TOP PICK – CD
Bobby Charles – Deluxe Edition
Charles was a Louisiana teen when he wrote “See You Later Alligator” and “Walking to New Orleans” in the '50s. In 1972, he released a self-titled album that included help from Dr. John and almost all of the Band. It bombed when it was released but has since become a cult classic thanks to freak-folk fans like Devendra Banhart. This three-disc reissue includes a ton of unreleased songs from the sessions plus an interview with Charles, who died last year.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
The recent remake is kinda meh, but the original 1973 movie is still some pretty scary stuff – even more remarkable because it was a made-for-TV film. Kim Darby (who was in the original True Grit) and Jim Hutton (Timothy's dad) play a young couple whose new house has a bunch of problems, like the tiny demons living there who have their own devilish plans for Darby.
Doc Savage: The Desert Demons
Back in the '30 and '40s. Doc Savage was a kick-ass pulp character who starred in his own books, comics, and movies. He's sorta like a cross between Indiana Jones, but without the whole scared-of-snakes thing, and James Bond, without the whole womanizing-alcoholic thing. The first new novel in 18 years, based on notes by Savage creator Lester Dent, is a great one about murderous dust. Seriously. And it's seriously good.
New Atlantis: Musicians Battle for the Survival of New Orleans
John Swenson's scholarly look at the Big Easy is about more than music. But you can't talk about New Orleans music without mixing politics, race, music, culture, and a whole lot more into the discussion. Swenson does a good job pulling it all together, especially in his perspective stories about the city's musical legacy and the artists who soldiered on after Katrina. It's deep, but good.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? – Deluxe Edition
The Grammy-winning album that made old-timey hillbilly music popular celebrates its 10th anniversary with a two-disc set that adds a bunch of tracks recorded for the soundtrack but never released. In fact, the majority of these 17 new cuts didn't even show up in the movie. Many of the artists (including Norman Blake and the Fairfield Four) are on the original album, working that same dusty trail.