Listening to the easy roots rock shuffle of Blue Moon Swamp, it's hard to believe that it took John Fogerty a full decade to write and record the album. It's not just because the album isn't a great stylistic departure from his past work, it's because Blue Moon Swamp sounds so natural and unforced. Nothing on the album sounds fussy, nor does it sound like a meticulous reconstruction of the past. Instead, Fogerty's songs and performances are richly evocative of tradition, but they're vibrant and living for the present, which makes the rockabilly, blues, country, and swampy rock & roll sound fresh. It's not as raw or as hooky as Creedence Clearwater Revival, nor as pop-oriented as Centerfield, but it's a warm, laid-back, and mature record of roots rock at its very best.
Fourteen years is a long time to spend with one label, especially for jazz and fusion groups. Azymuth celebrated 14 years with the United Kingdom's Far Out label in 2008. Butterfly is their eight record for the imprint and their first new studio album in four years. The original trio – Jose Roberto Bertami (keyboards/vocals), Alex Malheiros (bass/guitars/vocals), and Ivan Conti (drums/percussion/vocals) – is still together after 35 years. Here jazz, funk, fusion, and elegant samba are woven together seamlessly. The disc was produced by the trio with David Brinkworth (Harmonic 33). "Butterfly," the album opener, is a sultry, breezy cover of the classic Herbie Hancock track, originally on 1974's Thrust. The elegant sound of gorgeously arranged strings (by Arthur Verocai no less), warm rolling Rhodes piano, Conti's breaking drums that walk the line between lithe funk and samba, and a pronounced but languid bassline gradually and deliberately build the space, stopping at interludes to reinsert the sensuous mood in the melodic line. Certainly it's an auspicious way to begin, but it's only one of the many highlights on this set.
After 14 years of silence, alt-metal supergroup A Perfect Circle returned with Eat the Elephant. Previously active on 2004's antiwar eMOTIVe – when the U.S. was embroiled in a different state of social upheaval – they re-emerged in 2018 at another pivotal time with just as much to say. While much transpired in their absence, A Perfect Circle evolved, addressing government shifts, technological advances, and social deterioration in a manner befitting of frontman Maynard James Keenan, who delivers some of the most wickedly barbed lyrics of his career. Here, Keenan and co-founder Billy Howerdel are joined by a revamped lineup that includes James Iha, Matt McJunkins, and Jeff Friedl, as well as producer Dave Sardy (Oasis, LCD Soundsystem). This matured incarnation of the band balances brute force with softer moments that may surprise, yet digging deeper reveals a wealth of poetic lyricism and social commentary. The title track ushers in this new era, a melancholy prelude that sounds eerily similar to Cat Power's bittersweet "The Greatest."
With just a couple of cursory listens to the few tracks that popped up all over the Internet through 2007, comparisons were made between Adele, the much-hyped brassy British songstress, and Amy Winehouse, the…much-hyped brassy British songstress. However, after a solid listen to 19, the first full sampling by the up-and-coming Adele, listeners are forced to throw all comparisons to the wind; Adele is simply too magical to compare her to anyone. Bluesy like it's no one's business yet voluptuously funky in a contemporary way, Adele rocks out 19 with a unique voice and gritty sound that dazzle endlessly. Synthesizing blues, jazz, folk, soul, and even electric pop, Adele mystifies through her mature songwriting skills and jaw-dropping arrangements. As the album opens with "Daydreamer," Adele's illusionary instrument – over minimal sounds – engulfs the listener with a gorgeous feeling of awe and wonderment…