Some excellent new discs released recently...
Richard Thompson "Dream Attic" - another good disc from one of the masters of the guitar. The new disc was recorded live in front of an audience (you can hear them on a few tracks). They're all new songs, typical Richard Thompson, which means excellent writing and instrumentation, and Thompson's singular vocals. As always there are some rockers and some mellow Celtic tracks, but no RT classics here. If you're already a fan you'll like this very much, if not there won't be anything to convert you. He's put out some consistently good, sometimes great, but always interesting albums over the course of his career (24 albums plus some live ones). Too bad not enough people know about him. Going to see him live at the Wellmont in a few weeks, he's just an amazing guitar player, can't wait.
Robert Plant "Band of Joy" - not really being a big fan of his last record (Raising Sand) I found it to be a slick overproduced "adult" record", not what I want from Plant. This new disc is much better. He covers a wide range of songs, from Los Lobos and Richard Thompson to traditional ballads. The playing is much looser, and although there is a prominent female vocal (Patty Griffin..who is way too skinny btw) this is more of a vehicle for Plant to play with a true band (as opposed to strictly session players). By no means is this "rock" music, but it does show how good a singer Plant is, and if you enjoyed Raising Sand you'll probably like this as well. I find it a bit more rough around the edges than Raising Sand, which I like. (Between this disc, Zeppelin, The Honeydrippers, and his solo work, all he has to do now is a rap record and he will have covered almost every genre except polka).
Los Lobos "Tin Can Trust" - They play all types of music well, and their original music is an amalgamation of rock, Tex-Mex, country, blues, jazz and folk. Every disc they produce has a particular focus or theme (usually involving East LA), and this excellent collection of songs talks about working class people scraping their way to make ends meet and survive. There are some outstanding songs on this disc - "On Main Street", "Tin Can Trust", and "All My Bridges Burning" (written with Robert Hunter) among the best. There are of course the obligatory traditional Spanish/Mexican songs, which are very good, if you like that sort of thing. They also do a spot-on cover of the Dead's "West LA Fadeaway", (which fits perfectly with their "Bertha" cover from the 1991 Grateful Dead tribute disc "Deadicated"). The band is on a good run, as their last disc, 2006's "The Town and the City" was also excellent. I can't understand why these guys aren't bigger. They consistently produce excellent albums, and are a great live band. One of the all-time great American bands.