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7HORSE/Livin' in a Bitch of a World: The two piece, sonic assault crew that impressed Martin Scorsese right out of the box are back with a harder hitting assault that transcends modern blues rock and sails into a genre nearly all of it's own. Let's call it bad ass rock and this set sets sail right from the git with loud & proud tales drawn from the wrong side of the tracks in the wrong side of town. Bukowski for modern ears? Maybe, with loads of crunchy rocking in tow. This is the stuff for rebels with a clue. Hot, hard and heavy with punches to the labonza to spare. Hot stuff.

JOHN LONG/Stand Your Ground: A white boy with the blues that didn't start his climb to the top until well into his AARP years, he was working in the shadows impressing Muddy Waters and Homesick James as one of the best young, traditional blues players around. Turning it out like a time traveler that Dr. Brown hits the reverse pedal for, Long writes his own most of the time and you are convinced these are trunk songs Robert Johnson never got around to recording after the deal went down at the crossroads. Playing it old timey but with none of the elements that make it all too often feel dated, this stuff is a gasser that just doesn't quit. With just a little embellishment here and there, Long does it all on his own setting you up for an unexpected monster of a good time. Hot stuff throughout.

BIG JON ATKINSON & BOB CORRITORE/House Party at Big Jon's: The youngster with a fixation on things before his time and the former Chicago harper that's been adding heat to the Arizona desert for over 30 years pair up for a set that sounds like it was recorded in the Chess brothers back room at the Aristocrat lounge. Funky, gritty and raucous, this duo tears it up with all the rough edges in tact and the soul dripping off the sides like grease. Killer stuff from a young cat that's a proverbial old soul, this is the new version of blues like they used to make ‘em. Well done.

MIKE ELDRED TRIO/Baptist Town: Rockabilly madness taken down to Mississippi backed by a guest list you wouldn't believe add up to make this probably the hottest indie release you'll ever hear. Raising the bar on his fourth album to dizzying heights, the fusion of elements that pull this set together come at you so fast, hard and heavy you really won't know what hit you. A first class killer of a juke joint rocker, the story telling, the playing, the vibe----it's all steak, not just sizzle. If this doesn't get you half way through the first track, you just can't be gotten. And you should check your pulse to make sure you still have one.

JARED HARD/10,000 Hydrogen Bombs: A youngster moves to Nashville, falls in with some old pals that moved there ahead of him and comes up with a pretty dandy debut record to tuck under his arm and leave a good impression where ever he goes. Using the formula without being a slave to it, this guy has smart commercial instincts that let him make a fast ball right down the middle that doesn't feel contrived. Having paid a bunch of dues the old fashioned way to get where he is now, this is certainly a voice you'll be hearing more from because he's making quite a firm statement now. Well done.

MATT WILSON'S BIG HAPPY FAMILY/Beginning of a Memory: Talk about a personal album! Wilson gathers members of all his aggregations together to do new takes on tunes from his catalog his late wife favored. With a supportive crew in tow, Wilson tries bouncing back from his tragedy with a set the kicks it off with some second line funk and veers between celebration and remembrance like something you wouldn't expect to hear from someone that doesn't have hellhounds on his tail. A jazz eulogy that comes from deep in his soul, this record is so personal it's almost like you can't listen to it without being changed. Hot stuff throughout.

JAPANCAKES: With half of this Athens, GA band now living in LA, the addition of a new vocalist has this psych pop crew adding skewed sunshine pop elements to the electronic mix and what you have here is a sound just waiting to be applied to commercials aimed at millennials. The mix of sunshine and subversive doesn't add up to Goth lite so much as it does a buffet for left leaning pop tastes that clearly want it from out of the mainstream.

PAUL REDDICK/Ride the One: Reddick has been at it so long that it's almost not fair to say this is a classic old school electric blues rock set if you think of Butterfield as old school. Horse voiced and harp slinging, Reddick flies on high octane and reminds you that every so often, it's good to kick out the jams. Hard hitting stuff from an inspiration to may that doesn't have any dust on him. This is a straight away invitation to an all night party.

ERIC BIBB & North Country Far with Danny Thompson/Happiest Man in the World: Easy rolling back porch music as presented by an award winning blues vet with a bunch Finns and an English bass pro, all recorded in the English countryside. An utterly organic set that could pass more for singer/songwriter than blues, this is such easy rolling stuff that it plays like an overdue post card from a old friend. Mellow to the max while never being somnambulant, this old pro knows how to deliver charm wrapped good vibes. A winner throughout.

BEN BEDFORD/Pilot and the Flying Machine: Don't you just hate singer/songwriters that string words together in an impenetrable way to sound deep and under score it with a doleful cello to make sure you get the point? I know I do. The good thing is that Bedford hates them too. Kristofferson without the BMI million dollar advance; Cohen without the family money---Bedford has to work for it and work at it. He does and his work doesn't feel like labor. A perfect example of the old school kind of record that producers like Bob Johnston would say had to be made, Bedford offers a textbook for those who wish to follow in his footsteps, discouragement for those who don't. Here's a contemporary folk album that shows you how to get it done and will stay with you for some time to come. A winner throughout.

Volume 39/Number 180
April 29, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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