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KEN HATFIELD SEXTET/For Langston: A little Harlem Renaissance anyone? It's not Hughes centennial birthday, but who cares? Whether or not the average contemporary honky can appreciate a cultural event that took place 70 years ago this descendant of the Hatfield/McCoy feud knows how to bring a bunch of right on jazzbos together to wrap their heads and chops around a set of classic poetry set to new music. Art jazz that feels more like a play/program kind of thing, Hatfield brings music that's easy to enjoy. Even when Hughes is displayed at his most impatient with ‘go slow', whitey today can listen without feeling threatened. This is a shining example of being able to enjoy history when it's allowed to breathe. Well done.

CHRIS HARDWICK/Mandriod: Admit it, when you first met up with Hardwick you thought he wouldn't be much more than Jenny McCarthy's sidekick eunuch. Who's playing catch up with who now? Hardwick fearlessly got in touch with his inner nerd and developed it into an industry. Rather than extol self abignation like Rodney Dangerfield or Jackie Vernon, Hardwick serves up the revenge of the nerds, with anger and malice in free flow. Powered by the well polished timing of a veteran stand up, Hardwick is loaded with rapid fire observational humor that doesn't let you catch your breath between laughs. Another comic that figured out how to launch from pod cast to stardom, the kid is hitting it out of the park and the audience is knowingly in step. Step up for a guaranteed, mainstream laugh riot.

ANTHONY JESELNIK/Caligula: The dark prince of comedy is back with a new set of the goods. Well known for really bringing it on Comedy Central roasts, here we find him with an open stage where no holds are barred. Opening up with a rape joke and proceeding from there to deliver goods that aren't for the squeamish, at first blush it might seem like Jeselnik might be too caustic for the masses, but the thing is, he hit's the target so well and so hard, it's foolish to deprive yourself of this humor just because he colors so far outside the lines that he's frequently off the page. You know he's on the money when this cd is a roll off project from a TV special on a network owned by a large corporation that enjoys garnering their share of advertising dollars. A first class, dark humor laugh riot.

AIRSTRIP/Willing: College rock that falls somewhere between stoner pop, nightmare pop and shoe gaze, this is the sound of the disaffected hipster that likes to stare into the abyss without having to go Goth.

THE NEW KINGSTON TRIO/Best of V. 2 1968-72: You just never know where the next surprise is going to come from. The New Kingston Trio has been pretty well reissued--up until now. A dozen previously unreleased tracks were found in this edition's Pat Horine's stash and had been pretty much unheard in 40 years. While these tracks weren't deemed releasable for whatever reason, there's not a stiff in the bunch. Much more valuable for their souvenir quality than potential hit quality, these tracks add up to a damn fine, lost folk album. In touch with the times when folk was turning into folk rock and with more politics than the original Trio issued, this is another glimpse of why the Trio was the biggest band in the world before Beatles. If you did get to hear this stuff in real time, you would have caught your first airing of writers like Kristofferson and Mike Smith. Worthy hearing for ears well beyond the average Trio complete freak. Check it out.

SUSAN JAMES/Driving Toward the Sun: Psst, over here. Wanna hear the country/folk/rock record you've been wanting Lucinda Williams to make since she made that white album that really turned you on to her? James beat her to it. Running hard to make up for lost time after taking an extended lap around the mommy track, James has another set of wonderful, deeply emotional songs on her hands. Aided by her smart guitar playing, we have here a gal that's not only the whole package, she is one of the few that decided to go for it all and scored. Once again, great songs/killer band. This is the kind of music we were enjoying before everything went sideways. Well done.

SUSIE GLAZE & THE HILONESOME BAND/White Swan: Glaze and company have done a wonderful job of charming us in the past but now it seems like her recent vintage live set was to clear the palette before the next stage was set. A bluegrass crew that could easily stand toe to toe with Union Station, this crew has elected to widen the lens and take newgrass into the wide open mixing in Celtic, folk, roots, Americana and a full range of indigenous sounds that blend into a wonderful down home, home grown stew. Boldly powering their way down their own new cut road, if you haven't had the chance to enjoy the Glaze sound yet, this is the place to jump in to be totally blown away. This is the perfect record for anyone that's ever wondered what the big deal about roots/Americana is to find out what‘s what. Killer stuff.

Volume 37/Number 74
January 14, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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