Archives

THE POP GROUP – Citizen Zombie

Album: Citizen Zombie

Artist: The Pop Group

Label: Freaks R Us

Release Date: February 24, 2015

Pop Group

http://thepopgroup.net

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

In the race to field the biggest gap between new records, the Pop Group may have everybody else beat: it’s been 35 years since the release of its LP We Are Time (recently reissued and covered here). It goes without saying that Citizen Zombie won’t sound exactly like the influential postpunk band did in its late 70s glory – too much time has passed for that. Yet in its own way, the LP picks up where the Group left off – like the Clash’s Combat Rock, it represents a musical evolution while keeping the same spirit.

The band’s whiplash blend of punk and funk tones itself down to a feel more than a form here – when the wriggling head of serious groove rears itself, as on “Shadow Child” and “Mad Truth,” the abrasion comes from Mark Stewart’s raspy blurts, rather than clashing musical styles. Elsewhere, “Nations” puts a sociopolitical treatise to a minimalist drum machine/guitar clang track, “The Immaculate Deception” and “St. Outrageous” essay psychedelic rant rock and “Nowhere Girl” goes for lush balladry – or as close as the Pop Group will ever come (and that’s not very close). “Box 9” is probably the nearest to being “traditional” postpunk (if there is such a thing), with its frisky-bassed rhythm, abstract riffing and nutjob singing, but what fun would it be if the band stayed comfortably in its wheelhouse?

Citizen Zombie resurrects a band that’s still evolving, rather than a nostalgia act, and is all the better for it.

DOWNLOAD: “Mad Truth,” “St. Outrageous” “Nowhere Girl”

THE WORLD/INFERNO FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY – This Packed Funeral

Album: This Packed Funeral

Artist: World Inferno Friendship Society

Label: Alternative Tentacles

Release Date: November 11, 2015

 

World Inferno 11-11

www.AlternativeTentacles.com

 BY JOHN B. MOORE

It’s been three long years since the world was last offered a great punk rock/klezmer record and realizing we’ve suffered long enough, Jack Terricoloth and his gang in the World/Inferno Friendship Society have finally passed along their latest full length.

This Packed Funeral is more of the same from this collective that’s been blending punk rock, jazz and klezmer for more than a decade now. At this point, if you’ve heard the band you either dig ‘em or you don’t. And if it’s the latter, even better; less crowds at the merch table.

Songs like the frantic “Don’t Kiss Me I’m Running Out of Lipstick” and “Taken Down a Peg, I Help Out the Squatters on the Subway” show off the band’s hallmark of male/female vocal tradeoffs, but it’s the infectious sing-along, with the Dixieland horn section “Don’t Get Me Started, Don’t Get Me Wrong” that really proves just how originally creative this band can get.

Three years was almost too long to wait. Let’s get back on a regular schedule, ok?

 DOWNLOAD: “Don’t Kiss me I’m Running Out of Lipstick,” “Don’t get Me Started, Don’t Get Me Wrong” and “Dr. Dracula Who Makes You Get High”

 

 

THIN LIZZY – Shades of a Blue Orphanage + Vagabonds of the Western World

Album: Shades of a Blue Orphanage + Vagabonds of the Western World

Artist: Thin Lizzy

Label: Future Days/Light In The Attic

Release Date: February 24, 2015

Thin Lizzy Orphanage

www.lightintheattic.net

BY FRED MILLS

Although most folks—usually American—think that Thin Lizzy’s story begins with 1976’s mega-hit “The Boys Are Back In Town,” by that point the Dublin group had been together for six years, cutting five albums prior to the classic Jailbreak. They’d also enjoyed an earlier hit single (in the UK at least) in the form of “Whiskey In the Jar,” a rocked-up version of a traditional Irish ballad that stormed the British charts in early ’73. Yet even prior to that, the initial stirrings of greatness for Lizzy could’ve been spotted, most notably in the form of charismatic frontman Phil Lynott. The bassist/vocalist was initially recruited, along with drummer Brian Downey, by founding members Eric Bell (guitar) and Eric Wrixon (organ). Wrixon would subsequently leave prior to the recording of 1971 debut Thin Lizzy, but by then the group was already gaining momentum, a ’71 relocation from Dublin to London helping to accelerate matters.

