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PETE HOLMES/Impregnated With Wonder: So, what would you expect the talking baby on the E-Trade commercial to sound and act like when he's off the E-Trade clock? Wrong. Holmes is a high energy, balls out contemporary commentator in the schpritz, stand up tradition. A funny cat that's been working hard to earn all the recognition he's been getting out of the high chair, this is a straight up contemporary laugh fest that doesn't require pomo sensibilities, just fast ears. Big fun on deck here.
(available digitally only)

STEPHEN HOUGH/Grieg-Liszt Piano Concertos: There are three concertos on deck on this release, and with Andrew Litton leading the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, there's more than enough great music to fill up an hour program. Kicking it off with an auspicious work that had an auspicious debut, 20 years after Liszt retired from touring and not really planning a comeback, Hough and Litton know how to inhabit the music with the feeling on board when it was originally premiered with Berlioz as the debut conductor. A masterful pairing of all the elements at all the levels, this is a dream date for the classical piano fan that doesn't need to shy away from drama, feeling and depth. A well wrought recording that engages the listener mightily throughout and doesn't ring a false note throughout the program. A bar raising release indeed.

TAKACS QUARTET/Haydn String Quartets Op. 74: The three pieces that make up this program are delightfully rendered with the four players playing as one voice weaving grace, color, sweep, depth and a barrage of sounds that sound like anything but sawing away. A full blooded work from players that enjoy their, this is a record that begs for a laid back Sunday afternoon, wine with a light finish, fireplaces and large windows for enjoying the sunset. This record will either make you feel like a grown up or let you know you're not ready to be one yet. A masterful session that never lets you down.

LISA B/Christmas Time is Here (and Chanukah and the Solstice): The only Catwoman we acknowledge this side of Julie Newmar is back with a whole new persona as she wants to celebrate the holidays. While there are some familiar and welcome versions of the classics, B likes to go off the beaten track even when she's being conventional with some interesting choices that convey her sense of the holidays as well as lets her serious side shine brightly. Tossing some originals in the mix as well, this is the sure bet holiday music that should be playing in hipper households over the next few months. Tasty throughout.

VICTORY & ASSOCIATES/These Things Are Facts: Things are changing. This Ramones inspired slab of suburban punk/power pop was funded via Kickstarter by a bunch of fans who knew what they wanted and wanted to help spread the word. Enough dough was raised for what should have been a garage record with good intentions to come out as a pretty polished affair for a bunch of DIY kids with good attitudes but not enough direction for the jungle. They cook, they rock, the blow the roof off the sucker. If the powers that be these days at Warners weren't such doofuses, this bunch would be under contract and being groomed to crash Amazon's servers, y'dig. The energy and attitude would be enough to carry this if these kids didn't have the talent to get over---and they do. A super heavy youthful brew.

POUND OF FLESH: Alrighty, it's about time a pic stepped up to replace "Wild Things" on the guilty pleasure list. Based on a true story, Malcolm McDowell stars as a professor that pimps out his students, ahem, a little short on cash. No matter what the Bangles have been up to lately, their mom has kept working and she helms this wild pic showing who has got the youthful genes in that family. Everything is going along well until one of the babes on ‘scholarship' winds up dead beginning an eddy that starts circling the drain with the mayor, the head of the college and all the rest of the uptight, upright citizens of the realm taking one that ain't for the Gipper. Yeah, you guessed it, this doesn't end well for anyone but the viewer. With Ron Meyer admitting Universal doesn't make anything but crap anymore, a grand pic like this just has no place in the mainstream cinema anymore. Their loss. This is simply a great contemporary take on noir that is a must see guilty pleasure. Hot stuff.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PT. 2: This is it, kids, Potter is coming home for the last time. This is it, all the sci-fi references to screwy names you can handle, all the special efx, all the war of wizardry, all the everything, they burn it all down and it all ends here. Even the lenticular on the o card lets you know this is it-good vs. evil, winner take all. with the extras and the extended cut and the blu ray clarity, the kitchen sink has been thrown against the wall to make sure that this is THE Christmas gift in as many urchin laden households as possible. Not only this generation's "Star Wars" the biggest commercial film franchise of all time does it up right, in Warners new usual fashion loading the package with formats for everything you could watch this on. Everybody knows what happened and how it turns out so let's just say this is commercial film making for the mass market turned in at the highest level. Kids, let the nightmares begin.

Volume 35/Number 5
November 5, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2011 Midwest Record

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