- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2017

The sounds of the seasons are here for you in the form of new rock, country, dance and various other musical genres as the weather (finally) turns from summer to autumnal.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for some of these artists established and on their way as you rake those leaves and enjoy every conceivable product made from pumpkin this fall.

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Demi Lovato

“Tell Me You Love Me”

Demi LP2 – Island/Hollywood

The good-time-loving chanteuse is back with another album of spirited pop. “Sorry Not Sorry” opens the album as a jammin’ meditation on, well, that particular nonapology. The title song is a dance-tastic anthem that I suspect will be spinning in the clubs this fall. “Sexy Dirty Love” immediately follows, and it’s another anthem of enjoyment. Miss Lovato then switches gears a bit on “You Don’t Do It for Me,” a meditation on the pain that is letting someone know that the time has past — and one of the album’s absolute best tracks. “Ruin the Friendship” has the narrator advising a close pal to finally “cross that line” into loverhood, a conundrum that has faced not less than 100 percent of us at least once in our lives. (From personal experience, I promise you it’ll be fine. Even if things don’t work out for you as a couple, at least you tried, and if your friendship is strong, you’ll come out as even closer friends.)

Following more meditations on love, Miss Lovato kicks the beats back up to danceable on “Games” before pulling back a bit on closer “Hitchhiker.”

The 25-year-old artist doesn’t have any tour dates at present, but here’s hoping she’ll hit the road again soon.

 

Weezer

“Pacific Daydream” (rel. Oct. 27)

Crush Music

How can these California boys still be making such unique and fun music after all these years? The Angelenos return with more joyous rock on their latest non-color-labeled album. “Mexican Fender” gets the proceedings off to a hoppin’ start, followed by “Beach Boys,” a suitably trippy tribute to that other California musical mainstay. Keeping with a similar theme, the extremely radio-friendly “Feels Like Summer” goes into experimental land with a joy seldom seem (I suspect this one to be eating up the pop charts very soon). The La-La Land party continues on “Weekend Woman,” and “QB Blitz” goes back to some of the band’s more offbeat tracks of yesteryear. The awesomeness just keeps on coming on “Get Right,” “La Mancha Screwjob” and closer “Any Friend of Diane’s.”

Weezer has yet to put out a bad album, and “Pacific Daydream” is a love letter from these California boys to their home state as well as to the rock ‘n’ roll they still clearly enjoy sharing with the world.

 

Walker & Royce

“Self Help”

Dirtybird

New York’s finest DJ combo continues to take names — and spread their own — not only in Gotham but around the world thanks to their trancelike house music. On this new album for Dirtybird, Sam Walker and Gavin Royce keep the party going as “Sunday” sneaks up subtly before the more joyful sampling found on “Role Models,” which features OnCue on guest vocals. “My Own Thing,” with a guest spot by Sophie Grophy, reminds one of some of the club styles of the early-aughts. The high-octane guests continue to pop by for “Take Me to Your Leader” (Dances With White Girls) and Jpatt (“Can You Pass That”). “Love & Marriage,” again with Dances With White Girls, might be the most headscratching meditation on starting a family, but just go with it. “Warkin It” is a definite dancer, and “Rub Another Dub” might be the song to play at 5 a.m., when the sun is coming up but you’re not yet ready to throw in the towel just yet, and closer “Need Ya” is as uptempo as the rest of the disc.

Walker & Royce will be heading to the District’s Echostage Nov. 4. Tickets are available at TicketFly.com.

 

Shawn Colvin

“A Few Small Repairs: 20th Anniversary Edition”

Sony Music Canada Inc.

Is there any greater voice in music than Shawn Colvin’s? The singer who has spent time in Canada, Austin and New York takes a look back at one of her seminal albums, 1997’s “A Few Small Repairs,” with this deluxe edition offering remastered recordings as well as never-before-released live tracks. The hits are all here, including the radio staple “Sunny Came Home,” as well as the painful songs about Miss Colvin’s divorce, including the “what’s done is done” refrain on “The Truth About Jimmy.” Her stellar vocals are especially evident on “Trouble,” “If I Were Brave” and “84,000 Different Delusions.” “New Thing Now” and “Nothin on Me” reminds one of how great is her songwriting, which should be rightly experienced live.

The bonus tracks include Miss Colvin perform “Sunny Came Home” and others live on radio and on stage at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium in stripped-down acoustic versions, which must be listened to.

See for yourself when Miss Colvin does a two-night stand at The Birchmere Oct. 30 and 31. Tickets are available at Birchmere.com.

