Leftover Salmon

Aquatic Hitchhiker

LoS

Leftover Salmon is back after an eight-year recording hiatus. The band had decided to give it a rest in 2005, after 15 years as a unit and three years following original banjo player Mark Vann’s surrender to cancer. 2007 saw the first in a series of occasional reunion shows, but the fire wasn’t stoked until RockyGrass Banjo Contest winner Andy Thorn was recruited in 2010.

In December 2011 and January 2012, a once again fully engaged LoS spent some time in studios in Denver and Portland with Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin producing, resulting in “Aquatic Hitchhiker” — the group’s fifth studio album and first containing all original material.

Their self-coined “polyethnic Cajun slamgrass” description applies only somewhat now, as “Bayou Town” is the sole track here with a Cajun element. There isn’t much polyethnicity left, either, outside of the Caribbean-flavored “Liza.” In their stead is a stronger dose of rock, successfully coexisting on an almost equal level with the slamgrass component.

Highlights of this superb return, which is on a par with LoS’ arguably finest moment, 1999’s “The Nashville Sessions,” include:

• The title track and lone instrumental, a high-speed showcase for newcomer Thorn.

• “Keep Driving,” guitarist Vince Herman’s seemingly effortless exercise in open-highway songwriting.

• The slow and beautiful “Light Behind the Rain,” a Thorn collaboration with amazing Colorado journeyman meatpacker/songwriter Benny Galloway, whose compositions have been recorded by the Yonder Mountain String Band and the Infamous Stringdusters.

• “Stop Your Worrying,” mandolinist Drew Emmitt’s rollicking breakdown, complete with tempo changes and guest fiddle by Jason Carter of the Del McCoury Band.

• Bassist Greg Garrison’s “Gone for Long,” a plucky (figuratively and literally) midtempo dirge with almost-mellotron-sounding organ by Asher Fulero (aka Halo Refuser).

Tracks
1. Gulf Of Mexico
2. Keep Driving
3. Liza
4. Aquatic Hitchhiker
5. Bayou Town
6. Sing Up To The Moon
7. Light Behind The Rain
8. Stop All Your Worrying
9. Walking Shoes
10. Kentucky Skies
11. Gone For Long
12. Here Comes The Night

Total time: 46:36

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Joe Goldmark

The Wham of That Steel Man!

Lo-Ball

Joe Goldmark is the keeper of the instrumental pedal steel guitar flame. On his last album, 2007’s “Seducing the ’60s,” he branched out by including guest vocalists on half the songs. Now, for his ninth solo album (he also was a member of Jim Campilongo and the 10 Gallon Cats as well as the Twangbangers), he branches out further with a double album — a vocal disc and an instrumental disc.

The vocal disc features Keta Bill. “I’ve known Keta for about 20 years,” Goldmark told Good New Music by e-mail. “She’s (music critic) Joel Selvin’s ex-wife. She was in (’80s R&B big band) the Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra and (ZPMO’s later incarnation) Big Bang Beat. … I wanted a rock-and-roll singer rather than a jazz or country singer for this album. (Guitarist) Gary Potterton and I supply the country sounds.”

As on prior outings, Goldmark displays his penchant for covering classic rock numbers. On the vocal disc, he covers Creedence Clearwater Revival, Buffalo Springfield, Bobby Fuller, the Beach Boys, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Blind Faith, among others. He also throws in tracks of more recent vintage by Jeff Buckley, Teenage Fanclub and Dr. Dog.

The lion’s share of the instrumental disc, by comparison, is made up of Goldmark originals. The rest is covers of the Beatles, Dmitri Tiomkin, Burt Bacharach, and Dave and Ansel Collins.

Goldmark’s résumé explains his impressive musical taste — he’s an avid record collector with a website containing an LP label guide, LP price guides and an album cover gallery. He’s also a partner in San Francisco record shop Amoeba Music.

For a change of pace, he plays lap steel on “Long As I Can See the Light” and Dobro on “Can’t Find My Way Home.” Supporting musicians add fiddle to “Caroline No,” “Glass Beach” and “Tsunami,” and horns to “Long As I Can See the Light,” “Guns of Navarone” and Goldmark originals  “The Ska’s the Limit” and “Zanzibar.”

Best song on the album: “Sexy Sadie,” featuring John McFee (Clover, the Doobie Brothers) on slide guitar.

Tracks

KETA’S SIDE
1. Long As I Can See The Light
2. On The Way Home
3. Let Her Dance
4. Caroline No
5. I Don’t Want Control Of You
6. Beware Of Darkness
7. Most Likely You Go Your Way
8. Lover, You Should’ve Come Over
9. We’ll Meet Again
10. Ain’t It Strange
11. Can’t Find My Way Home

JOE’S SIDE
1. The High Road
2. Palomino
3. The Ska’s The Limit
4. Riptide Rock
5. Sexy Sadie
6. Zanzibar
7. Glass Beach
8. Guns Of Navarone
9. Any Day Now
10. Dede’s Delight
11. Pasta Puttanesca
12. Double Barrel
13. Tsunami

Total time: 1:14:11

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Royal Southern Brotherhood

Royal Southern Brotherhood

Ruf

This blues-rock supergroup formed in response to the question, “Why haven’t the Allmans and Nevilles ever collaborated?” Technically, no one from the Allman Brothers Band is here — but Gregg Allman’s guitar-playing son Devon is, along with the youngest Neville Brother, 64-year-old percussionist Cyrille.

Rounding out the lineup are up-and-coming guitarist Mike Zito; Derek Trucks Band drummer Yonrico Scott; and Louisiana-bred bassist Charlie Wooton (Zydefunk).

Recorded in five days at Dockside Studio, Maurice, La., with producer Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, George Thorogood, Walter Trout), RSB’s debut is impressive on several levels: songwriting (Zito, Allman and Neville co-write in various combinations), singing (lead vocals are alternated from song to song or shared within a particular track) and musicianship (the two guitars never overpower  the rhythm section).

Highly recommended cuts include:

• “Moonlight Over the Mississippi,” with its wah-wah action — a guitar effect featured prominently throughout the album.

• The Grateful Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain,” given the Royal treatment via slide guitar and more of that beloved wah-wah pedal, this time à la “Theme From Shaft.”

• “Nowhere to Hide,” a double delight with the spotlight on not just electric slide, but acoustic slide as well.

• The genre-blending “Hurts My Heart,”  in which country-rock harmonies mesh with southern-rock guitars.

• “Sweet Jelly Donut,” where the slide guitar does a bump-and-grind that’s guaranteed to thrill the most staid listener.

• The title track, “Brotherhood,” a short but stunning instrumental with a West African rhythm beneath call-and-response guitars that tip the hat to Dickey-and-Duane jams of yore.

Tracks
1. New Horizon
2. Fired Up!
3. Left My Heart In Memphis
4. Moonlight Over The Mississippi
5. Fire On The Mountain
6. Ways About You
7. Gotta Keep Rockin’
8. Nowhere To Hide
9. Hurts My Heart
10. Sweet Jelly Donut
11. All Around The World
12. Brotherhood

Total time: 51:54

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