Ashley Monroe’s ‘The Blade’ is sharp

Ashley Monroe, a member of the Pistol Annies with Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley, continues to prove herself as a top young country artist with her third album, “The Blade.” Good,

Alan Jackson delivers on ‘Angels and Alcohol’

Alan Jackson once again proves capable of finding fresh wrinkles in his comfortable, familiar style. His new album, "Angels and Alcohol," delivers good-time honky-tonk, emotional country ballads and gentle, philosophical

Jah Cure delivers certified classic with ‘The Cure’

Jah Cure, one of Jamaica’s most talented contemporary artists, brings musical therapy to your ears with his latest album, “The Cure.” Cure, who co-produced the album, branches out of his comfort

Joy Williams goes solo and bares soul

Nearly 20 minutes into “Venus,” an acoustic guitar emerges from the computer clamor that fills most of the album. The refreshing sound of an actual musical instrument nudges Joy Williams

Neil Young’s ‘The Monsanto Years’ attacks corporate greed

Neil Young’s voice, playing and passion are undimmed, but his lyrical talent is diminished in much of this new album, which — as the title “The Monsanto Years” suggests —

Campbell steps front and center with wife

Larry Campbell is a highly regarded producer and ridiculously versatile sideman who can play about any instrument you hand him. Even so, like many males, Campbell might have married out of

Maria Schneider’s jazz orchestra evokes rural America

Maria Schneider’s big band has remained together nearly 25 years, extending into the 21st century the orchestral jazz tradition exemplified by Duke Ellington and her mentor Gil Evans. “The Thompson

Franz Ferdinand and Sparks unite as FFS

FFS is an art-rock supergroup, bringing together Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand and Sparks, a Los Angeles synth-pop duo whose experimental theatrics have made them cult figures in Britain for 40

Trumpeter Blanchard makes powerful statement on new album

Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard makes a powerful political and musical statement with his new E-Collective quintet on "Breathless," his first plunge as a bandleader into groove-based electric

Whitesnake delves deep into Purple past on new album

Who says you can’t go home? David Coverdale delves deep into his Deep Purple background on the new Whitesnake album, which re-does songs from his tenure fronting the legendary classic rock

Snoop Dogg’s funk-inspired album hits right mark

Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams made magic together more than a decade ago, and now the rapper and producer are doing it again. Snoop Dogg and Williams, who collaborated on the

‘Pitch Perfect 2’ soundtrack not so perfect

There is such a thing as being too clever. The Barden Bellas and the Treblemakers, who return in the film “Pitch Perfect 2,” have found a way to cram even more

Blur leave Britpop behind with ‘The Magic Whip’

Blur were Britpop flag-bearers of the 1990s, waging a media-driven battle with Oasis for the musical soul of Cool Britannia. Since that distant era, the band’s members have traded the laddish

Passion Pit feeling the ‘Kindred’ spirit

America’s reigning synthpop king, Passion Pit, is out with a third studio album, “Kindred,” a passable offering of tidy little electro ditties. For their heartfelt lyrics, Passion Pit (aka Michael Angelakos

Halestorm delivers tight, yet very basic rock

Grammy-winning rock band Halestorm is out with its third studio album, “Into the Wild Life,” 13 tracks of edge-free power rock, spurred on Lzzy Hale’s strong vocals — if anything

Waters’ sophomore album, ‘What’s Real,’ is real good

Former Port O'Brien frontman Van Pierszalowski left the alt-rock outfit in 2011 and promptly formed Waters, hoping to gel with a fresh band and begin anew. They came out strong

Sufjan Stevens’ latest album is worth the time

Plucked strings and pulsing keyboards dominate the distinctive arrangements on Sufjan Stevens’ latest album, and in the absence of a rhythm section, they serve to keep time. But time’s not for

Marcus Miller explores his African roots on new CD

Inspired by his work as spokesperson for UNESCO's Slave Route Project, bass guitarist, composer and producer Marcus Miller takes listeners on a groove-filled musical odyssey on "Afrodeezia." The CD explores

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