New Releases

Flesh + Blood

John Butler Trio

All People (Deluxe)

Michael Franti & Spearhead

Made Up Mind

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Shout!

Gov't Mule

The Journey

Mishka

V

Tomorrows Bad Seeds

World Boogie Is Coming

North Mississippi Allstars

Overstep

Mike Gordon

New Ammo

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe

Apocalypse Whenever

Spiritual Rez

Natural Sound System

Riders Connection

Back2square1

Sun-Dried Vibes

Touching Ground

World of free

I'll Be Fine

Coastal Breed

The Barley Mob

The Barley Mob

Songs From The Road

Royal Southern Brotherhood

The Micro Jackson EP

Arrison Kirby

DJ Tools, Vol. 9

DJ Hottune

Top Albums

The Foundation

Zac Brown Band

Greatest Hits 1990-1999 (A Tribute To A Work In Progress...)

The Black Crowes
At the end of the decade, the Black Crowes parted ways with American/Columbia, which made sense for both parties. The band didn't sell records like they used to, and they preferred to be independent anyway. It wasn't an entirely amicable parting -- the label wouldn't let the band record old songs for an independently released live album -- but as the last album in the contract, the compilation Greatest Hits 1990-1999: A Tribute to a Work in Progress, is a nice addition to the catalog anyway. Basically, the album has every song a casual fan would want ("Jealous Again," "Twice As Hard," "Hard to Handle," "She Talks to Angels," "Remedy," "Sting Me," "Wiser Time," "A Conspiracy," "Kickin' My Heart Around") and is a nice listen for the hardcore. There are several great songs missing and there's perhaps a little bit too much of By Your Side here, but the only glaring omission is "Sometimes Salvation"; so, in other words, it's pretty close to a perfect compilation of that first decade. Gathered like this, the Black Crowes' finest songs are all the more impressive. The band not only sounds tight, but they sound diverse, able to handle full-throttle barroom ravers as easily as folk ballads, soulful vamps, blues, and laid-back Southern rock. Even more impressive, it's easy to see what good songwriters the brothers Robinson are. Yes, they're classicists, cribbing from the Stones and Allman Brothers and everything in between, but they know how to put it all together, write good hooks, and deliver them expertly. Greatest Hits is proof of that, and it's some of the best pure hard rock since the golden age of album rock.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

A Decade Of Hits 1969-1979

The Allman Brothers Band
The record industry's blatantly greedy ploy of remastering and "upgrading" CDs is shameful. The sonics are usually improved, but the CDs could have been mastered properly the first time. But then fans wouldn't buy the same titles twice. The Allman Brothers Band's indispensable compilation A Decade of Hits 1969-1979 was reissued in 2000, just nine years after the original release. The remastered 2000 edition still features the same 16 songs, but the packaging and liner notes include an essay by Guitar World journalist Alan Paul, photos, and detailed recording credits. It would be easy to argue that individual albums like Idlewild South, Live at Fillmore East, Eat a Peach, or Brothers and Sisters are more cohesive artistic statements, but no self-respecting rock & roll fan should be without a copy of A Decade of Hits 1969-1979, which includes the cream of those albums. It's impossible to go wrong with one CD featuring Gregg Allman's harrowing "Whipping Post" and gorgeous "Midnight Rider," Dickey Betts' soaring "Ramblin' Man," and the lovely instrumentals "Jessica" and "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," let alone the blues covers "Statesboro Blues" and "One Way Out," which many people probably don't realize are covers because the band embodies them so much. Fans shouldn't have much of a problem recognizing the 2000 version. The cover featuring the band logo stitched on the denim jacket is still intact, but the white lettering is laid out a little differently on both the front and back covers. Plus, the shrink-wrap has an identifying sticker. Better still, just look at the copyright date. The first pressing's liner notes include a typographical error; there's a noticeable gap within the essay text where the Enlightened Rogues title is missing.

