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HOWARD ALDEN-ANDY BROWN QUARTET/Heavy Artillery: The two old New York jazz guitar pals deliver the inside out version of the classic cutting contest and it sounds so good. Just like in the old days, this was recorded in Chicago in an afternoon. These two pals, currently separated by a generation and a thousand miles play together in such succinct sweetness that you almost think Alden didn't get the memo that the Concord that put out his dates quite a while ago isn't the one he's not recording for today. An utterly smoking set for the real jazzbo looking for some real sounds that hit the mark throughout.

THE GREEN/Hawai'i 13: Their first album of Hawaiian reggae seemed like a really cool novelty. Then it went to #1 on the reggae charts. The third go round shows them to be as serious as a heart attack with a sound that no longer seems like a novelty and feels like the tent pole of a new (sub?)genre. Smoking skanking riddims loaded with pineapple instead of guava, these are sounds as good as any to get flat to and keep it all eire. There's even some politics laced in the sunshine and smoke for malcontent listeners that want to strike their blows against the empire as well. A cool ride through some deep culture.

TAL NATIONAL/Kaani: High octane wild and crazy nu Afropop from Niger that makes you think it's a party all the time there even if most of the cats can't afford instruments and the leader of this band doubles as the head of the Niger Supreme Court. Calling their sound trad-moderne, we don't know enough about the history of their pop, we just know we like it. Bottom line, any world beat yuppie ears will want this at their next barbeque pumping vibrantly through the speakers. Killer stuff.

STARGAZER LILIES/We Are the Dreamers: Shoegaze meets girl group sunshine psych pop for a set of morning after/hair of the dog music that might just make a long night sound like hell. Goth for tweenies partying too hard when the parents are away?

LEVERAGE MODELS: Kind of a nu alt.super group for the younger sibs of those raised on David Byrne that like his off beat skewed views and want their own sound but don't want to stray too far from the ranch.

JOSEPH DALEY/Seven Heavenly Virtues: A jazzbo that's been hanging out with known hell raisers for over 40 years follows his last album of deadly sins with this one full of heavenly virtues. An undisputed piece of killer sitting down, art jazz, this is the perfect kind of set for listeners that linger over the jazz/classical divide not knowing which one they really prefer but enjoying music that straddles as well. Not difficult music but not easy listening either, this is the kind of set that gives genres like art jazz a good name and raises the bar that others turn into clichés----none of which are found here. Well done.

MARY FLETCHER/Give My Love to You: Right in the traditional, mainstream Nashville pocket, Fletcher is a big voiced young singer pushing at the limits of redneck lite. With way more sass and soul than you can get from practicing into your hairbrush, Fletcher is a solid comer that you can only hope keeps her focus on the music rather than the sideshow antics that keep you in the news. She's got all the chops she needs to stay in the news. Check it out.

BERNWARD KOCH/Day of Life: For his latest, Koch turns his keyboards to soundscapes that each represent a baker's dozen of days where you get to do what you want in peaceful surroundings without a care in the world. With themes that feel like drifting and floating that might makes you feel like Huck Finn drifting down the Mississippi away from his troubles if he was doing it today (you wouldn't have had music like this 150 years ago, come on), this is a first class audio getaway that won't do anything less than help you recharge the batteries. Dandy stuff to open the ears and mind with.

ANDREA BALESTRA/Painting on Silence: This one's easy. This is a beautiful solo guitar album with megawatt guest stars lending a hand. Dripping with creativity that comes from the heart first, this is what you want to be hearing in a semi-dark room, well after hours, when your ears need some sonic silk that comes at your from different directions. With enough jazz running through it to call it jazz if you need to, this is simply killer contemporary instrumental music. Hot stuff.

THE COALS/A Happy Animal: The nu generation of LA folk-rock is upon us. While they admit a debt to Leonard Cohen, they aren't beholden to him anymore than they are The Dillards or anyone else who was influential in folk/rock/singer/songwriter/Laurel Canyon spheres a few generations back. Solid songwriting, a good attitude and a sincere vibe propel this to heights greater than the usual indie release should attain. Solid stuff that genre fans will propel to higher places as well. Check it out.

THE SLIMS/Slowpoke: Utterly skewed blue eyed nu soul from Gainesville showing the ditch weeds is still as good there as it was in Skynyrd's day. If Molly is rolling around your dorm hallway, she'll get a kick out of this madness.

Volume 37/Number 286
August 14 , 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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