When Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the Fleetwood Mac family in the mid-1970s, they turned up as fully formed musicians, having previously released an album under the Buckingham Nicks moniker. The pair brought their distinctive musical styles to the group and would become dominant forces before long. Buckingham’s guitar playing, vocal abilities, and songwriting and studio skills held sway and became the band’s trademark especially from Rumours and Tusk forward. Of course, Buckingham had too much talent for one outlet and began releasing solo albums in the early ‘80s (as did Nicks). Arriving 40 years after his solo debut, Buckingham’s eponymous new record on Reprise easily qualifies as his best album. Opening with a trio of songs — “Scream,” “I Don’t Mind,” and “On the Wrong Side” — that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the Mac’s Mirage or Tango In the Night offerings. The moment is especially poignant given that he was summarily dismissed from the group in 2018. “Blind Love,” “Time” (the only non-original cut), and “Santa Rosa” are reminders of Buckingham’s fondness for vintage pop, while album closer “Dancing” is a breathtaking ballad. The real delights here are a pair of dance-oriented tracks – “Swan Song” and “Power Down” – that illustrate that Buckingham still has much more to offer listeners.
Like Lindsay Buckingham, one band couldn’t contain all that Paul Weller had to offer. His well-respected and influential punk band The Jam (1976-1982) was a powerful introduction to his songwriting and performance abilities. His next musical outfit, the aptly named The Style Council expanded Weller’s palate to incorporate other musical inspirations. His delightful new album, Fat Pop (Volume 1) (Polydor) combines his stimuli, as funky as it is rocking. Brief but irresistible opener “Cosmic Fringes” sets the dance tone, which continues on “Moving Canvas” and the delicious title number. Also of note are “Failed,” “True” and the wisdom-sharing closing track “Still Glides The Stream.”
Back when Sam Evian was known as Sam Owens, he was one-third of the Brooklyn trio Celestial Shore. As Sam Evian he has released three albums, the latest being the irresistible and fittingly named Time To Melt (Fat Possum). Songs such as “Freezee Pops” and the title cut, literally sound like they’re melting, a sonic dragging effect makes them sound ooey, gooey and warm as candle wax. The dreamy “Dream Free,” on which Evian is joined by his indie diva gal pal Hannah Cohen, has a slinky retro soul vibe. The funky “Knock Knock” is no joke and may have you running to answer the door. The pleading “Sunshine” is both warm and sad, while “Never Know” picks up the pace. The brassy “Easy to Love” is, well, easy to love.
Renowned as both a first-rate collaborator and producer, as well as a member of the Fight The Big Bull jazz ensemble, Matthew E. White is an artist with talent to burn as is evident from his new solo album K Bay (Domino). White doesn’t abandon his jazz influences on his first solo effort in six years as you can hear on “Take Your Time (And Find That Orange To Squeeze).” However, the best songs on K Bay are the ones on which White brings us to our feet and sets our bodies in motion, as on “Let’s Ball” (which deserves to be the tea-dance tune of 2021), “Electric,” “Genuine Hesitation,” “Judy,” and “Never Had It Better.” The album’s epic centerpiece, the Randy Newman-esque “Only In America/When The Curtains of the Night Are Peeled Back,” is a must.
Named for a Russ Meyers movie (oh, clever cisgender white bros!), grunge forebears/survivors Mudhoney are still at it, after more than 30 years, with its most recent full-length studio album being 2018’s Digital Garbage. The double-disc 30th anniversary deluxe edition reissue of Mudhoney’s second album Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge (Sub Pop), complete with new cover art, is a fascinating history lesson, and the blueprint for the Seattle sound.