Five albums you may have missed over the summer
Fall may officially be a few weeks away, but with Labor Day behind us, summer feels all but finished.
That said, here are five albums you may have missed in a season when it could be hard to hear anyone not named Drake or Ariana Grande.
Jake Shears, “Jake Shears” (Freida Jean)
A newly minted Broadway star thanks to his recent turn in the Tony-winning “Kinky Boots,” the frontman of New York’s Scissor Sisters nails his latest role as a hedonistic rock god on this solo debut full of scuzzy guitars and stomping grooves. But there’s an unexpected earnestness to tunes like “Big Bushy Mustache” that suggests Shears isn’t merely goofing on a wild look; he brings real emotion to the act of dress-up, just like David Bowie and Prince before him.
Various artists, “King of the Road: A Tribute to Roger Miller” (BMG)
Country stars young and old — from Kacey Musgraves and Lennon & Maisy to Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn — crowd this double-disc set to honor the late Nashville songwriter best known for the oft-covered “King of the Road.” (Some non-country types show up too, including Ringo Starr and, uh, Toad the Wet Sprocket.) If anybody was worried about being overshadowed, though, you can hardly tell: What distinguishes the project is the care each act takes to respectfully showcase Miller’s top-shelf wordplay. The result is the rare tribute album with class to spare.
Peabo Bryson, “Stand for Love” (Perspective)
The veteran R&B singer is still in fine voice on his 21st studio album — as fine, more or less, as in the pair of Disney hits (“Beauty and the Beast” and “A Whole New World”) that vastly expanded his renown a quarter-century ago. But the polished and funky “Stand for Love” is also recommended to followers of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the genre-defining duo who produced the record with their usual attention to detail — and took the project seriously enough to relaunch their Perspective Records label to put it out.
Dirty Projectors, “Lamp Lit Prose” (Domino)
Following his high-profile collaborations with Kanye West and Solange, Dave Longstreth’s brainy art-rock group was poised to cross over from the indie world to something like the pop scene with last year’s self-titled “Dirty Projectors.” Only that didn’t quite happen. So instead of storming the Top 40, Longstreth re-embraced his quirks for this thorny but tuneful helping of avant-garde bubblegum.
James Williamson and the Pink Hearts, “Behind the Shade” (Leopard Lady)
Williamson is best remembered as a member of the Stooges, the seminal proto-punk band with whom he made 1973’s “Raw Power” before quitting music to become a tech exec. And at points this debut by the guitarist’s new band certainly echoes the earlier group’s famously chaotic energy. But thanks in part to the presence of Petra Haden — familiar to L.A. music fans from her days in That Dog and the Haden Triplets — “Behind the Shade” strikes a yearning roots-rock chord as well. Punks have feelings too, you know.
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