• The Rough Guide to the Best Country Blues You've Never Heard: Vol. 2

    The Rough Guide to the Best Country Blues You've Never Heard: Vol. 2

    This collection delves yet deeper into the archives of country blues, uncovering hidden gems by artists shrouded in mystery, from classic renditions of blues standards to intriguing novelty songs. (syndetics)

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  • Wary + Strange

    Wary + Strange

    Kiah, Amythyst

    The major label debut from Amythyst Kiah marks the collision of two vastly different worlds: the iconoclastic alt-rock that first sparked her musical passion, and the roots music scene where she's found breakout success in recent years. This album arrives as an immersive body of work, redefining the limits of roots music in its inventive rhythms and textures. (syndetics)

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  • Behind the dikes: the 1969 Netherlands recordings

    Behind the dikes: the 1969 Netherlands recordings

    Evans, Bill

    (syndetics)

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  • Now That's What I Call Music: Christmas Classics

    Now That's What I Call Music: Christmas Classics

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  • BTS, the best

    BTS, the best

    BTS (Musical group)

    K-pop group BTS has become one of the biggest acts in the world. This collection features Japanese versions of 23 of their biggest hits, including Dynamite; Film Out; and Boy with Luv. (syndetics)

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  • The Bolic Sound Sessions

    The Bolic Sound Sessions

    Turner, Ike

    Following the success of Ike & Tina Turner, Turner had the finances to create his own recording studio that he called Bolic Sound. The name Bolic derived from the maiden name of his then wife Tina Turner (née Bullock). The studio was previously a furniture store that Turner bought as a shell and had it fully renovated. The facilities began being used for Turner productions in 1970 before opening for business in March 1972. Bolic Sound eventually burnt to the ground under mysterious circumstances, but not before Ike produced a plethora of tracks for himself and Tina Turner. (syndetics)

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  • Rockin' Bones: 1950s Punk & Rockabilly

    Rockin' Bones: 1950s Punk & Rockabilly

    It's easy to look at Rhino's four-disc 2006 box Rockin' Bones: 1950s Punk and Rockabilly and confuse it with the label's 1999 four-disc box Loud, Fast & Out of Control: The Wild Sounds of '50s Rock. It has the same garish neo-pulp artwork, covers the same era, and even has several of the same songs, usually big hits like Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" or Jerry Lee Lewis' "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On," or Ricky Nelson's "Believe What You Say," but it also has cult classics like Joe Clay's "Duck Tail" or the Phantom's "Love Me," or Vince Taylor's "Brand New Cadillac" -- plus, this builds on the speeches and dialogue that were interspersed throughout Loud, Fast & Out of Control by adding the audio from '50s and '60s exploitation movie trailers; a cool idea on mixtapes that is unbearable in the digital age because for some reason, Rhino did not index the trailers as individual tracks, so whenever you try to make your own mix or listen to it on your iPod it's a mess. So, Rockin' Bones is very similar in many respects to Loud, Fast & Out of Control except in one important way: this contains only rockabilly tunes, cutting out any of the R&B, jump blues, and straight-up rock & roll that made the 1999 box an excellent, essential portrait of the rock & roll revolution. In other words, with the exception of Big Al Downing, there are no black artists here -- no Chuck Berry, no Little Richard, no Bo Diddley, three artists who were as crucial to '50s rock & roll (not to mention greasers) as Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Buddy Holly. While the argument could be made that Berry, Little Richard and Diddley weren't rockabilly, their absence nevertheless casts a shadow over the set, as if the compilers were trying to rewrite history so they could shoehorn the beginning of rock & roll into the nebulous "1950s Punk" of the set's subtitle, since punk in its 2006 incarnation is pretty much devoid of black musicians (but, let's face it, a generation raised on Hot Topic punk-pop and emo is unlikely to buy 50-year-old recordings no matter if they're labeled punk or not). It's a decision that can be defended, but it still leaves a bad aftertaste. It's not the only flaw on Rockin' Bones, either. The set is pitched halfway between a basic introduction to rockabilly and a collection of wild-cat rarities for collectors, with the big, big hits alternating with oddball selections, including several songs that have never been on a U.S. CD before this box. This gives the set a bit of an unbalanced feel, particularly for listeners who have "Baby Let's Play House," "Rumble," "Get Rhythm," and "Who Do You Love" on countless comps, but it also doesn't function as a good introduction for the curious since it provides little context for either the hits or rarities; it just plays like a very good rockabilly station on shuffle. Of course, there are some benefits to this -- it makes for good, consistent listening -- but it doesn't make this a definitive portrait of a style, the way that Rhino's first Nuggets set did, nor does this work as a worthy rarities roundup for the hardcore collector, the way that their girl group box One Kiss Can Lead to Another did. Instead, Rockin' Bones occupies a netherworld where it has too much familiar stuff for the hardcore fans and too many samey novelties for the less dedicated listener who would be better off getting Loud, Fast & Out of Control. But for those listeners who fall somewhere between those two extremes -- those who really like rockabilly, have a bunch in their collection, but want some good rarities and novelties -- this is worthwhile, since there are some great sides scattered throughout these 101 songs, including the tribal thump of Tommy Blake's "Lordy Hoody" or John & Jackie's "Little Girl," a truly bizarre single where the duo's perky vocals are overshadowed by a female backing vocalist who sounds as if she's writhing in orgasm for the song's entire two-minute running time. These, along with such other highlights as rockabilly singles by George Jones and Buck Owens (released under pseudonyms: Thumper Jones and Corky Jones, respectively), are the reason for serious rock & roll fans to get this set: cuts like these, and there a lot of them here, are enough to forgive the severe flaws on Rockin' Bones as a historical set and just enjoy it as 101 tracks of pure raw rock & roll. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (syndetics)

