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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Luke Bryan, Wild Feathers and more...


Posted: Monday, August 12, 2013

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Luke Bryan

"Crash My Party"

Capitol Nashville


Since 2007, Luke Bryan has had the touch of gold -- and platinum. The singer from Georgia has logged six straight Top 10 country chart debuts with his various albums and EPs. His last two studio albums have gone platinum, with 2011's "Tailgates & Tanlines" and the compilation "Spring Break...Here To Party" each debuting at No. 1 -- and the latter also hitting the top of the Billboard 200. And Bryan was named the American Country Music Awards' Entertainer of the Year in May. The streak is hardly likely to end with "Crazy My Party," another mostly upbeat and good-humored set that, more than anything else, demonstrates Bryan's and producer Jeff Stevens' knack for picking out exactly the right songs for the singer to record. Bryan takes a back seat in songwriting more than ever here, chipping in on just two of the album's 13 tracks but still singing everything with the authority of a composer fully vested in the lyrics. "That's My Kind of Night" kicks things off with a libido-flexing bit of funk, while "Out Like That" offers gritty hard rock and "Crash My Party's" title track is a majestically orchestrated power ballad that he handles as capably as the stripped-down "Drink a Beer." Bryan isn't just about the "Party," however; "We Run This Town," "Blood Brothers" and "Dirt Road Diary" are richly nuanced, sentimental paeans, while tracks like "Goodbye Girl," "I See You" and "Roller Coaster" sound like he's having a good time even as his heart is breaking a little.


The Wild Feathers, "The Wild Feathers" (Warner Bros.) ***

This Nashville by way of Austin, Texas, quintet scores big on its debut album not by doing anything new but by fusing together a lot of rock and rockin' side of country conventions very well. The 12-track set is most effective when the troupe is cranking through rowdy fare such as "Backwoods Company," "American," "I`m Alive" and "Hard Wind," but it also shows some dynamic sophistication on "Tall Boots," "The Ceiling," "Hard Times" and the album-closing "How." A fine new addition to the swelling Americana ranks.

New & Noteworthy:

Glen Campbell, "See You There" (Surfdog): The gradually fading music veteran re-recorded a dozen of his past favorites for this new collection.

The Dead Daisies, "The Dead Daisies" (Spitfire): Guitar hero Slash shows up to help out on the first release by this all-star group of musicians from Guns N' Roses, INXS, Whitesnake, Ted Nugent and others.

Bela Fleck, et al, "The Imposter" (Decca): Banjo wizard Fleck unveils two new compositions here, the symphonic title track and the string quartet piece "Night Flight Over Water."

Jeff Golub and Brian Auger, "Train Keeps a Rolling" (eOne): American guitarist Golub and British keyboardist Auger team up with former Santana singer Alex Ligertwood and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' drummer Steve Ferrone on this 11-song set.

Mickey Hart Band, "Superorganism" (Empire): The Grateful Dead drummer uses his brain waves and heartbeat to build songs upon for his latest experimental outing, with lyrics by longtime Dead compatriot Robert Hunter.

Jagwar Ma, "Howlin' " (Mom+Pop): The debut outing by the modern psychedelic rockers from Australia hits these shores after previous buzz-making releases in its homeland and the U.K.

Valerie June, "Pushin' Against a Stone" (Concord): The Tennessee singer recruited a who's-who list of players and producers (Booker T. Jones, Jimbo Mathus, the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, etc.) to help her make her first album.

K. Michelle, "Rebellious Soul" (Atlantic): The long-gestating debut set from this Memphis hip-hop soul singer finally arrives, with guest appearances by R. Kelly and Meek Mill.

Moondoggies, "Adios I'm a Ghost" (Hardly Art): The third album by the Americana quartet from the Pacific northwest.

Parachute, "Overnight" (Mercury): The third album from the Charlottesville, Va., quintet features co-writes with Lady Antebellum and OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder.

Sam Phillips, "Push Any Button" (LIttlebox): The singer-songwriter's 10th studio album is the third she's produced herself, with an ace group of players helping her craft these 10 tracks.

Royal Teeth, "Glow" (Dangerbird): The Lafayette, La., indie rockers recorded their first full-length album in Toronto with producer Gavin Brown.

Stevie Stone, "2 Birds, 1 Stone" (Strange Music): The latest set of rhymes and beats from the St. Louis MC, who's part of Tech N9ne's Strange Music stable.

Various Artists, "The Great Gatsby -- The Jazz Recordings featuring the Bryan Ferry Orchestra" (Water Tower): The Roxy Music frontman and his jazz group take on not only the jazz standards from the recent film adaptation of the novel but also the hip-hop songs that appeared on the original soundtrack.

Washed Out, "Paracosm" (Sub Pop): The second full-length album by chillwave electronic artist and Georgia native Ernest Greene.

Yellowcard, "Ocean Avenue Acoustic" (Hopeless): The title tells you exactly what you're getting -- an unplugged recreation of the Florida modern rockers' platinum 2003 breakthrough album.

From The Vaults: Tommy Bolin, "Whirlwind" (Cleopatra); Johnny Cash, "LIFE Unheard" (SMSP); Various Artists, "The South Side of Soul Street: The Minaret Soul Singles 1967-1976) (Omnivore)

Soundtracks: The Muppets, "The Muppet Movie" (Walt Disney); Various Artists, "Mad Men on the Rocks" (Silva America)

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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