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AMMOYE/The Light: Hey gringos, wake up to the fact that reggae has as many flavors as any other musical genre does within itself. This Jamaican/Canadian sister shows that music can be sexy and sassy AND lasting if it comes wrapped in music that matters rather than music that's really just there to be incidental. Skanking in a modern way with the best of them and often leading the best of them, this Canadian national treasure is lighting up the reggae sky with the incendiarieness that Bob Markey did once Chris Blackwell helped him find his footing. With nothing here even moldy figs can scoff at, this is nu reggae for nu ears that invites all along for the ride. Totally a killer act you should get to know better if you only have time for the best.

BEN RABB/Feel Me Fall: It's taken over 40 years to get here but we finally have a guy that can sing about romantic disillusionment on a par with Joni Mitchell without sounding like a whining wuss. Loaded with the kind of buyers remorse a kid from the Midwest often feels upon relocating to LA, this modern folkie doesn't seem to have a pretentious bone in his body as he delivers his truths. A perfect record for anyone that wants to hear something reassuring them that they really aren't in this alone.

#BLOOMERANGS/Horizon Sunset: Guided by the spirit of world beat and second line funk, this bunch doesn't try to be anything but themselves even if they go from reminding you of a genre busting bunch of hippies from Boston in the late 60s, a bunch of NAC champs seeing how they can amuse themselves and much more. Simply put, it's an engaging, spirited set that you can try to pigeon hole in numerous ways, none of which are quite right. Solid creativity not just for the sake of creativity, this multi textured, wise and wily date will have you grinning in appreciation if you let it do it's thing. Tasty throughout, there's nothing here not to like no matter what they pull out of their bag of tricks. Hot stuff.

BRIAN LISIK/We're Sorry: The guitar driven songwriter rockers step up with a set that won't have them being compared to the Byrds or Tom Petty as they carve out some ground of their own to make their own statement. While those groups were products of their times, Lisik and his cohorts are very much products of their times keeping this from being your big brother's music. High flying rock for kids stuck in flyover land, this is the sound of fist pumping, beer chugging, sweaty bar band rock that satisfies the soul. Well done.

KEVIN KASTNING & SANDOR SZABO/Invocation: It took until this record for me to put my finger on the magic that Kastning holds sway over. Sonically, he may not walk a mile in John McLaughlin's shoes but in all other respects---chops, invention, forward thinking---he's certainly McLaughlin's spiritual son. If McLaughlin isn't your idea of a guitar god, plug in your own fave to complete the analogy on your own terms. This set finds him in his 7th pairing with Szabo and their multi stringed attack takes it into the realm of ECM meeting Shakti as the sun comes up in a mysterious place that exists in your mind. When simplicity like a guitar duo can knock you off your pins, you know there's something a lot deeper going on. A first class killer of a guitar excursion, sit down with no distractions and let this foreground music do it's thing. Wild.

MINT 400
UNDERLINED PASSAGES/Tandi My Dicafi: The indie rock duo go for a heavier, alt.rock sound this time around delivering the left field goodies to the left field fans that keep them being stalwart road warriors. Solid genre stuff for those that like their guitar crunch delivered in the sonic assault mode.

PAUL JONES/Clean: What would you expect when the muso tells you this recording was influenced by Kendrick Lamar, Philip Glass and Steve Reich? Pick clever mash up of the commercial and the left field. Skillful, free flowing jazz that never runs off the rails no matter how left field it gets, this is a sitting down jazz date from a sax man that clearly has a restless soul he let's escape through his ax. Something very much out of the ordinary, don't crack open this shrink wrap expect smooth jazz or skronk and you won't be disappointed. Chops drive the proceedings mightily and are on full display for your full enjoyment. Well done.

DEREK SHEEN/Holy Drivel: Wonder what a young, modern Dennis Miller would sound like? Sheen doesn't go way out of his way to make obscure references but you do have to be bright to follow along. A nu alt.comic that's been taken under the wing of some of the top alt.voices, he's an equal, not a wannabee competitor. With a high energy attack that doesn't run out of steam, he takes on loads of funny contemporary stuff you keep in a corner of the back of your mind but never give your own voice to. The south, gay yard sales and more, he lights them up affectionately rather than maliciously and that makes his stuff that much funnier. Killer stuff.

ROBERT BARIL/Sex & Politics: A perfect example of the nu comedy underground that's rising up from regional radio and pod casts, it seems to make these guys more funny and less bitter by being able to go home at night as opposed to bunking in Petri dish comedy condos. Not at all a region comic, Baril is a smart guy with radio smarts that delivers switchbacks with lightning speed and rapier wit. Bringing a world view to the podium, you heard it here first, it's only a matter of time before he goes national. Hot stuff.

DANNY LOBELL/Nicest Boy in Barcelona: A chubby, Jewish pod caster that owns his situation being able to poke fun at it without being self-deprecating, once he diffuses the situation, he comes across like one of the rest of us. There's a bit of a debt to the classic Jewish stand ups, with a modern edge leading the way, Lobell knows how to deliver the laughs about every day things that somehow sail wide of the margins. Funny stuff throughout, he's mastered doing the observational thing without hitting you with it like a flying mallet. A solid date that won't let you down if you're looking for some real laughs.

Volume 40/Number 266
July 25, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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