Record Time 1-29-08

Record Time 1-29-08 Check out new releases from Mars Volta, Willie Nelson, Shelby Lynne, and Chris Walla.

Though Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler Zavala did time in popular emo band At The Drive-In, their subsequent project Mars Volta is a horse of an entirely different color. Instead of punk, the pair takes their influences largely from 1970’s prog-rock and jazz fusion. One of the most critically acclaimed American rock bands of the 21st century is back with their fourth studio album, Bedlam in Goliath. Every nook and cranny of the album is filled with sound, making this quite possibly the densest album the team has produced yet. Together with new drummer, Thomas Pridgen, and guest guitarist, John Frusciante (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), the band pounds out about 75 minutes of unrelenting sonic climax.

Willie Nelson has long been considered one of the premiere song interpreters of his time. His latest album, Moment of Forever matches Willie with Kenny Chesney. The very idea of these seemingly disparate characters coming together is intriguing enough, but what really counts is how it works on disc - and work it does, with Chesney's production bringing out Nelson's natural warmth, grace, and wisdom.

Shelby Lynne emerged in Nashville in the early'90s as a rare bird; though marketed as a country singer, she had equal elements of jazz and R&B in her style. Consequently, it was difficult for her to find a niche. But with most of the country trappings far behind her, Shelby's new album Just a Little Lovin’ features nine classic songs inspired by the soulful Dusty Springfield.

Chris Walla, guitarist and producer for Death Cab for Cutie, and producer of other indie artists (Tegan & Sara, The Decemberists), brings a refined aesthetic and melodic ear to everything he involves himself in. Past recordings of his own songs (occasionally made available online under the name "Martin Youth Auxiliary") have mostly been quickly-recorded lo-fi sketches unintended for widespread release. His debut solo record Field manual represents the first time Walla's own songs have been given the studio attention and thought-out approach to recording for which he is known.