Bret Adams, Rovi

Uncaged

Zac Brown Band

Crash

Dave Matthews Band

You Get What You Give (Deluxe)

Zac Brown Band

Waiting For My Rocket To Come

Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz's Waiting for My Rocket to Come is a two-part invention. The first level is that of a young, almost compelling, singer/songwriter. Mraz has a nice voice, perhaps a little too articulated at times, which manages to mostly avoid the histrionic despite a predilection towards show tuney melodic turns. His voice tumbles out on top of folk-reggae rhythms that will probably sound a bit dated with time, but his vocals are filled with enough internal rhythms and rhymes to keep them interesting. Lyrically, Mraz relies on cliché to a certain degree, but does so with an earnestness that allows for believability and an eye for imagery that succeeds often enough to suggest that he knows what he's doing. The second level of Waiting for My Rocket to Come is the production of John Alagía, whose work has enhanced other similar folk-pop fair, including the Dave Matthews Band and O.A.R. His work with Mraz is, at its best, transparent, filling out the songs with subtle and glossy production and instrumentation. Reflections of banjos, organs, mellotrons, lap steels, ukuleles, and others peak out through the shine of the tunes, creating an impact too rich to be written off as lite.

Jesse Jarnow, Rovi

Eat A Peach

The Allman Brothers Band
A tribute to the dearly departed Duane, Eat a Peach rambles through two albums, running through a side of new songs, recorded post-Duane, spending a full album on live cuts from the Fillmore East sessions, then offering a round of studio tracks Duane completed before his death. On the first side, they do suggest the mellowness of the Dickey Betts-led Brothers and Sisters, particularly on the lovely "Melissa," and this stands in direct contrast with the monumental live cuts that dominate the album. They're at the best on the punchier covers of "One Way Out" and "Trouble No More," both proof of the group's exceptional talents as a roadhouse blues-rock band, but Duane does get his needed showcase on "Mountain Jam," a sprawling 33-minute jam that may feature a lot of great playing, but is certainly a little hard for anyone outside of diehards to sit through. Apart from that cut, the record showcases the Allmans at their peak, and it's hard not to feel sad as the acoustic guitars of "Little Martha" conclude the record, since this tribute isn't just heartfelt, it offers proof of Duane Allman's immense talents and contribution to the band.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Under The Table And Dreaming

Dave Matthews Band

Time Bomb

Iration
Maybe there's some overlap with their previous catalog, but the jumble of familiar and new that fills Iration's sophomore effort has at least one distinct advantage over their debut: it is road-tested. Recorded after a nationwide tour, Time Bomb feels live and organically grown, and seeing as this Hawaiian rock-reggae crew lives in the jam band genre, these are certainly desirable qualities and, also, surprisingly rare. The title track, "Coming Your Way," and "Wait and See" are all delivered in versions that rival any fan's favorite live tape, while cool cucumbers like "Falling" ("We met at a concert/You were wearing Converse") benefit greatly from a little mood-setting studio production. Don't expect any heavy dread, and when the band drops a "roots" reference it's bound to send reggae purists spinning, but if Pepper are too snotty and Groundation are too mystical, Iration are the reggae-rockers to pick for the smoothest of sailing. Now, was the cover artwork of Time Bomb and Ciccone Youth's The Whitey Album separated at birth?

David Jeffries, Rovi

Live At Radio City

Dave Matthews Band

Live On Red Rocks

O.A.R.
Recorded live at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado on July 15, 2012, Live on Red Rocks captures Rockville, Maryland-bred roots rockers O.A.R. in their element, treating a rowdy and ready crowd to an energetic and epic set of fan favorites. Backed by a full horn section, O.A.R. tear through live staples like "Shattered (Turn the Car Around)," "That Was a Crazy Game of Poker," "Irish Rose," "Black Rock," and "Love & Memories" with the focused yet easy gait and spirited communal vibe of the seasoned indie jam band that they are, while making plenty of room for more recent offerings like "Dangerous Connection" and "Gotta Be Wrong Sometimes" from 2011’s King.

