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JOHNNY IRONSIGHTS/Murder Mountain: Can a former Fulbright scholar shave his head and credibly peruse a career as a country Goth punk that belts it out in an earnest voice and sings about the underside of America that lurks behind the curtains and under the surface? Seems like it. With lots of reverb guitar and lyrics that cut to the quick quickly, Ironsights rules as king of an underground of his own making that draws you in like a Tarantino movie. Wild stuff that takes you on a well guided tour of the modern take on the wild side of life.

ENDRICK & the Sandwiches/Green Room Rumble: Bringing a little bit of Chicago to Canada wrapped in some Crumb like artwork, Endrick and his gang like that west side Chicago sound that hooked several generations of blues rockers as they made their journey to the true vine. Putting the pedal to the medal forthwith, they establish themselves as a party band that takes no guff and rides high. It almost feels like we really have the next generation of Blues Brothers right here.
(Dig in the Garden)

JOHN McLEAN-CHARLES BARKATZ & Friends/Shadow Man: You might not know the names of the new generation of Austin pickers on this genre busting set of jazz/blues/soul but it really is a matter of time before real musos let these names roll off their tongues. High octane stuff by some vets that have miles under their belts and lessons learned they show off here. With a feeling just to the left of what you'd generally expect, this bunch knows how to turn it up and turn it loose.
(Tree Tops)

GABRIEL ALEGRIA AFRO PERUVIAN SEXTET/Social Distancing: An artsy jazz set of music and poetry inspired by the pandemic that never hits you over the head with lessons you need to learn. More like a fully realized radio presentation with words and music, all told, it's a different kind of recital set but really riveting, especially if you've got a taste for quasi multimedia presentations. Clearly and interesting and a different way to spend and hour.

LAURA FERNANDEZ/Okay, Alright: At it for a while but not dropping records that often, Fernandez really does it right here leading a piano trio through a personal set with a vibe that comes across as Tom Waits without the growl or the reliance on beatnik imagery but loaded with the trademark Waits vibe. Excitingly and decidedly different, she's way more than a thrush and is the kind of fully realized artist you're always on the look out for.
(Sonic Peach 4)

RICHARD HOWELL/Moon Over Tiburon: A Bay area MVP sax man that has done it all with everyone brings his positive jazz to the fore with a new version of his classic and loads of sparking jazz that hits the mark. A cat that really knows his stuff and puts it out there proudly, this is a smoking set for jazzbo ears that have gotten a little too jaded. Well done.
(Pomona Sunrise)

JOSH PICHE: A Canadian country rocker with a folkie/singer-songwriter vibe hit's the ball squarely on this ep that gives him a fine chance to let you sample his stuff. Easy going, easy rolling, he's not looking to take you down the back roads but certainly can be expected to give you a ride to the exurbs. Nice.

HENRY ROBINETT QUARTET/Then Again Jazz Standards V. 2: Unleashing another 20 year old set the guitarist shelved because he thought it was too different from what he was doing at the time, volume 2 once again proves that good taste is timeless. Note perfect, swinging club jazz, him and his gang swing the classics righteously with a set that will appeal to you especially if you aren't a member of the jazz police. Wonderful, easy going jazz that brings newbies into the tent without them having a care in their world.
(Nefertiti 121620)

HAL STEPHENS/Dashing Thru: This one blows off the charts for clever. The Nashville jazz mainstay for this century rounds up his well chopped pals and they deliver a set of breezy, fun Christmas music that sounds like classics but are actually all originals. With a real sense of how to get it done, his roots run so deep that this Christmas classic in the making just needs some time on it's side to drive the point home. You need to hear it to believe it.

LILLY WINWOOD/Time Well Spent: Steve's daughter isn't content to get by on the family name. With a lifetime of exposure to one of the best, it's only natural that some of it would rub off if she chose to enter the family business, but genes notwithstanding, Winwood has the insights and chops to make a set that stands solidly on it's own. More influenced by her pop's later years and her own Nashville residency, Winwood's personal; music doesn't make her a Joni Mitchell for modern times, it makes her solely her own woman all the way through. This is a singer songwriter you have to put on your list. Well done.

LOVE & MONSTERS: Well, you can either keep making Jay & Silent Bob or Bill & Ted sequels or you can give the kids what they want---a post monster apocalypse coming of age movie with breaking free, reigniting old love and more monsters than you can shake some holy water at. Spiffed up with all the high tech frippery a byte will allow, it plays on the big screen loud and proud and shows you can aim low and hit the target with solid results. A smoking popcorn pic for the kids, it's got all the right moves in all the right places.

Volume 45/Number 48
December 18, 2020
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2020 Midwest Record

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