Ricky Flake: Several short reviews of new releases

Review materials are piling up at my place, so I'm planning for this week's reviews to be significantly shorter than usual. You'll see how that works out.

'Not Here,' The Pollies (Single Lock Records/Thirty Tigers, HHHH)

This Sept. 25 release marks a change from alt-country for Jay Burgess (singer, songwriter and lead guitarist) and his bandmates in The Pollies. There's drones and feedback, but things are melodic. I enjoyed the album, especially "Jackson," "You Are" and many nifty hooks. I recommend The Pollies heartily.

'Now That's What I Call Halloween!' Various Artists (Universal/Sony, HHHH)

This Sept. 11 release contains everything from novelty songs ("Monster Mash") to movie themes ("The Exorcist") and 16 more Halloweeny classics, including Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" Donovan's "Season of the Witch" and Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London."

Your favorite scary song may be here, too.

'Five Crooked Lines,' Finger Eleven (The Bicycle Music Company/Concord, HHH 1/2)

This one was released July 31. The art hints at a concept album, but the lyrics aren't slanted that way. The band formed in 1989 while most members were in high school (except for drummer turnover), so there's a good mesh of vocal and instrumental melody, lyricism and a mostly hard-driving sound. Modern rock fans will enjoy this release.

'All Our Yesterdays,' Blackmore's Night (Frontiers Music SRL, HHHH)

This multi-format release became available Sept. 18, with vinyl and box set configurations available today. It's the 10th studio album from Blackmore's Night, who play renaissance music with classic-rock touches. The originals are cool (especially the instrumentals); the covers are respectable.

Fans of old-timey music who don't mind an occasional skillful Stratocaster will enjoy this release.

'Hot Streak,' The Winery Dogs (Loud & Proud Records, HHH)

This Oct. 2 release is the second album from supergroup The Winery Dogs. Richie Kotzen (guitars/vocals/lyrics) has the hardest job, because he, bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Mike Portnoy can instrumentally jam for days. In other words, there are some great instrumental sections and some good melodies. Fans of slightly progressive hard rock will dig this one.

'Stealing All Transmissions: A Short History Of The Clash,' Randal Doane (PM Press, HHHH)

This book ties the short mega-stardom of The Clash into other trends, including the rise/fall of U.S. classic punk rock, the demise of free-form radio and more. There are good pictures of The Clash, posters/flyers and deejays that helped them conquer the New World. This is a great, easy read.

Next week's column will feature ZZ Top leader Billy Gibbons' Latin-flavored "solo" album.

Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at flakericky@gmail.com.