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HADDEN SAYERS/Hard Dollar: An Austin guitar slinger with a hard luck back story gets a tune up in an unlikely place and brings his blistering sound back to the fore. A roadhouse journey man to the core, Sayers knows how to whoop and holler and keep the party going. Fun stuff for frat boys of all ages, this is an after hours record that doesn't need mainstream success to be considered a hit.

RAY BROWN'S GREAT BIG BAND/Kayak: Hey, leave the guy alone, just because he's a jazzbo doesn't mean that Ray Brown can't be his real name. A well rounded horn playing jazzbo that's been around since the tail end of the Stan Kenton era, he learned his lessons well from ‘the old man'. When the Five Browns first came out, they weren't breaking any new ground but they covered the ground they were covering so well that you pleased with how nice it all sounded. Brown and his gang are in the same vibed bag. He doesn't do anything new with big band, but he's one of the last old school practitioners and he makes it sound so good. And sometimes that's all you need. What sets this set apart is that he pulled back the curtain and let's you enjoy his long time paramour, big band jazz, as much as he does. And that's all you need. Simply a lush, gorgeous instrumental outing that is so well rounded that once it gets a hold of you, you're a sap if you try to resist. It's big band the way it ought to be. Dig it.

SEE-I: Long time Thievery Corporation associates who started branching off on their own now really branch out on their own with their dangerous funky reggae sounds that has sinister overtones to reflect the times but wants to bring you into the global funk while delivering the news. These guys might have been around since the 80s in one way or another but they have a sound that is sure to be heard echoing down hipper dorm corridors. Cross cultural stuff that knows how to hit the bulls eye.

RB STONE/Lonesome Traveler's Blues: This is certainly the kind of record you would buy from an artist's merch table after a club gig. Stone seems like the kind of cat that puts on a smoking blues/rock show and that energy traverses to record better than many others in the same situation. Keeping his sound free, easy and accessible, it was made to be enjoyed with some beer and bbq while the good times are flowing around you. There's a lot of sly influences tucked into his music and he seems to instinctively know how to roll it all into something that keeps you coming back for more. Stone is an entertainer that knows which end is up. This is a load of fun.

BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA/Take the High Road: The kind of soul stirring gospel that doesn't care how much of a white, honky cracker you are---it will reach you. A dandy high profile duet date, these multi Grammy winners have such a cool sound that even those who hate infidels can get into it. C'mon, Hank Jr. hanging out with some old black cats doing "I Saw the Light" in revival show fashion? How cool is that? Check it out.

MR. HO'S ORCHESTROTICA/Presents Third River Rangoon: On his Esquivel tribute, Mr. Ho proved himself a first class player all the way around. Now he's out to stretch the boundaries and that can be tricky no matter how good you are. Taking exotica into the present and the future means you have to deal with other people's expectations. How can you be exotic in a world that's getting smaller faster? I would have delved Pan Asian sounds from sunny and steamy climates. Ho recognizes the need to add world beat to his third stream effort and takes off for other latitudes than I would. Hey, the Balkans can be just as exotic as the souks. If you are a pomo cat that wants some neo exotica without self indulgent irony, Ho knows what you are thinking. It's almost tempting to call this simply a first rate, left leaning instrumental record but he knows his stuff and how to get there without a map. You might not call it exotica, but you will like it. Check it out.

THE SOUL OF JOHN BLACK/Good Thang: John Bigham has such a storied and well rounded past that he has to try on different personas to keep from being a prisoner of his past. On his latest outing as John Black, he's a killer modern soul man (neo and nu just don't do him and what he does justice). With a taste of old school basted into the sound, Black/Bigham let's you know what it would be like if the real Stax was making new, real recordings today. Smooth while gritty, there's got a be a Spike Lee or Quentin Terrintino soundtrack crying out for half the tracks on here. Killer stuff.

THE RITE: A religious horror pic that finds Anthony Hopkins embracing being a scary old mother fucker the way DeNiro embraces being a gangster. Based on a true story, Hopkins performs exorcisms that goes over the edge and finally shock a young skeptic to his roots. Using blu ray to it's fullest to deliver the chills as well as the alternative ending, this is the hair raiser you've been looking for if you've been feeling the need to have the bejesus scared out of you. The combo pack includes a standard dvd and digital copy as well so the power of Christ can compel you anywhere.

Volume 34/Number 186
May 6, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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