8 Keepers From Mail Call: Hacienda, Elvin Bishop, Janiva Magness, Etc.
The English Beat, The Complete Beat (Shout! Factory): This five-disc box covers essentially every moment these ska revivalists ever spent in a studio. It includes all three of their original studio albums (re-mastered) as well as bonus tracks. Lagniappe consists of two discs of rare and unreleased cuts, three John Peel radio shows and more. There is a separate single disc release also, Keep The Beat: The Very Best of The English Beat that contains only the group's most popular studio material. Considering their gig this Friday at Fitz, the timing couldn't be better.
Elvin Bishop, Elvin Bishop's Raisin' Hell Revue (Delta Groove): People don't go on cruises to be brought down, and blues master Elvin Bishop knows. With a hand-picked band of aces like harp man John Nemeth, Bishop dials up the fun, the funk, and the boogie on this Blues Cruise live recording.
Bishop is one of the most under-rated acts out there (ask Paul Thorn if you don't believe us), and this record hopefully will bring him some much-deserved attention and cash. The best live blues record LOM has heard in a good while -- the laid-back version of "Fooled Around And Fell In Love" smolders perfectly. This one will make a jumping soundtrack to your next house party.
Janiva Magness, Stronger For It (Alligator): Okay, stop listening to your hipster shite and your friend's band that formed three weeks ago and get thee a copy of this complete stunner. Growing up rough and parentless in Detroit foster homes, Magness seems to be working out some serious pain with these songs that growl "I'm mad and I'm gonna hurt you back for that."
Just when we think there's nowhere else for blues to go, someone drops an album like this and faith is restored. No wonder this one climbed straight to the top of the blues charts and stayed there. A total keeper.
Hacienda, Shakedown (The Collective): This San Antonio quartet's first Dan Auerbach-produced album, 2010's Big Red and Barbacoa, was so stout we feared for the follow-up the bar had been set so high. Fear not: Shakedown is another not-a-minute-of-slack, Dan-Auerbach-directed bacon slab of rock and roll. All the elements that brought us to Hacienda in the first place -- killer harmonies, heady lyrics, great sense of pop hooks, and big, big beat -- are present and accounted for. This one goes in the truck.
Beaver Nelson, Macro/Micro (Freedom): Beaver has always been all over the place, and this is a beautiful 18-track mess of an album, more of a rocker than expected. Nelson has always been one of the coolest creatives hanging around the fringes of the Austin scene, and his freak flag is really flying on this one.
Don't believe it; then let "Your Subconscious Does the Dirty Work" with its Gang-of-Four-ish spoken under-track loose and see what happens to your mood. This album is a joyous surprise in every way.