youbet "Compare & Desire (Ba Da Bing!)"
Trippy, sunny, and fun. Three words that describe very little during the gloomy east coast winters. Except! Compare & Desire (Ba Da Bing), the new album from Youbet. Imagine a world where Cate LeBon was a member of early Foxygen. Things change operatically and weave in and out of 60s hippie rock, angular indie changes, and surprising quirk bombs. Happy and disturbing, this is an album that contains multitudes (like the best candy bars). Check out the first single “Bite.”
Squirrel Flower "I Was Born Swimming (Polyvinyl)"
Jimmy Johnson "Every Day of Your Life (Delmark)"
Four decades ago, Jimmy Johnson permanently established himself as a front-rank Chicago bluesman with his unusually imaginative Delmark debut album Johnson’s Whacks (DE 644). Now he’s come full circle: Jimmy’s back on Delmark with this exciting release, which shows that he remains a vital blues force into his 90s. Johnson’s fluid, slicing guitar licks dart and spark with unpredictable elasticity throughout this set. His voice soars to the heavens time and again, never misplacing its melismatic passion no matter the tempo.
From the funky opening original “Every Day Of Your Life,” constructed around a wise lyrical message, to a churning “Down In The Valley” and exquisitely tailored revivals of the lights-out slow blues “Strange Things Happening” and a hard- driving “I Need You So Bad,” Jimmy is never less than masterful. Few contemporary bluesmen are so devastating when working in a minor key— witness Johnson’s personalized treatment of Fenton Robinson’s classic “Somebody Loan Me A Dime.” “My Ring,” another standout original, takes a swaying and unexpected reggae turn (pushing the stylistic envelope has long been one of Jimmy’s trademarks), and Johnson sits down behind the 88s for a solo reprise of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s uplifting “Lead Me On” to close the album in deeply moving style.
Funny thing is, Jimmy only became a full-time blues guitarist in the mid -1970s. Prior to that, he mostly traversed the R&B side of the tracks. Born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Johnson grew up along with another future blues luminary, Matt Murphy. “I picked up a guitar because Murphy had a guitar,” he says. Sacred and secular sounds competed for his attention. “My first time of singing in front of an audience, I was singing gospel,” notes Jimmy. “My uncle had a Victrola, the ones you wind up, and I got to hear John Lee Hooker, Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, Sonny Boy Williamson.”
Check out the laid-back funk “Down In The Valley.”
Goran Ivanovic & Fareed Haque "IndoBalkan (Delmark)"
After a 20-year hiatus, virtuoso guitarists Goran Ivanovic and Fareed Haque have joined forces again! A year of intensive touring and composing has produced IndoBalkan, the duo’s debut release on Delmark Records. Featuring rising star percussionist Juan Pastor and incorporating elements of jazz, classical, Indian and Balkan music, the duo explore longer, more complex compositions and stunning technical challenges while retaining their love for beautiful melodies and sweet tones. Two of the most gifted guitarists performing today, their styles and backgrounds are vastly different but, as the Chicago Tribune wrote of them, “when their two guitars play, cultural barriers melt away.”
With IndoBalkan, Ivanovic & Haque are offering their audience a collaborative musical capstone. This multifaceted projects brings together the duo’s musical and geographical influences and showcases their virtuosity and creative lyricism.
Certain tunes like “Prorok” or “Detour Samba” showcase their ensemble and rhythmic sophistication while others like “Rhodes” and “Ikaria” are sensitive, lyrical, and introspective. Percussion widens the palette of the record, performed both on the guitars themselves, as in “Santorini”, as well as on other instruments. Fareed adds a spatial wash of cymbals to the title track “IndoBalkan” and up-and-coming percussioning Juan Pastor guests on “Jim Phelps”.
Over time, Ivanovic & Haque’s music and performance has evolved and matured, becoming more thoughtful and expressive, while retaining its natural athleticism. Their fresh musical language is propelled by strong rhythms, verging closely towards popular forms, meant to be felt and experienced, revealing an inner solidity. — Notes by Julia A. Miller
Check out the haunting title track “IndoBalkan.”