Andrew Hultkrans

  • Various Artists, 'Watch the Closing Doors: A History of New York's Musical Melting Pot Vol. 1 (1945-59)' (Year Zero)

    On the heels of canon-smashing comp Dirty Water: The Birth of Punk Attitude, U.K. journalist Kris Needs returns with a six-volume history of popular music in New York City (plus a 72-page booklet of attitudinal scholarship). These two CDs focus on a '40s–'50s moment when jazz, blues, and folk mingled with doo-wop, early rock'n'roll, and avant-garde composition, linking John Cage to Nina Simone to Frankie Lymon.

  • Mickey Newbury, 'Looks Like Rain; Frisco Mabel Joy; Heaven Help the Child; 
Better Days' (Drag City)

    Mickey Newbury, 'Looks Like Rain; Frisco Mabel Joy; Heaven Help the Child; 
Better Days' (Drag City)

    A sophisticated, unconventional Nashville songwriter for artists as disparate as Johnny Cash, Andy Williams, and Solomon Burke, Newbury is best known for his own trio of LPs, referred to as "An American Trilogy," released from 1969-72. Somber, orchestral, and eerie, these gorgeous, meditative masterpieces have fueled a Newbury cult -- current hipster icons Will Oldham and Nick Cave have covered his songs -- but it wasn't until the recent discovery of the master tapes in Elektra's vault that they could be reissued properly. Better Days completes the picture with demos, rarities, and unreleased tracks.

  • These Trails, These Trails (Drag City)

    6 Like the Pentangle of Hawaii, These Trails were a one-off, private-press, acid-folk project of Kauai's Margaret Morgan and Patrick Cockett, abetted by Dave Choy's ARP synthesizer and Carlos Pardeiro's guitar and sitar. The music evokes the islands more as concept than sonic source, with Morgan's agile, clear, vibrato-heavy voice recalling the early '70s recordings of female folk stylists Mellow Candle and Linda Perhacs. The sunny and eerie vibe brought an eccentric glamminess to Southern roots music.

  • Iggy Pop, 'Roadkill Rising: The Bootleg Collection 1977-2009' (Shout! Factory)

    Spanning The Idiot/Lust for Life late-'70s solo comeback concerts through the 21st-century Stooges reunion tours, this four-CD live box is so raw that you can almost see the twisting, sinewy torso and smell the sweat and peanut butter, as the sonic levels constantly push into the red. Highlights include savage covers of "You Really Got Me," "Hang on Sloopy," "Louie Louie," and "Gloria," the latter featuring an extended rap involving Iggy and some "fucking quah-ludes."

  • Loudon Wainwright III, '40 Odd Years' (Shout Factory)

    Loudon Wainwright III, '40 Odd Years' (Shout Factory)

    Son of a Life magazine editor and columnist, Loudon Wainwright III was one of many "new Dylans" in the late 1960s. But he was, and remains, funnier, more personal, and more direct than Bob. A cracked balladeer of domestic strife and baby-boom angst, Wainwright has purveyed his sardonic, self-lacerating folk songs to a growing cult -- filmmaker Judd Apatow pens the intro to this four-CD/DVD box set.Wainwright's desperate yelp never fails to amuse, even as he twiststhe knife; and with three children working as musicians (Martha, Lucy, and Rufus), his legacy is assured.

  • Roy Orbison, 'Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection' (Legacy)

    Rockabilly's operatic soul, the sensitive, bespectacled Orbison forged a new genre of American music during his 1960–64 Monument Records hit streak (these two CDs compile A- and B-sides). Drawing from country, R&B, pop standards, and a Ravel-like classicism, Orbison tied it all together with his rapturous voice; filtered through the era's slapback echo, it was both achingly human and otherworldly.

  • MF Doom, 'Operation: Doomsday' (Metal Face)

    After emerging in the late '90s, Daniel Dumile, a.k.a. Metal Face Doom, suffered a series of setbacks -- the death of his brother (and musical partner) Subroc, Elektra's rejection of their second KMD album. Years of despair and homelessness followed, until he reappeared in 1997 wearing a mask and releasing gnomic singles. This thoroughly original debut album -- expanded here to two CDs packaged in a lunch box with trading cards -- features dense, witty rhymes over tracks collaged from R&B and cartoon samples.

  • Material Issue, 'International Pop Overthrow: 20th Anniversary Edition' (Hip-O/UME)

    Like Seattle's the Posies, Chicago's Material Issue were a sharp power-pop band overshadowed by grunge-era heaviosity. Still, with frontman Jim Ellison's impassioned songs and simpatico production from Shoes' Jeff Murphy, the band's debut album sold briskly, and the group seemed poised for stardom. Yet each future release sold less than the last, and by 1996, Ellison committed suicide. This worthy reissue adds early singles and live tracks, serving as a fitting memorial.

  • Leon Russell, 'The Best of Leon Russell' (Capitol/EMI)

    Russell was the original oddball arranger-producer-sideman-songwriter, as important for the records he shepherded for others as for his own. Already gigging in his native Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a teen, Russell moved to L.A. and played keyboards for Phil Spector's Wrecking Crew, then graduated to sessions for Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, and many others. His best '70s solo work, most of which is included here, brought an eccentric glamminess to Southern roots music.

  • Etta James, 'The Essential Modern 
Records Collection' (Capitol/EMI)

    Bleach-blonde blueswoman Jamesetta Hawkins shot to fame in 1955 at age 15 when she answered Hank Ballard's R&B hit "Work With Me, Annie" with "The Wallflower" and Bo ?Diddley's "I'm a Man" with ?"W-O-M-A-N," becoming something like the Roxanne Shanté of her day, a brassy, mouthy female taking no guff in a male-dominated field. Though she's celebrated for her post-1960 Chess recordings and '67 Muscle Shoals scorcher Tell Mama, her '50s singles, collected here, trace the development of soul's first queen.

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