- Dan DeLuca
Top Albums in the Region
This Week Last Week
Locally Nationally Locally
1 2 Lumineers Lumineers 3
2 1 Gary Allan Set You Free -
3 5 Kidz Bop Kids Kidz Bop 23 2
4 7 A$AP Rocky Long.Live.A$AP 1
5 4 Various Artists -
2013 Grammy Nominees
6 6 Mumford & Sons Babel 8
7 3 Various Artists 5
Pitch Perfect Soundtrack
8 22 Various Artists -
12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy
9 8 Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox 7
10 10 Les Miserables Cast Soundtrack 4
SOURCE: SoundScan (based on purchase data from Philadelphia and Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester, Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties). Billboard Magazine 2/9/13 © 2013
On Sale Tuesday
Two Lands of Freedom;
All That Echoes
James plays a sold-out show at Johnny Brenda's on Feb. 18 and returns to town to play Union Transfer on April 27. Information: www.utphilly.com
We the Common
(Ribbon Music ***1/2)
Since her 2008 debut, We Brave Bee Stings and All, Thao Nguyen has incorporated currents of Americana into her indie rock jams. In her latest album - We the Common, with her backing band, the Get Down Stay Down - those currents are stronger than ever, from the New Orleans brass on "The Feeling Kind" to the rockabilly bass line that leads off "The Day Long," to her flirtation with psych folk on "Kindness Be Conceived," a duet featuring harpist and singer Joanna Newsom. Throughout her musical career, Nguyen has demonstrated a talent for writing quirky rock songs with unexpected hooks, and We the Common carries on that tradition. In ballads, anthems, and the occasional atonal cacophony, her music encompasses optimism, vulnerability, playfulness, and abandon. We the Common fits snugly into that milieu and is an endearing study of pop songwriting at its finest.
- Katherine Silkaitis
Country/Blues Set You Free
(MCA Nashville ***)
Gary Allan is one country star who's not afraid to hit his fans with a lot of downbeat material (perhaps not surprising for a singer who lost his wife to suicide). That refusal to sugar-coat life is pretty country, and it has helped make the Southern Californian consistently satisfying, even as he has gradually progressed to a more mainstream, radio-ready sound.
On Set You Free, Allan shows again that he can hit pretty hard, whether he's delivering a venom-dipped warning in "Bones," admitting that "It Ain't the Whiskey" ("that's killing me"); or trying to come to grips with "You Without Me" ("Don't think you've ever looked more beautiful/ And you've never been more gone").
Juxtaposed with numbers such as these, the more upbeat offerings take on greater heft. "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)," "No Worries," and "Good As New" are not just formulaic banalities. Rather, the optimism and happiness they express come across as hard-earned and genuine.
- Nick Cristiano
Jazz Cross Culture
(Blue Note **1/2)
On tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano's 23d Blue Note CD, the leader's unusual, two-drummer quintet goes in a questioning direction. The 11-tune set (with 10 originals) unrolls with fiendish, free-jazz energy.
The high point for lyricism and pretty blowing is Billy Strayhorn's "Star Crossed Lovers," which affords Lovano's modernism a solid scaffolding to stretch out on. Lovano's "Golden Horn" sounds reasonable, too, giving pianist James Weidman an opportunity to shine.
Much of the set, however, sounds like musicians blowing for themselves and for other initiates. It's great if you're on the wavelength.
- Karl Stark