Bonnie Raitt tops CD reviews

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:22 PM ET

Your Ides of April playlist: Bonnie and the Bats, prog and Pinsent, old Stones and older singer-songwriters. No need to beware.

Bonnie Raitt

Slipstream

Blues

3.5 stars out of 5

She’s back in the nick of time. Seven years after her last studio disc, redheaded mama Raitt finally gets back in the saddle with another batch of rollicking blues-rock and soulful ballads — plus some reggaefied Gerry Rafferty, two Dylan covers and a few atmospheric tracks with Joe Henry. Not her most consistent work, but her earthy vocals and slide guitar more than make up for it.

Download: Used to Rule the World; Ain’t Gonna Let You Go

Cancer Bats

Dead Set on Living

Punk-Metal

4 stars out of 5

“Nothing’s going to break our stride,” vows Bats frontman Liam Cormier. And he means business. The Toronto heavyweights’ fourth album is an unstoppable behemoth of metallic swagger and confidence, augmenting Cormier’s primal-scream rage with vulcanized riffs, squealing licks and beats that bounce as hard as they bash. Along with hitting their stride, they’ve found their groove.

Download: Rally the Wicked; Road Sick

The Rolling Stones

L.A. Friday (Live 1975)

Classic Rock

5 stars out of 5

Who needs a new Stones tour when you’ve got old bootlegs? Trust me; the geriatric Glimmer Twins won’t sound better (or rock harder) than they do on this blazing 145-minute archival gig from Ronnie Wood’s first tour. Charlie is on fire, Mick is all slurry loucheness, Billy Preston plays keys and Ronnie’s slide gleams alongside Keef’s slashing riffs. Only rock ’n’ roll — and all you need.

Download: The whole enchilada at www.stonesarchive.com

Ian Anderson

Thick as a Brick 2

Prog-Rock

3 stars out of 5

This week in Sequels Nobody Asked For: Jethro Tull’s Anderson resurrects Gerald Bostock — the protagonist of the band’s ’72 concept album TAAB — to ponder the boy genius’s life 40 years down the line.

Appropriately, he also resurrects the sound of classic Tull, constructing a 53-minute, multi-part folk-prog opus around his medieval troubadour vocals and flute. One for the hippies.

Download: Banker Bets, Banker Wins; Shunt & Shuffle

Good | Pinsent | Keelor

Down and Out in Upalong

Roots

2.5 stars out of 5

A new Can-Rock supergroup? Um, no. On this intriguing but unsatisfying disc, Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor and The Sadies’ Travis Good turn actor Gordon Pinsent’s poems into mellow folk and country-bluegrass twang.

Pity Pinsent doesn’t sit in, opting instead to offer dramatically rich (if vaguely Shatnerian) readings on a second disc. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time.

Download: She’s Gone Again; Night Light

Loudon Wainwright III

Older Than My Old Man Now

Singer-songwriter

4 stars out of 5

Age is more than just a number to Wainwright; it’s a whole album of them. The troubadour’s 22nd studio CD finds him reviewing his life and loves, children and career, music and mortality with the usual bittersweet blend of wry wit, hard-won wisdom and black humour — and with the aid everyone from friends like Ramblin’ Jack Elliott to all four of his kids. Fun for oldsters of all ages.

Download: The Here & The Now; Double Lifetime

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Amadou & Mariam

Folila

Afro-Blues

4 stars

You want world music? Amadou & Mariam are happy to oblige. The blind Afro-blues duo made this eighth album in New York (with indie artists like Santigold and TV on the Radio), Mali (where they recut the same songs with local players) and Paris (where they mixed and matched performances). Hypnotic yet engaging, traditional yet timely, these hybrids offer the best of both worlds.

Download: Dougou Badia w/ Santigold & Nick Zinner

Willis Earl Beal

Acousmatic Sorcery

Lo-Fi

3.5 stars out of 5

Strange but true. And truly strange. Chicago’s Beal is a formerly homeless vet who used to leave handmade discs around town and advertise for friends. Not surprisingly, his first semi-legit CD is a hodge-podge of lo-fi idiosyncrasy, veering wildly from introspective anti-folk guitar ballads to wild-man garage-blues outbursts. A little Tom Waits, a little Beck and a whole lotta freakiness.

Download: Take Me Away; Monotony

Justin Townes Earle

Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now Country-Soul HHHH Sometimes it all goes wrong. And when it does, all you can do is say sorry and move on. This is where Earle finds himself on his fourth CD — standing on the other side of a burned romantic bridge and a rehab stint, gazing in the mirror and trying to make sense of it all by turning his regret into heartbreaking confessional roots ballads and southern-soul stirrers. Like father, like son.

Download: Look the Other Way; Baby’s Got a Bad Idea

Grand Duchy

Let the People Speak

Indie-Rock

3 stars out of 5

Here comes your man. And his woman. Frank Black Francis may be king of the Pixies, but here he shares the crown with wife Violet Clark. So this sophomore set, like its 2009 predecessor Petits Fours, is less about spiky guitars and yelpy vocals, and more about shadowy synth-pop and arty dance-rock dusted with dreamy crooning and seductive whispers. Stylish and subliminal.

