The Duke Robillard Band - Ear Worms
It might sound like an affliction that you'd better see a doctor about but most music fans know that the term "ear worms" refers to catchy songs that you can't get out of your head. To that end Robillard starts things off with the self-penned, Chuck Berry-informed "Don't Bother Trying to Steal Her Love," a twanging guitar and piano-driven song that will indeed rattle around in your brain long after it ends. Later in the effort Robillard covers Berry with a take on the lesser-known song "Dear Dad," an amusing plea from a son who's asking for a new car. The shuffling instrumental groove "Careless Love" is a great mid-tempo dance tune, a version of Bob Dylan's "I am a Lonesome Hobo" is stark and haunting and "Everyday I Have to Cry Some," sung by guest vocalist Julie Grant, is perhaps the most catchy and strongest cut on the album. Robillard always puts out fun records but this one where he steps away from the blues is his most interesting in quite some time.
JD Simo - Off at 11
Guitarist and vocalist Simo begins this effort with a take on the blues classic "Boom Boom, Out Go the Lights," a gruffer and more manic version than the Pat Travers interpretation. "Off at 11," a Simo co-write, is an instrumental that hints at a fondness for the Allman Brothers Band and a nice vehicle to showcase his axe handling. Elsewhere Simo's playing on the slinky and soulful "Temptation," on a take of BB King's "Sweet Little Angel" and on the also Allmans-ish "Accept" show that he is not far from making the leap into guitar god territory.
Mindi Abair and the Boneshakers - No Good Deed
Abair is known for her sax work but there are only a couple of brief sax parts on No Good Deed's opening cut "Seven Day Fool." Mindi instead chooses to focus on her vocals on the song about all the things a woman does for her man over the course of a week, knowing full well that he doesn't deserve it. Abair portrays a woman who is much tougher with a potent cover of Pat Benatar's "You Better Run" and tunes into a swampy Creedence Clearwater Revival-recalling groove for "Mess I'm In," again saving her sax solo for the song's outro. There is of course plenty of sax on this set of blues rockers and sensual R&B cuts, especially notable on the closing romp "Baby, Get it On."
Tad Robinson - Real Street
Robinson has an extremely soulful voice and some will think of Real Street as more of an R&B record than a blues effort; the fact is that there is absolutely no reason to put Robinson's music in any box other than one marked "awesome." "Search Your Heart" is a slow and simmering plea that tries to head off an impending breakup; "Love in the Neighborhood" is similarly a recollection of a breakup, this time though infidelity on the guy's part is the culprit. A surprising cover here is a take on the Traveling Wilburys cut "You Got It;" the way Robinson turns it into sweet southern soul listeners may hear it a few times before recognizing it. Hammond organ, horns and Robinson's harmonica playing spice up the sound throughout.
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