What our critics are listening to

11:20 AM, Mar 05, 2013

Singer Charlie Wilson performs onstage at Pasadena Civic Auditorium (Mark Davis/Getty Images)/


HONKY TONK. Has it really been 20 years since the bitter breakup of the outstanding country-rock band Uncle Tupelo? Yes. When Jeff Tweedy went thataway and formed Wilco from the remains, and Jay Farrar went thataway with the rest to form Son Volt, at first I thought Farrar was the winner. I was wrong. Wilco is now one of the great bands in rock, pushing the envelope, always creating. But I still take comfort in Son Volt’s adherence to Uncle Tupelo’s dusty music traditions. “I just want a guitar and a radio,” he sings in “Bakersfield,” which serves as kind of a mission statement for the simple pleasures of Honky Tonk. It’s a collection for waltzing and pondering. “Shadows are good companions for the light that you see,” from “Shine On.” Now that’s a line that’ll stop you in mid-whiskey. Some of these winsome songs, like the gorgeous “Angel of the Blues,” already sound like well-aged classics. — JEFF SPEVAK


LOVE, CHARLIE. It’s not easy to have a music career that spans decades, especially when your heyday was during the ’70s and ’80s as the lead singer of a funk band. But Charlie Wilson, former lead singer of the Gap Band, has managed to appeal to multigenerations as a solo artist (2009’s Uncle Charlie was nominated for a Grammy award). With his current CD, Wilson will tug at old-school heartstrings when he sings “girl it’s my favorite day of the year” on “Anniversary.” Couples will slide on to the dance floor to dance to “Oooh Wee.” Your body will sway to the mid-tempo groove of “Show You.” And the dance party continues with the uptempo cut “My Baby.” The latest CD from Wilson is an exploration of love and relationships. Old-school and new-school listeners will enjoy this CD from a famous name in funk. — SHEILA RAYAM


LIFE OF PI. This is the 2012 film score that won the Oscar last week, and it is a deserving piece of music. It’s a multileveled, cross-global suite, corresponding to the exotic nature of Ang Lee’s amazing film. Danna was a perfect call to compose this because the Canadian-born composer has scored music to fit a wide range of experiences, from the lovely Indian film, Water, to the Midwestern drama of Capote (the version that starred Philip Seymour Hoffman), to the ancient Biblical drama, The Nativity. He’s also worked on a variety of Celtic-related projects. His Life of Pi music has Indian themes, of course, but other lyrical symphonic music, and lots of ethereal choral music (and a lullaby), appropriate for this lush and mysterious fable. It also passes the test to warrant a review here: The music was great for the movie, and is still great on my player at home. — JACK GARNER