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ALLISON AU QUARTET/Forest Grove: We called this one right. Au's debut went right into the mix for being up for a Juno. Her second set shows she's not taking the rebuff lightly and wants to win it this time out. Pointing her sax forward into the past, this could easily be mistaken for a swinging Impulse set that got lost in the vaults for several decades only to get a remix and retooling all these many years later. Smoking stuff for the hard core jazzbo with a 60s fixation, Au knows how to deliver the goods saxsationally. Well done.

COLIN CANNON/Intermission (Farewell): Our bad, kind of. We never heard of Cannon before, and this is his third album. Kind of no matter since the hype sheet says he's going in a new, different direction here. Kind of a hybrid of the guitaristics of Chris Parkening and Leo Kottke but with an orchestral sweep wrapped around it along with multimedia elements, Cannon is on to something here forward leaning tastes can easily embrace. Music for your mind that you don't have to be an egghead to love, this is a natch for the kind of listener that just wants to sit back and take it all in being spellbound along the way. Hard to describe, easy to enjoy---that's the genre this falls into. Check it out.

MIKE FARLEY BAND/Where We Stand: Award wining heartland rockers find Kickstarter and Kickstarter finds the fans that fondly remembered them from the late 90s leading up to a reunion that's long overdue. Originally breaking up ostensibly because adulthood got in the way and the four members decided to be responsible, here's the proof the dream never dies, particularly when you have the chops to back it up. Kind of alt.folk/rock, this is a crew that plays like they respect their ‘fly over' fans that know Cleveland rocks. Well done.

AZIZA BRAHIM/Abbar el Hamada: The funny thing about Arabic world beat when played to gringo ears is that when the music is heady and upbeat it sounds good. The lyrics are often about stuff that begins where Arab Spring left off but we don't know that because it has a good beat and we can dance to it. Whatever the message is, the music rocks. Tasty stuff that might not motivate you to check out the Sahara (hint you have to leave the night before and bring your own toilet paper) but the armchair traveler won't care. Wild stuff that'll take you on a wild ride.

WENDY PEDERSEN & JIM GASIOR/We Two: The Hirschfield inspired cover art should have been the tip off. This duo might be south Florida mainstays but damn if this doesn't sound like a first class New York cabaret act holding court nightly at some up market hotel. With a smart mix of chestnuts and classics they totally make their own, this is a first class example of the kind of up market set that makes you feel like a grown up---and you don't even have to feel bad about quaffing a diet Coke instead of a martini to hold your diabetes in check, they won't care. Utterly tasty stuff from a duo that knows what it's all about.

SEAN PINCHIN/Monkey Brain: A badass round up of blues rock guitar shredding for the nu generation, this set that sounds like it came from the wrong side of the tracks is loaded with what it takes to wake up the most somnambulant suburban kid and get his attention. His last set might have gotten everyone's attention, this one gets them firmly by the gut. Killer stuff to rock the night away with.

ROSWELL RUDD/Strength & Power: The 80 year old hell raiser hooks up with some new pals several generations younger than him but still in tune with the free jazz he helped pioneer. An improv that was created in the studio and said to rely on telepathy to get it's point across, anyone who spent time in church basements in the 60s will get this and spread the word that it's the real thing. It might not be for everyone but it's really on target for those in tune with it.

J. PETER SCHWALM/Beauty of Disaster: This cat might have put in his time with Eno but his idea of ambient music is something sinister, even more than the music for airports United had to set aside because it was making passengers feel to ooky on the way to the plane. Almost like a "Freddy & Jason Go to Hell" lite outing, this is way left leaning stuff that sounds like a soundtrack waiting for the movie just right for it to show up.

SAY NO! TO ARCHITECTURE/SN!TA: A later day Eno meets Todd Rundgren kind of cat, this is ambient music for the meth generation. More in tune with teeth grinding than going with the flow, there's a guitar in here somewhere that sounds like it was inspired by Velvet Underground which shows them to be still inspiring kids to start bands all these years later.

VAN WILKS/21st Century Blues: He's pals with ZZ Top, is in the Texas music hall of fame, is a multiple award winner and has been honing his ax for more years than you've been alive. What's there to say about this shredding blues rocker that hasn't been said? His first studio recording in a decade shows there's no dust on him, you can say that. High octane rock the night away music that keeps the party going every time you hit repeat, this is what it once felt like to be young. Hot stuff.

AUNT MARY/New Dawn: First we see a bunch of old Billingsgate records being reissued, now we get a bunch of Norway metal heads that broke up in 1973 getting back together and kicking it out in such a way that you wouldn't know they are well into their senior citizen years. Melodic, hard metal might never die even if the practitioners do. Here you get it both ways. Wild stuff that keeps the beat in tact

Volume 39/Number 94
February 3, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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