Last year Light In The Attic, via imprint Future Days, saw fit to reissue Thin Lizzy on 180-gram vinyl in a deluxe gatefold “tip-on” sleeve with a handsome booklet outlining the band’s early history. To say it was manna for Lizzy devotees would be a huge understatement; and now comes a double-dose of more manna in the form of 1972’s sophomore outing Shades of a Blue Orphanage and its 1973 followup, Vagabonds of the Western World. Neither boasted a significant hit, and for reasons known only to the band, “Whiskey In the Jar,” originally released between the two albums, was not added to Vagabonds (the members were reportedly unhappy with Decca Record’s choice of it as a single rather than an original tune). But along with the first LP, both represent intriguing glimpses of a pre-stardom Thin Lizzy.

Indeed, right from the get-go, Orphanage puts forth some of the signature Lizzy elements, with opening track “The Rise and Dear Demise of the Funky Nomadic Tribes” boasting Lynott’s raspy, bluesy vocals and a groove-laden, riffy vibe not unlike early ZZ Top. There’s even a drum solo, f’r chrissakes—we’re talking pure, unvarnished seventies, kids. Other subtle gems dot the album, from the moody, folkrock-tinged “Brought Down” and the strummily acoustic “Chatting Today” to the lengthy title track, a nostalgic traipse through Lynott’s back pages awash in mellotron and sweet harmony vocals. And there are oddities too, in particular the neo-rockabilly of “I Don’t Want to Forget How to Jive” (with Lynott doing a kind of scat-singing Elvis impression) and the double-time Prog of “Baby Face” (Prog is not a style usually associated with Lizzy, but like I said, it was the seventies).

Music historian and archivist Kevin “Sipreano” Howes relates the band’s tale during this period, interviewing both Downey and Bell along with their Decca A&R man Nick Tauber so you get a clear picture of how life was in the Lizzy camp back in the day. For example, the story behind the “Whiskey In the Jar” release is detailed, along with Bell and Downey’s insights into what made Lynott tick. Howes continues that tale in the booklet for Vagabonds of the Western World, including how the band came to work with internationally-known artist Jim Fitzpatrick (for the record’s “Celtic sci-fi” art as well as several subsequent album sleeves) and the series of events that to guitarist Bell quitting the band in the middle of a Dec. 31, 1973 New Year’s Eve Belfast concert, thereby setting the stage for his replacement, Gary Moore, and then, later, the Lynott/Downey/Scott Gorham/Brian Robertson lineup that would cut the hits-laden Jailbreak and see the group into international stardom.

Thin Lizzy Vagabonds

Point of fact, though, while Vagabonds may have been a disappointment, commercially speaking, it contained some of the group’s greatest early material, notably the epic, Hendrix-like “The Hero and the Madman”; the equally epic title track (a kind of Celtic boogie, if you can picture that, what with its “too-ra-loo-rye-ayy” refrain); the dreamy, elegiac and deeply romantic “Little Girl in Bloom”; and of course the punchily insistent, hook-drenched anthem “The Rocker” which clearly foreshadowed “TBABIT” and no doubt inspired its own legions of fist-pumping, Bic-flicking punters. The record, taken as a whole, is as consistently listenable as any of the band’s later, better-known LPs, which makes having it again on fresh 180-gram vinyl a gift not only to die-hard Lizzy fans but also for consumers curious to find out more about the group.

Lynott, of course, passed away in 1986, from medical complications related to his drug addiction. Since then a de facto “cult of Phil” has arisen, along with the inevitable Thin Lizzy tribute projects and recordings and even an occasional touring version of Lizzy comprising sundry past members. Everyone knows, however, that without Lynott, it ain’t a “true” Lizzy. Luckily, he left behind an impressive legacy in song and on record, and for true believers, Johnny The Fox will never truly die.

DOWNLOAD: “The Rise and Dear Demise of the Funky Nomadic Tribes,” “Shades of a Blue Orphanage” (Shades of a Blue Orphanage); “The Rocker,” “Vagabonds of the Western World,” “Little Girl In Bloom” (Vagabonds of the Western World)

BLIND IDIOT GOD – Before Ever After

Album: Before Ever After

Artist: Blind Idiot God

Label: Indivisibe

Release Date: February 24, 2015

Blind Idiot

http://indivisiblemusic.com

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

A baker’s dozen years since its last platter Cyclotron, Blind Idiot God comes stomping back with Before Ever After, a double LP that displays the NYC instrumental trio at its BIGgest. Though joined by a new rhythm section, guitarist Andy Hawkins stays the course of the past three decades of his singular career, keeping one foot in amp-melting doom and the other in airplane-hangar dub.

