Sound advice 

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The Steve Miller Band

Let Your Hair Down

Space Cowboy/Roadrunner Records

Buy if you like: Jimmy Page, Buddy Guy

When Steve Miller started making schlocky hits like "Jungle Love" and "Abracadabra," he left behind lots of blues fans who adored his earlier work. But he's returned to his jazz-blues roots; on last year's BINGO! and the new Let Your Hair Down, he delves into classics by Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and Jimmy Reed, with whom he played as a teen after learning licks from his dad's pals, T-Bone Walker and Les Paul. Miller puts a Delta-dirty slide on Waters' "Can't Be Satisfied" and glides his smooth voice over the Rosco Gordon/Jules Taub nugget, "No More Doggin'." Miller's percussive version of Dixon's "Pretty Thing" is among the cuts graced by some of the last harmonica that longtime bandmate Norton Buffalo blew before his death. Miller also pays homage to one of the cities that helped make him a bluesman: "Sweet Home Chicago." It's good he came back. — Lynne Margolis

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Those Darlins

Screws Get Loose

Oh Wow Dang/Thirty Tigers

Buy if you like: Girl in a Coma, Vivian Girls

Those Darlins take a sharp turn into the garage on Screws Get Loose, the second album from the three-girl / one-guy Tennessee band, moving from hopped-up honky tonk to catchy power pop. Musical changes aside, Those Darlins haven't had an attitude adjustment. They're still the girls who want to have fun, just like the boys. In fact, on "Be Your Bro," the girls hilariously say "I may have girly parts / But I've got a boy's heart." There's much to like about Screws Get Loose — "Hives" and "Boy," a pair of hook-drenched garage surf rockers, a shambling pop number called "Let U Down" sung by drummer Linwood Regensburg, the spacey "Mystic Mind" and the swinging "Waste Away." There are still some shades of the old Darlins' around — check out "Fatty Needs a Fix" — and Jessi Darlin's voice will always have some country twang. But with Screws Get Loose, Those Darlins have become a rock 'n roll band — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Various Artists

No One Got Hurt: Bloodshot Records' 15th Anniversary @ the Hideout, Chicago

Bloodshot Records

Buy if you like: Alejandro Escovedo, Old 97's

Chicago label Bloodshot Records started releasing Americana music when all they could think of to call it was "insurgent country"; it owed a debt to Hank Williams but paid equal attention to the punk attitude of the Clash. Whiskeytown and Ryan Adams, Alejandro Escovedo and other esteemed alt-country artists got started there, and some returned the favor at a raucous throwdown for the label's 15th anniversary. Escovedo, Scott H. Biram, the Waco Brothers and Sally Timms are among the irreverent acts charmingly captured on No One Got Hurt. Appropriately, it wraps with a trio of Waco's tunes; part of the delicious irony of Bloodshot's history is that its marquee Americana act features a Welshman. But that's the beauty of insurgency. A toast to those who aren't afraid to mix country, funk, bluegrass, punk and whatever else in the name of art. And a good time. — Lynne Margolis


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