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2009 CD release

CD: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes: Up From Below

Looking like refugees from the Manson Family and prone to riding around L. A. in a battered school bus, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes are one of those teeming, multi-member outfits that’s more riveting in theory than execution. Imagining how Ima Robot frontman Alex Ebert founded the 11-piece band as a means of celebrating the spirit of the psychedelic 1960’s is fascinating; listening to “Up From Below” not so much. [...]

CD: Brendan Benson: My Old Familiar Friend

With Raconteur bandmate Jack White off making music with The Dead Winter, Brendan Benson is left to his own devices on “My Old Familiar Friend.” Lucky us. The 11-track album is a cornucopia of cascading keyboards, jangling guitars, and shiny pop hooks. [...]

CD: Loudon Wainwright III: High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project

Country music pioneer Charlie Poole might have died in 1931 at the age of 39, but Loudon Wainwright III’s self-proclaimed “sonic bio-pic” of the troubadour is anything but tragic. Blending original songs about Poole with covers of his most famous numbers (“Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down Blues,” “If I Lose, I Don’t Care,” “Take a Drink on Me”), Wainwright has come up with a two-CD, 30-track set that mines a rich seam of roots magic. [...]

CD: Elvis Presley: From Elvis In Memphis: Legacy Edition

Invigorated by a 1968 TV special and the notion of returning to a Memphis studio for the first time since leaving Sun Records for RCA in 1955, Elvis Presley decided to pull out all the stops for his first non-soundtrack album in six years. The songs were well selected (“Suspicious Minds,” “Only the Strong Survive,” “Gentle on My Mind,” “True Love Travels On a Gravel Road,” “Kentucky Rain”), the production stripped-down, and the musicians Memphis-funky. [...]

CD: Portugal. The Man: The Satanic Satanist

Portugal. The Man’s bizarrely titled fourth album kicks off with a groove so fat and swampy, you’ll swear it was recorded in Memphis, circa 1967. “The Satanic Satanist” opens with the anti-war anthem “People Say” that builds on that funky riff to become a full-fledged barnburner. “What a lovely day, yeah we won the war,” sings vocalist John Baldwin Gourley. “May have lost a million men but we’ve got a million more.” The rest of the album doesn’t quite live up to that awesome opener but it comes pretty damned close. [...]