Clockwise, starting at left:
Medeski, Martin, & Wood: Radiolarians I – It is really quite great – sounds like “the old days.” It’s the first of three albums based around material first tested on the road, then recorded, rather than the other way around.
Loudon Wainwright III: Recover: Speaking of old days, this is an album of Loudon covering his own older material, and, wow, it’s very, very strong. Joe Henry’s intriguing production doesn’t hurt, either.
Teddy Thompson: Separate Ways – If that last name looks familiar, you may know his dad, Richard, or mom, Linda. There’s an inkling of resemblance in Teddy’s voice to his dad, but it’s really in the very smart song-writing that you know you’re dealing with a Thompson. Otherwise, Teddy is working a much more roots-rock vein than his dad’s folksy, Scottish-tinged style. There’s a little country-twang in Teddy’s work, but I really like it a lot.
Ray LaMontagne: Gossip In The Grain – Otis Redding and Van Morrison, two names not really associated with indie music, but I can’t help but think of those two when listening to LaMontagne and especially not when listening to his latest, where he’s separated himself from the sparse nature of his previous releases with tighter arrangements. It makes it harder to ignore when he begins the album with a horn-infused soul number, too, but that’s okay because it works out just fine. Ray’s got a soft, raspy vocal that is unmistakably his own, even if some of his influences are pretty obvious.