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New Album Releases Aug. 18, 2009: Brendan Benson, Delbert McClinton, Richard Thompson, Sister Hazel, GWAR

Not only is this a New Release Tuesday, it's also my anniversary.  How are those two things related?  Well, I think I might be able to talk my wife into taking me out anniversary gift shopping and this week's New Album Releases column gives us some shopping options.  Let's start with the album I've been waiting all summer to hear:

Brendan Benson
My Old Familiar Friend

I wrote about this when it was first announced and I'm pleased to tell you there was one factoid that has changed since that article was written: the release date moved up a week!

My Old Familiar Friend is Benson's first solo album in four years.  While neglecting his solo career, Benson and Jack White have teamed up to make two Raconteurs records.  Both of those records are excellent and I'm glad to have them, but I've been impatiently waiting for a follow up to his brilliant The Alternative To Love

I've heard one song so far (Amazon offered a free download of "A Whole Lot Better") and my anticipation has not waned.  This has so many elements of classic Benson that I just can't wait to hear the other 10 songs.  He's had catchier choruses but this still has a nice hook, loads of layered vocals, and plenty of subtle sonic quirks inside a loud, power pop mess.  There aren't many artists working today who create power pop the way Benson does on his solo albums.  I read at least one article – the link to which I can no longer find – suggesting Benson might have another album's worth of material ready to go, meaning we might not have to endure another four-year gap. 

Richard Thompson
Walking On A Wire

I'm talking out of my ass on this one, but I feel compelled to write about this because a handful of the regular readers of this column will crush me if I don't.  I know the name Richard Thompson.  I know he's revered for his guitar work.  I know he did an album with his wife at the time, Linda, that chronicled the disintegration of their marriage and many consider it an absolute classic.

Walking On A Wire is a 4-CD box set assembled by Thompson himself, attempting to chronicle the different phases of his career.

Delbert McClinton
Acquired Taste

Somewhere there is a picture of (a much thinner) me and Delbert McClinton.  I know I don't have it, but I was there when the picture was taken.  McClinton, Kris Kristofferson, and a host of others were playing a benefit show at the University of North Alabama for ailing musician Donnie Fritss.  For those of you who don't know, Florence, Alabama is the larger, neighboring city to Muscle Shoals.  Casual music fans don't know about the rich history of the Shoals.  Diehards do.  Fritts played on many great records needed help, and his friends assembled when he needed their help.

Before rehearsals for the show, Kristofferson did a brief media appearance for the local wags.  I was an editor for our campus newspaper, so I got to sit in.  McClinton's bus was late, having run into some bad weather in Nashville.  In addition to being an editor for the campus newspaper, I was an overnight DJ for a classic rock station.  We played Delbert McClinton songs.  Often.  When he arrived, he took a few minutes and chatted with us and he just couldn't have been any nicer.  After he chatted us up, I went in to listen to rehearsal for a bit and happened to be standing next to him when one of the campus photographers snapped a picture.  I'll always regret that I never got a copy of that, but I guess you don't need the picture when you have the memory.

McClinton is another one of those veteran artists who long ago quit making music that made sense for any particular radio format or genre.  He makes Delbert McClinton records and here lately, he's been making good ones.  For Acquired Taste, he teamed up with veteran producer Don Was.

Here's the list:

Brendan Benson
My Old, Familiar Friend

The Cave Singers
Welcome Joy

Joe Henry
Blood from Stars

Ledisi
Turn Me Loose [Deluxe Edition]

Delbert McClinton
Acquired Taste

Sean Paul
Imperial Blaze

Jay Reatard
Watch Me Fall

The Antlers
Hospice

As Tall as Lions
You Can't Take It with You

Black Sheep
Kiss My Sweet Apocalypse

Terence Blanchard
Choices

Paul Burch And The WPA Ballclub
Still Your Man

Lisa della Casa
Richard Strauss: Arabella

Clan of Xymox
In Love We Trust

The Cult
Love [Expanded Edition]

Joey DeGraw
Say Something Strong

Eliot Fisk
Mario Castelnuevo-Tedesco: Guitar Works

GWAR
Lust in Space

Colin Hay
American Sunshine

K'NAAN
The Dusty Foot on the Road [Bonus Track]

Jim Lauderdale
Could We Get Any Closer?

Litmus
Aurora

MUTEMATH
Armistice

Reba McEntire
Keep on Loving You

Willie Mitchell
Ooh Baby, You Turn Me On

Francesco Molinari-Pradelli
Gaetano Donizetti: L'elisir d'amore

Mount Eerie
Wind's Poem

David Nail
I'm About to Come Alive

Szymanowski Quartet
Paris

Original Soundtrack
Californication: Season 2

Original Soundtrack
Mad Men, Vol. 2

Otep
Smash the Control Machine

Jack Peñate
Everything Is New

Pissed Jeans
King of Jeans

Sister Hazel
Release

Third Eye Blind
Ursa Major

Richard Thompson
Walking on a Wire

Various Artists
Girls Are At It Again: UK Beat Girls 1964-1969

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