Gary Wilson- Ape Shifter- J.D. Jackson

Gary Wilson - The King of Endicott
The Endicott, New York area has quite a few claims to fame, not the least of which is that it was the home turf of Rod Serling, the creator of "Twilight Zone," a place where bizarro pop star Gary Wilson would probably feel right at home. The album begins with "The King of Endicott (Intro)," a brief piece with only a few lyrics that float over James Chance-like avant-garde sax riffing. The sax work, courtesy of guest player Frank Roma, provides the only notes here that are played by someone other than Wilson. The bouncy pop of "The Town of a Thousand Lights" reminds of many a song recorded in bedrooms with a Casio but the breezy melody and simple lyrics are part of Wilson's genius. Having studied with the revered John Cage in his youth, rest assured that each song here, inspired by Wilson's life prior to his move to New York City, sounds exactly the way he wants it to. So when Wilson sings "We're walking in the rain/In the month of May" during "Walking in the Rain Tonight," he's not only channeling his own memories of innocent fun, but also those of a great deal of the population. The stripped-down arrangements reflect how the simple pleasures of youth tend to be the stuff that "the good old days" are made of, and while most listeners won't be folks that hail from Endicott, Wilson has here gifted them a day pass to visit whenever they want.

Ape Shifter - Ape Shifter II
Here's a real cool collection for fans of hot electric guitar instrumentals. Ape Shifter is a power trio led by guitarist Jeff Aug and featuring bass man Florian Walter and drummer Kurty Munch. Aug shows his prowess in a few different styles, channeling the metal gods with "Mask of the Ancient Warrior," setting his guitar to "funk power" for "8 Shot" and the blues honoring "Jiggy Jiggy Boom Boom." What all the songs have in common is that they are all fast and performed joyously. There's no darkness here, just fun, and it's very easy to push "replay" once the program ends. And while Aug's guitar is the "voice" of the band, the offering does include one vocal number in the set-closing and extremely catchy "Matilda."

J.D. Jackson - Hello This Way
Followers of the rock scene in Boston and surrounding region will know that J.D. Jackson (aka Joe Rainbow) has been a mainstay for some 40-odd years and is known for his work with The Destroyed. Here Jackson steps out with a 10-song set of self-penned tunes, singing and playing all instruments except for bass. Opening cut "Radioactive" is a commentary on how aspiring actresses are taken advantage of, "So you wanna be an actress/Get down on the mattress." Delivering the words with an almost deadpan inflection, Jackson makes the words very catchy while simultaneously echoing the concerns of the "Me Too" movement. "Robot" is an appropriately robotic dance groove, "Crimewave" recalls the B-52's but with a bit of Brit, while "Motown Girl" nods not to the Motor City but to Seattle. For the album's mellow cut Jackson offers "Makin Love 2nite" where he sings over acoustic guitar and horn-mimicking keyboards, waxing a little Jonathan Richman.

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