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New and noteworthy

MUSIC | Reviews of four albums


New and noteworthy
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Jesus Loves Me

The Hogyu Hwang Trio

Yes, this album’s title refers to the well-known Sunday-school anthem, and, yes, that song is one of the nine selections, most of which will be familiar to lovers of old-time religion. And you’ll recognize the melodies as stated by John Ellis on sax before he and Hwang (bass) and Jongkuk Kim (drums) massage, bend, twist, and, in some cases, knock them into unfamiliar shapes. Not counting the snippet-sized “All People That on Earth Do Dwell,” the performances average almost six minutes apiece, a span that gives the trio room to discover complexities in what’s ostensibly a folk-music genre for simple souls.


Lost on Land & Sea 

Jon Langford & the Men of Gwent

Imagine a Spoon River Anthology but with the Welsh town of Newport replacing Spoon River and townsfolk who haven’t died yet, their stories sung in the third person to a tunefully homogenized mixture of rock, folk, and punk (in that order) that facilitates the many listenings required to absorb the details. The frontman’s years leading the Mekons and the Waco Brothers and other lesser-known combos no doubt account for a good deal, but there’s something fresh going on too.


The Sounds of Jubilee

Cindy Morgan

You can enjoy this soundtrack to Cindy Morgan’s YA novel The Year of Jubilee (a little Harper Lee, a little Katherine Paterson, a little Kate DiCamillo, a lot Cindy Morgan) without reading the book, but the songs’ Americana-gospel vibe makes more sense if you know the story. Even the not-so-down-home highlights (Jonathan Kingham guest-singing “Ghost,” Wayne Kirkpatrick guest singing “The Miracle”) benefit from the subtext—or maybe the other way around.


Rest Area

Roadsteady

Meet Nicolas Mailloux and Joël Pinard, purveyors of slacker hip-hop who occasionally burst into song and who describe themselves on Bandcamp as a “duo from the Ottawa/Gatineau region that have a heart to compose music for God, and reach people with something they can relate to.” The singer in the duo sounds like Jonathan Richman, the rapper like the innocent kid brother Lou Reed never had. And whether with rhymes (“for what it’s worth, upon all the earth / every knee will bow to the King of wow”), cultural appropriation (“It’s Yeshua”), prog-rock appropriation (“Revelation 12”), or straightforward catchiness (“Put Repentance in a Sentence”), they get the job done every time.


Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr Matthew McNulty/Redferns/Getty Images

Encore

At two discs totaling an hour and 44 minutes (the vinyl equivalent of 2½ LPs), Spirit Power: The Best of Johnny Marr (BMG) might seem too diffuse to function as the ideal collection of highlights that it claims to be. But given the quality of Marr’s solo Britpop, one could also argue that it’s too short. Whether as a singer or as a welder of riffs to hooks, he has been on a roll for the last 10 years—or for six years longer than the lifespan of the band that made him famous, the Smiths.

Of the two previously released non-album singles, “The Priest,” in which the actress Maxine Peake narrates the experiences of a non-drug-abusing homeless woman (with some R-rated language for verisimilitude), is more gripping than “Armatopia” (a rocker based on the wobbly notion of ­imminent eco-catastrophe). The two new tracks, “Somewhere” and “The Answer,” go with the flow. “Easy Money,” “Tenement Time,” and “Dynamo” will (still) have you up and air-banding in no time. —A.O.


Arsenio Orteza

Arsenio is a music reviewer for WORLD Magazine and one of its original contributors from 1986. Arsenio resides in China.

@ArsenioOrteza

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