Gravel-voiced journeyman Ray LaMontagne 's new album, "Ouroboros" (a dragon or snake that eats its own tail), has a circular structure: two suite-like halves, the first anxious and restless, the second moving toward some semblance of serenity.
"August Is All," the 22-minute opening track on guitarist Tom Carter's recent double album "Long Time Underground," starts with a single, repeated tone that quickly spreads out, virus-like, into gentle dissonance.
When you've known some of your bandmates since early childhood, following them out onto a musical limb or two becomes easier. You reach a level of trust that might be possible, perhaps, only when you learn how to write music as a unit, to sing and play instruments in the presence of those same friends. It's a comfortable space, and also one probably equipped with a permanent BS meter.
Last summer's Fare Thee Well concerts, which took place in Santa Clara, Calif., and Chicago, were billed as the final five shows the surviving members of the Grateful Dead — Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart — would ever play together.
Certain artists — James Brown , Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Talking Heads, Public Enemy, Janelle Monae, Erykah Badu, on and on — make you dance, and also make you think. Your body responds to the grooves. Your voice rises and falls with the cadences of the lyrics. You feel sweaty and spiritually galvanized.