As Hawkins terrifies his amp and bass/drums bash and crash, “Earthmover,” “Strung” and the appropriately-titled “Under the Weight” rumble like a Brontosaurus across the rubble of a fallen city, crushing debris underfoot as its stomach growls. On the other side of the bent coin, “Ramshackle,” “Shutdown” and “High and Mighty” skank through the dust as it settles, letting a little sunlight echo through the destructive aftermath. Not everything is quite so direct, however. “Voice of the Structure” alternates between spacy swirl and heavy pound, while “Barrage” fractures its rhythm in a manner not dissimilar to postpunk. “Fub” takes the band to the next level of development, its light-on-its-feet feel full of jazzy lightning and improv thunder.

Brandishing its weaponry with power and grace, Before Ever After both reclaims the legacy of Blind Idiot God and paves the way for its next epoch.

Consumer Note: Grab the deluxe colored vinyl 2LP edition, wax fans.

DOWNLOAD: “Fub,” “Earthmover” “Ramshackle”

 

JAMES MCMURTRY – Complicated Game

Album: Complicated Game

Artist: James McMurtry

Label: Complicated Game

Release Date: February 24, 2015

James M 2-24

www.complicatedgame.net

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Much has been made of the fact that James McMurtry is the offspring of famed novelist Larry McMurtry, but at age 52, with eleven albums behind him, the younger McMurtry has long since shored up his standing. Nevertheless, it’s been six years since his last studio set, nothing less than an eternity in today’s fickle pop culture.

It’s fortuitous then that Complicated Game is such an extraordinary achievement, a series of rustic, rambling narratives that demonstrates his father’s story-telling prowess is firmly entrenched in the family genes. That’s especially evident in songs like “Copper Canteen,” “Deaver’s Crossing” and “Carlisle’s Haul,” well-worn travelers’ tales fleshed out with vivid touchstones and exacting imagery. McMurtry segues well into his various roles, whether it’s the crusty desperado dictating the edgy, banjo plucked lament “How’m I Gonna Find You Now” or the hopelessly infatuated lover and loser singing the indelible refrain in “You Got To Me.”

Staunch and undeterred to the brink of defiance, Complicated Game finds McMurtry’s rugged resilience again setting the tone.

DOWNLOAD: “You Got To Me,” “Copper Canteen,” “Deaver’s Crossing”

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit 2/17/15, Kansas City MO

Dates: February 17, 2015

Location: Uptown Theater, Kansas City MO

Jason 2

TEXT/PHOTOS BY DANNY R. PHILLIPS

I’ll be upfront with you from the start: Jason Isbell isn’t my typical choice of concert. I grew up a child of amplifiers, pounding drums and being pissed off to no end. One day, a friend gave me a copy of Jason’s 2013 release Southeastern. What I heard was a man full of heartache, demons, soul and perseverance.

Never being a fan of The Drive-by Truckers, I was sadly unfamiliar with Isbell’s work with the band or solo. I came late to the party but I’m glad I decided to attend the Feb. 17 show at the Uptown Theater. With songs like “Live Oak,” “Elephant” and “Songs that She Sang in the Shower,” Isbell showed me, and the music-loving world, that he is quite possibly, the best young songwriter going today.

So, when my chance to catch Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit in Kansas City, I made damned sure I was in the crowd; I had to hear these songs and his many, many others first hand, with an audience excited as I. I was not disappointed. Isbell and crew brought a show that was moving, exciting, rockin’ and to put it blunt and honest, absolutely fucking great.

The crowd inside the Uptown was a cross-section of society and a testament to Isbell’s appeal to lovers of lyrical content and blazing guitar work. Young professionals worn tired from chasing the dollar, card carrying members of AARP, college kids clueless to what life had in store for them, hipsters with handlebar moustaches and tweed blazers (seemingly staring at the stage more than their phones), soccer moms long past their prime and rockers dreaming of their misspent youth: all sat together as Isbell tore through song after song, often moving many in the crowd to tears and cheers alike.

