(Concord Jazz ***1/2)
Chick Corea knows how to pick his chums. The '70s found the innovative keyboardist gathering free-jazz giants Anthony Braxton and Dave Holland for Circle, then forming the bold, Brazilian-turned-fusion friendship of Return to Forever. Corea continued welcoming new pals to his playground, hence Elektric Band and Akoustic Band in the '80s, and Five Peace Band in 2008.
Corea has been buddying up with the youthful members of the Vigil, finding a sympathetic groove between his own grand mastery of sumptuous melody and that of his far-flung crew: U.K. reed man Tim Garland, French bassist Hadrien Feraud, guitarist Charles Altura, and drummer Marcus Strickland. For this debut recording, Corea and Co. make cosmopolitan electric music without delving singularly into fusion waters. Sure, this union hints at stark synth-jazz density ("Galaxy 32 Star 4" being the most garish example), but their sweetly swinging rhythmic workouts ("Royalty") and open-air samba-soul ("Portals to Forever") stand out for their pop esprit. Guests like vocalist Gayle Moran (the piano-focused "Outside of Space") and tenor saxophonist Ravi Coltrane (a tribute to his pop's modal experiments, "Pledge for Peace") don't detract from Corea's bond with his new band of brothers, but rather, extend the family's telepathic and intimate feel.
- A.D. Amorosi
Although Pure Bathing Culture began when guitarist Daniel Hindman and keyboardist Sarah Versprille were playing in Vetiver, their debut album shares little with Vetiver's indie-folk aside from its predilection for languid tempos and easygoing, gently flowing melodies. Instead, Moon Tides takes cues from the dreamy pop of Britain in the early '90s - the Sundays and Cocteau Twins, in particular - with clear, single-note guitar lines ringing with reverb and trebly washes of keyboards buoying Versprille's pretty vocals.
The Portland duo draws on a similar set of colors as Baltimore's Beach House, but with a stronger sense of melody. "Pendulum," the standout opening track, is a beautiful slice of summery pop that refreshes like a gentle breeze on a warm day, and "Dream the Dare," with its buoyant chorus, is similarly ingratiating. Moon Tides ebbs a bit in its second half, but this is a beguiling debut.
- Steve Klinge
New RecordingsOn Sale Tuesday
Earl Sweatshirt, Doris;
Jimmy Buffet, Songs from St. Somewhere;
Julia Holter, Loud City Song; Ty Segall, Sleeper
Pure Bathing Culture with Alex Bleeker and the Freaks play Tuesday, Aug. 27, at 9:15 p.m. at Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. Tickets: $10. Information: 215-739-9684, www. johnnybrendas.com.
My Favorite Picture of You
"The high price of inspiration/ Always leaves me broken/ But I keep comin' back for more . . .," Guy Clark confesses near the end of his new album. If the creative process is a debilitating struggle for the Texas-bred, Nashville-based troubadour, you'd never know it from the results here.
With My Favorite Picture of You, the 71-year-old Clark's storytelling skills remain as tersely sharp as ever, and the delivery as effortless. As usual, the songs are placed in acoustic folk-country settings that fit the craggy contours of Clark's voice and his conversational style.
The "you" in question is Clark's late wife, Susanna, who is pictured on the cover, and the title song is one of the album's most moving. But Clark writes just as affectingly about others, whether it's the stranded illegal immigrants in "El Coyote" or the scarred war veterans in "Heroes." And in "Good Advice," he offers just that, for fellow songwriters, in his own ornery way: "Don't give me no advice that rhymes/ I've heard it all a thousand times/ Don't start preachin' between the lines/ Give me something I can use."
- Nick Cristiano