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Rock - Released May 30, 2019 | Vanguard Records

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Pop - Released April 4, 2016 | Vanguard Records

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War

Alternative & Indie - Released March 18, 2016 | Vanguard Records

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War

Alternative & Indie - Released March 18, 2016 | Vanguard Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 2015 | Vanguard Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 2015 | Vanguard Records

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Pop - Released January 1, 2015 | Vanguard Records

Clairy Browne & the Bangin' Rackettes achieved acclaim with the full-tilt retro-soul of Baby Caught the Bus. Released in late 2011 and awarded album of the year by ABC Radio National, its effect was largely due to Clairanne Browne. The group's bold and fun-loving frontperson clearly impressed RuPaul and Paul Kelly, two radically different figures who sought her for collaborations. Along the way, Browne met Amanda Warner (aka MNDR), a songwriter, producer, and recording artist known most for contributing to Mark Ronson's Top Ten U.K. pop hit "Bang Bang Bang," as well as recordings by Kylie Minogue, Rita Ora, and Charli XCX. Browne and Warner, along with Rob Kleiner, Peter Wade Keusch, and a handful of additional associates, recorded Pool with mainstream pop success as the goal. Pool isn't likely to please those who loved Caught by the Bus primarily for its vintage sound. Some of the throwback touches here do recall '60s rhythm & blues, though none of them sound made for a museum exhibit, and the stylistic scope is widened to incorporate '70s disco-funk and contemporary pop. Browne's voice is left front and center, not once cloaked in the amount of reverb heard on the Rackettes material. She cited Beyoncé as an inspiration, yet Pool is somewhere between Solange's Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams and Fergie's The Dutchess, full of bawdy ebullience and silly pop-culture references. Some of the affectations -- "West Coast is the best coast, I be rollin' with my homies," replete with G-funk whistle, for instance -- verge on noxious, but they're offset with some depth, like the offhanded kiss-off "F.U.B." and the sad ballad "Spiral," the latter an odd close to an otherwise sunny, frolicsome album that befits its title. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Vanguard Records

For a good portion of his solo career, John Fogerty refused to play any of his old Creedence Clearwater Revival songs -- not because he hated them but because he was tied up in a nasty legal battle with Saul Zaentz, the head of his former record label Fantasy. After a few decades, Fogerty's position softened and he started playing the tunes in concert, then, after Concord purchased Fantasy in 2004, he celebrated CCR, first with a new hits compilation combining his old band and solo work, then eventually working his way around to Wrote a Song for Everyone, a 2013 album where he revisits many of his most popular songs with a little help from his superstar friends. Savvy guy that he is, Fogerty doesn't place all of his chips on one bet: he mixes up rock and country, old and new, dabbling just a bit in R&B and alternative folk, but preferring to stick to a tastefully weathered roots rock that suits him well. Curiously, there is very little swamp rock to be heard here -- Kid Rock yowls through "Born on the Bayou," but that only helps it sound like it's coming straight out of a trailer -- and the song choice, along with the guest list, skews toward country; with Bob Seger singing "Who'll Stop the Rain" and My Morning Jacket easing back on "Long as I Can See the Light," which leaves just the aforementioned son of Detroit stomping through the bayou, and the Foo Fighters lumbering through "Fortunate Son" as pure rock & roll. Heavy as they are -- and they are, substituting volume for swing -- they're overshadowed by never-ending country-rockers, some spirited enough to enliven familiar melodies, some so sober the whole proceeding winds up seeming a bit po-faced. At worst, this means Wrote a Song for Everyone is no better than generic -- it's hard to identify Keith Urban as the duet partner on a too-smooth "Almost Saturday Night" -- but a few of the guests stamp their own identity on the cover, whether it's Brad Paisley twisting "Hot Rod Heart" (the only cover here that can't be called a hit, as it's pulled off Fogerty's acclaimed 1997 LP Blue Moon Swamp) toward his twanging Telecaster territory, or Miranda Lambert stealing the title track from her host and guest guitarist Tom Morello. All of this is enjoyable but it's rarely compelling, as very few songs play with the original arrangement in any serious fashion (Zac Brown Band's untroubled "Bad Moon Rising" is the exception that proves the rule). It's telling that the lasting moments arrive either when Fogerty unveils two solid new solo songs -- "Mystic Highway" and "Train of Fools" -- or when he leads his sons through the terrific, bluesy choogle of "Lodi," turning the lament into a celebration. All three cuts prove that Fogerty, no matter how much fun he's having elsewhere on the record, doesn't need any guests to sound alive. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2013 | Vanguard Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2013 | Vanguard Records

