THE MASTERSONS, No Time for Love Songs (Red House): ****

The LA-based duo of guitarist Chris Masterson and violinist Eleanor Whitmore have a knack for mining contradictions, spinning poignant laments while finding hope in feel-good melodies. Their fourth album, produced by Shooter Jennings, balances smart songwriting with chiming guitars and harmonies that act like balm on frank lyrics (“Oh I love you so much/ But it’s no time for love songs/ The fruit ain’t gonna grow without the bees”). The Americana duo’s vocal chemistry smolders over a pensive backbeat during “There is a Song to Sing”; other highlights include hooky rockers “Spellbound” and “Eyes Open Wide.”

BROWNOUT, Berlin Sessions

(Fat Beats): ***½

Savoring blessings and finding your way are recurring themes throughout the Austin-based Latin-funk nonet’s latest release, produced by Los Lobos keyboardist/saxophonist Steve Berlin. Percussionist Alex Marrero is onboard as lead vocalist, after singing with the band on previous Brown Sabbath recordings; that deepens soulful tracks such as the thumping “You’ve Got to Change,” “Hold Your Way” and anti-bigotry call “Naín.” “Seamus” gets lost in its own psychedelia, but the horn-punched “Brownie” and gospel groover “Fill My Cup” should fill dance floors.


(Hello Forever): ***

Sunny, ’60s- and ’70s-evoking pop, filtered through Topanga Canyon sagebrush and patchouli-scented vibes. “Every day could be paradise,” they insist over a pogo beat during “Farm on the Mountaintop,” before questioning life’s mysteries with “Colors in the Sky” (“I asked my friends if we could pray/ They stare, reviled and turn the other way”). The album’s uneven, but the breezy tunes, Beach Boys-style harmonies and love-is-all conviction of “Her Everything” and “Anywhere is Everywhere” are cheering. Release show at York Manor in Highland Park Thursday, March 5.


Nick of Time (Daptone): ****

The gravel-voiced British soul veteran isn’t about to sand the grit off his retro 1950s style, but he has been refining it since 2016’s “Hold On!,” his sixth album and first for Daptone. Hunter’s Everyman ebullience remains infectious and his band’s in game form throughout this third outing with the label. The players all step up during the amusing “Ain’t Goin’ Up in One of Those Things,” while “Paradise for One” surprises with its piano cocktail swing. Amid slinky rumbas and swoony odes to his missus, “Brother or Other” stands out with its early ’60s groove and heartfelt message: “Make up your mind/ Does your love extend to all mankind?”