Are you ready for a weekend of binge-listening to new sounds? Here's the latest round up of albums that caught and sustained my attention.
Radiohead -- A Moon Shaped Pool
Definitely my favorite Radiohead album since "Amnesiac," and it's loaded with great tunes. Starting with "Burn The Witch," a string driven romp, and "Desert Island Disk" that has a quiet, confessional acoustic folk feel, with deep Radiohead overtones. That happens a lot on "Pool"; the sound is dark, big and inviting -- you'll be returning to this one again and again.
Willie Nelson -- Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin
Oh man, this is good. It feels intimate -- you're in there with Willie and the band in a studio as they run down classic Gershwin tunes. Nelson's voice is in fine form, and the sound is to die for, so what's not to like?
Parquet Courts -- Human Performance
I live in Brooklyn. Parquet Courts are a Brooklyn-based band, but I'd like them even if they hailed from New Jersey. This collection of tunes has an edgy city vibe, with stripped-down arrangements that remind me of early Talking Heads and Television albums. "Human Performance" boasts a strong set of tunes. From this vantage point in the middle of 2016, it's probably going to be my record of the year. We'll see how it fares in late December.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros -- PersonA
Edward Sharpe can come on like a Southern preacher, but this is a twisted, spirited folk album with a jazzy, bluesy vibe. Sharpe sounds committed, like he worked these tunes out on the road -- he knows them inside out. I've played this album dozens of times. Can't stop.
Martha Redbone Roots Project -- The Garden of Love - Songs of William Blake
When I met Ms. Redbone at a recording session, she told me about her beautifully crafted album of songs based on William Blake poems. Redbone's bright, clear voice is accompanied by a stellar ensemble led by John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. It's rootsy, high-energy Appalachian, Native American music that'll raise your spirits.
Johnny Cash -- Man in Black: Live in Denmark 1971
This one just came out a few months ago, and I wondered what took so long. Cash leads a large band, and there are duets with June Carter Cash, Mother Maybelle Carter and her daughters Anita and Helen, Carl Perkins and The Statler Brothers, and everybody gets a chance to shine. The hits keep on coming.
Alarm Will Sound -- Performs Aphex Twin: Acoustica
And now for something completely different: Alarm Will Sound is an American chamber orchestra that strays far from the mainstream of classical music. On this album they frolic in the music of electronica wizards, Aphex Twin. Sounds weird, but in a good way. I love it.
Cliff Martinez -- The Neon Demon
I first heard Martinez' atmospheric music on "The Knick" TV series, so I was curious about this new score. It's wilder; Martinez' retro synth sounds have a marked Wendy Carlos influence, but no worries, Martinez is still exercising his wits. "The Neon Demon" tracks range from ethereal to ominous, downright disturbing tomes. Listen to this one with the lights turned way down, or better yet, off!
The Rolling Stones -- Totally Stripped
The Rolling Stones have made a lot of live albums over the years, but in my opinion only three have stood the test of time: "Get Yer Ya Ya's Out," "Love You Live" and the original "Stripped." That last one came out in 1995, but this newly revised version, "Totally Stripped," is offered as a CD, DVD, Blu-ray and on LP. All versions contain different tracks than the original "Stripped." I have the two-disc set with a 14-track CD/Blu-ray video documentary, with a spectacular unplugged rehearsal room take of "Tumbling Dice" in Amsterdam that makes this a mandatory purchase for 'Stones fans. Hot stuff indeed!
William Tyler -- Modern Country
There's an epic feel to this sprawling album as Tyler's guitars cast their spell with gentle acoustic strumming, twangy electric, and gentle pedal steel fretwork that's all set in a deep soundstage. I hear some Ry Cooder influence, but "Modern Country" sounds fresh, and always very American. Something new is happening here.
Brian Eno -- The Ship
This particular ship is a reference to the sinking of the Titanic; "The Ship" starts with a 21-plus-minute ambient odyssey proving once again that Eno isn't afraid to explore stillness and leave space in his music. Even so, there's a lot going on just beneath the surface to keep drawing you in.
Henry Butler and Steven Bernstein and the Hot 9 -- Viper's Drag
New Orleans jazz sounding remarkably vital is what you'll hear from this 2014 album. I'm a longtime fan of trumpet master Bernstein, and teamed here with Butler on piano, the good times keep on rolling. Sound quality is superb, too.
African Head Charge -- My Life In A Hole In The Ground
Catchy title, don't you think? This is African Head Charge's first record, from 1981, and it was just recently rereleased on vinyl. You'll get lost in deep Afrobeat grooves, swirly rhythms, ambient electronic textures and elastic reggae basslines that'll fully exercise your woofers.
Claudia Quintet -- Super Petite
Where to start? The Claudia Quintet is an eclectic, post-jazz ensemble formed by drummer and composer John Hollenbeck. "Super Petite" sounds like a free-flowing movie score, with lots of twists and turns in there. You can tell this is a drummer's group -- the rhythms are that pronounced, but melodies aren't shortchanged. "Super Petite" proves new jazz is alive and well in 2016.
If you have picks to share, tell us all about them in the comments section below.