CD reviews: Mr. M, Keller Williams and more | AspenTimes.com
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CD reviews: Mr. M, Keller Williams and more

Stewart OksenhornThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Stewart Oksenhorn/The Aspen TimesJay Farrar is among the musicians who recorded "New Multitudes," an album that uses the lyrics of Woody Guthrie.
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The stacks of CD are piling high, the nastygrams from p.r. folks are coming in at an alarming rate and with alarming tones, and you know what that means. Time for some CD reviews, quick and dirty. Hold on.Lambchop, “Mr. M” (Merge) The 11th album by the Nashville ensemble opens with singer-songwriter Kurt Wagner dropping an f-bomb: “Don’t know what the fuck they talk about” is the first line on the album-opening “If Not I’ll Just Die.” He just needed to get that out of his system; the rest of “Mr. M” is gentle chamber pop, stirring and deep, melancholy and romantic, miles away from being in your face and angry.Keller Williams, “Bass” (SCI Fidelity) Among the talents of the multi-talented Keller Williams are playing bass and playing reggae. The two seem to go together; “Bass” features Williams on bass and playing reggae (or at times, a rhythm-heavy, feel-good, spacy sound closely connected to reggae). The album, the first with Williams’ Kdubalicious band, has no six-string guitar at all, and the subtraction seems to work here; this is among his better, more focused albums.Keller Williams plays April 6 at Belly Up Aspen.Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker and Yim Yames, “New Multitudes” (Rounder) Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy have taken very separate paths since the days they co-led the alt-country band Uncle Tupelo. Farrar continued down the folkish road in Son Volt; Tweedy rocked out in Wilco.But now they seem united, in an odd way, in an appreciation for the lyrics of Woody Guthrie. Some years after Tweedy, collaborating with Billy Bragg, made a pair of “Mermaid Avenue” albums, using lyrics Guthrie never put to music, Farrar has teamed with a few mates – including My Morning Jacket singer Jim James, using his Yim Yames pseudonym – to do more or less the same. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Guthrie’s birth, “New Multitudes,” which began as a Farrar solo project, draws from words Guthrie left behind, with a focus on work from his early days, in California. The sounds range from tuneful country-rock (“Old LA”) to thrashing, Steve Earle-esque stompers (“VD City”), folk numbers (“Careless Reckless Love”) to tracks that are experimental in a My Morning Jacket way (“Changing World”).Rocco Deluca, “Drugs ‘N Hymns” (429 Records) March 22 at Belly Up could be called a night of folk music, with a bill of headliners Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and opening act Rocco Deluca. But where Edward Sharpe’s freak folk is played by some 10 musicians, on keyboards, electric guitars, drums and horns, Deluca’s music is more recognizable as folk. On “Drugs ‘N Hymns,” the Californian, who sings and plays a resonator guitar, makes hushed songs, like “Snake Oil Salesman,” that dig for something deep and slightly disturbing. But Deluca is no stranger to beauty; the album ends on the title track, with its soaring, gospel-like chorus.Rocco Deluca plays March 22 at Belly Up, opening for Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.Galactic, “Carnivale Electricos,” produced by Robert Mercurio (Anti-) Galactic continues its noteworthy evolution from a modern New Orleans funk act to a band that explores the outer edges of groove music without becoming completely unmoored from its roots. “Carnivale Electricos” could be called the most avant-garde Mardi Gras album ever recorded, a hard-hitting piece of funk that rounds up collaborators from all corner of the Crescent City: Cyril and Ivan Neville, trombonist Corey Henry, zydeco singer Steve Riley, r&b singers David Shaw and Maggie Koerner, rapper Mystikal, the 140-piece Kipp High School Marching Band. Taking the music even farther out are sounds and guest players from Brazil, which has a pretty good Mardi Gras bash of its own.Galactic plays March 18 at Belly Up Aspen.Carolina Chocolate Drops, “Leaving Eden,” produced by Buddy Miller (Nonesuch) Old meets new on “Leaving Eden,” the second album by the African-American, North Carolina-based Carolina Chocolate Drops. The sounds – banjo, blues field hollers, blues structures – are aged. But the band, led by singer-mulit-instrumentalists Rhiannon Giddens and Dom Flemons, brings modern virtuosity and flair, not to mention beat-box, cello, even hip-hop flourishes, to the songs. The result sounds anything but dated.stewart@aspentimes.com


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