- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Now that everyone and their mother has a demo CD and/or a YouTube channel, it’s hard to cut through the fog and find the quality music that’s being released.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are eight rocking albums to add to your CD library — er, MP3 player.

Dana Fuchs — “Songs From the Road” (Ruf)

It should be criminal to be as talented as Miss Fuchs, a Florida singer who enlivens this live CD/DVD with a passionate, full-throated burning voice that is about as reminiscent of Janis Joplin as possible. (Indeed, Miss Fuchs even performed as the late ‘60s singer off-Broadway in “Love, Janis.”) Miss Fuchs romps through a rockin’ live set list of original compositions co-written by her resident guitarist, Jon Diamond. The energy of live performance fires through the speakers as if taking the listener to the action. Truly a talent to watch.

Soja — “Amid the Noise and Haste” (Ato Records)

Arlington, Virginia’s own Soja returns with the Grammy-nominated “Amid the Noise and Haste,” which lost in the 2015 reggae category to heavyweight Ziggy Marley. Songs celebrating life and the hope for humanity to attain a better tomorrow, “Amid” offers up 13 tracks of grooves that prove that while reggae was born in Jamaica, it has matured in many permutations and in many lands, including right here in the DMV.

Sullivan — “Heavy Is the Head” (Spartan Records)

Pulsing and demanding of attention, and reminiscent of the Texas band Sparta, the EP deals with pain and growth following difficult circumstances that life has a habit of tossing into the way. The angst and passion are evident even in the names of such tracks as “Where the Pavement Meets the Road” and “Melanoma Lullaby.” There is also the beautiful, short elegiac track “Seagrams.”

Tigerman — “Majestic” (TigermanMusic BMI)

If Pink Floyd, Primus and Rush had a baby, it would be this jam band from New Jersey — a tiger-baby, if you will. On this, their self-released debut, the feline-robed quintet delivers a funktastic good time with guitars, horns and synths that is perfect for chilling and grooving. And who can resist a tune called “Super Monkey Knife Fight”?

One-Eyed Doll — “Witches” (releases March 24) (Standby Records)

For those who like their tuneskies a little harder, “Witches” attacks like an angry poltergeist on a sugar binge. The goth punk duo from Austin, Texas, returns with an album that is as varied as it is intriguing. “Ember” kicks off the disc with a screaming assault on silence followed by the mournful, minor-key brilliance of “Prayer.” The album’s title was inspired by the infamous Salem witch trials of the 1690s, and the tracks meditate on fear, hysteria and injustice across a range of styles and volumes in a thematic cohesion. While heavy, the album was written on banjo and mandolin in the Santa Cruz mountains of Northern California — indeed, some quieter tracks feature those instruments prominently.

(See them April 4 at Fish Head Cantina in Halethorpe, Maryland.)

Sol Driven Train — “DANCE!” (Sol Driven Train Records)

On this, their 12th disc, the Charleston, South Carolina, funksters chug the celebration on with a CD full of party anthems in styles as diverse as reggae and jazz. Standouts include the spellcheck-stumping “Lobstamandaughta,” “Greyhound Station” and a killer cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain.” A fine disc to just toss on the player — er, iPod — and skank along till the small hours.

Jubilee Riots — “Penny Black” (Firebrand Entertainment)

A new folk/country/groove hybrid from Toronto, Jubilee Riots bursts onto the scene with this disc replete with contemplative tracks like “Unsteady” and “Porch Light.” A definite highlight is the up-tempo “President’s Shoes” — which may put the Secret Service on notice.

Hurray for the Riff Raff — “Small Town Heroes” (Ato Records)

Quiet and contemplative, the fifth album from New Orleans blues/folk act Hurray for the Riff Raff lulls the listener into reverie as if sipping a mint julep along the banks of the Mighty Mississipp itself. Of particular note is the down-tempo take on an old blues standard, “The New SF Bay Blues.” “Blue Ridge Mountain” may be a shoutout to the late John Denver, and “Good Time Blues (An Outlaw’s Lament)” is both somnambulant and introspective, as befits its subject matter.

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