BAND OF HEATHENS, Duende

(BOH): 3½ STARS

The Austin-based roots-rockers play with pop on their fifth studio album — the jaunty single “All I’m Asking” and “Deep is Love” — but overall it’s a solid blues- and country-flavored Americana set evocative of their engaging live shows, peopled by dreamers, strivers, and lovers reaching out and trying to hang on. “Sugar Queen” is classic rock storytelling over a choogling groove, while Stonesy riffs propel “Trouble Came Early”; the pro-legalization “Green Grass of California” evokes the ’70s with waves of pedal steel and Poco-style harmonies. Other highlights: the funky “Daddy Longlegs,” acoustic-textured “Last Minute Man.” Bandofheathens.com

MADS TOLLING & THE MADS MEN, Playing the 60s
(City Hall):
3½ STARS

“Meet the Flintstones,” “The Pink Panther,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Hawaii 5-0”: Those 1960s-era TV themes are unavoidably kitschy, but rather than making predictably cartoonish choices, Danish-born, Bay Area-based violinist Tolling and his tight combo just have fun expanding the music’s harmonic dimensions. Standards of the day, such as a romantic “Georgia on My Mind,” “My Girl” and “The Look of Love” (the latter two featuring singers Kalil Wilson and Spencer Day, respectively), fill out the rest of this classy 15-track set. Madstolling.com

BRIGITTE DEMEYER & WILL KIMBROUGH, Mockingbird Soul (BDM): 3 STARS

Nashville denizens DeMeyer and Kimbrough keep it simple on this modest “acoustic soul” outing, their warm vocal chemistry primarily accompanied only by Kimbrough’s guitar. The resulting living-room vibe complements DeMeyer’s sultry vocal style as well as Kimbrough’s expressive fretwork, and allows the midtempo, soul- and gospel-veined songs to breathe. Highlights include the slow-grooving title track, the New Orleans-inspired “The Juke” and “Little Easy,” “Carpet Bagger’s Lullaby.” Recommended for fans of Patty Griffin, Buddy & Julie Miller. Brigittedemeyer.com, willkimbrough.com

PT GAZELL, Madness to the Method

(MissMax): 2½ STARS

The veteran harmonica player eschews the bluegrass and country tones of his early career and delivers lightly swinging renditions of pop, blues and jazz nuggets by the likes of the Beatles, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Rodgers & Hart with backing from a simpatico crew that includes guitarist Pat Bergeson and lap steel maestro Rob Ickes. Benny Golson’s “I Remember Clifford” receives appropriately elegiac treatment, and Sweets Edison’s “Kitty” and Louis Jordan’s “Reet Petite & Gone” bring some welcome grit to this easygoing set. Gazell plays Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena Tuesday, Jan. 17. Ptgazell.com