Classic 1964 Bennett concert gets its own release
‘Live at the Sahara: Las Vegas, 1964'
Tony Bennett (RPM/Columbia Legacy)
It has been almost half a century since it was recorded, and now Tony Bennett's “Live at the Sahara: Las Vegas, 1964” finally is available as a stand-alone release. Shelved for decades, the session was part of 2011's 76-disc “Tony Bennett: The Complete Collection.” And those who couldn't or wouldn't pony up close to $600 for that should find this a much more cost-effective way to enjoy the legendary concert.
Over the course of an amazing hour, Bennett mesmerized the Congo Room crowd with stellar performances of “This Could Be the Start of Something Big,” “Ain't Misbehavin',” “Sing You Sinners,” “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road),” “Firefly,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Chicago (That Toddlin' Town)” and his signature tune “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” And check out the mid-show comedy routine with Milton Berle, Danny Thomas and Mickey Rooney. Classic stuff.
Dr. Dog (Anti-)
Philadelphia rocker band Dr. Dog keeps getting better with age. Fourteen years and eight albums into their career, the guys have rarely sounded better than on “B-Room.” Soulful opener “The Truth” may be my favorite Dr. Dog song to date, and the band is impressive on “Broken Heart,” “Long Way Down,” “Cuckoo,” “Rock & Roll” and “Nellie.” There isn't a bad song on the 12-track release, which deserves a place alongside 2005's “Easy Beat” and 2012's “Be the Void” on a short list of the best Dr. Dog albums.
Josh Berwanger (Good Land)
Just when it seemed poised for mainstream success, indie rock quintet the Anniversary called it quits in 2004 after releasing just two near-perfect albums. Fortunately, the quality music lives on with “Strange Stains,” the solo debut from Josh Berwanger, one of the Anniversary's three vocalists. It's an infectious collection of 11 power-pop tunes. Berwanger comes out swinging with “Bullets of Change” and “Enemies,” and continues to impress on “Gypsy Girl and the Tombs of Atuan,” “I Can Feel the Moon,” “Sweet Little Girl” and “Everybody Knows.” Highly recommended.
‘Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey!'
The Dirtbombs (In the Red)
Detroit garage rock treasures the Dirtbombs have flown just under the mainstream radar for more than a decade and manage to impress and surprise at almost every turn. “Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey,” their seventh full-length, is the “bubblegum album” frontman Mick Collins has been promising/threatening for years. Collins has penned 10 songs that capture the spirit, good and bad, of the bubblegum pop heyday. “Sugar on Top,” “Crazy for You,” “Jump and Shout” and the closing “Sunshine Suite” are toe-tappers of the highest order. Mission accomplished.
The exotically named Zendaya is the latest in a long line of Disney-bred pop stars. The 17-year-old broke onto the scene in 2010 with the premiere of Disney sitcom “Shake It Up” and hopes that translates into musical success, a la Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, with the release of “Replay.” It's a fairly forgettable set of 11 pop tunes that, while inoffensive, don't make much of an impression. The title track is worth a couple listens, as are “Butterflies,” “Cry for Love” and “Love You Forever,” but there's not much appeal for anyone who's old enough to drive.
The Whiskey Gentry (self-released)
I'm guessing it's only a matter of time until Atlanta-based country septet the Whiskey Gentry is a household name. Its stellar sophomore full-length “Holly Grove” shows that 2011's “Please Make Welcome” debut was no fluke and establishes the band as a player on the scene. Husband and wife Lauren Staley (vocals) and Jason Morrow (guitar/vocals) anchor the 11-track release, but points to Chesley Lowe (banjo), Rurik Nunan (fiddle) and Michael Smith (mandolin) for injecting some serious twang. There isn't a bad tune to be found, but pay close attention to “Ain't Nothing,” the title track, “Dixie,” “Oh Me” and “Here's Your Song.” Enjoy, y'all.
Blood Washed Band (House of Mercy)
Alt-country supergroup Blood Washed Band goes old-school on its dynamic debut release. Whether tackling classics such as the traditional “Standing in the Need of Prayer” and Hank Williams' “Calling You,” or serving up originals such as the title track, “He Will Take You Back Again,” “Pour Me a Whiskey” and “Waitin' for the Creek to Rise,” this 10-track release should appeal to anyone who loves classic country and gospel. Amen.
John Brodeur (Mr. Duck/Sojourn)
A couple years ago, singer/songwriter John Brodeur tried to bring his 2000 gem “Tiger Pop” to a new generation of listeners as a reissue/re-recording of the original guitar pop tunes. His third proper solo set “Little Hopes” finds Brodeur fine-tuning his sound with 10 new songs. A solid album, buoyed by keepers “One Man Army,” “Neil Young,” “Favorite Feeling” and “You Kill Me,” it's a CD worthy of your attention.
Jeffrey Sisk is an editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-664-9161 ext. 1952, or firstname.lastname@example.org.