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Rock - To be released April 3, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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Soul - Released February 21, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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Rock - Released February 20, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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Metal - Released January 24, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

Void Terra Firma was Defiance's second album and first with new singer Steev Esquivel (subsequently of Skinlab), and its music represented the typical features of second-wave Bay Area thrash: an obsession with overt technicality (often taking precedence over fluid songwriting and good hooks) and a thicker, crunchier guitar sound which gave discreet notice of the then on-the-rise death metal aesthetic. In other words, they weren't doing anything original enough to really break out of the pack, but within the thrash genre's strict confines, Defiance were tackling both trends more capably than most. It's safe to say that the sheer, nimble musicianship displayed on standouts like the title track, "Skitz-Illusions," and "Last Resort (Welcome to Poverty)" left even worthy contemporaries such as Forbidden and Death Angel in the proverbial dust, and the seemingly telepathic connection between the rhythm and lead work of guitarists Doug Harrington and Jim Adams still sounds barely possible -- literally phenomenal. And perhaps even more commendable is the way newcomer Esquivel rises to the challenge of his cohorts' absurd instrumental abilities. As well as displaying above average lyric-writing abilities (albeit about typical metal subjects like death, doom, and destruction), he delivers them in an authoritative, part-growled, part-shrieked, part-melodious style whose only possible negative is deriving rather blatantly from the style of Testament's Chuck Billy. Who really cares, though? Other than that, an entertainingly thrashed-over cover of Iron Maiden's "Killers" and a micro-flirtation with acoustic guitars in the intro to "Checkmate" are the only minor surprises on hand here, qualifying Void Terra Firma as mandatory listening only for serious thrash enthusiasts. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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Hard Rock - Released April 15, 1985 | Rhino Atlantic

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Metal - Released January 24, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

By the late '80s, thrash metal had become quite the hot commodity, and even though only a select few bands had actually managed to sell a considerable number of records by mainstream standards (namely the big four of Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, and Megadeth), there were still countless bands across the U.S. and abroad being rushed through the production line, in the hopes of similar success. Naturally, nowhere was this production line more clogged up or accelerated than in the San Francisco Bay Area, where founding fathers Metallica and Exodus had quickly given way to second (Testament, Death Angel, etc.), third (Forbidden, Vio-Lence, etc.), and even fourth generation thrashers such as Oakland's Defiance. But hey, who's counting? What matters is that, like most other late arrivals to the scene, Defiance were working with what scraps had been left on the banquet table by their revolutionary predecessors -- and finding it difficult to come up with anything remotely original because of it. Sure enough, the Oakland quintet's 1989 debut, Product of Society, was awash in familiar sonic trappings also favored by the likes of Exodus (see "Death Machine," "Forgotten," and "Deadly Intentions," in particular), Vio-Lence (largely due to the inexpressive, often atonal nature of Ken Elkinton's voice), and Mordred (who shared the same crunchy guitar tones). What's more, even though Defiance guitarists Doug Harrington and Jim Adams formed quite the dynamic duo (hear their melodies soar and solos shred on the title cut, "Insomnia," and "Hypothermia," among others), both the acoustic piece, "Aftermath," and the clumsily arranged fret-board marathon, "Tribulation," sound more like the work of producer Jeff Waters, of Annihilator fame. In other words: Defiance still seemed like a band too beholden to pre-established musical elements to stand out from other production line items with Product of Society. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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Dance - Released January 17, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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Hard Rock - Released January 10, 2020 | Rhino Atlantic

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Dance - Released January 1, 1991 | Rhino Atlantic

Miami-based vocalist Stevie B was never more than a pleasant pop/soul type, although he scored a left-field number one hit in 1990 with "Because I Love You (The Postman Song)." That's included on this anthology, along with his other sentimental smashes, which included "I'll Be By Your Side" and "Love and Emotion." He could be painfully maudlin, but that seemed to be his stock-in-trade, as every Stevie B tune that ever made any noise was drenched in vapid schmaltz. ~ Ron Wynn
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Rock - Released June 10, 2008 | Rhino Atlantic

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Rock - Released May 27, 2008 | Rhino Atlantic

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R&B - Released June 10, 2008 | Rhino Atlantic

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Hard Rock - Released January 1, 1985 | Rhino Atlantic

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Jazz - Released November 29, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 15, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic

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Country - Released November 8, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic

Jim Lauderdale has had success by writing songs others have had hits with. Jim Lauderdale has been favorably compared to the late Gram Parsons. Jim Lauderdale sounds an awful lot like a tame Rodney Crowell. Jim Lauderdale is playing it safe when he releases albums such as Every Second Counts. Jim Lauderdale should be more famous than he is. Either all, some, or none of the above are true. If you want to find out which statement is which, seek out a copy of Every Second Counts and find out for yourself. It's as simple as that. You will not be disappointed. ~ James Chrispell
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Country - Released November 8, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic

Jim Lauderdale did his share of label hopping in the 1990s, recording for Reprise and RCA, as well as Upstart/Rounder. Released in 1994, Pretty Close to the Truth was the first of two albums he provided for Atlantic. Some might wonder why an artist who was talented enough to write songs for the likes of Patty Loveless and George Strait did so much label hopping, and it came down to the fact that -- from a commercial standpoint -- he had too much integrity for his own good. Sure, Lauderdale could have taken the easy way out and tried to become just another radio-oriented Garth Brooks clone, but if he had done that, Pretty Close to the Truth would not have been half as interesting and heartfelt as it is. This CD isn't easy to categorize; is it Americana, roots rock, alternative country-rock? However you describe it, Pretty Close to the Truth is a diverse, unpredictable effort that draws on influences ranging from Merle Haggard to the Rolling Stones to classic soul. While the title song has a strong Stones influence and "This Is the Big Time" would not be out of place on a Dwight Yoakam album, the soul-minded "Why Do I Love You?" isn't unlike something Al Green would have recorded in the early 1970s -- take away the steel guitar and add a Memphis-style horn section, and you can easily imagine Green recording "Why Do I Love You?" for one of his Hi albums. In a perfect world, this album would have been a favorite at country radio. But, in 1994, Lauderdale was determined to do things his own way, and while that free-spirited attitude can frighten marketing people and radio programmers, it makes for a lot of first-class listening on Pretty Close to the Truth. ~ Alex Henderson
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 18, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 18, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic

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Metal - Released October 18, 2019 | Rhino Atlantic

Floodgate's debut, Penalty, offers a slightly more commercial take on Corrosion of Conformity's mid-'90s exploits in Sabbath-style riffery with Southern rock accents. Frontman Kyle Thomas' muscular yet still very melodic delivery provides the extra spark to highlights "Running with Sodden Legs" and "Before the Line Divides"; but he is equally adept at aping a Phil Anselmo-like growl on "Second Guesser" and outstanding single "Through My Days into My Nights." Also of note is an acoustic ballad titled "Whole," where the band revises their entire playbook by meshing melancholy, counterpoint vocal lines to great effect. Occasional plodding filler like "Those Days" and "Imitation Salvation" knocks a few points off the final score, but this is still a solid first effort. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia