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+AZIZ/Soho Spirit: You just aren't going to believe me. A folkie/Americana sounding backing behind Arabic singing and lyrics as made by a Kuwaiti singer/songwriter living in Nawlins who gestated this work while living in Brooklyn. And the engineer used to be in MX-80 back when the earth was cooling. And it works. Maybe because it's so out of the ordinary with having something familiar to it, this industrial folk music with interstitial English lyrics that underscore things about today hit's the right nerve. Yes, and now for something completely different.... Bet you gringos didn't even know about the Mipsters (yep, that's Muslin hipsters) this set is aimed at. It's a nu world, Goldie...

EDEN MacADAM-SOMER/My First Love Story: I thought I was hearing echoes of Jay Unger in her playing and what do you know, she's been touring with Larry Unger for years. Ok, I get it, not the stuff Kennedy conspiracy theories are made of. A solo outing for violin and voice, this teacher knows how to leave the pedandities at her desk once the red recording light turns on. Shifting from Rumi to classical to Ellington to originals, you have to marvel at how one cat can do it all and really do it all. Quite an enchanting listening date, you just have to sit back and enjoy it as you wonder if it's folk, jazz, classical, Americana or what. Or all of the above. For someone that could easily be a batty art chick but avoids having those wheels roll off the track, this is a winner for fans of sheer artistry and chops.

JERRY GRANELLI/What I hear Now: A former side kick of Vince Guaraldi has chosen to be the white, Canadian Sun Ra over the years and shows us that here by taking jazz to way out places with space as only it's first stop. Too skilled to drop pots and pans music on you, this is improv displayed righteously in a way out way as tempered by lots of after hours stuff in San Francisco in the 60s. An AARP member certainly not ready to go gently into that good night, young ‘uns with restless spirits ought to gather round and listen up if they want to know how to chase this cosmic groove the right way.

THE EXPANDERS/Hustling Culture: This LA crew sails into their third album capturing the indie spirit that existed in the islands before Island came down there with their checkbook and co-opted as much of the scene as possible. They might not sound like Wailers but dagnabit if they don't sound like all the other crews that were signed but not anointed that made you wonder why not. Doob yourself a favor and fire one up, to put it bluntly, then get flat in the finest fashion with this as your soundtrack. Well done, and nicely toasted.

KERANI/Equilibrium: The thing that keeps this new age keyboard record from being girl friend music is that the keyboardist wants to see a return to the original perfect male-female balance of harmony. So, let's review, even if this is dedicated to female energy, Kerani doesn't have anything against the fellah, even if they want to watch football in their underwear all day Sunday instead of clean out the gutters. New age music that isn't noodling and formless, these are lovely melodies anyone that needs help in hitting their personal off button will enjoy when it's time to wind down. Tasty, engaging stuff that proceeds with just the right touch, you enjoy this without using it to supplement new age activities like healing, spirituality etc etc. That makes it a winner right there. Check it out.

CHARENEE WADE/Offering: The reason why this revolution won't be televised is because this is a tribute to Gil Scott-Heron AND Brian Jackson, his collaborator for the juicy, middle part of Scott-Heron's career. A singer with one foot in the thrush era and one foot in the civil rights era, Wade does as much justice now to these songs as Esther Phillips did back in the day. With the general zeitgeist showing that the more things change, the more they stay the same, these words and sounds are just as relevant now as they ever were and award winner Wade shows she knows the way to bring it all home today. The guest list is A list, all showing up to do the right thing the right way and the end result is simply smashing---much more than a themed, jazz vocal date. This really keeps the sound alive in fine form. Check it out.

LORRAINE JORDAN & CAROLINA ROAD/Country Grass: Well, you just never know where innovation is going to come from. Jordan works the bluegrass circuit pretty hard and she was noticing there was an appetite for traditional country that was being ignored. Voila, country grass, the fusion of bluegrass with straight up country by exactly the performers that were being ignored. Having the cats that did the original hits join her for bluegrass rave ups on same, you get what should be a gift shop record but is anything but---particularly when you hear the classic acts revving it up with new energy. This is heady stuff that really works whether the engine is running fast or slow.

KEN WILL MORTON/All's Fair in Love and War: Spiritually Todd Rundgren from deep in the heart of REM country, Morton has been soldiering on in the back 40 ever since leaving his punk/pop days behind with continually stellar results. A singer/songwriter showing a rockabilly heart, this is as alt as it gets without whining about how much you hate your parents. Hell, it's a swinging good time. Here's a guy that knows what he's about and fearlessly puts it all out front in the best of southern literary traditions. Hot stuff that sure to wake up the jaded looking for something new.

DANIEL PEARSON/Alone, Together: C'mon, how many have been called the new Dylan over the last 45 years? Believe it or not, I hear it here more than I did with worthies like John Prine who were charting their own courses and just got caught up in the marketing machine. Any indie troubadour that left the safety of a teaching job to being a modern version of an itinerant folk singer, Pearson has the chops to go the distance and you can only hope he has the wind at his back as he hasn't' chosen the easiest career path. Forget the dross, this cat is the boss.

WHITE SUN: Can a guy that's done soundtracks for Disney find happiness as producer/member of a crew that sings mantras for the modern era? Maybe that's what helps him find his center. Either way, we've come a long way since Singh Kaur was singing with Crimson. While it might be mistaken for ethno-pop, their last record went to number one on Itunes ethnic chart 12 hours after it was listed so there has to be an appetite out there you aren't thinking about. Sure it's girl friend music but I can't help thinking those added Disney chops will help you keep the little lady diverted while you use the NBA play offs as your diversion. Seriously though, this kind of music has crossed over into a welcome nu form. Check it out.

Volume 38/Number 211
May 30, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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