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ATASH/Everything is Music: What would world beat from Austin sound like if Latin music wasn't in the mix? Well, this. Mixing Middle East and Indian vibes with rock, jazz and blues sensibilities, this crew does a fine job of approximating what would have gone on if Paul Battlefield hung out at a belly dance bar on Chicago's west side back in the day. Got that? This is a zesty, well played set where the musos have the Mixmaster turned up high but the result is anything but a brown mush. Wild stuff for the open eared of any age looking for a world beat kick that gets it's message across even if you don't know what they are talking about. Check it out. Did we mention they even got Fareed Haque to stop by?

MARY ANN CASALE/Running Out of Time: 60s/70s folkie comes back to the spotlight after 30 years away and seems to pick up right where she left off. Not recidivist/atavistic stuff where she's retracing her steps, Casale is still a pretty much dyed in the wool 60s folkie that sounds like she's stayed true to her roots. Insightful lyrics are the hallmark on this set of personal feeling lyrics that come right from the heart. Not sugar coated, not bitter, just recognizing the things that go into making life's journey the trek that it is, Casale cuts a mighty path with little more than voice and guitar. At the very least, this is a fine trip back to the campus coffeehouse that closed in the early 70s.

BRAD WHITELEY TRIO/Pathless Land: As adept at accompanying opera singers as he is Regina Spektor, this young lion with the fat resume is setting new standards for jazz organ trio without pushing the boundaries. He builds things to greater heights by just staying in the pocket. A naturally soulful white boy, he's sure to please anyone who knows their apples about jazz organ (as well as piano) while he beguiles those newbies peeking into the tent to see what the hub bub is all about. Whether kicking it into gear or slowing it down, there isn't a false note in the bunch and Whitley is guaranteeing his spot at the top. Killer stuff.

GLOBALFEST SELECTOR/various: Everybody doing a good job deserves a pat on the back once in a while and here's the Globalfest gang going, ‘hey, look what we've been up to the last ten years'. The major domo outlet for world beat acts looking to break through in non-traditional ways, which is often the only avenue open to them, this platform turns everything into a win/win for everyone. As unstatic and unhomogeneous as can be, this crew scours the far corners to bring out what seems like the best of everywhere making sure a good time is had by all. This sampler is as ear opening as it gets without showing off how precious and outre a curator can be when they really want to be. A most essential world beat springboard of a collection that have you finding yourself digging stuff you never imagined existed or that you would be into. Check it out.

PATTI PARKS/Cheat'n Man: This dame knows her stuff. She had us with the cover shot of her sitting in her bathroom/spa in heels and a silk bathrobe, glass of wine in hand and ‘hey, buddy' look on her face. We didn't yet know she's the queen of Buffalo blues and that she's an award winner that knows how to belt blues from all quadrants whether jump, Nawlins, Chicago or anywhere after hours. Sounding pretty much like Bonnie Raitt or Maria Maldaur would have if they were left to be wild children rather than spend their formative years running in commercial circles, this is a killer album full of natchurl born blues. Fun stuff loaded with the kind of blues that'll chase yours away. Well done.

THOMAS BLONDET/Futureworld: A key player in DC's ESL posse, Blondet kicks this set off by having Bollywood go skanking on Mars, and then he let's the fur fly. At first blush, you can picture young 20-somethings raving the night away in a beer commercial with this playing in the background, but as you get into it, this is party music for any contemporary people, even if grandpa might look a little like ‘that guy' if he tries raving to this with his hands in the air. A real gasser of an electro-world beat date, this is a first class soundtrack for today's party people.

MAHALA/Electricspaceagesweetheart: After a decade away, Mahala regroups and revamps turning their sound into 70s melodic punk meets 90s pre-co-opted indie for a sound that sounds like something the kids could easily cotton to. Although based in Nawlins, they come on more like the support bands in 90s scenes like Seattle, Boston and Athens that had the cults but didn't have enough of the cash to compliment their cache. Well done stuff that has the chops to back it up.

VENSAIRE/Perdix: Here's a band that takes credit for being one to wander into the void of deconstructed times and lay claim to their mix mastered sound being their cohesive sound. Left of center alt.folk that doesn't pretend to be lo fi as it mixes in electronics and tastes of almost every genre and mode under the sun, depending on your age you could either call this Lou Reed's great, lost folk album or call it the pop sound of tomorrow. Crazy stuff that's oddly entertaining and enchanting.

Volume 38/Number 121
March 1, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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