Despite busy careers (and lives), the combined members of Living Sisters -- Inara George, Becky Stark, Eleni Mandell, and new member Alex Lilly -- managed a 2013 covers EP that complements Love to Live, their unique 2010 LP. Boasting all the warmth and easy sense of acoustic swing shown earlier, Run for Cover also combines just a little bit of naughty with a little bit of nice in much the same way as Love to Live. There may be nothing as explicit as "Double Knots" (i.e., "my baby ties me up in double knots"), but a version of the languid pop hit "Make Love to Me" certainly approaches the same territory. Aside from natural choices including Doris Day's biggest hit, Dolly Parton's often-covered "Jolene," and two less well-known Patsy Cline numbers, the quartet stretches out for one song, a cover of Funkadelic's "Can You Get to That?" Light and pleasant, Run for Cover is also backed by a band that knows how to accompany all this vocal loveliness. © John Bush /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Vanguard Records

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Country - Released January 1, 2012 | Vanguard Records

There's more to Rodney Crowell than meets the eye -- or so he keeps telling us. A country music maverick, he's written some great songs, been a top-line country star with videos and the whole enchilada, was married to Rosanne Cash for over a dozen years, and has collaborated with Emmylou Harris and countless others as a songwriter, musician, and producer. His songwriting has gotten increasingly autobiographical in recent years, and in 2011 he published a memoir, Chinaberry Sidewalks, that detailed a childhood in Texas full of dysfunction and abuse -- which brings us to Mary Karr, a poet and writer whose best-selling 1995 memoir The Liar's Club kicked off a whole craze for such things. Karr also spent her childhood in Texas, and her story mirrored Crowell's. Crowell even name-checked Karr in a song, "Earthbound," on his 2003 album Fate's Right Hand, and in truth, they could have been brother and sister, so similar were their childhoods. Kin, if you will. This set finds them writing songs together, and with the help of Crowell's musical kin (who fortunately include Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, Vince Gill, Lee Ann Womack, Chely Wright, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, and, of course, Rosanne Cash), recording them with producer Joe Henry. That's the story. So what kinds of songs did this unlikely (and yet likely) duo come up with? Well, the songs on Kin are smart, literary, lyrical, full of great lines, full of thought, and very specific, and they fall right in line with the kind of autobiographical roots country Crowell has been doing with his last few albums, and any of these songs would fit right in there. A couple of them, "Anything But Tame" (sung by Crowell, who sings three songs here, and duets with Kris Kristofferson on "My Father's Advice") and "If the Law Don't Want You" (sung wonderfully by Norah Jones) have killer vocal hooks when the chorus comes around. Crowell knows how to write songs, and maybe Karr does too, but nothing on Kin rings as clearly as Crowell's earlier gems like "Ain't Living Long Like This," "Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight," "Shame on the Moon," or even "Life Is Messy," and part of the reason is that these earlier songs are, well, less specific, less literary, and thus they actually reverberate in a wider arc. It's hard to set fire to too much thought, the poet Robinson Jeffers once said. Perhaps that's doubly true when it comes to a song. Songs can be confessional, certainly, but songs are not memoirs. Songs can also be poetic, but they're not poems. Crowell and Karr have written an interesting album here, but it's no Diamonds & Dirt, the 1988 album that is Crowell's best, and an album that deftly straddles the personal and the general in a way this one does not, however intelligently wrought it is. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2012 | Vanguard Records