 

Jake Clemons

“Fear+Love”

BMG

The nephew of “Big Man” Clarence Clemons has stepped into his uncle’s shoes as Bruce Springsteen’s saxman, but Jake Clemons also has his own ensemble, for which he has been writing some killer rock and country-tinged music for years. On “Fear+Love” Mr. Clemons exercises his influences on great tracks like opener “Hold Tight” and the absolutely amazing “Janine,” with its mournful guitar line and Mr. Clemons’ vocals pining for love. “Burning” shifts gears into an Americana-tinged lament, and “Shadow” is a lovely tune about coming to terms with one’s past and present. “Sick, Broke & Broken” plays around delightfully with uptempo country, and ensuing track “A Little Bit Sweet” tries out something different (listen for yourself).

“Just Stay” sees Mr. Clemons not only singing but also tooting his sax in fitting tribute to Clarence, and this might be the most Springsteen-like cut on the record. “Move On,” the album’s closer, reminds you to do the things you want to do and to not dwell too much on past mistakes.

Mr. Clemons is now touring with his own ensemble and judging by “Fear+Love,” this young man has many productive years ahead of him.

 

Aaron Burdett

“Refuge”

Organic Records

Among my favorite discoveries of the past few years is this talented, sweet-voiced singer/songwriter of North Carolina who melds country with modern sounds for some outstanding compositions. On the heels of his magnificent 2015 album “Tinderbox Heart,” Mr. Burdett is back with more great Americana on “Refuge.” He wastes no time with outstanding opener “Pennies on the Track,” with its dulcet fiddle solo beneath Mr. Burdett’s dulcet vocals. “It’s a Living” is a more traditional country song about work and staying above water (this is not in any way a complaint), and the tune called “Rock and Roll” is, ironically, also very country. “A Couple Broken Windows” once again demonstrates Mr. Burdett’s lyrical mastery in marriage to his sweet melody lines to tell a heartbreaking tale.

The album can be a bit one-note in its later songs, and doesn’t quite have the nuance of “Tinderbox Heart,” but still, Mr. Burdett remains the best up-and-coming artist you may not have heard of.

 

Barenaked Ladies

“Fake Nudes” (rel. Nov. 17)

Vanguard Records

The north-of-the-border lads are back with, if it’s not the best album title of 2017, certainly the most eye-catching. “Canada Dry” kicks things off in fine vocal fashion — and, sure, it makes you want a ginger ale, but it also offers a wonderful travelogue of their homeland. “Lookin Up” is a reminder to keep spirits up even when things look bad, “Dirty Rooms” is far more complex than it seems at first, and “Navigate” features some amazing vocal harmonics set to a rather unusual tech beat (see for yourself).

I’m more than a little confused by “Bag of Bones,” but perhaps you can figure it out and then explain it to me later (send explication to [email protected]). I much prefer the experimental “You and Me” with its blend of electro and traditional sounds, and closer “The Township of King” is a fine downtempo ballad that shows the Ladies still know their way around a composition.

 

Dhani Harrison

“In///Parallel”

Big Hassel

Little surprise that the son of the late George Harrison would try out some rather experimental music on his solo debut. Mr. Harrison, who has performed for years in the ensembles of others, doesn’t go for any tried-and-true paths on “In///Parallel,” which can’t rightly be explained as pop, dance, electronica or rock. You’ll just have to give it a listen for yourself.

“Never Know” is a trippy beginning indeed, and “Ulfur Rusurrection” bears a hint of both ELO and NIN (ELO-NIN???), but is something entirely new. “London Water” doesn’t precisely make me think of the Thames, but it is a sonic journey worth taking. “Light Under the Door” might make for a great club song in the small hours, and “All About Waiting” might be a meditation song if you’re in the right mood. Album closer “Admiral of Upsidedown” takes a completely new, somber direction than was present the reset of the album, and it’s arguably the album’s best track.

Mr. Harrison is out to prove that he’s more than the son of a Beatle, and with such songwriting and producing seen here, he is definitely more than a rocker’s scion.

Mr. Harrison plays U Street Music Hall Nov. 7. Tickets are available at TicketFly.com.

 

Dark Water

“Pirates of the Mighty Pearl”

Get ready to rock out some blues with the best Delta band you haven’t yet heard of. Based out of Philadelphia, Mississippi, Dark Water has been developing a following around the state that gave us the blues, jamming at such storied venues as Ground Zero in Clarksdale. Their new disc is both funky and raw, showing the changes that the blues underwent when it was picked up across the pond by English artists. This is especially true on “No Mo,” which bears almost a punk timbre reminiscent of the Sex Pistols or early Who — and even features a solo guitar jam that would make Jimi Hendrix proud. “Howlin’ Blues” is a fine jam tune, and “Good Whiskey” should be enjoyed with a tall glass of your favorite bourbon!

Keep a special ear open for “Morning Blues,” which may be the most Doors-tastic blues song since the California band, uh, “disbanded” in the ‘70s. Closer “Psychedelic Blues” features a mournful vocal line with an underscoring bluesy/trippy guitar riff worthy of The Stones’ bluesiest tunes (“Can You Hear Me Knocking” comes readily to mind).

