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ELIKEH/Between 2 Worlds: If you play this around grandpa, he'll probably tell you that this is some dope acid reggae and you can correct him or not about this being some hard hitting Afrofunk that has some similarities but... Hard hitting political skanking riddims from Togo, this is new breed Afro cross pollination where funk and word merge to create fire. Oh hell, give a kid any rhythmic reason to fire up a doob and the party begins, even if there's a message behind it. Check it out because it's some burning stuff!

HANK WILLIAMS JR/Old School New Rules: Hank Jrs relationship with Mike Curb ran over 40 years. How many wives did he have in that much time? Hank Jr's greatest albums were from 1977-83 when he had his new south thing in high gear. HWJ at half speed is better than most others at full speed as evidenced by his CMA awards coming in the late 80s and his 20 year MNF gig coming along after that, when he wasn't running at full speed and Curb wasn't really giving him the love. Hell, how many times can you fall off a mountain and split your head open and have a half sister you never met pop out of the woodwork and take half your money? The gray days are over. This sounds like something Hank would have recorded with Waylon. Writing most of the album himself, kicking ass whether delivering personal journalism or taking country back to the country, this is a smoker like we haven't had from Williams in well nigh 35 years. If you thought he was going to run a sinecure into the sunset until they could no longer wheel him on to the stage on a hand truck, this album proves you dead wrong. Jerry Lee Lewis move over, there's a new killer in town. Killer stuff!

TODD BARRY/Super Crazy: With a dead pan delivery stringing together words that form an observational web as the words build one upon the other creating a pyramid without apex, Barry has staked out a section of the comedy world that should find him fending off all comers that think it's easy because he makes it look easy. Alt in an alt kind of way, this is a fun house ride that seems to observe the speed limits but really gets dangerous when the curves come along. Not trying to be a mass market comic, Barry has what the malcontent wants and delivers just the right amount to bring you back for more. Just be sure you don't have a drink in your mouth when the punch lines are coming around. Well done.

JESSE POPP/You Stink: An up and coming comic with an eye for the ridiculous and the dada in everyday situations, Popp has an eye on the times we're living in and funnels it right to the stand up stage. A bit of an everyman caught up in a world he did not create but one that any 20 something can relate to these days, here's a stand up to keep an ear out for as he's got what it takes. Check it out.

SUSAN CATTANEO/Little Big Sky: A committed country rocker that will remind you of Lucinda Williams but not quite, she's labored in the vine yards long enough to recognize a fast ball she can hit out of the park. Well paced, well played by first call pros, smart co writes with bench strength --- she really has it going on here. A solid set whose sincerity is unmistakable by a singer that just doesn't pay lip service to following her passion. Check it out.

THE URBAN RENEWAL PROJECT/Go Big or Go Home: So who can resist the sound of big band funk when it's handed to you from the right hands? There's a lot of contemporary mash up going on here as traditional funk and traditional big band get mix mastered with rap, attitude, Latin, pop and more. Infectiously fun stuff that gets the party started and keeps it rolling as the sweat pours out. A sure winner throughout.

CONNIE EVINGSON/Sweet Happy Life: In the post Beatle era when creative cred was redefined, Norman Gimbel avoided all the flack Rod McKuen got for writing English lyrics to foreign songs by keeping his head down and cashing the checks. Most notable for his ‘collaborations' with Jobim, he charted hits in several decades and somehow has fallen through the cracks in time making him a good subject for Evingson's latest tribute album. All these songs are well loved and well known no matter who wrote them and Evingson breathing new life into them is a sweet treat for all involved. Evingson makes it clear there's more of a Minnesota/Brazil connection going on from the way she caresses these songs. Must hearing for the jazz vocal fan that wants it really well done.

ARABIC BEAT/various: A collection of contemporary stars from across the Arabic musical spectrum that aren't known here populate this collection, a spiritual follow up to the label's biggest seller of all time "Arabic Groove". Fiercely contemporary, a new sound and vibe is rising up from the multi culti streets here that doesn't have to be confined to the back alleys of the souks. A timely set that reflects the freedom afforded by Arab Spring, don't be surprised if Arabic Bob Dylans and Phil Ochs seep out the grooves of this set as well. A tasty bet for the arm chair traveler.

STAN RIDGWAY/Mosquitos...expanded: From the Wall of Voodoo to the forerunning position of Americana noir rock with guests that would go on to assume quite august positions in music in tow, Ridgway turned into the ultimate rare gem/acquired taste that this so unique you either get him or you don't. If you do get him, you become rabid. Not just his best record but also one of the best records of the period before grunge ruled the earth and alt became codified, this is a perfect example of thinking man's rock that isn't work to listen to. Killer stuff for the open eared, the open minded and those looking for a great sonic kick to boot. Well done and standing tall across a 20 year time divide.

Volume 35/Number 268
July 15, 2012
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2012 Midwest Record

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