Before the success of “Come On Get Higher,” Matt Nathanson always seemed stuck in half-famous limbo, faithfully championed by a small group of fans but unknown to pretty much everybody else. Things changed when “Come On Get Higher” became his first platinum-selling single in 2009, earning props from American Idol and Sugarland (who covered the song on the deluxe version of Love on the Inside) along the way. Nathanson keeps things consistent on his follow-up release, Modern Love, making relatively few changes to the blend of singer/songwriter balladry and smooth, sanded-down pop/rock that made his previous album a hit. This may be the guy’s first record as a semi-star, but the glossy production and A-list cameo by Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles are the only signs that Nathanson has traded up, leaving behind the world of singer/songwriter anonymity for a slightly more mainstream place. The Nathanson/Nettles duet on “Run” is actually one of the album’s most misguided moves -- she sounds far too throaty, too overzealous, too loud for a ballad like that, as though she’s trying to oversing her partner -- but most of Modern Love is almost meticulously inoffensive, shot through with a middle-of-the-road approach that rarely overswings or underwhelms. That’s both the blessing and the curse of this album, which charts a steady path but offers few surprises as a result. © Andrew Leahey /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Vanguard Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Vanguard Records

Landline, Greg Laswell's 2012 follow-up to the celebrated Take a Bow, may sound less tortured, but there's plenty of pathos to go around. Recorded in a small church-turned-house that belongs to his in-laws, Laswell couches his songwriting in what he perceives to be adventurous production. He listened to many hip-hop records before he cut Landline, and the sound of its drums, loops, and synthetic percussion obviously enchanted him. But this is nothing like a hip-hop record. The album's first single is its opening cut, "Come Back Down," a duet with Sarah Bareilles (loudly trumpeted by Vanguard Records). Its crunchy tom-toms, repetitive piano riff, and his monotone vocals introduce it. Bareilles complements and elevates them by injecting something that approximates honest emotion with her friendly style. The most compelling thing about the track is its lyric content, which may disguise itself as an admonition, but is instead a thinly veiled indictment of a subject who's hurt the protagonist (truth be told, though, no matter how often Laswell uses the word "you" in these songs, the subject is always him). It comes to a big, nearly cinematic climax, letting the listener know that Landline is supposed to be a "big" record. There are three other collaborations with female vocalists, including "Back To You" (Elizabeth Ziman of Elizabeth and the Catapult), the jaunty, "Dragging You Around" (Sia), and the closing title track with his wife, singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson. It's the last of these, a ballad, which works best -- though all of them nicely break up what would otherwise be mostly monotonous. It's relatively simple; her voice with its plaintive appeal is a fine contrast to Laswell's overly angsty one. Tracks like "Nicely Played," with its insistent percussive layers, and "I Might Drop By," with its waltz tempo and blurred wash of instruments -- save for a piano which is crystalline -- have somewhat appealing hooks. To be fair, most of these songs have what it takes to get attention from radio programmers and online tune purveyors. Laswell's growing number of fans will be drawn to his "new" sounds, as well as his studied hooks and de rigueur emotionalism. But Landline is cloying, full of soon-to-be-dated production tricks, drab, mediocre songs -- which feel like they were written for poignant moments in film soundtracks -- and his inability to get past certain tropes he's employed since the beginning of his career. Its most damning feature, though, is that it feels like an exercise in adolescent accusation and revenge; its insincere apologies are nearly nauseating. Close listening condemns it as a trite exercise in nothing more than self-indulgence. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Vanguard Records

Andersen's debut album presented him playing in a folkie style that was just starting to become passé upon its release in 1965. It's an inoffensive set of originals (except for a cover of "Baby Please Don't Go") in the early-'60s Greenwich Village style, accompanied only by his own guitar and harmonica (and, on two songs, by Debby Green on second guitar). Whether by coincidence or intention, or some combination thereof, it's highly reminiscent in spots of early Bob Dylan, although Andersen is gentler and more subdued. At times it especially recalls the Freewheelin'-era Dylan, or at least Dylan on that album's most reflective and low-key cuts, such as "Girl from the North Country." Andersen fills a lot of these early compositions with imagery of bumming around the country (hence the title "today is the highway"), adding some love songs. Certainly, however, it's not as forceful or original as the best singer-songwriter folk of the era, not just in comparison to Dylan, but also in comparison to others, such as his friend Tom Paxton. Nor is it as accomplished as his best material on subsequent 1960s recordings. The finest composition here is "Looking Glass," an elaborate first-person narrative-fantasy with a melody similar to folk tunes such as "Scarborough Fair." © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Vanguard Records

