Jakob Dylan, Women + Country [Columbia]

On his second solo release, Wallflowers principal Jakob Dylan fronts a stellar band featuring vocalist Neko Case, guitarist Marc Ribot, and acoustic bassist Dennis Crouch.
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On his second solo release, Wallflowers principal Jakob Dylan fronts a stellar band featuring vocalist Neko Case, guitarist Marc Ribot, and acoustic bassist Dennis Crouch. Crouch swings with the same kind of confidence and grace he leant Robert Plant and Alison Krauss for their phenomenal Rising Sand album, and producer T Bone Burnett is again in fabulous form, allowing Dylan’s dark, brooding compositions to come to the fore.

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Nick Lowe, Labour of Lust [Yep Roc]

The second solo effort by Rockpile bassist Nick Lowe may have been anchored by the saccharine single “Cruel to Be Kind,” but Lowe shows a gutsy, gritty side on the remainder of the recently re-mastered Labour of Lust.

Johnny Gimble, Celebrating With Friends [CMH]

Texas swing has never swung harder than it does on Celebrating With Friends, where celebrated fiddler Johnny Gimble pairs up with pals Vince Gill, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and others. Johnny’s band is seriously smokin’, fanned into a fury by Johnny’s son Dick Gimble on bass. Dick’s doghouse solo on “Sweet Georgia Brown” is sweet as a peach, Johnny’s fiddle and mandolin work is delish, and the album’s electric and steel guitar playing is stellar. The album’s deep swing just goes to show that headbanging isn’t just for the edgy set—crank up the Gimble and you’ll be wobbling your noggin like a dashboard bobblehead on a country road.

The Cribs' Gary Jarman On Melodic Punk Rock

LAST YEAR WAS A BUSY ONE FOR Cribs frontman Gary Jarman; his melodic post-punk brood with brothers Ryan and Ross released its fourth album (featuring “newbie” bandmate Johnny Marr on guitar), he married his girlfriend Joanna Bolme (bassist for Quasi and Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks), and he went under the knife for a surgery on his vocal chords. Yet judging from his band’s demanding tour schedule, the Yorkshire native (and Portland resident) shows no signs of slowing. On a recent stop in San Francisco, Gary took a few minutes to talk punk rock, warming up, and the joy of a well-crafted countermelody.

Wilco

Wilco [Nonesuch] John Stirratt is one lucky dude. It’s not that he’s undeserving—on the contrary, Stirratt’s string of recordings with Wilco have threads of sheer brilliance, where the bassist’s tone, time, and taste tie the whole band together. I just have one gripe: as singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy’s partner since the early days, he seems to have a deathgrip on one of the coolest gigs in rock, and it doesn’t seem fair to the rest of us. First, there are the songs: spacious soundscapes where Stirratt can step out and strut his stuff, or lay back and let his uber-talented bandmates take the lead. Then there’s the gear. Stirratt has scored some of the sweetest vintage rigs and basses around. The man has all this, and without the headaches of having a high profile like Sting or Paul McCartney.

ZZ Top-Double Down Live 1980–2008 (DVD) [Eagle Vision]

When ZZ Top took the stage on Essen, Germany’s Rockpalast television show in 1980, the band had just marked its 10th anniversary. When the Texas trio embarked on its Almost Now tour in 2008, it was nearing the 40-year mark, and was even longer in the tooth … and beard. If the band shows its age on either occasion—captured on this double- DVD set, it’s for the better. After years playing dive bars, the blues-rock trio had cemented a rhythmic bond that just wouldn’t budge. Bassist and singer Dusty Hill sounds fierce on the Rockpalast performance, plucking each note like he means it.