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Son Volt, The Comet Is Coming, The Dead C with the new and noteworthy 

Son Volt, Union
  • Son Volt, Union

Son Volt, Union (Transmit Sound/Thirty Tigers) – Thankfully, grim times have spurred Jay Farrar to burst free from the ennui of Son Volt’s last album, emulating Tom Joad in 13 of the most pointed, angry tracks the band has ever laid down. The first two songs, “While Rome Burns” and “The 99,” would suggest the fury couldn’t be sustained, but Farrar continues his rant without slacking, even delivering an ode to NSA analyst Reality Winner.

The Comet Is Coming, Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
  • The Comet Is Coming, Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery

The Comet Is Coming, Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery (Leaf) – Calling the London-based jazz trio The Comet Is Coming the future of avant-garde jazz requires an asterisk attached to the accolade. Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings owes more to Return to Forever or Mahavishnu Orchestra than to pioneers like Ornette Coleman. This does not mean the band fails to take chances, only that you could crank up The Comet Is Coming at parties. A few brave souls might dance, but the melody always takes precedence over improvisation.

The Dead C, Rare Ravers
  • The Dead C, Rare Ravers

The Dead C, Rare Ravers (Ba Da Bing) – Three virtuoso specialists in drone and psychedelia have spearheaded the Dunedin, New Zealand, noise scene for 30 years (yes, a New Zealand noise scene exists). Rare Ravers constitutes roughly the 25th album by The Dead C, this one consisting of two long jams, “Staver” and “Laver,” separated by the brief palate cleanser “Waver.” While the new album is heavy instrumental drone, it’s calculated to go down easier than some of The Dead C’s scarier albums, such as Harsh 70s Reality.

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