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Mustered Courage conjures bluegrass from Down Under

| Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

‘Powerlines'

Mustered Courage (self-released)

★★★★

I don't think of Australia as a hot bed for bluegrass/roots music, but Melbourne quartet Mustered Courage has me rethinking that stance on the strength of stellar new album “Powerlines.” It's easy to see why the band has emerged atop the Aussie folk scene, as this 12-track gem is filled with first-rate string instruments and plenty of three-part harmonies. “Standing By Your Side” sets the tone and Mustered Courage also shines on “Cruel Alibis,” “My Hometown,” “Allegheny,” “Southern Style,” the title track and “Old Steam Train.” For the most part, bluegrass has been the realm of bands from Down South. Now we have to make room for talented artists from Down Under.

‘From Chaos to Order'

Implants (Cyber Tracks)

★★★½

Implants is a punk super group that features members of SoCal outfits Strung Out, Pulley, Ten Foot Pole and the Tank, and the five-piece makes an effective debut with “From Chaos to Order.” It's evident from the outset of the 12-track release that the guys enjoy making music together and they serve up a series of high-octane tunes. Among the standouts are “Blinded,” “Through the Window,” “Mutualism,” “Parallel” and “These Walls.” At 42 minutes, “From Chaos to Order” runs a bit long for a punk record, but Implants deserves credit for keeping things interesting.

‘The Shaker'

Baby Bee (Republic)

★★★★

Don't be put off by the “suited up” photo of brothers Joe and David Stark — aka Baby Bee — on the cover of new EP “The Shaker.” They might look like a corporate version of a blues-rock duo on the sleeve, but the Starks kick butt and take names on this fantastic four-track release. Lead single “High Heel Leather Boots” launches the EP, and Baby Bee soars even higher on “Another and Another,” “Bang It Out” and “Jet Black.” There will be inevitable comparisons to the Black Keys, but Baby Bee is legit.

‘High Heels & Sneakers'

Tess Henley (Hey! Listen to This!)

★★★½

Seattle native Tess Henley has a bright future. A triple-threat as a first-rate pianist, singer and songwriter, Henley figures to open some eyes with “High Heels & Sneakers,” a nice platter of soul/R&B tunes that announces her as a player on the scene. First single “Daydreaming” is good, but Henley finds her real groove on ballads like “Going Back” and “You Are the One.” Additional keepers include “From the Get Go,” “Heartless Queen,” “Above” and “Something to Say.” This is a record you should spend some time with this summer.

‘The Freewheelin' Dan Miraldi EP'

Dan Miraldi (self-released)

★★★★

Cleveland native Dan Miraldi has but one full-length album to his name — last year's terrific “Sugar & Adrenaline” — but the young rocker has a handful of standout EPs on his resume and you can add “The Freewheelin' Dan Miraldi EP” to that list. A nod in name and cover art to Bob Dylan's 1963 masterpiece “The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan,” Miraldi sticks to his own songs here. The EP features acoustic versions of four older tunes (“Out of Eden,” “The Holy Roller Stone Revival,” “Thirsty” and “More & More”), plus unplugged new tracks “The Folk Singer Is Dead” and “Ex-Girlfriend.” This kid has some real chops. Here's hoping the rest of the world catches on soon.

‘Tennessee'

David Newbould (self-released)

★★★★

It's been more than three years since David Newbould popped onto my radar with ambitious live set “The Long Way Home” and though his songs have popped up in a few television series and feature films since, I was beginning to wonder when/if Newbould would make another album. The answer to that question is a resounding “yes!” with the release of “Tennessee,” a delightful gathering of Americana songs that rank among his best offerings to date. Newbould gets back to basics on the 12-track release and scores with “Always Coming Home,” “Live for Love,” “Drifting Wayward,” the Ryan Adams-esque “Lucinda,” “Trying to Find the Good in Seeing Things” and “The Things We Done.” Please don't make us wait so long for your next record.

‘Eudora'

Second Wind (self-released)

★★★½

Acoustic duo Second Wind was an established commodity on Long Island's folk-rock circuit in the early 1980s, but called it quits as Mike Farley and Dave Kenna got older. Last fall, Farley and Kenna came together for their annual sojourn to an NFL game and decided to hit the studio for old time's sake. Each contributed an original tune, they wrote three more together and rounded off what would become the “Eudora” EP with a cover of Jim Croce's “Which Way Are You Goin'.” Welcome back, fellas.

‘Songs From Another Love'

Tom Odell (RCA)

★★★★

It's been a busy few weeks for British singer/songwriter Tom Odell. Since the end of April, Odell's debut EP “Songs From Another Love” got its U.S. rollout, he made his American television debut on “The Late Show With David Letterman” and embarked on a nine-city North American tour in support of the four-track release. A rising star in his homeland, Odell shows great promise on tunes like “Another Love,” “Can't Pretend” and “Hold Me.” Even remaining tune “Sense” is worthy of a few spins. It'll be interesting to see what Odell comes up with next.

Jeffrey Sisk is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1952, or jsisk@tribweb.com.

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