By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
Crystal Antlers, EP (Touch and Go). These Long Beachers locate the art in hardcore. Their music is as wild and thrashy as anything that's ever come out of a garage, but tracks such as "Until the Sun Dies (Part 2)" and "Vexation" feel epic, unbound, with melodramatic organ and screeching reeds bursting through the maelstrom. Oh, what a glorious noise.
Michael Falzarrano, We Are All One (Woodstock Records). Michael Falzarrano blends well with others, as evidenced by this release, which finds him collaborating with Melvin Seals, Jorma Kaukonen, the late Vassar Clements and Garth Hudson. Songs like "Why I Love You I Can't Explain" highlight Falzarrano's top-shelf songwriting, gritty guitar and Elvis Costello-like croon, while deeper cuts pile up more gravelly soul.
— Nick Hutchinson
Boris Garcia, Once More Into the Bliss (DigMusic.com). Cobbling together a variety of influences, Boris Garcia moves from the Beatles-esque "Holiday" to the old-time folk of "River Man" and on to the countrified psychedelia of "Other Side." Produced by Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth, this well-polished release also features Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay on vocals and legendary pedal-steel master Buddy Cage.
Living Colour, CBGB OMFUG Masters: August 19, 2005 — The Bowery Collection (MDV Audio). Living Colour's time in the spotlight was brief, but during its short run, the band threw down some rocking tunes and confronted closed-minded attitudes with stark, unifying messages. Recorded at CBGB, this live set sums up the act's legacy and provides one of the last live recordings from the late, legendary club.
— Brandon Daviet
Nina Simone, To Be Free (RCA Legacy). A gusher of Simone material has flowed out in recent years, but this three-CD package, supplemented by a DVD of a long-neglected 1970 TV special, is the first to survey her entire body of work, recorded for a variety of labels. Her journey from jazz songstress to socially conscious icon is both memorable and moving.
Tesla, Forever More (Tesla Electric Company Records). The early hits aside, most fans and critics will agree that Tesla's crowning achievement was 1994's Bust a Nut, which helped distance the act from peers who had been killed off by the emergence of grunge. Here the band re-channels that energy without duplicating itself, resulting in a filler-free rock masterpiece.