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By Dan Pavelich

George Strait

Honky Tonk Time Machine (MCA)


Now considered a member of the Old Guard, George Strait aims to please the traditional country-lovin’ masses with “Honky Tonk Time Machine.” Harkening back to the mid-1980’s, when country seriously started crossing over in a big way, it touches all the bases long-held dear by his fans.

You’ll swear you’ve heard the shuffle “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar” before, which is probably the point. “Two More Wishes” puts a check in the box next to “required cha-cha,” and “Old Violin,” a Johnny Paycheck cover, compares the singer to an old violin, possibly past his prime, but still giving it a heart-felt effort. Here’s hoping Strait revs up the time machine and goes somewhere a little more off the beaten path next time.

Rival Sons

Feral Roots (Atlantic)


Rival Sons are a rarity in today’s popular music, a guitar-based band that writes its own material. They’re rooted squarely in between the classic rock of Aerosmith, whom they’ve toured with, and modern rock acts like Alter Bridge.

“Do Your Worst” is a “We Will Rock You Anthem” that’ll get your foot stompin’. On “Feral Roots” and “Too Bad,” lead vocalist Jay Buchanan sounds eerily like 1970’s Paul Rodgers. Decide for yourself if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Nat King Cole

Ultimate Nat King Cole (Capitol)

A friend once asked me who I thought was the greatest singer of all-time. I responded that the two singers that had my vote locked up in a tie were Roy Orbison and Nat King Cole. There are stark differences between the two, however, as Orbison’s multiple-octave range edges him out in that category, while Cole’s smooth tone has remained unrivaled to this day. That being said,

Every music fan should own a retrospective of both careers.

Here, Cole’s long-time label Capitol compiles twenty-one of his greatest platters, beginning with The Nat King Cole Trio’s “(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66.” The rest of the tracks are a literal avalanche of classic performances, everything from “Unforgettable” to “Mona Lisa” still sound as beautiful as ever. That voice is one in a million, and is always worth another listen.

The Shazzbots

Lightspeed! (Shazzbots, LLC)

Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, this merry band of children’s performers present their original tunes through a country lens. “On The Playground” extols the joyous benefits of recess, if Hank Williams, Jr. sang about such wholesome things.

“Beauregard Ogilby Balderdash,” the only third grader with a handlebar mustache, rocks with a Bo Diddley beat, and “Gravy Boat” is a traditional country song about giggling uncontrollably. This is undeniably fun stuff the grammar school set will eat up faster than mac & cheese.

New Releases:

Vampire Weekend/Father of the Bride (Columbia)

Amon Amarth/Berserker (Metal Blade)

Bad Religion/Age Of Unreason (Epitaph)

Little Steven/Summer Of Sorcery (Wicked Cool)

Rick Springfield/Orchestrating My Life (August Day)

The Dream Syndicate/These Times (Anti)

Newfound Glory/From The Screen To Your Stereo 3 (Hopeless)

Jessy Wilson/Phase (May 3rd)

RULEZ and Don Ca$h/Deluxe (Tape Boss)

CD’s Provided By CD-DVD-Games Warehouse, 3717 80th Street, Kenosha, Wi, 53142, (262) 942-9400