Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch – Champaign Velvet
Underworld Indie Records – UND0028
Dallas blues master Jason Elmore blazes out of the speakers with this intense third release. With a great sense for classic blues feeling, but a Stray-Cats like rockabilly raucousness and subtle tilts in other stylistic directions, even the mellower songs have a serious punch to them. Sometimes retro can be overdone, but Jason does it right. You can feel that he has a passion for his roots, and, when he gets into the studio, is more than capable to unleash them in an ear-opening fashion. Great musicianship, interesting lyrics, and strong songwriting abound here.
AJ Hobbs – Too Much Is Never Enough
Booker Records – Booker001
There continues to be a renaissance of country artists who have strong roots in the outlaw scene of the 60’s and 70’s. AJ Hobbs is one of those artists, and, with his first full-length CD, he reminds us in kick-the-dust-off-your-boots fashion of what non-corporate country sounds like. With just the right touches of bluesiness, swing, and rocking groove, AJ channels his inner David Allan Coe and puts a sometimes wickedly humorous and, at other times, gripping slant on tried and true country subjects. Retro is fresh in country parlance and AJ Hobbs is a fresh as a beer in a cold glass from a newly tapped keg in a honky tonk on paycheck night.
Bruce Katz Band featuring Chris Vitarello – Out From The Center
American Showplace Music
Bruce Katz continues to shine brightly as one of the best blues keyboardists out there. Adding in deft doses jazz, R&B, rock and traditional and modern stylings, Bruce cuts loose with some seriously enjoyable music. Ranging from uptempo danceable tracks to mellow vibes with many stops in between, there is something here for everyone especially keyboard connoisseurs. Guitar fans will love this with the wonderful fingerwork of Chris Vitarello who lends his gutsy vocal chops to several tracks.
Davy Knowles – Three Miles from Avalon
Wyan Inc. – WYAN002
Born in The Isle Of Man, but now residing in Chi-Town, Davy Knowles knows a thing or two about the Blues. He seems to be more of a rocker with a blues soul at times and that works very well here because you can hear influences as diverse as AC/DC, Uriah Heep, and Pink Floyd sneaking around the edges as he tears lose with his emotive voice and intriguing stories. Excellent guitar and keyboard work combined with a powerful rhythm machine keep this one in the groove throughout the eight tracks.
Liz Mandeville – The Stars Motel
Blue Kitty Music
In the second song on her latest CD, veteran blues diva Liz Mandeville croons “The Blues Is My Boss” in her indomitable dusky, emotive warble. She proves that statement to be reciprocal as she is the boss of some seriously potent music here. Bringing in a great stable of players, she proves once again that classic blues can still be very enjoyable and fresh if you do it very well and do it with unbridled passion. You can hear all of the above in her voice, her words, her songwriting and her playing, and she never lets up with unleashing her passion.
Sex With Strangers – Discourse
Northern Light Records – NLSW001
Vancouver BC’s Sex With Strangers continues to impress with their latest release. Completely unafraid at flaunting deep influences from the 80’s pop/new wave scene, they turn those influences on their ears with a modern jolt. Slick songwriting and provocative lyrics are masterfully blended with just the right doses of hooks and edginess. This is a talented, passionate band who prove again that even retro bands can still be cutting edge if they create music that is both catchy and intriguing.