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Amy Black

The Muscle Shoals Sessions

Reuben Records

The music of Muscle Shoals seems to have stolen the spotlight lately, rightfully getting the recognition it deserves. In that vein, Black reimagines some classic tunes from the region, rounding out the album with a couple of originals written in the same style. Her soulful, fiery delivery is a fantastic fit with the authentic instrumentation, pairing to create a beautiful homage to very special place.

– Nikki Hedrick

Phil Collins

Face Value (Deluxe Edition)

Rhino

The unjustly maligned Collins’ solo debut—one of his two or three best—still thrills, though it’s not necessarily enhanced by the live tracks and demos that pad out the reissue.

– Chris Manson

The Cult

Hidden City

Cooking Vinyl

The Cult originated in the ‘80s, but they always forged a musical path separate from the trends. Although they don’t repeat themselves with Hidden City, it is a nice culmination of their career and signature sound. Ian Astbury’s notable croon is still strong and provocative—it doesn’t seem to have aged in three decades. A stupendous release from a band that isn’t showing signs of slowing down.

– Nikki Hedrick

The I Don’t Cares

Wild Stabs

Dry Wood Records

The great Paul Westerberg is in fine form on these 16 songs, abetted slightly by the long-forgotten Juliana Hatfield. The song about having to pee is hilarious. Rock ‘n roll ain’t dead.

– Chris Manson

Renee Rosnes

Written in the Rocks

Smoke Sessions Records

Canadian jazz pianist and composer Rosnes has a distinguished resume, with names like SFJAZZ, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter and Bill Charlap (her husband and occasional collaborator) on her reference list. Accompanying Rosnes on this album are sax, flute, vibes, bass and drums. The nine tracks offer an interesting and always appealing blend of club jazz and atmospheric, back-to-nature meditative music. There is a lightness of touch and execution here that sometimes comes close to floating away into the ether, but the combo hangs together even through the silences, testament to a strong musical bond, and true equality at work.

– Bruce Collier

Savages

Adore Life

Matador Records

If there was ever a genre called “sophisticated punk,” Savages would be a prominent benchmark. Adore Life is fearless, rambunctious, layered, and deeply intellectual. From the spacey guitar tones to the way frontwoman Jehnny Beth pulls you into her world, this is easily one of the most rewarding listens I’ve experienced in 2016.

– Nikki Hedrick

Aubrie Sellers

New City Blues

Aubrie Sellers Music

The hipsters are calling it “garage country,” and musically, it’s one of the best twang records of the still-young year. The uptempo tracks benefit greatly from a Ry Cooder guitar sound circa “Low-Commotion.”

– Chris Manson

Sonola

Strange Karma

sonolamusic.bandcamp.com

Tallahassee-based project builds off indie rock to create everything from dreamy ballads to groove-oriented rock songs. It’s an album that steps right up to the ledge of music experimentation without ever stepping off the cliff and losing focus. It’s an intriguing release—hopefully, there’s more on the horizon from Sonola.

– Nikki Hedrick

Arthur Vint & Associates

Through the Badlands

Ropeadope Records

Tucson native Vint is a drummer and composer. Through the Badlands is his first recording as a leader. His associates for the occasion include violinist Jenny Scheinman and bassist Ian Stapp. If you’re a fan of the calming potential of the saxophone, you’ll enjoy Brice Winston’s work. Most of the tracks have Western or Native American-themed titles, with a few less obvious references like “Devil’s Dictionary” and its author Ambrose Bierce, who disappeared into Mexico. I found myself thinking of Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan books. There’s a soundtrack to some offbeat mezcal, ghost-dance Western road film lurking in here.

– Bruce Collier
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