Sunday, June 25, 2017

Magpie Salute and more new music joins our mix

We've been looking forward to The Magpie Salute's debut album -- yet somehow missed its release a couple of weeks ago. Now that we've got our hands on it, we'll be playing it plenty.

This 10-piece outfit was assembled by Rich Robinson, co-founder of the Black Crowes, primarily as a live act that's currently on tour. The self-titled album was recorded live (except for one track) before a small audience in the Applehead Recording studio in Woodstock, N.Y. Several of the tracks are long, intricate jams, and while the live setting gives them a spontaneous feel, these are virtuoso performances. The players include Black Crowes alumni Marc Ford (guitar) and Steve Pipien (bass), along with Joe Magistro (drums) and Nico Bereciartua (guitar). The live tracks also mark the last recordings by the late Black Crowes keyboardist Eddie Harsch. Lead vocalist John Hogg is backed by former Crowes singer Charity White, Katrine Ottosen and Adrien Reju (whose fine solo records we've been playing for some time).

Except for the hard-rocking opening track, "Omission," the album is made up of covers, with a wide range: two Black Crowes numbers, a Joe Sample jazz composition, songs by War, Pink Floyd, The Faces and Bob Marley. And one of our all-time favorites, Delaney & Bonnie's "Comin' Home." We couldn't resist picking that track to feature in our New Music rotation, but we'll be stirring the rest of the album into our big mix, too.

Also in our New Music bin this week is a track from Cage the Elephant's next album, "Unpeeled," due in about a month. This is also a live album - recorded during a tour of small venues earlier this year, in which the band performed stripped-down versions of some of their own songs plus covers. The first to be released is "Whole Wide World," a cover of the 1977 song by British new wave singer-songwriter Wreckless Eric.

We weren't previously familiar with singer Beth Ditto or her former band, the punk-pop outfit Gossip. But she's just released her second solo collection, "Fake Sugar," and the lead single, "Fire," is (ahem) very hot. It owes something to the Springsteen song of the same title, with a bit of an echo of the Pointer Sisters' version. But Ditto attacks her song (co-written with collaborator Jennifer Decilveo) with a much harder, brasher, in-your-face style.

You've been hearing us play several tracks by Brooklyn-based duo Gracie and Rachel for more than a year. Last week they released their self-titled, debut album, collecting those singles and adding several more songs. Their violin-piano-vocal music has a delicate sound with lyrics that often deal with insecurity, anxiety -- and self-empowerment. This week we're adding "It's Time," an I'll-do-it-my-way statement.

Also added this week: Another track from the new Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit album, "The Nashville Sound." With Springsteen-style working-class angst and anger, "Cumberland Gap" is a song of a coal miner's son feeling trapped in a dying town, with the refrain, "Maybe the Cumberland Gap just swallows you whole."

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