The following discs provide the perfect soundtrack for a hot August night or day.
Dave Matthews Band—Big Whiskey & The Groo Grux King (RCA)
This awesome new DMB release is very much a tribute to the group’s sadly departed saxman LeRoi Moore. Tim Reynolds, who has recorded albums with Matthews and played on the group’s Before These Crowded Streets album, is on this album and will tour full-time with the band. Instead of wallowing in misery, the group celebrates its time with him. It is easily the group’s most focused album in some time and one that even non jam-band fans will love.
The Black Crowes—Warpaint Live (Eagle)
The Crowes have been flying under the radar screen of late, thanks to a less-than-friendly approach to the press, record company changes, outside projects and personal changes. It’s odd that the group has soured on the music press, given how much it has rightly championed the group through the years. This double-live disc is a stone cold killer, with lots of material from the group’s near-perfect Warpaint studio disc from last year, which was its best collection of compositions ever. Check out the dead-on covers on disc two of Delaney & Bonnie’s “Poor Elijah” and “Don’t Know Why” and the Rolling Stones “Torn and Frayed.” While another bunch of Crows and the aforementioned DMB are great American bands, these fine feathered friends and brothers must be considered one of the absolute premier American rock bands on the scene today.
Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood—Live From Madison Square Garden (Reprise/Duck)
Those who attended both one of the Cream reunion shows at Madison Square Garden in 2005 and one of the three Clapton/Winwood shows said that as great as Cream was, Clapton’s re-teaming with Winwood was much better. Having attended one of the three shows they did with the band on this release (which included now departed drummer Ian Thomas), I can attest to the sheer magic of these two ex-Blind Faith mates’ performances in February 2008. The double CD includes one track (“Low Down”) not on the companion double-DVD, with the DVD set including sound checks, interviews and more.
U2—No Line On The Horizon (Interscope)
New bands come and go and change personnel as often as Spinal Tap changes drummers, but the four members of U2 have never changed. Nonetheless, they continue to grow with each new release. This new disc has to rank as the group’s best in some time. The Moroccan feel adds a new twist to the group’s spirited muscular rock sound, and the production of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois is, as always, spot on.
Amadou & Mariam—Welcome To Mali (Because/Nonesuch)
Creating a distinctively African sound as part of its contribution to the thriving yet obscure Paris world-music scene, this unlikely duo has become one of the most important groups in music today. I can’t help feeling that the duo’s approach to music and the place where they create it would make for the perfect collaboration with Paul Simon.
August picks for 92.9&96.9 WEHM New Release Tuesdays with Harry Wareing (airing every Tuesday night from 9-10pm) each blend country and rock stylings in differing ratios to come up with their signature sound.
Alt folk singer/songwriter and former Long Islander Mindy Smith shows allegiance to a very current and popular musical feel on her new album Stupid Love and the track “Highs and Lows.” It consists of close, angelic harmonies, country instrumentation and a rock cadence.
Notorious Southern rockers The Black Crowes have taken an interesting textural tangent with their latest, Before the Frost…Until the Freeze and with the track “I Ain’t Hidin’.” Their raucous rock ‘n roll sound is present on the choruses but there are interludes that offer up a distinct techno pulse.
Practitioners of modern, hard-edged folk, up-and-comers The Avett Brothers have come out with I and Love and You. Surprisingly produced by rap/metal impresario Rick Rubin, the album and the title track are sweet, authentic with a tinge of a rock backbeat.