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Mavis Staples

Live: Hope at the Hideout

Anti- Records

Sounds like: The best living room concert ever

Short take: Staple Singer conveys audacity of hope

How about Secretary of Soul in the new Cabinet? With the Staple Singers, Mavis Staples conquered the charts and people's hearts. When father Roebuck "Pops" Staples died, Mavis kept recording albums produced by everyone from Prince to Ry Cooder. Hope at the Hideout is a low-down live album, done in what sounds like someone's large living room. The small band, led by Rick Holmstrom's burning lead guitar, stands behind the woman with resilience. The song list is a primer in passionate belief, whether in God or the ballot box; either way, Mavis brings the same energetic force, her voice sometimes frayed but never fallen. Any doubters are directed to "We Shall Not Be Moved." The strength of her spirit jumps from the speakers and inhabits the soul. Bill Bentley


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Buckcherry

Black Butterfly

Eleven Seven Music

Sounds like: They're not "Sorry" for "Crazy Bitch"

Short take: Keeping it raunchy and rocking

After reuniting for its last studio album, 15, Buckcherry learned two things: Not only does raunchy sex rock sell ("Crazy Bitch"), but so do sappy, heart-shaped ballads ("Sorry"). The once loud and raucous act used that formula for this anticipated follow-up. Josh Todd and Co.'s lead single, the playfully X-rated "Too Drunk ... ," explicitly details the problem with mixing intoxication and fornication. The alluring track combines fuzzy guitar licks and catchy melodies with memorable lyrics: "I got so many women coming after me, I'll put some pussy on layaway." As for the sappy crap, there's the mid-tempo "Don't Go Away" and the folky "All of Me." Though the band has moved from its late '90s beer-fueled rock to a more calculated sound, it's still miles above the rock radio pablum (Nickelback, 3 Doors Down, etc.). John Benson


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The Whispertown 2000

Swim

Acony Records

Sounds like: Timeless music for our times

Short take: Trying on styles like thrift-shop clothes

The Whispertown 2000 rummage around some interesting musical closets, pulling out rock from under one pile of clothes and bluegrass from another, making the odd discovery of ethereal spiritual gems in the attic. When the band mixes everything, what at first seems a crazy-quilt amalgam of different genres becomes an arresting artistic view. Singers Morgan Nagler and Vanesa Corbala combine frailty and strength. Hear how they move from "Atlantis" to "Lock and Key" without blinking; one whispers in your ear with passionate promises; the other is a drunken ride on a country road. Swim is on Gillian Welch and David Rawlings' new label, and it's clear why they wanted to work with this kicking quartet, which obviously loves American music in all its glory and is unafraid to explore any territory. Bill Bentley

  • Mavis Staples, Buckcherry, and The Whispertown.

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