Listen Up

Fast reviews of recent releases

Joey DeFrancesco, Live: The Authorized Bootleg (Concord). This set, recorded last year at Yoshi's in Oakland, was as much George Coleman's as it was Joey DeFrancesco's. Coleman's tenor sax tone is gutsy and full-bodied as ever, while DeFrancesco takes command of his Hammond B-3 and beautifully maneuvers through a handful of burners, ballads and standards. -- Jon Solomon

Jesse Malin, Glitter in the Gutter (Adeline/East West). Malin has plenty of company in this Gutter; guests include Ryan Adams, Josh Homme, Jakob Dylan, Foo Fighter Chris Shifflett and Bruce Springsteen, who duets on "Broken Radio." But the D Generation vet remains the dominant presence throughout "In the Modern World" and other tunes that are rocking, rootsy and sincere without being sappy. -- Roberts

Ono, Yes, I'm a Witch (Astralwerks). Yoko Ono's first record since 2001 has all the earmarks of a destined-to-fail pop-crossover attempt: celebrity collaborators, rehashed tunes and the artist as executive producer. However, once you get past Mrs. Lennon's vocal quirks and ham-fisted didacticism, there are some great beats, memorable melodies and an admirably self-aware sense of humor that make for an engaging, if challenging, listen. -- Eyl

Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra, Music and Rhythm (Ubiquity). If the creepy high-school choir director got together with some of his jazz friends to make an alternative soundtrack to the 1986 movie Labyrinth,the product of those sessions would sound exactly like this record. Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra uses industrial, soul and psychedelia to create a sound that is just generally, well, weird. -- Morgan Wells

The Subjects, With the Ease Grace Precision and Cleverness of Human Beings (Pretty Activity Records). If the Shins hadn't returned in 2007, the Subjects would have made it all right. The quartet's psych-filled, poignant power pop, gussied up with horns and found sounds, huffs the twin fumes of experienced melancholy and innocent exuberance like a crazy person who doesn't know he's crazy. -- Eyl

Caetano Veloso, Cê (Nonesuch). A star in South America, Veloso, 64, has never caught on in the States, and despite its quality, Cê demonstrates why. An amalgam of brittle rockers and Brazilian pop topped by Veloso's mellifluous tenor, the platter is far too peculiar and idiosyncratic to make it a surefire world-music hit. And that's precisely why it's worth spinning. -- Roberts

 
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