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The Listening Room: Prince and 3rdEyeGirl, Bryan Adams, Lady Antebellum, Blake Shelton and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Prince, "Art Official Age"

Prince and 3rdEyeGirl, "Plectrumelectrum"

(NPG/Warner Bros.)

Grades: B/B+

Been craving new Prince music since the under-the-radar "20Ten" four years ago? Well, the Minneapolis auteur is back with enough new tunes to last you...well, at least another couple of years if not until 2099. The sheer wealth of material is a bit overwhelming, but "Art Official Age" and "Plectrumelectrum" -- the former a Prince "solo" album, the latter with his new rock quartet 3rdEyeGirl, though it also plays on "Art Official Age" -- are two different works. "Plectrumelectrum," in fact, is the more fun of the two, simply because we haven't heard Prince rock -- REALLY rock -- this hard over the course of an album before, and he sounds invigorated as he leads 3rdEyeGirl through the title track instrumental's bluesy excursions, the power chord-drenched "Wow" and "Pretzelbodylogic," the psychedelic-tinged "Fixurlifeup" and the hyper-speed "Marz," though "Whitecaps" is a pleasingly melodic and laid-back change-up. "Art Official Age," meanwhile, is a more "typical" Prince album, showcasing his trademark Minneapolis brand of sinewy, spacious funk with just enough touches of contemporary EDM and rap to indicate his antenna's up. The 13-track-song set's futuristic concept, about a world where social media and electronic communication have created a new social order, doesn't quite carry through, but Prince still offers the goods to "turn it up (and) let your body groove" as he sings in "The Gold Standard," as well as a healthy batch of libidinous slow jams that indicate we won't be seeing Prince in any Viagra or Cialis ads any time soon.

New & Noteworthy:

Bryan Adams, "Tracks of My Years" (Verve): The Canadian rocker takes on some of his favorites from yesteryear, ranging from the Beatles to Bobby Hebb ("Sunny"), with one brand new track.

Herb Alpert, "In The Mood" (Shout! Factory): The trumpeter, bandleader and music executive shoots wide, taking on standards, a tribute to the late Phil Everly and "America, The Beautiful."

Lady Antebellum, "747" (Capitol Nashville): The country trio takes off for some parts previously unknown on its sixth album, working with a new co-producer (Nathan Chapman) and some fresh co-writers.

Blake Shelton, "Bringing Back the Sunshine" (Warner Bros. Nashville): The country singer and mainstay "The Voice" judge is as dependable as ever on his ninth album, which includes a duet with Pistol Annies' Ashley Monroe.

Trigger Hippy, "Trigger Hippy" (Rounder): The debut full-length from the Nashville all-star group featuring Joan Osborne and Black Crowes members Steve Gorman and Jackie Greene.

Gerard Way, "Hesitant Alien" (Warner Bros.): The former My Chemical Romance frontman makes his solo debut with an 11-track set that includes his brother and ex-bandmate Mikey Way on backing vocals.

Lucinda Williams, "Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone" (Highway 20): The singer-songwriter's two-disc, 20 song set includes an interpretation of one of her father Miller Williams' poems in the lead-off track, "Compassion."

3 Winans Brothers, "Foreign Land" (eOne): BeBe Winans joins forces with older brothers and Winans group vets Marvin and Carvin on this inspiring 13-track modern gospel set.

Also Out: Beegie Adair, "The Good Life: A Jazz Piano Tribute to Tony Bennett" (Green Hill); Joshua Bell, "Bach" (Masterworks); Colbie Caillat, "Gypsy Heart" (Republic); Frank Catalano and Jimmy Chamberlin, "Love Supreme Collective" (Ropeadope); Deep Purple & Friends, "Celebrating Jon Lord, The Rock Legend" (Eagle Rock); Kiki Ebsen, "Scarecrow Sessions" (Painted Pony Media); Kat Edmonson, "The Big Picture" (Sony Music Masterworks)

Electric Wizard, "Time To Die" (Spinefarm); Melissa Etheridge, "This is M.E." (10 Spot); Flying Colors, "Second Nature" (Music Theories/Mascot); Gavin Templeton Trio, "Some Spinning, Some at Rest" (Orenda); Jon Haber, "DEC3" (Raddist); Charlie Haden and Jim Hall, "Charlie Haden and Jim Hall" (Blue Note); Hot Rize, "When I'm Free" (Ten In Hand); Mr. Big, "...The Stories We Could Tell" (Caroline); Nonpoint, "The Return" (Razor & Tie); Sally Nyolo, "Tiger Run" (Riverboat); The Script, "No Sound Without Silence" (Columbia); Elizabeth Shepherd, "The Signal" (Linus Ent.); Sons of Bill, "Love & Logic" (Thirty Tigers); Status Quo, "The Frantic Four`s Final Fling -- Live at Dublin 02 Arena" (earMusic/Eagle Rock); Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, "Saturday Night/Sunday Morning" (Superlatone); Various Artists, "Link of Chain: A Songwriters Tribute to Chris Smither" (Signature Sounds); Various Artists, "Smooth Jazz Cafe" (Cleopatra); yMusic, "Balance Problems" (New Amsterdam)

From The Vaults: ABBA, "Live at Wembley Arena" (UMe); Ray Charles, "Genius Loves Company: 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" (Concord); Genesis, "R-Kive" (Rhino); Robin Gibb, "50 St. Catherine's Drive" (Rhino); Oasis, "(What's The Story) Morning Glory? (Deluxe Edition)" (Big Brother); Various Artists, "Real World 25" (Real World)

Soundtracks: Various Artists, "Frozen: the Songs" (Disney)

New Holiday Albums: Dave Koz & Friends, "The 25th of December" (Concord); Gus Penrod, "Christmas" (Gaither Music Group); Michael W. Smith & Friends, "The Spirit of Christmas" (Sparrow)

New Music DVDs: Dream Theater, "Breaking the Fourth Wall (Live From the Boston Opera House) (Roadrunner);" Various Artists, "Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever" (StarVista)

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