Album reviews: Smith Westerns, Kanye West, Mavis Staples and more
It's a somewhat different kind of sonic church than Staples Singers fans might be used to, but it's certainly another rich, ecumenical experience.
New & Noteworthy:
Amon Amarth, "Deceiver of the Gods" (Metal Blade) » Former Candlemass singer Messiah Marcolin guests on the ninth studio album by the Swedish death metal group.
August Burns Red, "Rescue & Restore" (Solid State) » The Pennsylvania headbangers ramp up the aggression on their sixth album.
Big Star, "Nothing Can Hurt Me" (Omnivore) » This 21-track companion to the documentary of the same name features previously unreleased versions of some of the Memphis group's classic songs.
Bosnian Rainbows, "Bosnian Rainbows" (Sargent House/RLP) » The full-length debut by the new band founded by At the Drive-In/Mars Volta alumnus Omar Rodriguez-Lopez.
Chthonic, "Bu-Tik" (Spinefarm) » The Taiwanese metal band return to Swedish producer Rickard Bengtsson, who also helmed 2011's "Takasago Army."
Natalie Cole, "En Espanol" (Verve/Universal) » Cole taps into the bi-lingual heritage of her father, Nat King Cole, and duets with Andrea Bocelli on the classic "Besame Mucho."
Forever The Sickest Kids, "J.A.C.K." (Fearless) » The Dallas punk rockers move to a new label and debut a couple of new members on their third studio album.
Havok, "Unnatural Selection" (Candlelight) » The third album by the Denver thrash metal quartet features new bassist Matt Leon.
India.Arie, "Songversation" (Soulbird/Motown) » The earthy singer-songwriter co-produced her first new album in four years, recording the 16-track set in Atlanta and Los Angeles.
Jane's Addiction, "Live in NYC" (UMe) » The iconic group's new concert CD and DVD captures the quartet in the Big Apple during 2011, accompanied by airborne dancers and trapeze artists.
Alicia Keys, "VH1 Storytellers" (RCA) » The R&B/pop diva talks about some of her favorites — including "No One," "Fallin'" and "Girl on Fire" on CD, DVD and Blu-ray.
Bob Marley, "Legend Remixed" (Island/UMe) » The reggae great's greatest songs are overhauled here by sons Ziggy and Stephen as well as Z-Trip, My Morning Jacket's Jim James and others.
Bret Michaels, "Jammin' With Friends" (Poor Boy) » The Poison frontman loads his latest solo effort with pals such as Jimmy Buffett, Mark McGrath, Miley Cyrus, Loretta Lynn and members of Aerosmith, Kiss, Def Leppard and, of course, Poison.
Willie Nile, "American Ride" (Loud & Proud) » The American songwriting treasure funded his latest release through PledgeMusic.com.
Palms, "Palms" (Ipecac) » The debut outing by the new group formed by deftones frontman Cino Moreno and three members of the fellow metal group Isis.