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PRAY FOR BRAIN/None of the Above: Ah, some contemporary malcontent music that blows to doors off their hinges. Adding a bassist to expand to a trio, this crew mixmasters world/jazz/prog/funk/fusion into a heady brew that's anything but one shaded sludge. With everyone heading off in different directions and somehow meeting in the middle, if you want to play this for grandpa, make sure he was into ‘Bitches Brew' Miles or else you'll give him a heart attack and really turn this into killer stuff. This is the kind of stuff genre busting ears require. Well done.

BENJAMIN TAUBKIN/Al Qantara The Bridge: A new southern hemisphere fusion takes root as Brazil cross pollinates with Morocco. However you slice it, this is warm, world jazz where the vibe and the playing strikes some real sparks. A tasty, easy going date that feels like something distinct and new even while being somewhat familiar, you don't have to be an armchair traveler to dig what's going on here. Check it out.

JACKIE MORRIS/Can't Fix Crazy: Wow! Despite the album title, this isn't a comedy record. This is a folk/Americana record that is so perfect and beautiful that you have to play it a few times to be sure you heard what you thought you heard. A bar raising effort from a talent whose name should be one everyone's lips, this is one killer of a high water mark for folkie/singer-songwriter/acoustic music. A top shelf winner throughout, Morris is charming, warm and such a wonderful writer that driving around with this in the car can easily replace hanging at Starbucks with a pal. Killer stuff throughout.

MARK BARROTT/Sketches From an Island: If Jim Asher can wind up being sampled by players as far from new age as you can get, why shouldn't a new kid on the block add some crossover funk to his new age jazz with an eye toward the same? Less of a stranger to this scene than Asher, Barrott provides chill to Ibiza and is known in electro dance circles already. If you don't know him, be prepared to dig a breezy island sounding jazz that could easily bust him out of his groove and get the faithful yelling ‘sell out' as his vibe will provide him with the means to take it easier. Fun stuff that really works well.

JIGGLY JONES/A Mountain, A Struggle, A Tunnel, A Light: Into something that sounds like it was inspired by Kingston Trio murder ballads? The vibe and the attitude seem to fall right into that pocket here. Jones may be a down mouth cat but at least he keeps it away from show gaze.

MAGICCICADA/Wrack With Ruin: Experimental electronica with a southern gothic undercurrent? Yep, it's all right here. Now just suppose "Metal Machine Music" was something more than 45 minutes of feedback... Space music for the grandchildren of Amon Duul fans.

PLANET FULL OF BLUES/Hard Landing: Producer Jim Gaines once again provides the magic touch for another crew of roots cats working the back 40. Already establishing themselves as comers that know how to make their own way down the road, the outside ears give them what they need to take things even farther. A rocking power trio that finds that spot where ZZ Top would be if they turned it down a notch, this roadhouse friendly rocking sound is just what the stressed out yuppie needs to help those coping mechanisms along. It might be no frills but it'll certainly catch your fancy. Check it out.

NEW GOD/Firework: Nu sunshine pop exponents show us what things would be like if Van Dyke Parks was on Ritalin writing charts to a sun that has burned through the ozone layer. Art pop that takes it's cues from old Beach Boys records, I guess it's been a long way from Frankie & Annette messing with Moondoggie and Big Kahuna. Music for Playa del Diablo? Music for afternoons in Ibiza when you aren't really awake yet? It's a nu world, Goldie.

Volume 38/Number 204
May 22, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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