Dave Specter "Blues From The Inside Out (Delmark)"
Blues From The Inside Out is the most expressive project of Dave Specter’s 35-year career. Featuring his debut as a vocalist, the album is an exciting and timely celebration of blues, soul, jazz, funk and gospel. These are fine times to hear Specter, an evolving artist who embraces growth and discovery. Blues From The Inside Out includes a guest appearance on guitar by Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna fame, who also co-wrote one of the album’s 12 original tunes. Specter wrote the uplifting soul anthem for change “March Through the Darkness,” he takes a deep dive into Meters-Neville Brothers inspired rhythms with the instrumental “Sanctifunkious” and sings on the blues shuffle title track. Besides Kaukonen, Specter recruited the Chicago-based Liquid Soul horns and Latin-percussion ace Ruben Alvarez, each playing on three tracks.
Check out the aforementioned “Sanctifunkious.”
Dominic Sen "Visitor (Roll Call)"
Dominic Sen is an actual alien. That’s right, a life from outer space. But something about our silly little planet stopped them in their interstellar tracks. They caught some radio transmissions and fell in love with our pop culture from the 80s and 90s. Visitor (Roll Call), their debut album, is like an art-pop Ziggy Stardust. A “hook-laden and dance-inspiring concept album (that) pulls from the sounds of our recent past to tell the story of another visitor to Earth.” Check out the laid back, sexy “Natural History.”
Cursive "Get Fixed (15 Passenger)"
A scant year since the release of Vitrola, Cursive are back with a whole new album! Also, I don’t use the word “scant” enough. In fact, I don’t think the word “scant” makes it out of cookbooks and into general language enough. Its a nice word. You know what else is a nice word? Get Fixed (15 Passengers)! Yeah, I know its two words. But with a release schedule as furious as Cursive’s newly found ferocity, its hard to keep up! What you need to know here is the band had some songs that were written during the sessions for their last album (remember, scant year?) and fleshed out for what feels like a companion album yet stands alone as a WHOLE NEW CURSIVE ALBUM ONE YEAR LATER. Check out “Barricades” and see what I mean!
Chris Farren "Born Hot (Polyvinyl)"
Few artists have equally keen ears for melodies and humor-Chris Farren definitely belongs in this category. No, his Polyvinyl debut isn’t a comedy album or anything-but with a name like Born Hot you have to expect at least a little humor. Well, if you do you won’t be disappointed. But if you are only expecting jokey songs then you will be disappointed as Chris is a gifted songwriter/performer and Born Hot is the record he was born to record. Quirky arrangements, pop punk attitude, singable choruses, this is a feel-good record about feeling bad about yourself. A tricky balancing act to be sure, but he does it with aplomb. Check out the positively danceable “Search 4 Me.” This really harkens back to a time (the 80s) when taking yourself too seriously was a no-no. So have some fun and dig in!