The blues are alive and well, both in their birthing grounds in the Mississippi Delta and elsewhere in the U.S. and around the world. Dark Water can and should continue to preach the gospel of Magnolia State’s endemic music well into the night.

 

Mainland 

“Outcast EP”

300 Entertainment

For something a little different, look no further than this snappy EP from Mainland. It’s only four songs deep, but in that quartet the band stretches some serious musical muscle of differing styles. Listen for the New Age-inspired “A Bit Out of Time,” the more traditional rocking “Fading Friends” and the grunge-electronica meld of “Not as Cool as Me.”

 

Philip Selway

“Let Me Go”

Bella Union

Radiohead’s drummer applies his amazing talents to the world of film composition for the soundtrack to the new film “Let Me Go.” “Helga’s Theme” kicks things off with an eerie piano line and underscored by a standing bass, which is echoed on “Zakopene.” Interstitial songs with vocals intersperse, including the hauntingly sultry “Walk,” featuring Lou Rhodes, and “Let Me Go.” More of Mr. Selway’s amazing arrangements can be heard on “Don’t Go Now” by the Elysian Quartet (whom you may recall from the stirring soundtrack of “Requiem for a Dream”).

 

Chris Barron

“Angels and One-Armed Jugglers”

Chrysanthemum Records

Remember Spin Doctors, they of the perennial early-‘90s hit “Two Princes”? (Actually, give the entire album “Pocket Full of Kryptonite” another spin as it really, really holds up.) Well, Chris Barron, the lead singer of that band, is out with his own solo album of new rock. The title track is bluesy and wondrous as the narrator mulls on the mysteries of life, and “Gonna (Need Someone)” is a great power ballad. Keep a listen out for “The World According to Garp” and the uber-jazzy “Till the Cows Come Home.”

 

Eli Cook

“High-Dollar Gospel”

CR 8 Records

Countryfied tunes abound for Eli Cook on a disc that kicks off with the jumpin’ “Trouble Maker.” “Mixing My Medicine” is an experimental song along with the angsty “Can’t Lose What You Never Had.” Listen for a little bit of a Scott Weiland influence on “King of the Mountain” (trust me), and the dulcet “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” takes a pleasant narrative switch into love territory. “If Not for You” is a grand closer, with a fabulous ukulele employed to flesh out the tune.

Mr. Cook will play Pearl Street Warehouse Nov. 10. Tickets are available at TicketFly.com.

 

Elettrodomestico

“If You’re a Boy or a Girl”

Elettrodomestico

Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s, uh, “goes” it alone with her own new band, Elettrodomestico. “Aloha” reminds me a bit of some of the New Wave sound of the ‘80s, and “Love Me at a Distance” has Miss Wiedlin’s enchanting vocals in counterpoint to a charming sitar line. I’m diggin’ on the experimental “Brittle,” and if I didn’t know better, I’d swear “Bliss” was a lost Runaways tune.

 

Chamomile & Whiskey

“Sweet Afton” (rel. Oct. 27)

Part country and part bluegrass, this talented act out of Nelson County, Virginia, is producing some spirited tunes that give testament to the Old Dominion’s rich musical history. (The legend goes that members Koda Kerl and Marie Borgman decided to put a band together over chamomile tea and Evan Williams bourbon.) “Come Along” is a real fine toe-tapper, and “As Good as It Could Be” really gets the party going and will make you clap along loudly. “Gone” is a mournful dirge that is pure beauty in musical form, and “Thalia” is a fine example of the Old Country Celtic music that influenced the new Virginia sound in the 20th century — and you’d be forgiven for thinking this track is straight out of Ireland.

The party keeps right on going on “Birds,” but then “Sleepless Nights” takes a bit of a dark turn with a lamenting violin line that shows maturity in the songwriting. Closer “Stunt Man” belongs in the same category as the great work of Aaron Burdett and fellow Virginians The Steel Wheels.

Chamomile & Whiskey prove that so much great music is being produced right here in the Commonwealth, and is continually adding to the rich tapestry that is the sound of America.

 

Donna The Buffalo

“Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday”

Sugar Hill

I appreciate some country music that tries something a little bit experimental, which Donna the Buffalo accomplishes in this disc for Sugar Hill. “Don’t Know What You Got” and “I Can Fly” both beg for you to start toe-tapping, and “I See How You Are” is a lovely love song that isn’t precisely a ballad, and it may be the album’s best. Dare I say it, but “Ms. Parsley” actually bears a bit of the stamp of reggae, and “One Day at a Time” also tries to do something that isn’t like any country song I’ve heard in a good while. Keep an ear open for “Spinning World,” “Why You Wanna Leave Me” and closer “Working on That.”

Donna The Buffalo Plays The Hamilton Live on Jan. 19. You can “still” get tickets at Ticketfly.com.

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