Jason 1

Opening the show was Southeastern’s “Stockholm,” a story of man wanting nothing more than to get home to his girl, and it blew out of the gate with a fullness and power only hinted at on record. “Flying Over Water” had a stronger, more powerful punch thanks the double guitar attack of Isbell and Sadler Vader. “Decoration Day,” a track Isbell wrote while with The Truckers, tells of a bloody feud between the Hills and the Lawsons, came to life as if the war was unfolding on the stage, while “Songs She Sang in the Shower” visibly shook some awestruck crowd members.

While all the songs successfully hit their intended marks, “Live Oak”, “Dress Blues”, “Elephant” and “Yvette” (a tale of a father’s improprieties with this daughter and a classmate making it right) clearly struck some to their very core. “Live Oak,” about a former sinner trying to forget his past and the woman attracted to his wickedness, brought long gazes and applause, while “Elephant,” the sad tale of a cancer patient spending her last days with a buddy, drinking whiskey, smoking weed and telling stories, brought an audible gasp when Isbell let the final note ring.

“Outfit,” an obvious audience favorite, is a father telling his son what it takes to stay true to who you are, how to love your family and how southern men tell better jokes. It brought laughs, cheers and wolf whistles.

The band left the stage but came out once more to encore with “Super 8,” a musical tip of the hat to Dan Baird and The Georgia Satellites, and The Rolling Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’” from the classic Sticky Fingers album; ultimate, Isbell and The 400 Unit put a perfect end to a nearly spotless performance. It may seem like I’m gushing, perhaps overly so, but it is deserved here. Isbell is a true talent, one that doesn’t come to the world often. If he comes to your town, buy a ticket and take the ride with one of the truest, most genuine talents I have seen in all my 40 years on this goddamned rock.

TIM LEE 3 – 33 1/3

Album: 33 1/3

Artist: Tim Lee 3

Label: Cool Dog Music

Release Date: February 03, 2015

Tim Lee 3

www.timlee3.com

BY FRED MILLS

Although Tim Lee’s career stretches back to the early ‘80s—Southern popsters the Windbreakers were a mainstay of that era’s vaunted pre-grunge college rock scene—of late he’s been on an artistic roll, issuing a slew of records and working on several outside projects. But as prolific as he’s been, and as good as last year’s Devil’s Rope was (our reviewer called it the “perfect playbook when it comes to extolling the thrill and delight that comes from kicking out the jams”), nothing could’ve prepared fans for the sheer sonic and emotional wallop that the new 33 1/3 provides.

Recorded by Chris Schultz in Tucson at Craig Schumacher’s Wavelab Studio (Schumacher also guests on keyboards), 33 1/3 fairly sizzles from the outset, opening track “Baby Caught Fire” setting the stage in grandly anthemic fashion with a meaty riff, huge percussion and bassist Susan Bauer Lee’s sultry, hopeful vocals outlining her protagonist’s crisis of faith and its aftermath. Soon enough, up cues the spooky, bluesy, noirish “Our Lady Of the Highway,” ghosts of the Doors’ “Riders On the Storm” hovering as Tim Lee takes the mic to unspool a travelogue of sin, salvation and white line fever. “My rearview mirror’s bent and cracked,” he murmurs, in a stoned, haunted voice, adding, “I’m an artist, man, I don’t look back…” There’s a conversation going on here in these songs, memories of what was and what might’ve been, plus hints of what may still be to come. Significantly, all of the material is jointly credit to Tim and Susan.

The back and forth between the two singers is part of the trio’s appeal (not to mention their lush, intuitive harmonies), offering a yin/yang quality that elevates the material beyond mere pop songcraft. Too, with a righteously solid rhythm section in Susan and drummer Chris Bratta freeing Tim to explore sundry guitar textures, from 12-string to Telecaster twang to flat-out blazing psychedelia, you’ve got a sound that at times borders on huge, belying the group’s “mere” 3-piece status.

Oh, and for all of us greying Windbreakers fans, several cuts here hearken directly to that combo’s intuitive meshing of multiple pop eras. There’s the tambourine-powered Rickenbacker jangle of “Photo Booth,” as gorgeous and pristine as a vintage Byrds tune reinterpreted by the Flamin’ Groovies, while “Shut Up and Kiss Me,” with its pumping organ, bluesy-glammy guitar riff and throbbing vibe, suggests T. Rex on a surf bender. With 11 tracks total and not a single one even remotely inferior to another—and having listened to the album 20 times or more now, easily—your humble reviewer feels pretty good about awarding it a 5-out-of-5 star rating.

