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NEON ALLEY: A solid dose of arena rock in search of an arena, this power trio delivers the kind of classic headbang that will speak for the generation throughout the generations. For teens that go to music festivals where it's about rocking out instead of seeing and being seen, it's like the 80s and 90s never left. Hot stuff that raging hormones will totally understand.

GARY NESTA PINE/Revelation: The man who stepped into Bob Marley's shoes to lead Wailers 3.0 shows he doesn't have to imitate anyone as he's got his own vision whether he fits it into the format or takes it out on his own. Old school attitude and skanking, Pine delivers the message and word and he goes deeper than just singing the praises of gage. Pine has gone on to a lot of cool under the radar honors from untainted Olympics music and French talent shows that couldn't deny his power. Great stuff for reggae fans that want the real deal and don't mind light modernization along the way. Killer stuff.

SQUARES/Second Act: The three members of this crew might all have AARP cards but you don't hold it against them since they display their folk roots proudly and don't try to trick it up with any non-natural additives. And it's not just for nostalgic boomers wishing they would play more folk music in the background at Starbucks. As good as they write originals, what they do with John Prine and J.D. Souther covers is both mind melting and breath taking. Phooey on age discrimination, you don't shove chops like these off to the side. Well done throughout.

TOM McCORMICK/South Beat: Taking to his adopted home of Miami like a fish takes to water, sax man McCormick is a dyed in the wool post bopper, but he also digs the non stop party atmosphere the non stop sunshine brings out. Reveling in a mash up of Brazilian, Latin, smooth jazz and stops along the way that both speed it up and slow it down, this is what major labels should have had in their mix when they were trying to bring jazz more to the masses. Fun stuff without the egghead pretensions and sops to the jazz police, this is the kind of set that reminds you that life is a stone groove. Well done throughout.

LOCOS POR JUANA/Caribe: It comes from Miami but it's modern, Pan Caribbean in scope. Certainly not your father's reggae, soca, calypso etc, this smoking multi culti mash up takes you on the vacation in your mind where all the stuff you don't know about first hand from the tropics mashes all into a colorful blend that turns out anything but gray. High octane stuff to fuel gringo parties, this is hard hitting stuff that'll keep everyone moving without thinking about forming conga lines. A great, wild ride.

SHIRANTHA BEDDAGE/Momentum: And for those if you jazzbos that take your jazz seriously, this Canadian sax man is the high minded cat that falls right in step with Coltrane and plays for the purist that's right at home in basement jazz clubs where clove ciggies mix in the air with kool kittie waitresses in black leotards. This is the capitol of Coolsville, daddio! Show up for work tomorrow with slightly bloodshot eyes, these are the tunes that make it worthwhile. Hot stuff throughout from a cat that destined to blaze some real, badass trail. Well done.

THE DELTAHORSE/Transatlantic: And here's the last nail in the coffin of the old days ways. Crowdfuned, this session played by three cats that weren't even on the same continents at the same time sounds like it could have been the next big studio production by, say, INXS, if that group didn't cut itself short. And you thought streaming was a disrupter! It can be done. This road here is paved with more than good intentions---it's right on alt.rock. So much for the mental telepathy that sprouts from a good jam session. Particle world has risen and taken over. Check it out.

DUKE ROBILLARD/Blues Full Circle: Unless you are a hard core know it all, you wouldn't know that this new one from Robillard is a celebration that more ways than one. His rotator cuff has healed and he can kick it out once more after not wielding an ax for over a year. With tunes that date back to when he first got Roomful of Blues off the ground, this set is loaded with full circle moves for Robillard but luckily, not closure for us. With his all star pals augmenting his combo, Robillard is at it again with roots music that sets the standard. This is one white boy we hope never loses his blues. Hot stuff.

RONNIE EARL & the Broadcasters/Maxwell Street: A tip of the hat to his late comrade in arms rather than the open air blues market that gentrification has been moving street performers out of Chicago, Earl says this is an album of healing blues but it sounds like more he's gotten in touch with his inner Wes or George Benson. He also says this music is about gratitude so maybe that's where the ethereal feel comes from. A real change up for Earl, ax fans will be pleasantly charmed with this set as it really does take you some place else. Well done.

DAVE STRYKER/Eight Track II: Stryker has a special handle on taking journey's through the past. Following up his 2014 date where he dusted off oldies that we all know but haven't been beaten to death that were his personal faves, he goes to that well again with results that are going to be just as pleasing. Too many others try this and get the pat on the head they've earned for a nice effort, but Stryker reinvents the tunes without you seeing the moves that make it happen. He plays it true to the way you remember it now. Mostly keeping it on the soulful side throughout (well, Young-Hold Unlimited did cover "Midnight Cowboy" to great psych-soul effect), this guitar/organ driven date is the most. Hot stuff throughout, this cats chops just keep getting deeper and deeper.

CURSE OF LONO: Pomo vets from Blighty reconvene after thinking there had to be more reward to what they were doing. In this new aggregation pairing up with other young scene vets, the five piece crew mashes up popular alt styles that round the horn from prog to Goth and let suburban parents know in no uncertain terms that they are hated. At least it's melodic rather than noise. Disaffected youth arise, here's your new sound for the season!

Volume 39/Number 299
August 27, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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