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Record Roundup

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Chris Carter

Action Figure

Elevated Underground

Until his recent move overseas, Carter was one of the most visible hip‑hop musicians in the area. He serves up social commentary, backed by a who’s who of Beachcomberland performers. Carter utilizes his musical platform to inspire change and introspection while furthering his name as a top‑notch artist.

‑ Nikki Hedrick

Flat land

Arrow to the Sun

Independent

The debut album from the soulful jam band—and Okaloosa RevFest headliners—is a lovely benchmark for what a modern fusion band can be. Sitting just outside of most typical genre labels and pulling from influences more diverse than the average person’s music collection, Flat Land takes a pile of improbable puzzle pieces to build a stunning—and complete—sound.

‑ Nikki Hedrick

Funky Knuckles

New Birth

Ground Up

What do a bunch of sidemen from big‑name pop acts like Beyonce and P. Diddy do when they want to play it their way? They form a band called Funky Knuckles. They’ve been jamming in Dallas regularly for six years, and they also tour. New Birth appears to be their third release. The album offers 11 tracks melding funk, electronic, fusion, vocals, and—yeah—even big band. Their sound, which has reportedly grown over the years with additional personnel, is bold and fat but never overwhelming. It’s always cohesive but never sacrifices individuality. I guess that would be any sideman’s dream.

‑ Bruce Collier

Gojira

Magma

Roadrunner Records

Bands evolve, and sometimes that evolution can be tough to accept. Stepping away from the relentless tempo and aggressive tones fans have come to love, Gojira goes against the stream to deliver a beautiful album. It’s progressive and haunting, and teeters on being a hard rock album—and it could lead to further mainstream success for the band. Hopefully, the hardcore fan base will give this one a chance, too.

‑ Nikki Hedrick

Kickstand Jenny

Best of Vol. 1

kickstandjenny.com

The band formerly known as Bottoms Up embrace their inner arena rockers on a boisterous and fun EP. Led by Charles Estes’ strong vocal range, Kickstand Jenny is paving the way toward making a name for themselves outside the Florida Panhandle.

‑ Nikki Hedrick

Kris Kristofferson

The Cedar Creek Sessions

KK Records

These recently rerecorded Kris Klassics sound like the definitive versions to me, even more so as I continue to explore the 16‑disc Complete Monument and Columbia Albums box set. Not that the originals haven’t aged well, but Kristofferson’s only gotten better over the decades.

‑ Chris Manson

Van Morrison

…It’s Too Late to Stop Now… Volumes II, III & IV

Rhino

One of the greatest live records in the history of rock gets the deluxe treatment, and there’s not a dull moment to be had. The two takes on “Bein’ Green”—not included on the original album—convince me Van could have nailed “Rubber Duckie” and Big Bird’s alphabet song, too. It’s not too late.

‑ Chris Manson

Allen Toussaint

American Tunes

Nonesuch

Pianist Toussaint passed away last year. American Tunes was recorded in his studio, with the last of the tracks being made only weeks before he died. It’s proverbial to call any musician’s final recording a “summing up,” but it can also be inaccurate. Still, it’s hard to think of American Tunes in any other way. The 14 tracks feature pensive renditions of tunes by Ellington and Strayhorn, Fats Waller, Bill Evans and Paul Simon. Toussaint will forever be identified with the Big Easy, but he transcends the usual gumbo and Mardi Gras stereotypes. The could play anything, any way.

‑ Bruce Collier
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