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Albums: December 20, 2013

Reviews of the latest records from Zac Brown Band, Childish Gambino, and more

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Zac Brown Band, The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1
Brown has always had the soul (and the beard) of a guy who rocks harder than his albums have suggested. Which is why Foo Fighters mastermind Dave Grohl — who produces here — can bestow headbanging muscle and arena-size scope on this four-track EP without belying Brown’s bluesy, twangy roots. B+Kyle Anderson

Childish Gambino, Because the Internet
Now that Community star/part-time rapper Donald Glover has earned a permanent pass to legitimate hip-hop’s infinity pool, his second studio album finds him shedding his cred-seeking Speedo and doing trick dives into the deep end of his psyche. Only the occasional clear-headed gulps of oxygen — like the creepy-funky “No Exit” — keep Internet from drowning in a harrowing sea of personal insecurities. B-Kyle Anderson

Jake Owen, Days of Gold
Modern country albums don’t get much more derivative than this. Owen, one of Nashville’s more reliable young hitmakers, goes for the sunny party vibe with songs like “Beachin’,” “Tall Glass of Something,” and “Tipsy,” but there’s little that’s joyous about this collection of cliché-laden songs, none of which he wrote. At a certain point, all the blue skies, blue jeans, babes, bros, and brews just start to sound like…blah blah blah. C+Grady Smith

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