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CLANNAD/Christ Church Cathedral: They may not be the one and only original family band, but they are celebrating their 40th anniversary which certainly gives them standing as one of the longest running original family bands. A live record in an intimate setting, Clannad pulls out all the stops in such a tour de force performance you really won't know which way to point your ears first. Kicking off with a lovely rendition of a song the Clancy's tuned into a rousing tale of a persecuted Irish Jew, the delicacy and the energy fuse, combine, recombine and give you a Celtic music experience almost like no other. An absolutely wondrous and lustrous recording, even if you think you know them well, this is the unveiling of a new diamond you weren't expecting. Everything you ever loved about Celtic music is on parade here. A winner.

CHRIS LEIGH & the Broken Hearts/Broken Hearted Friends: Deconstruction continues everywhere. I can't tell if this guy is retro, or winking at us with a pomo eye, or simply a honky tonker trying to exist in a world where Jacksboro Highway is just a state of mind and endless strip malls have replaced the roadhouse at the edge of town. Sounding like honky tonk as conceived by Kinky Friedman, Leigh certainly doesn't have the earnestness of Dwight Yoakam and his ilk, even if he winks at them. With a crack crew working with him on both sides of the glass, there's no lack of chops and serious hard work underlying the whole proceedings. I'm willing to bet this is the real deal as opposed to an elaborate joke, and if so, this is the freshest breath of country music air to waft along since Friends in Low Places. No matter which way the wind is blowing this record is a gasser and just the antidote even for people that say they don't like country music. Hot stuff.

THE SLIDE BROTHERS/Robert Randolph Presents: Would you really expect a bunch of sacred steel players to blow right out of the box sounding like Hendrix? Leaving their church roots at the door of the studio, this crew tears it up on contemporary blues, Beatles, traditional blues, originals and kinda gospelly things. A wild bag breaker of expectations, these guys play like Tina Turner used to carry on---they can play it nice and easy or nice and--rough. The sacred steel tradition has been shattered for all time and is heading off into parts unknown.

SPENCER DAY/Mystery of You: Wow. It's as if Taylor Swift and Chris Isaac had a kid on prom night and she abandoned it at an opium bar. Growing up with mom's taste for lyrical revenge, dad's taste for noir instrumentation and his Persian caretaker's predilection for his own indigenous sounds, Day issues with an exotic tale of romantic civil wars that old Joni Mitchell fans will understand but won't comprehend. Belles that watch New Girl but don't get John Mayer or Justin Timberlake will probably have a new dish on their plate with this set.

ISHI/Digital Wounds: Electro college music for disaffected hipsters that think Skrillex sold out when he won the Grammy. Shoe gaze with some wattage for the xanax generation.

SPECIMEN13/Echosystem: The contemporary take on prog rock as filtered through noize. With an edge making this stuff Big Band Theory guys probably listen to when the camera isn't rolling, I can see Amy Fowler moshing to this, via Skype.

DAN ZINN 4/Grace's Song: One of today's hot young sax men delivers the goods on his latest outing that finds him in command of all his faculties, delivering the goods with the greatest of ease. A solid jazzbo romp with some like minded pros on board, this is smoking contemporary jazz that is in the pocket throughout. Well done.

Volume 37/Number 103
February 12, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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