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  • Where the Action Is!: Los Angeles Nuggets, 1965-1968

    Where the Action Is!: Los Angeles Nuggets, 1965-1968

    Where the Action Is! Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968, Rhino's 2009 sequel to their 2007 Nuggets box Love Is the Song We Sing, shifts the spotlight down the Californian coast, moving from the epicenter of the hippie universe in San Francisco to hipsville central in Los Angeles, the land where fringe-wearing folk-rockers strolled down the Sunset Strip alongside studio cats on the make. Both groups of hipsters are equally well-represented on Where the Action Is!, along with the teens raising a ruckus out in the suburbs and the stars who stretched out, all based on the sounds they heard coming from the Strip, the section of Sunset that serves as the fulcrum for this entire set. The compilers focus on a brief time, the four-year stretch from 1965 to 1968, where Los Angeles was overrun with dance clubs and nightspots, all giving bands as wonderful and distinct as the Byrds, Love, the Doors, the Seeds, Buffalo Springfield, and the Leaves places to explore, opening up avenues that others followed, either in music or spirit. Some of this filtered through the prism of the studio, where there were plenty of musicians infatuated with the sounds of Brian Wilson, who pops up toward the end on an alternate take of "Heroes and Villains," but there's also no denying the impact of hustlers and hucksters like Kim Fowley, or how Hollywood could package and polish all of this up in the form of the Monkees. All of this is here in bright, flashing neon on Where the Action Is!, which helps make it one of the liveliest of the Nuggets boxes, but also the one that seems to stray furthest from the series' mission to excavate unheard garage rock and psychedelia; after all, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, and the Doors are hardly unknown quantities or one-hit wonders. Yet, in its own way, Where the Action Is! is as crucial as any of the boxes that followed the first Nuggets set, for it documents a brief, shining moment in time where everything and anything seemed possible. It's not archeology, it's pop culture anthropology that does an excellent job of charting the rise of the L.A. underground, illustrating its first surfacing in the mainstream, connecting the dots in a fashion that may surprise even some dedicated pop and rock fans, those that might not realize how the Turtles, Bobby Fuller Four, the Standells, the Association, the Electric Prunes, Nilsson, Captain Beefheart. and Iron Butterfly were all connected, however loosely, or how Rick Nelson and Del Shannon got weird as the decade started to draw to a close. These connections, along with discovering dozens of gems from lesser-known artists, are the reason why Where the Action Is! winds up being a blast, as well as a revelation just like any other Nuggets set. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (syndetics)

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  • The Montreux Years

    The Montreux Years

    James, Etta

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  • No Gods No Masters

    No Gods No Masters

    Garbage (Musical group)

    Decrying injustice in a chaotic world, alt-rock mainstays Garbage blazed into the 2020s revitalized and pissed off with their seventh set, No Gods No Masters. Their most overtly political effort to date, the album takes a bold sociopolitical stance in the wake of global events from the years preceding its release, tackling everything from systemic racism and gender inequality to corporate greed and the struggles of the marginalized. From the outset, it's clear that the quartet are fed up, switching off their 2010s autopilot mode and cranking up the aggression for the throbbing digital-funk of "The Men Who Rule the World," a biting indictment that aims to smash the patriarchy. The pulsing "Godhead" takes a more explicit approach, venting frustration over society's centering on the male ego with colorful phallic imagery, which is then twisted through a Depeche Mode-meets-Peaches lens. "A Woman Destroyed" carries that fury to a logical conclusion with a theatrical revenge fantasy, which is layered with ominous atmospheric production and a pulsing industrial beat. Later, the rage morphs into hopeless desperation on the somber "Waiting for God," a haunting dirge that finds vocalist Shirley Manson praying for those affected by police brutality and discrimination. Wading through these tough topics, Manson -- her inimitable vocals as alluring, commanding, and threatening as ever -- is sure to tap into the personal side of things, offering unguarded moments of hard-earned wisdom that deal with self-doubt and failure (the frenetic, biographical "The Creeps"), atoning for past ills (the quintessentially "Garbage" standout "Wolves"), and being an eternal misfit (the sweeping, midtempo "Uncomfortably Me"). As No Gods No Masters draws to a close, Garbage deliver a hopeful anthem to the masses with the sparkling title track, a driving pop gem that echoes Missing Persons and Blondie. Atop the ever-reliable backing of Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, and Steve Marker, Manson defiantly declares, "The future is mine just the same/No master or gods to obey." As a unit, Garbage haven't sounded this hungry and vital in over a decade; the fact that they've delivered such a statement nearly three decades into their careers makes it all the more impressive. No Gods No Masters is a highlight in their discography and one of their best works to date, a potent and outspoken dose of genre-blending artistry that confidently returns Garbage to their position as a band perpetually ahead of the curve. ~ Neil Z. Yeung (syndetics)

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