Dave Rawlings Machine, New Order, and The New Mastersounds 

Sound Advice

click to enlarge The New Mastersounds
  • The New Mastersounds

The New Mastersounds

Made for Pleasure

Royal Potato Family

File next to: Soulive, The Meters, The Sugarman 3

For a bunch of British lads, The New Mastersounds sure do have American-style funk nailed down tight. Across more than a dozen albums, they've built and expanded on a solid foundation that folds in James Brown-style funk with a New Orleans flavor that recalls The Meters. In the process they've become darlings of the noodle-dancing jam-band scene, without making any concessions in that direction. An instrumental foursome (guitar, bass, drums, organ), The New Mastersounds often branch out, adding guest vocalists and brass. All of their strengths — groove, versatility and variety — are displayed on Made for Pleasure. There's jazz, soul, even reggae ("Fancy" features the toasting vocals of Denver's Spellbinder). Eddie Roberts' guitar is a highlight, as is Joe Tatton's supremely soulful Hammond work. Made for Pleasure is classy, yet full of verve and generally jubilant emotion. — Bill Kopp

click to enlarge Dave Rawlings Machine
  • Dave Rawlings Machine

Dave Rawlings Machine

Nashville Obsolete

Acony Records

File next to: Buddy Miller, Richard Shindell, Mary Gauthier

Even though folk-roots power couple Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch made a showing at August's Folks Fest in Lyons, Welch continues to maintain her studio silence, appearing here only in a support role. But Rawlings' songwriting is plenty powerful on this second outing as "David Rawlings Machine," an album that often hints at Dylan's Blonde On Blonde. Nashville Obsolete's even tracks, most of them well beyond five minutes long, combine a countrified nasal sneer with surrealistic lyrics carrying a hidden punch. Odd and electrifying cuts like "Short Haired Woman Blues" and "Bodysnatchers" seem to hover somewhere between 1966-era Dylan and Welch's eerie 2001 album, Time (The Revelator). Rawlings and Welch both seem to enjoy being recluses, but when either of them steps into the spotlight, fans are sure to be left with a haunted and haunting experience. — Loring Wirbel

click to enlarge New Order
  • New Order

New Order

Music Complete

Mute Artists Ltd.

File next to: Electronic, OMD, Bauhaus

Peter Hook, former bass player for New Order and Joy Division, is no doubt seething because this new album has been called the best New Order release since 1993's Republic. Ever since the band's second breakup in 2007, Hook has been trying to prove that a New Order without him is inferior, but no such case can be made here. Music Complete features 11 riff-loaded (not "hook-filled") tracks that evoke mid-1980s New Order in songs like "Singularity" and "Academic." With the competent bass playing of Tom Chapman, the band can even call up the iconic Joy Division in tracks such as "Unlearn the Hatred." Just to avoid an excess of nostalgia, the album features such surprises as Iggy Pop mouthing a spoken-word cowboy lament in William Burroughs fashion. Sorry Peter, but New Order is back with unprecedented power. — Loring Wirbel


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