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Record Roundup

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Accursed Creator

Sins of the Father


Pensacola’s dynamic Accursed Creator are disciples of fusing multiple genres of metal. They build on the backs of death, progressive and melodic metal pioneers to create intricate and raucous music. With a frontwoman who can growl and snarl death metal lyrics as well (if not better) than many of her male counterparts, well… here’s to Accursed Creator continuing their conquests.

– Nikki Hedrick


Kurt Elling

The Beautiful Day – Kurt Elling Sings Christmas


Jazz vocalist Elling follows in the footsteps of Sinatra, Crosby, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis and other iconic male singers with That Beautiful Day, a 14-track Christmas album. It’s a first for the prolific Elling, who has been putting his stamp on the tricky scat/vocalese genre since the 1990s. The song list includes sacred, secular and show tunes, including several from Leslie Bricusse’s spot-on score to the 1970 film Scrooge. The arrangements vary from near-traditional to near-complete makeovers—e.g., the lyrics to “Little Drummer Boy” undergo a ‘50s-vintage jive translation. This should liven up your tree trimming.

– Bruce Collier


Jennifer Knapp

Set Me Free

Righteous Babe Records

Heartfelt songbird Knapp returns for 2017’s 30A Songwriter Festival in January. Every songwriter approaches his or her craft differently, but as a listener, you come away from Set Me Free with an idea of Knapp’s nature, as if listening to her offers a doorway into knowing her. This album features 11 soulful songs about love and the journey towards it.

– Nikki Hedrick


Bill Laurance

Live at Union Chapel


Pianist and Snarky Puppy co-founder Laurance’s Live at Union Chapel is his fourth solo endeavor in three years, so we are not listening to a lazy musician. A few of his Snarky Puppy cohorts sit in with him here at the legendary London venue. Yes it’s jazz, yes it’s classical, yes it’s got strings and French horn along with the Moog. It might make you think of Emerson, Lake & Palmer or Rick Wakeman. Laurance starts strong, achieving a momentum that becomes panoramic. The quality is so polished that, but for the occasional applause, you’d not know it was live.

– Bruce Collier


Twisted Sister

Twisted Christmas

Razor & Tie

I’m a bit of a Scrooge, and if you are, too, and would like to ruffle a few feathers at your next family gathering, this is the seasonal music to play. Twisted Sister went after the songs earnestly enough that you might can shrug it off as a change of pace from the same ol’ versions that have been endlessly piped into our subconscious thanks to advertising and Muzak. And, let’s be honest, there aren’t enough electric guitars in Christmas songs.

– Nikki Hedrick



Seal the Deal & Let’s Boogie

Republic Records

Volbeat’s latest seals the deal, proving the band’s staying power by delivering more of their unique, punk-metal sound, with the title track and “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” already familiar tunes. Listen carefully to the entire album, though, and you’ll hear some ballad-like lyrics wrapped up in signature rapid fire drumbeat and screeching metal strings. “The Bliss” and “You Will Know” are downright wedding song worthy—that is, if the bride and groom want a rockin’ ceremony worthy of a GNR video, because nothing on this album is a slow dance. It all rocks, or at least boogies. And it’s all good.

– Joni Williams
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