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Musical advice for fans who have lost touch

Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes performs at Lollapalooza in Chicago on July 31. Alabama Shakes released their second album, "Sound & Color," in April.
Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes performs at Lollapalooza in Chicago on July 31. Alabama Shakes released their second album, "Sound & Color," in April.
David Bauder Associated Press

NEW YORK – Music journalist Jim Fusilli calls them the generationally biased, or Gee Bees. They’re the folks who lose touch with popular music around the time their first grey hairs sprout, and are convinced that nothing can compare with the music of their youth.

Some are boors, no doubt. But not all have closed minds – the pressure of jobs, kids and mortgages is what caused some Gee Bees to lose their musical adventurousness.

Fusilli, a music writer at the Wall Street Journal, has made it his mission to coax such folks back into the present day through his website, ReNewMusic.net and a focused collection of his stories in the book, “Catching Up.” We asked him to recommend five albums that Gee Bees might not know but should.

Alabama Shakes, “Sound & Color.” It’s their second album, but “their well-deserved reputation for old-school blues, soul and rock makes it seem as if Brittany Howard and the band have been around forever,” Fusilli said. Shaking things up with “a bold application of clatter, eccentricity and wit,” Fusilli gives the band props for the courage to change.

Floating Points, “Elaenia.” Floating Points is actually Sam Shepherd, a classically-trained musician and DJ. His music mixes electronica, jazz, R&B and rock. In Shepherd’s “highly-textured pieces, noise and beauty co-exist without conflict,” Fusilli said.

Lettuce, “Crush.” Lettuce’s name may conjure an unappetizing lunch instead of the classic funk dished up, with singer Alecia Chakour shining on a version of Bobbie Gentry’s “He Made a Woman Out of Me.” The album should appeal to fans of the Meters, Stuff and Tower of Power.

Laura Marling, “Short Movie.” Marling is a young (25) singer-songwriter who shows growth on a new album. She “toughens her sound for some songs with the addition of rock instrumentation, but her voice, novelistic storytelling and agile guitar remain the centerpiece,” he said.

Public Service Broadcasting, “The Race for Space.” Don’t be scared by the name, or the idea of a concept album about the space race between the U.S. and Soviet Union, for that matter. Fusilli said the intriguing disc mixes orchestral statements, funk, rock-edged electronica and voiceovers, including one by President John F. Kennedy.

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