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The Working Title
About Face
(Universal/Motown)

On their major label debut, The Working Title take their first major step into the modern rock mainstream with a bold collection of sophisticated anthems, ballads, and highly-textured, radio-ready songs. Producers Brad Wood and David Bryson seem to have pushed the band to stretch out and away from their initial, straightforward, four-piece rock sound and toward a more U2-inspired, echo-filled glistening wall of sound. “Weigh Me Down” is textured with piano, hand claps, extra guitar tracks, and unexpected sound effects. “PS,” an oddball but dynamic rocker in 6/8 time, follows an unusual chord progression and flows with some splashy cymbal work. Guitarists Adam Pavao and Joel Harrison utilize a stack of delay effect pedals and go for a chiming Edge/Johnny Marr sound behind Harrison’s vocal stylings (impassioned, for sure, but a bit heavy with sighs and trills). The first single “The Mary Getaway (I Lost Everything)” might best exemplify The Working Title’s dynamic interplay and over-the-top sentiments. —T. Ballard Lesemann

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Blue Dogs
Live at the Workplay, Birmingham, Alabama
(Black River/Redeye)

For local Americana group Blue Dogs, capturing the richness, warmth, and interplay of a live performance is as much a priority as recording a polished studio album. The band’s latest release is a 17-song collection recorded in Jan. 2005 at the Birmingham concert venue. Uncluttered and well-executed, the performance and banter demonstrate the group’s respectful approach to their material and audience, if a bit laid back and folksy (check out the hokey stuff of “The Way Back” and “Bill Bill,” about a “pig so big, they had to name him twice”). The album includes several tunes off the band’s studio albums, including such fan favorites as “Cosmic Cowboy,” “Sister,” and “Make Your Mama Proud.” Bassist Hank Futch steps into the spotlight (with an acoustic guitar) with some strong vocal performances on “Baby’s Coming Home” and “Conversation with a Mule.” Other highlights include “Half of My Mistakes” (co-written by Radney Foster) and adoring covers of Lyle Lovett’s “LA County” and Blue Mountain’s “Blue Canoe.” —TBL

The Blue Dogs play at the Dock Street Theatre at 8 p.m. on Fri. Aug. 4. and again at 3 p.m. on Sat. Aug. 5.