James Christopher Monger, Rovi

Flesh + Blood

John Butler Trio

At Fillmore East

The Allman Brothers Band

Made Up Mind

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Some Devil

Dave Matthews
It wouldn't seem that a solo album from Dave Matthews would be all that different from a Dave Matthews Band album, since he's not only the singer/songwriter/guitarist; he leads the band and gives it its very name. That assumption turns out to be incorrect, since Some Devil sounds and feels much different than any DMB effort. With Some Devil, Matthews has turned in a brooding, moody album that attempts to extend the breakthrough of Busted Stuff, which signaled a considerable leap forward for Matthews as a songwriter and musician, finding him tackling darker territory. Here, he turns up the darkness even more, but loses the fluid musicality that came with DMB's loose-limbed jams. In a way, it's an attempt to shore up his credentials as a singer/songwriter, something that has always been overshadowed by his brood's status as jam-band favorites, and Some Devil certainly feels more at home among modern singer/songwriters from John Mayer to Rufus Wainwright than it does next to the String Cheese Incident. Even though he's cut a lot of fat off his songs, he still favors meandering to directness, which combined with the deliberately somber mood of the album means this often sounds like Automatic for the People as written and performed by Sting. The end results are a bit unwieldy, perhaps, and not always successful, but it is interesting and certainly different than a Dave Matthews Band record. Most importantly, even if it is a rather modest success, Some Devil does showcase a continued growth for Matthews as a songwriter.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Bringing Down The Horse

The Wallflowers
No sophomore jinx here. Of course, there are only two Wallflowers left from their first release, so this could be called a whole new band. No matter, because the music here is assured and contemporary with just enough of the past showing through to catch one's eye. Jakob Dylan has been polishing his compositional chops and it really shows on such cuts as "Invisible City," the hit "6th Avenue Heartache" and especially "One Headlight." A fine effort indeed.

James Chrispell, Rovi

I Won't Give Up

Jason Mraz

The Sound Of Sunshine

Michael Franti
With a chorus that’s bubbly, a hook that’s infectious, and a title that’s “Hey Hey Hey,” the key track on Michael Franti’s 2010 effort is wide open for ridicule, but on the cut, the man who once seemed like Gil Scott-Heron for the techno generation makes an excellent argument for happiness. “Hey, hey, hey/No matter how life is today/There’s just one thing that I got to say/I won’t let another moment slip away” it goes, and while that’s coming from a man who just had his first hit -- and in the U.S., his first beer commercial -- with 2009’s “Say Hey (I Love You),” it is also coming from a man who ended up facing his own mortality when his appendix ruptured around the same time. The Sound of Sunshine is the “seize the day” result to a reggae-pop, jam band beat, filled with bliss and gratitude plus a bit of swagger and some pointed political moments that remind you this isn’t Jack Johnson or John Mayer. That dynamic duo certainly couldn’t trade lines with dancehall diva Lady Saw as well as Franti does either, and the great “Shake It” winds up “Say Hey”’s worthy successor, perfect for adding some solid songwriting to your next pool party. “Only Thing Missing Was You” and “Headphones” both fit the bill for when the sun sets and good friends gather round the beach bonfire, and you couldn’t ask for a better closer than “The Sound of Sunshine Going Down,” which executes its heartwarming day exit strategy flawlessly, from its mood to its title. To say the record isn’t “challenging” is an understatement, especially when looking at his early work, but it’s easy to overlook how skillfully the man crafts positive music that’s sunshine, and yet not sugary. Don’t let the wide smiles or welcoming music steer you away, because there’s as much meaning and heart here as there is anywhere in Franti’s discography.

David Jeffries, Rovi

Four

Blues Traveler
Lacking the rootsier edge of Save His Soul, Four finds Blues Traveler retreating to the band's standard blues-boogie formula. There are some fine songs here on this solid record, including their breakthrough hit single, "Run-Around."

