Want to feel like you are hanging out at smoker’s corner in high school? Assuming that’s where you were in 1977 when Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever came out, you can relive those feelings by purchasing Shutup & Jam! Nugent’s Shutup & Jam! is his 2014 release, the first since Love Grenade from 2007...which also sounds a lot like 77’s Cat Scratch Fever.... No one can deny Nugent is a recognizable guitarist with a known sound. Still, some fans prefer to know what they are getting by the label that’s on the can. Nugent delivers a stable product each time, though there has yet to be another broadly recognized tune like “Cat Scratch Fever.” It’s beans, but a particular kind of beans, and if you like those beans those are the ones you’ll buy. You won’t be disappointed as there’s amazing consistency here.
There has been a lovely revival of that indie-punkish-new-wave vibe that was once ubiquitous at any good dorm party back in the late 70s and early 80s. It’s coming from new artists and also from those who created that sound back then. Some crew from The Romantics, Blondie, The Chesterfields, and The Cars recently got together as The Empty Hearts and put out a brilliant album that proves the sound is timeless when it’s done well. Blondie has a new release as well and a good one—even Elvis Costello has come out with some new punchy stuff. So who’s missing? The Pretenders for one.
It’s something of a cliché to say an album will reward careful listening, but that’s what it takes with Rickie Lee Jones’s latest, 2012’s The Devil You Know—and man is the reward worth it. Covers such as “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” and “Play With Fire” become hers under the minimalist production of Ben Harper. Harper also provides guitar, bass, organ, drums, percussions, vibraphone, and background vocals. With the exception of David Lindley on violin and Sheldon Gomberg (who did excellent work with Harper and Musselwhite on Get Up!) on stand-up bass, most of the other musicians are on organ or piano—with one telling exception. “DJ” Bonebrake of punk rock group X plays, not drums, but the vibraphone. Interested yet?
Gary Clark's new CD is the one hardcore fans have been waiting for. Released 23 September 2014, Live is a double CD of blues tracks taped during his 2013 -14 tour. Clark's studio CDs often incorporate elements of hip-hop and neo-soul. Given Clark is thirty years old and grew up with these styles of music it seems natural they be woven into his signature vision of the blues. But for the purist it can be off-putting. Black and Blu was reviewed on this site as uneven, noting the almost uncomfortable lilt these shifts in style produced.