” sound he forged in the 1980s on Guitar Town, Exit O, and Copperhead Road. Shout. —ART THOMPSON

The Andreas Kapsalis & Goran Ivanovic Guitar Duo
Greek-American “ten-finger” steel-string stylist Kapsalis and Serbian-American classical nylon-string guitarist Ivanovic play unabashedly beautiful music that is as captivatingly melodic and cinematic as it is technically and compositionally sophisticated. Inspired by the Hitchcock film of the same name, Blackmail is a potpourri of Greek, Middle Eastern, Gypsy, Flamenco, Balkan, Brazilian, and myriad other flavors, replete with intricately interlocking passages, subtle tempo shifts, graceful modulations, intriguing harmonies, and uncommon dynamics—all exquisitely executed. Sure to appeal to musical tyros and aficionados alike. akgiduo.com. —BARRY CLEVELAND

Natalie Maines
The most outspoken Dixie Chick is back, with a solo record on which she collaborates with Relentless7— including guitarists Ben Harper and Jason Mozersky. The tunes include Pink Floyd and Jeff Buckley covers and originals, and the vibe ranges from rocking (“Silver Bell”) to dreamy (“Mother”) to melancholy (“Vein in Vain”). Harper and Mozersky get righteous, rootsy tones on every tune and Harper plays some great slide guitar, although he leans more toward the ethereal than the burning. Lots of talent on this album. Columbia. —MATT BLACKETT

Ceramic Dog
On the follow-up to their 2008 debut Party Intellectuals, guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist Shahzad Ismaily, and drummer Ches Smith (plus guests) hammer out a sort of feral art-rock with avant-jazz tendencies. The music is simultaneously coarse and highbrow, raw and refined, ranging from fulminating socio-economic diatribes such as the anti-piracy anthem “Masters of the Internet” to the campy lounge ditty “The Kid is Back” to a brilliantly warped take on Paul Desmond’s “Take Five”—all imbued with Ribot’s calescent, so-out-they’re-in guitar excursions and resplendently nasty-ass tones. Northern Spy. —BARRY CLEVELAND

The Sun Blues Box
This fabulous 10-CD package of classic Sun recordings is essentially a re-release of the vinyl LP collection of the same title issued some 30 years ago. But the new box set has been significantly upgraded with remastered tunes and a bunch of new tracks (there are 306 total), which include Sam Phillips doing a patent-medicine radio commercial, and previously unreleased sides by the Jones Brothers, Walter Bradford, Billy Love, and lots more. The sonic quality is impressive throughout, and a 186-page hardcover book containing tons of historical photos seals the deal on what has to be one of the finest collections of ’50s-era Memphis blues and roots music available today. Bear Family. —ART THOMPSON

Glenn Jones
This latest release from the 6- and 12-string American Primitive guitarist and occasional banjoist finds the artist in a reflective and at times melancholy mood. Bookended by the sound of wind chimes located on the same New Jersey farm where the album was recorded, the eight songs beautifully showcase Jones’ superb fingerstyle approach, which involves inventive tunings, often coupled with partial capos. A lovely, heartfelt album steeped in the subtler aspects of Americana. Thrill Jockey. —BARRY CLEVELAND


Bill Kirchen
Kirchen’s mix of incendiary Tele playing and tongue-in- cheek humor stand out as always on this CD, which was recorded live in the studio during a two-week tour in the U.K. The song list features classics like “Truck Stop at the End of the World” and “Too Much Fun”—tunes that hark from Kirchen’s early years with Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. With his fat, twangy low-string runs, Kirchen moves the band like a Cummings diesel, roaring though the honky-tonk landscape like a truck driver on a Monster X-presso binge. Kirchen is a serious badass who spreads a little absurdity on everything he does (who else could write something like “Poultry in Motion”?), and that’s what makes it so easy to buy into his brand of roots-rock. Proper. —ART THOMPSON

This is a fascinating look into the creation, inner workings, and ups and downs of this legendary band. The stories from Joe Walsh, Don Henley, and Glenn Frey are cool enough, and the remembrances from Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Glyn Johns, and others—not to mention Eagles Bernie Leadon and Don Felder—are mind blowing. The guitar work is great across the board, with Frey, Walsh, Felder, and Leadon all turning in the concise, memorable lines that we all know. If you’re an Eagles fan, you’ll love it. If you’re not a fan, this might just make you one. Capitol. —MATT BLACKETT

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