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Record Roundup

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Gregg Allman

Southern Blood


The Allman Brothers are my favorite American band. Play any Allmans song—three bars and you always know. Time and substances whittled away at the personnel over the years, and this May saw the demise of brother Gregg. The 12 tracks on his Southern Blood have prescient themes—retrospection, regret, orneriness, and a touch of peace. There’s stuff by Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne and Willie Dixon, whose “I Love the Life I Live” gets two takes, one live. “I hope you’re haunted by the music of my soul when I’m gone,” says one song. Damn straight, Gregg.

– Bruce Collier

The Handsome Scoundrels

Thick Cuts


Mobile-based band dubs themselves “pop-punk,” but they have more in common with the underground originators than most who claim the pop-punk moniker.  The six-track EP ranges from a tongue-in-cheek love song to a reminder that the punk scene is about more than appearances. Thick Cuts nicely embodies the heart of pop-punk—it’s fun, poignant and lively.

– Nikki Hedrick

LCD Soundsystem

New American Dream

DFA Records

LCD Soundsystem is back. And big, bumping well-known artists like Kendrick Lamar to take the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart. Though their new album seems less playful than their earlier works, it has been seven whole years since their last release, and six since LCD mastermind James Murphy announced his retirement. That said, this is a much better than expected album of the newly-reunited band, filled with the signature electronica sound that has earned them a devoted fan base. It’s a good album—one that no only will please loyal followers, but can hold its own in a music scene now brimming with a growing number of edgy new artists.

– Joni Williams

The National

Sleep Well Beast


Sleep Well Beast, the seventh album from the National, is their most chaotic and haunting work yet. The concerns of the band have shifted, and this album is a testament to what it’s like to get older. The music itself feels darker but as intoxicating as ever, pulling you into their disjointed rhythms, surrounded by Matt Berninger’s heavy, emotive voice. With this album, the National find the space in between full-blown cynicism and glamorization of troubles—honesty. They are supremely honest to the overwhelming challenges of relating to people and finding joy. They are doing the work of making music about the magnitude of simply continuing on in the face of unrelieved longing.

– Jane Morgan

Christina Pluhar & L’Arpeggiata

Handel Goes Wild


Pluhar and L’Arpeggiata have previously had their way with Purcell, Monteverdi and other composers. Now Georg Friedrich Handel takes his turn. The 15-track album is a jazz and world music “reimagining” of assorted works and excerpts by the German baroque maestro. The result sometimes comes off like Professor Peter Schickele’s “P.D.Q. Bach,” but at times it can be dazzling. Who’d have thought how natural Handel sounds played on a klezmer-like clarinet (think “Fiddler on the Roof”)? Or how effortlessly he folds into an Afro-Cuban beat, sounding like a combination of “The Peanut Vendor” and a New Orleans second-line band?

– Bruce Collier

Jessie Ritter

Stories Told


The young songstress is now calling our little corner of Florida home. Judging by her EP, she’ll be more than welcome with her twangy southern vocals wrapped in sweet tea, honey and country sophistication. Standouts include the boot stomping “Gypsy River,” with its bayou soul-inspired chorus and electrifying dramatic rise. Welcome to Beachcomberland, Jessie—hope to hear more music from you soon.

– Nikki Hedrick




Half-Light is Rostam Batmanglij’s first solo album since his split from Vampire Weekend last year, and it feels good to hear what the immensely talented producer and musician—who has been the force behind some of the biggest recent pop songs and one of the defining contemporary indie rock bands—sounds like without constrictions. The album is full of Rostam’s signatures, as he sweetly sings about relationships and his identity as a gay Iranian-American over quietly enchanting string-and-synth-heavy beats that often feel like anthems or chants. With some of his most stunning and engrossing work to date, Half-Light proves that Batmanglij is a force on his own.

– Jane Morgan

Stuck in Place

Stuck in Place


The Panama City indie-rock band is back with an album that shines a light on personal introspection and the unstable nature of human relationships.  This time, they tinker with some pop-rock sensibilities and a few anthemic hooks to further evolve their sound into the realm of alt-rock. With a polished production and desire for growth, these musicians are anything but stuck in place.

– Nikki Hedrick

Mark Whitfield

Live & Uncut


Jazz guitarist Whitfield recorded Live & Uncut at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan, accompanied by Billy Drummond (drums) and Ben Allison (bass).  Whitfield’s resume includes Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Branford Marsalis, and other jazz royalty. The six-track album starts out mellow and bouncy, then quickly gains force. The influence of his former teacher George Benson can be heard, but Whitfield seems to favor a more aggressive, stripped-down style. His sure-handed playing exudes pure confidence, but it’s more sparing on the pretty embellishments. Whitfield seems happy to make his audience feel good, but he’s gonna play what he wants regardless.

– Bruce Collier

Gentle Giants: Songs of Don Williams

Slate Creek Records

Excellent assortment of alt (Isbell and Shires, Stapleton, Brandy Clark) and mainstream (Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum) artists, honoring one of country music’s greatest voices—and, in turn, the great songwriter Bob McDill, who penned many of Williams’ best. Sadly, Garth Brooks’ contribution (“Good Old Boys Like Me”) is not included on the digital and streaming versions.

– Chris Manson
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