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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Bun E. Carlos, Avett Brothers, DJ Shadow, Steve Vai and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Friday, June 24, 2016

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Bun E. Carlos

"Welcome to Bunezuela!"


Grade: B+

Though fresh off his Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame induction with Cheap Trick, the first solo album by the group's estranged and exiled drummer could have been a mess with its multiple singers, oddball covers and even a reunion of his high school band. But "Bunezuela!" proves to be a well worth visiting with 13 tracks of ebullient power pop and garage rock played with the infectious energy of, yes, a high school band in the basement playing for all its worth but with the chops of well-seasoned professionals. "Bunezuela!" is a party from start to finish as Alejandro Escovedo, Guided By Voices' Robert Pollard, Hanson and more take on tracks -- but not obvious hits -- from the Bee Gees, Paul Revere & the Raiders, the Rolling Stones and others. A rendition of Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot To Laugh, a Train To Cry" sung by Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner lets Carlos' guitar players stretch out a bit, while Wilco's John Stirrat, who also plays with Carlos in Candy Golde, delivers a convincing take on the Who's "Armenia in the Sky." The Damnwells' Alex Dezen shines on the Blackstones' spirited "I Love You No More" but really kills on a version of his own "I Don`t Mind," and Eleventh Dream Day's Rick Rizzo, another Candy Golde cohort, kills it on Them's "I Can Only Give You Everything." All of that makes "Bunuezuela!" an unexpected gem that merits return visits -- and will hopefully yield more music from Carlos in the future.

New & Noteworthy:

Avett Brothers, "True Sadness" (American/Republic): The North Carolina group's ninth album is its most ambitious and eclectic yet, weaving together a wide variety of musical influences and lyrical topics.

DJ Shadow, "The Mountain Will Fall" (Mass Appeal): The San Jose DJ unleashes a new scratch attach with help from pals like Run the Jewels, Ernie Fresh, Nils Frahm and others.

Foghat, "Under the Influence" (Foghat): The veteran group's first new album in six years features a remake of its 1975 hit "Slow Ride" with both original bassist Nick Jameson and his successor, Craig MacGregor.

The Rippingtons, "True Stories" (eOne): Russ Freeman and his jazz crossover troupe celebrate their 30th anniversary with this 10-song set, featuring a guest appearance by Jeffrey Osborne on the track "My Promise."

Rich Robinson, "Flux" (Eagle Rock): The Black Crowes -- and touring Bad Company -- guitarist's best solo album yet was recorded in Woodstock, N.Y., with Blackberry Smoke's Charlie Starr guesting on the title track.

Steve Vai, "Modern Primitive/Passion & Warfare (25th Anniversary Edition)" (Sony Legacy): A two-disc release that includes unreleased material the guitarist recorded during the six-year interim between his first two albums.

Also Out: Alan Parsons Symphonic Project, "Live in Columbia" (Earmusic); Jon Anderson/Roine Stolt, "Invention of Knowledge" (Inside Out); Broods, "Conscious" (Capitol); Sam Bush, "Storyman" (Sugar Hill); Rudy De Anda, "Delay, Cadaver of a Day" (Porch Party); Denner/Shermann, "Masters of Evil" (Metal Blade); Dorothy, "Rock Is Dead" (Roc Nation); Felice Brothers, "Life in the Dark" (Yep Roc); Hannah Georgas, "For Evelyn" (Dine Alone); Katy Guillen & the Girls, "Heavy Days" (VizzTone); Steve Hackett, "The Total Experience Live in Liverpool" (Inside Out); High Water, "Crush" (Other People); Marquis Hill, "The Way We Play" (Concord Jazz); Incognito, "In Search of Better Day" (Shanachie); Michael Logen, "New Medicine" (self-released); Luba Mason, "Mixtura" (self-released); William Murphy, "Demonstrate" (RCA Inspiration); Laura Mvula, "The Dreaming Room" (RCA); Royal Jelly Jive, "Stand Up" (Let Love Music); Royal Southern Brotherhood, "The Royal Gospel" (Ruf); Andrew Shapiro, "Pink Jean Mint Green" (self-released); Kandace Springs, "Soul Eyes" (Blue Note); Whitechapel, "Mark of the Blade" (Metal Blade)

From The Vaults: The Bangles, "Ladies and Gentlemen..." (Omnivore); Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders, "Garcialive Volume 6: July 5, 1973 Lion's Share" (Round/ATO); Sublime, "40oz. To Freedom" and "Sublime" (Gasoline Alley); Steve Vai, "Modern Primitive/Passion & Warfare (25th Anniversary Edition)" (Sony Legacy)

Soundtracks: "The Neon Demon" (Milan)

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