16 Bars (Lightyear): ***½

Sobering documentary (on DVD) following four inmates in Arrested Development leader Speech Thomas’ music workshop at Virginia’s Richmond city jail, part of a program to reduce recidivism. Their personal stories — addiction struggles, artistic dreams, unnerving traumas — magnify the truth of their songs, particularly tragic rapper Teddy Kane, shown homeless on the street while children record a hopeful chorus to one of his pieces. Charismatic 12-step leader Garland Carr leads prisoners in an eerie spiritual while awaiting sentencing, one of several interludes of uneasy hope; Thomas cites him as “a superstar that may never be because he’s behind bars” during insightful prison commentary. More probing scenes of inmates’ creative process with Thomas would strengthen the film, though it disturbs as is. 16barsthefilm.com


Texas Sun (Dead Oceans): ***

The eclectic Houstonites lean into psychedelic and soul inspirations for this EP with fellow Texan Bridges. “I crossed over the desert land/ In your presence is where I stand,” he croons over shimmering guitar during the slow-building “Conversion,” the gospel-infused bookend to the dreamy title track. “Midnight” is a slow groove; “Shaft”-style guitar riffs backdrop the low-key funk of “C-Side.” As Bridges’ lightly grained vocals meld with the trio’s chill instrumentals, it has the semi-directionless looseness of after-hours jams. Deadoceans.com

JAH WOBBLE, A Very British Coup 

(Youth Sounds/Cadiz): ***

While the current political climate’s fostered a cottage industry in books investigating corruption and constitutional crisis, protest songs have been scarcer. Enter this throbbing post-punk response to Brexit from Public Image Ltd bassist John Joseph Wardle, PiL drummer Richard Dudanski and guitarist Keith Levene, and Pop Group vocalist Mark Stewart. Released the day Britain exited the EU, the EP augments the single’s recent release with trippy Dogma and Youth Dub mixes amplifying its surreal rhythmic attractions, the better to dance away rage. jahwobble.com, averybritishcoup.com


(Old Omens/Thirty Tigers): ****

For his fifth album the Tulsa punker-turned-Americana luminary again mines melodic catharsis from melancholy, but unexpectedly textures his heart-piercing lyrical portraits and gritty vocals with cello, Mellotron, organ, and producer Matt Pence’s rubbery drums. The result’s more reflective than 2013’s “In the Throes” and 2015’s “High on Tulsa Heat,” less rocking than 2017’s “Big Bad Luv.” Moreland still sounds like the been-there-done-that friend who gets it, but this keeper of an album reveals a man redefining spirituality and success, and making peace with peace. Highlights: “A Thought is Just a Passing Train,” “Harder Dreams,” “East October,” the smoldering “I Always Let You Burn Me to the Ground.” johnmoreland.net