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Revelator

Tedeschi Trucks Band
Revelator is the debut studio album from the 11-piece Tedeschi-Trucks Band, who already have a reputation as a wildly exciting live jam group. That said, the record that Susan Tedeschi and husband Derek Trucks have recorded proves something beyond their well-founded reputation as a live unit: that they can write, perform, and produce great songs that capture the authentic, emotional fire and original arrangements that so many modern blues and roots recordings lack. The duo forged their two individual solo bands (Trucks remains with the Allman Brothers Band) and added some other players. Oteil and Kofi Burbridge and Mike Mattison, as well as drummers Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson are on board, as well as backing vocalists and a horn section. Produced by Trucks and Jim Scott, these 12 songs seamlessly meld blues, rock, Southern soul, gospel, and funk traditions into a heady, seductive, spine-slipping stew. The record also showcases Tedeschi as one of the finest vocal stylists in roots music, and Trucks, has become the only true heir of Duane Allman's bell-like slide guitar tone, his taste and restraint. More than this, Revelator offers proof that this pair and their bandmates are serious songwriters as well as players--anyone remember the original Little Feat? It's like that, but with a woman up front. While the single, "Midnight in Harlem," highlights the softer,side of the band with Tedeschi's soulful croon and Trucks' swooning slide, it's the harder numbers that fill out the story. The sexy opener "Come See About Me," the bluesy, gospelized "Don't Let Me Slide" (one of two cuts written by Trucks and Tedeschi with Jayhawk Gary Louris), the second-line funk-blues of "Bound for Glory" with its punchy horns; all of these offer evidence of the real depth that this band abundantly possesses. There's the skittering, slow-tempo guitar and B-3 soul-blues of "Simple Things," and the New Orleans-style horns introducing "Until You Remember," which can distract the listener for a moment from experiencing these songs for what they are-- until Tedeschi opens her mouth and lets the lyrics come up from her belly and drip from her lips and Trucks matches her emotion in his solo-- love songs; the likes of which we haven't heard since Delaney & Bonnie. The Eastern modal tinge in Trucks' playing and tablas dustinguishes "These Walls," tempered by the quiet conviction in the grain of Tedeschi's vocal would have made for a better single. The nasty, funky, Hendrixian droning blues of "Learn How to Love" is textured by Kofi's funky clavinet and Wurlitzer. Speaking of funk, Tedeschi takes her own smoking guitar break in "Love Has Something Else to Say," a slamming, break-ridden funk tune that quakes. It combines hard Southern Stax-styled rhythm, soul, blues, and nasty-ass rock. Revelator is a roots record that sets a modern standard even as it draws its inspiration from the past. It's got everything a listener could want: grit, groove, raw, spiritual emotion, and expert-level musical truth.

Thom Jurek, Rovi

Waiting For Columbus

Little Feat

American Beauty

Grateful Dead
A companion piece to the luminous Workingman's Dead, American Beauty is an even stronger document of the Grateful Dead's return to their musical roots. Sporting a more full-bodied and intricate sound than its predecessor thanks to the addition of subtle electric textures, the record is also more representative of the group as a collective unit, allowing for stunning contributions from Dave Torbert (the poignant opener "Box of Rain") and Bob Weir ("Sugar Magnolia"); at the top of his game as well is Jerry Garcia, who delivers the superb "Friend of the Devil," "Candyman," and "Ripple." Climaxing with the perennial "Truckin'," American Beauty remains the Dead's studio masterpiece -- never again would they be so musically focused or so emotionally direct. [The 2003 reissue on Rhino contains expanded liner notes with lots of photos. It also adds five new tracks to the album's original running order: the single version of "Truckin'" and four live tracks ("Friend of the Devil" recorded at the Filmore East on 5/15/1970, "Candyman" recorded at Winterland on 4/15/1970, "Till the Morning Comes" recorded at Winterland on 10/4/1970, "Attics of My Life" recorded at the Filmore West on 6/6/1970, and "Truckin'" recorded at Legion Stadium on 12/26/1970).]

The Will To Live

Ben Harper
On his third album, Will to Live, Ben Harper strengthens his populist folk with a grittier groove, which even borders on funk, that makes his music more immediate. Harper still has a tendency to preach, yet his melodies are catchier than before, and he has a better sense of rhythm, helping his bluesy songs catch hold.

Leo Stanley, Rovi

Top Songs

Chicken Fried

Zac Brown Band

Sweet Annie

Zac Brown Band

Toes

Zac Brown Band

Crash Into Me

Dave Matthews Band

One Headlight

The Wallflowers

She Talks To Angels

The Black Crowes

No Rain

Blind Melon

Midnight Rider

The Allman Brothers Band

Send Me On My Way

Rusted Root

Soulshine

The Allman Brothers Band

The Remedy (I Won't Worry)

Jason Mraz

Ants Marching

Dave Matthews Band

Ramblin' Man

The Allman Brothers Band

Odds Are

Barenaked Ladies

Run-Around

Blues Traveler

Satellite

Dave Matthews Band

Let The Drummer Kick

Citizen Cope

Hook

Blues Traveler

Two Princes

Spin Doctors

Hard To Handle

The Black Crowes

Shattered (Turn The Car Around)

O.A.R.

The Sound Of Sunshine

Michael Franti

That Was a Crazy Game of Poker

O.A.R.

6th Avenue Heartache

The Wallflowers