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ARYK CROWDER/ 2x4 V. 2: Stripping his songs down to their most elemental, Crowder leaves hip hop behind and comes in with a damn decent atmospheric folk record that finds the 60s groove folkies were latching on to when they were doing some mind bending. A sum total of how to be organic while in the city today, Crowder's words, music and vocals all fall together so properly, it might make the current old line jealous when they find tastes changing and they are too arthritic to pivot. A welcome change to what passes for contemporary pop.

AUBURN ROAD/Fancy: I don't think this trio of lassies was even alive when Mulberry Tree proved you could go from Iowa Holiday Inn lounges to a contract with MCA faster than you could say Carly Hennessey. While obviously not sisters like the former, someone wrote the check to take these gals into Hollywood studios where they could roll out teeny pop rocked up country for young ladies who think Taylor Swift is their older sister's music and are looking for a voice of their own. For young tastes that don't know country isn't really a mash up of everything else on the radio dial, this wall of sound, anthemic production is sure to sneak up on exurban America just like someone else did recently. Check it out.

SPELLING REFORM/No One's Ever Changed: A refreshing blast of punky, indie, sunshine power pop is on tap here for these delightful weirdoes that can gleefully take their place in the lineage of the delightful weirdoes of the last 30 years. Just plain old fun stuff that you can only make when you are young and the whole world lies ahead of you just waiting for the skewed observations you're making that somehow have never been made before. Fun stuff.

ELECTRIC HELLFIRE CLUB/Necessary Evils-Best of: The spin off group of Thrill Kill Kult that kind of folded their tent 15 years ago after a decade together are pulling together their first retrospective that has tracks from their five lps as well as special nuggets folded in along the way. Industrial, satanic metal that explores the dark side almost as deeply as Velvet Underground did, the funny thing is, when you listen to this as a whole, it's amazing how ahead of their time they were. Krazy stuff that will awaken the collapsed antenna in the heads of all 90s, teen aged Martians. A wild ride once and forever. Check it out if you dare or, especially, if you know what you're getting into.

JEROME JENNINGS/Beast: If you're catching some daddio/modern/civil rights jazz moments in this in demand New York drummer's debut, it might be because it was inspired by a personal, black lives matter moment the drummer experienced with the New Jersey police because he was showing the love to his native area Cleveland Browns. Meanwhile, it hasn't hurt his sense of swing and his first call employers and pals love using the freedom and encouragement he affords them by recording on his own nickel. Jazz like it used to be when we were all coming of age and getting our heads turned, this does a fine job of taking you back to the day even if you weren't there the first time. Most assuredly stellar work from a jazz star on the rise. Well done.

KNICKERBOCKER ALL STARS/Texas Rhody Blues: A charity record by this bunch of blues rocking pals from Texas and Rhode Island smokes mightily so we won't tell anyone this was done for a good cause. With the hot cats from both states tearing it up in fine style, this after hours jam flows with the easy camaraderie that blues buddies bring to the party to let the good times roll. Fun stuff any over age frat boy will be able to relate to, the "yeah, baby"'s are all authentic and the good times do roll. Well done.

ENOCH SMITH JR/The Quest-Live at APC: If you listen closely to those old Ramsey Lewis Trio records on Argo, you'll notice that Lewis always knew how to take it to church. Smith takes it to church in a break though kind of recording in that the church always scoffed at jazz as secular music, ignoring the blackness of it's soul jazz/gospel roots. Recorded live at the church claiming his jazz as their own, this gospel tinged set swings. Anyone that was a white kid in the early 70s that would be amazed by the sounds coming out of black churches will get this---even without paying the black tax. Everyone else is free to enjoy the sounds of redemption without the hellfire sitz bath. Smoking stuff that breaks new ground in an unexpected way.

PHIL PARISOT/Lingo: Another in a series of talented jazzbo drummers that know how to lead from the back of the stage, this is a zesty romp that shows where slamming the skins for 20 years can take you if you've been playing attention. Smart forward thinking sounds that also respect the varied past, Parisot delivers an atmospheric date that's anything but background music. Snappy and swinging throughout, this is real meat you can sink your jazzbo teeth into.

ERIK JEKABSON/Brand New Take: If you've ever wondered what makes John Mayer interesting after all this time, maybe it's because he has this jazzbo lurking in the background putting some punch into the kind of mopey sounds that would inspire Taylor Swift---for a while. Left to his own devises with a Bay Area crew, the trumpeter knows how to blow up a good kind of holy racket that takes improv in and out of the moment but always on point. Showing no bottom to his well after five sets, you have to know this cat is on to something. Smoking hot stuff anyone with a taste for brass will enjoy. Check it out.

SUNDAY MORNING: If a bunch of Canuck vet noise makers name their band after a Velvet Underground song and find that sweet spot where early Leonard Cohen and early Lou Reed intersect, I think I'd be more disappointed if they didn't. Especially since this bunch does bring their own special sauce to the conflagration. I gave you the road map, you can find the rest of the way on your own (the Townes Van Zandt guideposts will help you find your way).

Volume 40/Number 15
November 15, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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