BRIAN LANDRUS KALEIDOSCOPE/Mirage: Landrus have proven time and again that he's a strong sax voice to keep an ear on but this time around, he stops partitioning himself and comes in with an ambitious, cohesive work that melds his various sides and modes into a wild and woolly tour de force. Starting out with a well conceived art jazz vibe, just after you've been lulled into sitting down jazz complacency, all hell breaks loose. Writing and leading for a modern shaped big band, Landrus is making sitting down jazz but it's music that commands your full attention. Meticulously planned from beginning to end while magically holding onto it's spontaneity, this is some seriously deadly forward thinking music that is totally on the ball. Well done.
CARLINE RAY/Vocal Sides: She's been in jazz all her life but at 87, Catherine Russell's mom finally recorded her debut solo set with release planned on her 88th birthday. With all the rest of the grande olde dames like Alberta Hunter gone, it just makes you appreciate Ray more. With a real aged in the wood voice that still as strong as a mighty oak, Russell in the producer's chair didn't worry about the commercial prospects here making this a loving tribute to the jazzbo she always called ‘mom', going so far as to include the demo track she sang on a famed lost track her husband wrote for his boss, Louis Armstrong. There's a subversive history of jazz on parade here. If you have a working heart and set of ears, this set will blow you away. Killer stuff that makes a good case for telling the Eskimos to shove their ice floes.
WIRETREE/Get Up: This Austin crew is on their 4th album and are off to play Strawberry Festival and you still haven't heard of them? Aren't you the hipster you pretend to be? You have something against a debt to Byrds and 60s folk/rock/psych-pop? With the wild vibe that sounds like Velvet Underground as produced by Gurf Morlix, this crew would be right at home on classic FM before advertisers found the pay dirt waiting for them there. Fun stuff throughout.
LITTLE LONELY: When everyone was listening to Linda Ronstadt, there were people off in a parallel universe listening to Vandy, Karen Dalton and other organic singers lost to time and tide. Such organic sounds has resurrected under the hubris of Americana and indie, but they are offbeat just the same. This isn't to say these girls weren't making compelling music--it just had no chance of breaking through for any number of reasons. With a lot of the risen crème of the LA indie world lending a hand, they came for to play. This is one of those organic folk/rock things that grabs you when you least expect it and doesn't let go. Beginning her career playing in a funeral home when she was 11, you wouldn't want Ms. Lonely to lose her skewed view of things at this point, would you? Subversively mellow stuff that's masking the explosion below. Check it out, it's a winner throughout.
PAM TAYLOR BAND/Hot Mess: With all the young women finding their way successfully into the blues you have to wonder if Bonnie Raitt was a major influence or if Yoko was right in her estimation of women's place in the world and this is a later day manifestation of that in sound. A white girl that's a kick ass southern blues belter delivers spot on blues rock that gets you with the music and the lyrics. Hot stuff that just doesn't cool off.
NICOLE ZURAITIS/Pariah Anthem: We moved this one to the top of the incoming listening pile because we figured how can a girl that's into jazz, animal activism and poses in her underwear be all bad? She's got a great voice and a sincere art chick vision that keeps her from drifting into cabaret territory and generally keeps the project from rolling off the rails. She's also mastered the range of emotion the car alarms competing on "American Idol" just can't seem to grasp. Sounding a little too Flora Purim-y to be everyone's cup of tea, she's right in the pocket for listeners looking for that certain artist to claim as their own.
TRAMPLED UNDER FOOT/Badlands: Work with me on this analogy. If you heard Bob Marley before Chris Blackwell showed up with a fat check book and Rabbit Bundrick, you'd be a fool not to think he had mucho talent. After the open checkbook and the extra added chops, Marley caught a fire with "Catch a Fire". If you heard these sibs in Trampled Under Foot on any of their DIY albums, you'd be a fool to deny these kids are the real deal. Well, Telarc showed up wit the fat check book as well as with Mike Finnigan, John Porter and other blues luminaries. The result? A real OMG of a blues record by white kids from Kansas. Overnight sensations that have been paying and paying and paying dues, you'll know right away why the lead singer won admiration from Koko Taylor and why the luminaries showed up for more than an easy paycheck. Killer stuff that will turn a whole new generation on to the blues, these kids never got the memo that an album is suppose to have 7 filler tracks. Good for us! A four star winner throughout.
JOHN NAGLE/Distractions: In which we find ourselves thrown in the middle of a pomo Buckingham Nicks, but here, we join the action after they have broken up but continue to work together. Just in case nobody but boomers are breathlessly awaiting the long over due cd issue of the Buckingham Nicks debut, kids two generations removed from caring anything about it have this touchstone to latch onto. Seemingly ending their relationship without the sour notes that were stuck on "Rumors", today's lo-fi/let's be friends (with benefits?) demographic can relate here--all the way down to the tracks that sound like they could have fit in with "Tusk".
Volume 37/Number 206
May 26, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record
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