Incidentally, it might be worth noting that in the press materials accompanying 33 1/3 we learn that the title stems not just from the fact that albums spin at speed of 33 1/3; the Lees are about to mark being married for 33 and one-third years. That’s a lengthy—and by my way of thinking, beautiful—relationship by any estimation, whether we’re talking romantic, professional, or both. Knowing that, certain songs here take on additional resonance. “Photo Booth,” for example, celebrates some of the small pleasures that come from being together—“Meet me in the photo booth,” they harmonize, “Set the dial to black and white. Look into the camera, let ‘em see you smile!” And in twangabilly stomper “(Let’s Do) Something Stupid” Tim announces to his paramour, lustily, “Let’s do something stupid, baby/ There’s many a line to be crossed/ The back roads are a-calling, baby/ There’s plenty of time to get lost.” To which Susan replies, just as eagerly, “Let’s stay out a little too late, baby/ We’ll meet the sun when it gets here…” Then the pair, singing together, concludes, succinctly, “When the work’s all done and the day is through/ I just wanna be next to you.” Silly and simplistic, right? Well, if that ain’t what love’s about, I don’t know what is.

I’m hoisting a mug in your honor, Tim, Susan. Here’s to 33 more.

***

Side note: that “prolific” comment above wasn’t just me whistling critical Dixie: released concurrently with 33 1/3 is Let’s Go Dancing Down on Gator Lake Road… Shake That Thang Till Our Heads Explode, credited to BARK but actually Tim on guitar and bass and Susan on drums. Cut live and swiftly in the studio, the 8-song mini-album overlaps somewhat with 33 1/3 by way of an alternate version of “Our Lady of the Highway,” although the general stylistic thrust is purposely rawer and bluesier, as evidenced by the swampy “Wired For Fun” and the modified distorto-boogie of “Half-Assed Blues.” It’s easy to see White Stripes or Black Keys acolytes digging the duo, but the project’s essentially the Tim Lee 2, particularly in the vocals department. As such, it’s also yet another fruitful addition to that ever-expanding Lee discography. Though a side project, fans will not be disappointed in the results.

DOWNLOAD: “Shut Up and Kiss Me,” “Our Lady of the Highway,” “Photo Booth”

DR. DOG – Live at a Flamingo Hotel

Album: Live at a Flamingo Hotel

Artist: Dr. Dog

Label: Anti-

Release Date: February 03, 2015

Dr. Dog 1-15

www.anti.com

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Released with little fanfare on just vinyl and download, the first live record from Philly’s absurdly catchy indie folk/psychedelic/pop/rock band Dr. Dog is likely not going to bring in a slew of new fans, but I don’t think that matters. You get the felling this one was strictly for those who have gone out of their way to discover this underrated band sometime over the past 15 years.

With 19 tracks, spread out over two LPs, the band does a decent job of showing love to the bulk of their eight-album catalogue, but its apparent that the Dr. Dog’s strongest songs have appeared on their last few records. About half way in the album starts to drag a bit with some of their slower numbers like “Too Weak,” but the band and crowd picks up when they play a stellar version of “Stranger” off of 2010’s Shame, Shame and the energy continues through the end of the show.

While not nearly as great as seeing the band live, this record does a commendable job of capturing the band at their energetic, playful best.

 DOWNLOAD: “These Days,” “Stranger” and “Worst Trip”

 

ANNE MCCUE – Blue Sky Thinkin’

Album: Blue Sky Thinkin'

Artist: Anne McCue

Label: self-released

Release Date: February 03, 2015

Anne McCue 2-3

www.annemccue.com

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

It’s either a sign of respect for one’s forebears or evidence that modern music is simply running out of ideas, but either way, it’s clear that for many musicians, the obvious goal is to return to their roots. Or anyone else’s for that matter. Take Anne McCue for example. While she has a hand in writing every one of the dozen songs on her fanciful new album, any one of those tracks might just as easily have originated in the ‘20s, ‘30s or ‘40s. McCue employs a kind of ragtime revelry, an approach that involves sax, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, violin, accordion, double bass and a carefree ambiance overall.

Both the mood and the music lend themselves to imagery involving booze, bravado and bordellos, but McCue’s perky attitude and the colorful paintings that adorn the album’s cover suggest more of a mischievous intent. A lyric like “Mama don’t rock/Daddy don’t roll/Devil’s in the middle/And he wants your soul” is about as dark as she gets. Still, she can be testy at times; for example, “It Wasn’t Fun While It Lasted” finds her mercilessly lambasting a lame-ass lover. Mostly though, she seems happy simply indulging her frivolity, as evidenced by such tracks as “Little White Cat,” “Dig Two Graves” and “Save a Life.” Consider Blue Sky Thinkin’ a thoughtful mix of sass and brass.