Download: White Out; Shady

Tommy Bolin & Friends

Great Gypsy Soul

Tribute

3 stars out of 5

Come taste the music. Some 35 years after his death, short-lived Deep Purple / James Gang guitarist Bolin gets his due — and a bit of spotlight — on this unique tribute. Rather than recruiting artists to cover his music, the set updates outtakes from Bolin’s two ’70s solo LPs with new licks from Warren Haynes, Gordie Johnson, Derek Trucks and more. A cool concept well executed.

Download: Teaser w/ Warren Haynes; Wild Dogs w/ Brad Whitford

High on Fire

De Vermis Mysteriis

Metal

3.5 stars out of 5

To hell with Satan. HoF’s Matt Pike is more interested in Jesus — or at least His dead twin brother who time-travels Quantum Leap-style.

Supposedly, that’s the bizarre concept behind the Oakland trio’s sixth CD. But whatever; you can skip the cryptotheology and just savour the blessings of Pike’s dense nine-string fretwork, intensely complex metal and bloodgargling vocals.

Download: Fertile Green; Spiritual Rites

Wilson Phillips

Dedicated

Pop

3 stars out of 5

Well, they sure took their sweet time. Eight years ago, the second- generation pop trio covered a few of their famous families’ hits on California. Here, they finally take the hint and deliver a disc consisting entirely of Beach Boys and Mamas and Papas classics, reverently recreated and rendered with rich harmonies. Now, let’s just hope this doesn’t give James McCartney any ideas ...

Download: Twelve Thirty; Good Vibrations

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DOWN/STREAM

Soundgarden

Live to Rise

And so it begins. Again. The reunited supersonic Seattle vets pick up about where they left off on their first new song in 15 years. Taken from the forthcoming Avengers Assemble soundtrack, Live to Rise boasts a Zeppish guitar riff and blazing solo from Kim Thayil, along with an anthemic chorus and wailing vocals from Chris Cornell. Think of it as comfort food for your grunge soul.

www.soundgardenworld.com

Kanye West

Mercy

His recent taste in women may be questionable. Humility may not be his strong suit. But when he’s in the studio, Kanye West makes up for all his failings. His latest G.O.O.D. Music track is another gem, with Yeezy trading bragadocious verses with Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz over a cut that evolves from an ominous, slinky groove to a pumping synth anthem. Mercy indeed.

kanyewest.com

Japandroids

The House That Heaven Built

Get the party started. The Vancouver indie-rock duo of singer- guitarist Brian King and drummer-vocalist David Prowse aren’t due to release their sophomore album Celebration Rock until June 5. But this propulsively clanging heartland-punk single is already available digitally — and if the rest of the album sounds anything like it, we could be looking at the indie-rock disc of the summer.

japandroids.com

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DVDs

The Grateful Dead

All the Years Combine: The DVD Collection Psychedelic Rock HHHH It’s definitely a long trip. Though not a particularly strange one.

Shout! Factory’s gargantuan Grateful Dead DVD box delivers a massive dose of Jerry Garcia and co. — more than a dozen full-length gigs from 1974-1990, spread over 14 discs that add up to 38 hours of viewing.

But before you book the week off and call your dealer, know this: The key word in that title is Collection. All but one of the DVDs contain previously released fare, from superb ’70s fare like Grateful Dead Movie and Closing of Winterland to all four chapters in the more recent View From the Vault series (most of which are so similar they do indeed seem to combine into one endless jam). The bonus disc doesn’t add much to the story; just a handful of previously unreleased performances (one taped days before keyboardist Brent Mydland’s death), the ’92 doc Backstage Pass (which is just music set to random

footage) and a recent interview with the Dead’s archivist. Having said that, the packaging is sharp and simple, the 40-page booklet is informative, and at $50 (according to one online retailer), the price is right. Not bad for an acid flashback.

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GARAGE BAND

Robert J.A. MacDonald

London, Ont.

www.myspace.com/robertjamacdonald

Being a one-man band is easier said than done. Unfortunately, London’s Robert J.A. MacDonald is all the proof you need. He seems to be an OK guitarist. But as a vocalist, he’s a baritone croaker. And put drumsticks in his hands and he turns into a flailing spastic, instantly rendering everything he does unlistenable. And that’s a lot of unlistenable; dude has SEVEN ALBUMS posted. Time to find a band — or at least a buy drum machine and AutoTune.

VERDICT: “Jack of no trades.”

1 star out of 5

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UPCOMING

 

April 24

This Machine

Dandy Warhols

Bell Recordings: 1971-72

Davy Jones

Legendary Demos

Carole King

Pool It! Deluxe Edition

Monkees

Nashville, Volume 1: Tear the Woodpile Down Marty Stuart

Bluderbuss

Jack White

 

May 1

Strange Clouds

B.o.B

...Little Broken Hearts

Norah Jones

Born Villain

Marilyn Manson

Blown Away

Carrie Underwood

Out of the Game

Rufus Wainwright

 

 


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