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The Listening Room: PigPen Theatre Co., Owl City, Ghostface Killah, Nina Simone and more...
PigPen Theatre Co.
(The PigPen Company)
This seven-piece folk- and roots-rock troupe has only managed two albums in its eight years together, but so far it's made them worth the weight. "Whole Sun" shows plenty of growth for PigPen -- which really is a theater company as well as a band -- with nuanced arrangements, surprising instrumental twists and more sophisticated dynamics fortifying the group's richly drawn, mostly sober, story songs. "Choir" bursts forth with ringing guitars and densely packed harmonies, while "We Won't" lets the group have some honky-tonk fun and "Teeth" waltzes into an artsy, cascading swirl. PigPen seems to exhale sugary melodies -- check out "Let Me Go," "The Bear Song" and the undeniably pretty "All's Well (With Jose)," just for starters -- while the album closing "Weathervane" has an epic kind of build accented by muscular electric guitars and subtly deployed drums. Splurging for the deluxe edition is a good call here, too, especially for the dramatic "Bullfighter."
New & Noteworthy:
Civil Twilight, "Story of an Immigrant" (Wind-Up): The third album from the transplanted South African group that now calls Nashville home.
Ghostface Killah, "Adrian Young Presents Twelve Reasons to Die II" (Linear Labs): The Wu-Tang Clan rapper's latest is a sequel to his 2013 release, with Wu mates RZA and Raekwon along for the ride.
Owl City, "Mobile Orchestra" (Republic): Electropop artist Adam Young's fifth album includes collaborations with Hanson, Aloe Blacc and country singer Jake Owen.
R5, "Sometime Last NIght" (Hollywood): The mostly sibling quintet with the strong TV pedigree ("Austin & Ally," "Dancing With the Stars") bulks up its pop sound for its sophomore release.
Tyrese, "Black Rose" (Voltron/EMI): The R&B singer gets help from Jennifer HUdson, Chrisette MIchele and the ubiquitous Snoop Dogg on his sixth studio album.
Various Artists, "Nina Revisited: A Tribute To Nina Simone" (RCA): Mary J. Blige, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Common & Lalah Hathaway and daughter Lisa Simone are among those paying homage to the late singing great in her 70th birthday year.
Also Out: Between the Buried and Me, "Coma Ecliptic" (Metal Blade); Collabro, "Act Two" (Syco); Christian Collin, "Spirit of the Blues" (C-Train); Dimino, "Old Habits Die Hard" (Frontiers); Samantha Fish, "Wild Heart" (Ruf); Four Tet, "Morning/Evening" (Text); Tiffany Huggins Grant, "Jonquil Child" (self-released); Jah Cure, "The Cure" (VP); Scott James, "Rosaline" (Scott James Music); Karnataka, "Secrets of Angels" (Immrama); The Kickback, "Sorry All Over the Place" (Jullian); Little Boots, "Working Girl" (Dim Mak); The Old Ceremony, "Sprinter" (Yep Roc); Anoushka Shankar, "Home" (DG); Spin Doctors, "Songs From the Road" (Ruf); Veruca Salt, "Ghost Notes" (El Camino); Joy Williams, "Venus" (Columbia); Years & Years, "Communion" (Interscope); John Zorn, "Pellucidar -- A Dreamers Fantabula" (Tzadik)
From The Vaults: Chicago, "The Studio Albums 1969-1978" (Rhino) and "The Studio Albums Vol. 2 (1979-2008)" (Rhino); Ry Cooder, "Broadcast From the Plant" (All Access); Rory Gallagher, "Cradle Rock: Radio Broadcast 1974" (BlueLine); John Mellencamp, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" (Smokin'); Stevie NIcks, "Beauty and the Beast" (Iconography); Quicksilver Messenger Service, "Stony Brook College, New York 1970" (Purple Pyramid); Steely Dan, "Green Flower Street: Radio Broadcast 1993" (BlueLine)
Soundtracks: Heitor Pereira, "Minions" (Backlot Music); Chita Rivera, "The Visit: Original Broadway Cast Recording)" (Yellow Sound/Broadway); Various Artists, "Picture Paper Towns" (Atlantic);
New Music DVDs: Black Veil Brides, "Alive and Burning" (Eagle Rock); Yes, "Like It Is -- Yes Live at the Mesa Arts Center" (Frontiers)
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