DOWNLOAD: “Dig Two Graves,” “It Wasn’t Fun While It Lasted,” “Devil’s in the Middle”

STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES – Terraplane

Album: Terraplane

Artist: Steve Earle & The Dukes

Label: New West

Release Date: February 17, 2015

Steve Earle 2-17

www.newwestrecords.com

BY FRED MILLS

If you’d been wishing and praying for Steve Earle to cut a blues album, this note’s for you, bub. Let’s face it, though the songwriter’s generally regarded as unimpeachable by kid glove-wearing critics (not to mention his rabid fanbase), he hasn’t sounded truly, madly, deeply inspired since his politically-charged days of the early part of the last decade. As decent as 2009’s Townes collection of Townes Van Zandt covers, 2011’s T Bone Burnett-produced (and accompanied-by-novel-of-same-name) I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive and 2013’s Treme-influenced The Low Highway were, those records were somewhat spotty, each boasting prime candidates for an Earle mixtape but, taken collectively, suggestive of a moderately distracted man. Too many outside projects—author, actor, summer camp counselor, etc.—perhaps?

No one will begrudge a man his multitasking, of course. And Earle has, if nothing, earned everyone’s undying respect at this point (with, perhaps, the exception of son Justin, who lately seems to be deliberately dogging his father’s heels with his own releases, including his latest, Absent Fathers, reviewed HERE and which hit stores exactly a month earlier). Terraplane, though, is the sound of a man utterly rejuvenated. As you might surmise from the Robert Johnson-by-way-of-1930s-Hudson-Motors album title, it’s a blues record, and at least two of the song titles have the word “blues” in them. The blues has long informed Earle’s songwriting; hell, he grew up in Texas, not exactly an area known for its deficiency in blues musicians. Those 12 bars, 3 chords and the truth have been good to the man.

But such an overt dip into the genre still catches us Earle watchers a little off-guard. Just the opening track alone, “Baby Baby Baby (Baby),” a harp-honkin’ li’l shuffle that finds Earle all a-quiver with lust even as he’s mooning over a gal who lives a thousand miles away but has him “walkin’ on the ceilin’ and bouncin’ off the walls,” will have you twisting your head stageward and signaling the barkeep to keep lining up the shots. Up next is the strum-and-slide-guit acoustic thumper “You’re the Best Love That I Ever Had,” Earle exploring such classic blues tropes as “baby, let your hair hang down” and “baby, turn your light down low” without ever once sounding like he’s going through the motions or cribbing from the Songbook Of The Blues. That’s a rarer feat than one might imagine; only a few bluesmen can get away with singing oft-uttered clichés on the strength of their vocal prowess and personal magnetism.

Yet immediately after, in “The Tennessee Kid,” a spooky, droning slice of hill country boogie, there’s Lightnin’ Steve, huffing and moaning and going all “hey-hey-hey-heyyy” on us, like some modern-day John Lee Hooker.

That’s only the first three friggin’ tracks. You half expect the enterprise to run aground after an opening salvo that strong, but nope. From the luminous, waltz-time, almost Fiftiesish “Better Off Alone” to the saucy, Stones-styled riff ‘n’ twang of “Go Go Boots Are Back” to the grungy, swampy, funky, downright nasty manifesto “King of the Blues,” Terraplane brings both style and heft, making for a press-repeat listen all the way through. It’s right up there with such undeniable Earle classics as 1997’s El Corazon and—I’m not joking here—1988’s Copperhead Road. With his band The Dukes also cooking on all eight cylinders (the Kelly Looney-Will Rigby rhythm section in particular), you can bet the live shows are gonna be motherfuckers. My suggestion: sit back, strap in, and enjoy the ride. It might not last; there’s this business of a memoir, I Can’t Remember If We Said Goodbye, set to be published shortly, and no doubt multiple acting offers loom too. But Earle is nothing if not predictable.

Oh yeah, and remember this: he don’t take no requests, so don’t bother hollerin’ ‘em out.

DOWNLOAD: “King of the Blues,” “Baby Baby Baby (Baby),” “The Tennessee Kid”