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FOR WHOM THE COWBELL TOLLS/various: Those crafty inclusionists at Electric Cowbell know that not everyone is as committed to 45 rpm vinyl as they are, so it's time for their second label round up of recent singles gathered all under one roof. The way they can take such diverse stuff and make it flow together without making it homogenous is amazing. The world beat little Brooklyn engine that could is firmly and finely at it again with the kind of collection any old hippie or young urban kid will love. Do yourself a favor and find out what's going on here in this world without walls.

DAVID BENOIT/Conversation: In which we find Benoit going back to his roots of playing his own stuff from the gut, but this time in lush surroundings. With a bunch of the usual suspect smooth jazz hitters at the core, Benoit expands to adding a cadre of classical music students that are obviously at the top of the class for an anti-Yanni kind of date that goes the jazz/classical crossover route, even if the compositions are mostly Benoit's. By taking a few leafs from Jim Brickman's commercial notebook, Benoit isn't going to have to rely on tribute and theme albums for quite a while as the juices are flowing again at full force. Upbeat and sweet, it's well worth your time.

ADAM COHEN/Like A Man: Jeff Buckley had it easy. His pop was long dead so the comparisons wouldn't fling against him as hard. Then the younger Buckley could draw from the older Cohen's song bag. You think it's easy being Adam Cohen when you sound like Lenny? You think he could get away with singing "First We Take Manhattan"? Even the producer is on loan from dad. Well, even young Cohen had his doubts, writing for years but not letting the verses out of his drawer. Then it finally became time to roshambo for it. Coming to the game late, much like his father, this is one of those cases where the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree---but it's not a bad thing. Young Cohen has successfully gone into the family business keeping the quality and reliability in tow. It's like any Leonard Cohen fan that has a life expectancy of at least another 30 years knows his ears are in good hands. Yeah, young Cohen hews to the established party line, but he does it so well.

LAKECIA BENJAMIN/Retox: In which we find the contemporary soul/funk sax player to the stars finally getting the chance to take her star turn. What does she do? She doesn't even play sax on all the tracks because she wants the spotlight to be on her composing skills. With an opening that shows her breakfast cereal was a mixture of George Clinton and Macao Parker, the groove kicks off in high gear right out of the box. Club friendly retro/neuvo beats reign supreme and Benjamin shows she's here to stay. High octane stuff that really lets her strut her stuff.

10 FT. GANJA PLANT/10 Deadly Shots Vol. II: If these guys didn't make themselves available interviews, I'd be wondering out loud if they weren't The Residents of reggae or something. With full 420 flavor, the vibeologists continue to unleash some of the skankinest dubbalicious riddims around with the ability to swing from 70s sunshine to 70s sinister. Totally a winner throughout.

THE STRATA-TONES/Dressed Up to Fess Up: A bunch of old, white hippies that didn't give up the day jobs but wound up getting downsized years later put the old band back together and discover the chops they hid from their kids to get them to go to grad school were still working. Loaded with blues show band proclivities, this is a shining example of how to amuse others by amusing yourself first. Exactly the kind of band you love to stumble across when dropping by a strange club for something different to do, this is fine stuff with an off beat charm that really grabs hold. Check it out.

Volume 35/Number 176
April 14, 2011
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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