Like numerous folk-rock singer/songwriters in the late '60s, Andersen went to Nashville to record country-rock-flavored material, using some of the city's top sessionmen. Charlie McCoy, Ken Buttrey, Norbert Putnam, and David Briggs are all on this record, which doesn't rate among Andersen's strongest '60s albums. The LP's not so much weak as meek, or pleasantly undistinguished. Even by Andersen's own low-key standards, the mood is mild, the songs drifting amiably without a great deal of force. The cover of Otis Redding's "(Sittin On) The Dock of the Bay" and the instrumental "Smashville Jam" seem like padding. The Salvation Army comedy of "Devon, You Look Like Heaven" could have hardly been more ill-placed in the running order, following as it does one of the better and most serious tracks, "Deborah, I Love You" (presumably addressed to his wife, Debbie Green). It's not that overt of a country-styled record, though Weldon Myrick makes his steel guitar heard often and Andersen takes a shot at the hit popularized by Hank Williams, "Lovesick Blues." The best song, though, is the concluding six-minute "Waves of Freedom," which is just as tranquil as the rest of the album, but a little more melodic and moving. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Vanguard Records

On his second album, Andersen took considerable strides toward finding his own voice as a writer, and establishing himself as a noted singer/songwriter. The record featured several songs that would endure among his most renowned compositions. The pretty "Violets of Dawn" was an obvious candidate for a hit record if it was given a folk-rock arrangement, though it never was a hit, in spite of several artists trying. "Thirsty Boots," inspired by the '60s civil rights movement, is one of the better known social commentary folk tunes of the period, although it wasn't that typical of Andersen's repertoire. "Close the Door Lightly When You Go" was one of Andersen's best bittersweet romantic tunes, and covered to good effect by Fairport Convention and the Dillards. At other points, Andersen still sounded a good deal like early Bob Dylan, but on the whole he was outgrowing that early persona, nonetheless often sounding like a gentler and more romantic counterpart to Dylan, with a more conventionally pretty voice. While Debbie Green added second guitar to a couple of songs and Harvey Brooks played electric bass on a couple of others, the album was otherwise just Andersen with his guitar and harmonica, which in 1966 was becoming an old-fashioned way of doing things among contemporary songwriters. Perhaps for that reason, the entire album was redone with electric arrangements and resequenced (although with the exact same 12 songs), and the results were released as Andersen's next album, 'Bout Changes & Things Take Two. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | Vanguard Records

On his second album with rock instrumentation (following 'Bout Changes & Things, Take 2, his electrified remake of 'Bout Changes & Things), Andersen was growing more comfortable with a folk-rock setting. Lingering comparisons as a gentler Bob Dylan remained inevitable, though, on tracks like "Tin Can Alley Part 1" and "Tin Can Alley Part 2" (which open and close the record, respectively) in both the vocal phrasing and the anxious strings of odd imagery. Similarities, alas, didn't end there. Several New York sessionmen that played on early folk-rock albums by Dylan and others filled out the sound, including Al Kooper, Bobby Gregg, Herb Lovelle, Paul Harris, and Paul Griffin, and "Honey" doesn't sound too far off the Highway 61 Revisited route, though the song isn't great. There was also some period Baroque folk production -- flowery vibes, peppy horns, light dramatic orchestration, and the like -- that add some color and dimension, but also make it dated. Andersen sounded best on his more tuneful and pensive ballads, like "Miss Lonely Are You Blue" and "Just a Little Something"; the more sardonic and lyrically vague outings just don't seem as in tune with his strengths and artistic personality. There are touches of bluesy vaudevillian honky tonk ("Mary Sunshine," "Hello Sun") and good-time pop (also on "Mary Sunshine," interestingly enough). Other tracks, like the lengthy "Rollin' Home (It's a Far Cry From Heaven but a Short Cry From Home)" and "Broken-Hearted Mama," sound rather like the Blues Project's folk-rock ventures. Ultimately it's a respectable but erratic album. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2012 | Vanguard Records