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THE VAGABAND/Medicine for the Soul: It's nice to see so many new acts in England picking up the gauntlet and being inspired by the folk rock stuff Island was doing 40 years ago and doing it so well. Refreshing in it's lack of the pretension that surrounded so many of these dates back in the day, this is utterly cool folk rock that is professional throughout but prides itself on it's off the clock feeling. Youngsters might want to pay special attention because this is what underground/creative freedom used to feel and sound like. Killer stuff throughout.

HEIDI BREYER/Letters from Far Away: Hey, what's the point of having Will Ackerman hanging around if he isn't going to reach into his bag of tricks and pullout cats like Eugene Friesen, Billy Novick and Charlie Bisharat? All that's missing to make this a new Windham Hill record is Ilene Young's picture of a tree on the cover. And we mean that in a good way. Ackerman's newest piano pal serves up an impressionistic date about love conquering distance and how it can workout in the end no matter what your differences are. Or, it's a very nice piano/instrumental album. Presented on two discs, one piano solo and one with all the cats adding to the festivities, Breyer brings the skills to the fore to make it easy to say adult instrumental music hasn't had it so good in quite a while. Winning stuff throughout, it's a triumph for Breyer and a comeback for Ackerman. Well done.

METTLE (www.grettaharleymusic.com)
GRETTA HARLEY/Element 115 (Uup): You thought it was dangerous to go out with Taylor Swift or Kathy Griffin? Here's an art chick that put together an album based on a quick romance that fell apart in short order. Stuff like this makes you think there's something behind David Crosby's assertion that Joni Mitchell can't speak (because there's nothing left to say?) anymore as this follows right in the ‘do most of it yourself/confessional' stuff Mitchell hangs her hat on. Today's pissed off college girl will wear the grooves off this vinyl in no time flat.

PAUL KEELING/Ancient Lights: Here's a piano jazz man that made a bunch of bones already and is up for some hefty awards, but he's also proving that you've got to do it for yourself these days, especially if you're in a ‘backwater' like Canada. A solid set of high octane sitting down jazz, this handful of cats sound pretty much like a big band with the sonics they deliver and the sounds are widely encompassing. Tasty stuff throughout that doesn't let you down, you just have to sit down and let this wash over you and let the day's low points melt away.

PETER SPARACINO/Straphanger's Playlist: Oh, don't believe everything you read. From the set up on this album, a lot is made of sax man Sparacino's downtown vibe but I'm hearing something a lot more accessible and funkier than the usual downtown stuff. One of those in demand cats that's played everything with everyone, he steps out here with his solo debut that shows he doesn't have to stay in the background for anyone. With all the energy you'd expect from a cat that straddles contemporary and modern jazz at once, this isn't schizzy, it's solid. A rip roaring party throughout, this is a cat that gives you the real deal when he breaks out the cards. Well done.

ARRICA ROSE & THE ...'S/Wavefunction: Way too poppy to say she was inspired by Nico, Rose is an art chick nonetheless that likes to explore her juxtapositions and present them in the form of skewed sunshine pop. A voice for the Katniss generation, Rose doesn't disappoint as a shoe gaze alternative that likes to make bold statements but still keep things on the strange side of life.

ROBIN BARRETT & COYOTE KINGS/Howl: White boy blues of a different stripe as these recent award winners are more inspired by industrial stuff and ZZ Top that they are Robert Johnson. Coming from Washington state as they do, they know clicks and clacks are the new sound of what was the punch press that inspired Muddy and Willie. A clarion wake up call to coders, it's telling them it's time to put down the Skittles and carpe diem.

WAKE UP LUCID/Gone With the Night: Teenaged hormones haven't raged like this since Ken Highland was running wild in The Gulch advocating muff diving in Wilkie South and Crème Soda was fizzing through the Midwest. Can you really still have garage rock when everybody is living in condos and the neighbors will complain? Maybe kids today are renting storage lockers for rehearsal spaces which would make this...?

Volume 38/Number 244
July 2, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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