CD Reviews

louisprimajr_returnofthewildest

Louis Prima, Jr. and the Witnesses - Return of the Wildest

Louis Prima, Sr. was known as, first and foremost, a showman, a guy who held audiences all night, night after night, for years in Vegas. And then, when David Lee Roth cut his "Just a Gigolo" in 1990, his material was exposed to a whole new generation, though most Roth listeners were probably never even aware that Roth didn't write it. No matter. Where some artists eschew what their parents did, Louis Prima, Jr. is smart enough to recognize the gift...
 
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4 Jacks – Deal With It

They all have their separate gigs going on, but when the members of blues band 4 Jacks come together to join musical forces, the sound they produce is tight. Made up of Texas blues guitarist Anson Funderburgh, D.C. drummer and singer Big Joe Maher, Nashville bassist Steve Mackey and keyboard player Kevin McKendree, this first-rate quartet has released “Deal With It” – an album on EllerSoul Records. Produced in Franklin, Tennessee by McKendree, who is Delbert McClinton’s band leader...
 
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Valerie June - Pushin' Against A Stone

Every now and then, you hear an artist that makes the word special seem like such an understatement. West Tennessee native Valerie June is such an artist. There's really nobody to compare her to, because I have never heard an artist who can do what she does and do it so effortless. Blues? Check. R&B? Check. Country? Yes, check. June even flirts with a mountain vibe on several of the cuts here, and can at one time bring...
 
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Dan Kenneth – From The Heart

“Why do church folk think they own gospel music to the point that they dictate what it should and shouldn’t sound like?...Gospel is not a black thing, Contemporary Christian music is not a white thing; it’s supposed to be a God thing,” says Wilmington, Delaware artist Dan Kenneth. “It would be a shame to place what He made in a box,” and with that philosophy, the performer blends his gospel music with R&B, rock and pop, evolving church tradition to his liking on his latest album, “From...
 
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Little Johnny Kantreed - Odds & Ends...Live

“I want to take y’all down to the Mississippi Delta, back in time when they couldn’t afford their own instruments, so they made ‘em with whatever they had – a lot of times cigar boxes or cookie tins. Sometimes they’d nail strings up against a house and play those…be kind of hard to travel with that, though,” says Little Johnny Kantreed as he introduces a song. This acoustic folk blues artist knows all about these rootsy hand-made resonators. As a well-known luthier, his LJK Cigar Box Guitars are sought...
 
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Alice DiMicele - If I Were an Otter - Songs for Kids of All Ages

This is a delightful album of songs for, as the title says, kids of all ages. Vocalist / guitarist / producer DiMicele does a great job of telling everyone it's okay to be a kid no matter how old you are, using fun, old-timey instrumentation on songs like Jesse Fuller's "The Monkey and the Engineer," Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds," and DiMicele's own "City Mouse/Country Mouse." And when she brings a Gospel flavor to the statement that she's "gonna let it shine" on the traditional standard "This Little Light...
 
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Christopher Paul Stelling - False Cities

Singer / writer / guitarist Christopher Paul Stelling is part Waits, part Dylan, part Leo Kottke (without the slide), with the ability to make complex-sounding guitar picking patterns, which sometimes hearken back to the early 1960s folk movement, fit almost disparate melodies. Like Robert Johnson or Hendrix, he sometimes plays and sings like he has two brains. Not that he can really be compared to either of those guys. But he is among the best of the current crop of troubadours who are eking out...
 
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Modern Rock Heroes Explore New Ground

Sigur Rós, James McCartney and Garbage take center stage on outstanding new collections. Artist: Sigur Rós. Title: Kveikur (XL Recordings). You might like if you enjoy: Radiohead, Of Monsters and Men. Tell me more: Sigur Rós' new album "Kveikur" is epic, inspired, heroic and sweeping in ways that defy easy description. Fans of Sigur Rós' previous albums will find that "Kveikur" rivals the Icelandic troupe's earlier efforts, and is at times even heavier in...
 
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Gwen Sebastian - Self Titled

There's a saying about what happens when good things happen to good people. That could be said for Gwen Sebastian. Spend any amount of time around her and you will come away enchanted with an artist who might very well be as genuine and warm of a human being as anyone in Nashville. She's been battling around Music City for a few years, with a few singles making a dent in the Music Row chart, but what really got her...
 
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Rick Babb - Startin' From Scratch

Native Texan Rick Babb definitely qualifies as a musical vagabound. You can tell that with just one listen to his latest album. You will hear some Country, yet also Babb weaves a musical canvas that also includes shades of Pop, Folk, and even a little bit of old school Blues and Jazz. The eclectic mix makes him a sure-fire candidate for airplay on Americana stations, should he decide to make that push. If they didn't pick up on his stylings, they...
 
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Sterling Koch - Let It Slide

Sterling Koch is a lap steel player who tackles standards by Elmore James, classics like "Mercury Blues," and tracks by Doyle Bramhall and his more-famous son, II, on this gut-bucket blues-rock slide shredfest. The problem is, we've heard these licks a thousand times before, though not usually on a lap steel using fingerpicks. But that problem is also obviously the selling point, as Koch's familiar sound, which recalls everyone from Duane Allman to Clapton to Thorogood, still has an audience. And that ...
 
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Kelsey K - Blue Jean Girl

With all the talent shows on TV these days it doesn't seem all that uncommon to see young girls singing country music and everyone raving about how good they are. But Iowa's Kelsey Klingensmith, billed as Kelsey K, has bypassed all that standing-in-line-at-auditions hoo-ha and has begun to take Nashville by storm. And she just turned 14. Her debut album, Blue Jean Girl, was produced by Faith Hill music director Jimmy Nichols, who also played keyboards and wrote for the album. Other Nashville talents...
 
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Greta Gaines - Lighthouse & The Impossible Love

There are thousands of artists in this world who deserve to be heard, deserve to make the massive amounts of money that creations of the pop machine make for churning out crap for 14-year-olds and weekend alcoholics in trucks. Greta Gaines is one of them. On her fifth studio album, Lighthouse & The Impossible Love, Gaines writes and sings - for lack of a better pigeonhole - smart, driving rock/pop for the thinking woman; guys might enjoy the music but the lyrics, well, maybe not always so much. But ...
 
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Walter Trout - Luther’s Blues – A Tribute to Luther Allison

Walter Trout is one of the blues greats who hasn't really gotten his due, and he shows why once again on Luther’s Blues – A Tribute to Luther Allison. On this album, Trout covers songs by one of his heroes, a Chicago legend who was a little different than most of the straight-ahead legends like Muddy or Wolf. Allison infused other styles of music into his blues playing, making both styles better, and Trout approaches the material with a reverent abandon that would probably have made Allison, who died 16...
 
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Darius Rucker - True Believers

Looking at the career of Darius Rucker, it's easy to lose track of just how successful he has been in the five years that he has been recording Country Music. Whether it be the pain he shared with audiences in his first hit "Don't Think I Don't Think About It," or the tenderness expressed in "It Won't Be Like This For Long," the South Carolina native has given listeners some of the format's top moments over the past half-decade. He looks to...