Electric Six rides high again on 'Mustang'
Electric Six (Metropolis)
Depraved in the best possible way, Detroit's Electric Six continues its winning ways on “Mustang.” The Dick Valentine-fronted outfit continues to mix rock, punk, garage, blues and disco on this 14-track release, the band's ninth album in as many years and 10th overall. Electric Six takes not-so-thinly-veiled shots at the Maroon 5 frontman in “Adam Levine,” dabbles in absurdist humor on “Jessica Dresses Like a Dragon” and “The New Shampoo,” and revels in irreverence on “Late Night Obama Food” and “Peaches Wears an Iron Dress.” Not for all tastes, Valentine and his mates remain one of my favorite bands lurking just under the radar.
Miley Cyrus (RCA)
Admit it. Deep down (or maybe not so deep down) you wanted Miley Cyrus to fall flat on her face on “Bangerz,” her first album as a bona fide grown-up. Well, I'm sorry to disappoint. The 16-track release isn't an essential album, but it is, sigh, one of the more enjoyable pop platters of the year. Seriously. “We Can't Stop” is the song that even Miley haters admit is pretty great, and the one-time Hannah Montana scores with “4x4,” “Wrecking Ball,” “#GETITRIGHT,” “Do My Thang” and “On My Own.” The twerking and tongue-wagging has grown tiresome, but “Bangerz” is better than most of you want it to be.
‘Old 97's & Waylon Jennings'
Old 97's & Waylon Jennings (Omnivore)
Outlaw country legend Waylon Jennings became a fan of alt-country rockers Old 97's when he attended a 1996 concert and later that year cut a couple tracks with the then up-and-coming outfit. Jennings died in 2002 and the songs never saw the light of day until now. Omnivore has packaged those tunes (“Iron Road” and “The Other Shoe”) with four Old 97's demos from that era as a six-track EP. It would have been great to hear an entire album's worth of material from the collaboration, but we'll make do with these terrific cuts. Among the demos, “Visiting Hours,” “Fireflies” and “Born on a Train” are the keepers.
‘Influence, Vol. 1: The Man I Am'
Randy Travis (Warner Bros.)
Having survived a pretty serious health scare over the summer, country icon Randy Travis is back with his 21st studio album. “Influence, Vol. 1: The Man I Am” takes a look at the artists and songs that helped shape Travis' life and career. Heavily reliant on Merle Haggard tunes (“Someday We'll Look Back,” “What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana,” “Ever-Changing Woman,” “I'm Always on a Mountain When I Fall,” “Trouble in Mind”), Travis impresses with his take on Louis Armstrong's “Big Butter and Egg Man” and George Jones' “Why Baby Why.”
‘Salaam Remi One: In the Chamber'
Salaam Remi (Flying Buddha/Sony Masterworks)
Grammy-nominated producer Salaam Remi has spent a couple decades shaping the careers of Amy Winehouse, Alicia Keys, the Fugees, Cee-Lo Green and Usher, among others, but steps into the spotlight himself with “Salaam Remi One: In the Chamber.” It is a 12-track mix of orchestral pieces and songs featuring an array of guest vocalists. Highlights include “One in the Chamber” (with Akon), “Makin' It Hard for Me” (featuring Corinne Bailey Rae), a reggae take on “Eleanor Rigby” (with Stephen Marley), “Chocolate Brown Eyes” (featuring Jordin Sparks) and “Risin' to the Top.”
Texas native Malea showed great promise on 2008's “True Believer” debut and 2010's “Close as Air” and comes into her own as a performer on “Prism.” These nine originals (plus a terrific cover of the Bee Gees' “Shadow Dancing”) find Malea in more of a pop mode than her previous efforts, but the results are rock solid. Among the standouts are “Satellites,” “Reason to Survive,” “I Rise” and “Give.” Good stuff.
‘Don't Take Me Seriously'
Flashlights (Hard Rock)
Early next year indie foursome Flashlights will drop sophomore full-length “Bummer Summer,” and to tide us over until then, the Terry Caudill-fronted outfit offers up three-track EP “Don't Take Me Seriously.” Clocking in at a brisk eight minutes, there's enough here to whet the appetite for the upcoming release. The title track is fantastic, as is closer “Choking,” and remaining tune “Let's Talk” ain't too shabby. Keep an eye on this bunch.
Jeffrey Sisk is an editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-664-9161 ext. 1952, or email@example.com.