Singer/songwriter (and ex-Aquarian Weekly Editor) Mike Daly is “Broken” on Backroom Blues Volume #2 (Bongo Boy Records) as he leads his Planets on a driving track of blues-rock fit to crank up and immensely enjoy. It’s only one of 10 such tracks by such “international recording artists” as it says in the press release as Blind Lemon Pledge (“Nag Nag Nag” and “She Broke The Ten Commandments”), Big Bone Daddy (“Pretty Baby”), The Red Bank Blues Band (“Wonder If”) and others. This thing rocks! And according to these hairy old ears, ain’t no rock like blues-rock. Volume #3 is imminent. #2’s a keeper. Daly may be always wrong about sports, but he knows his music. Our arguments around the Aquarian office back in the day got so loud that the late publisher, Jim Rensenbrink, made us write a yin-yang sports column called “Mike Versus Mike.” And every great now and then, I take out a tape of the Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love” that Daly and I recorded in beautiful two-part harmony. Dude’s talented. I wonder if he’s still always wrong about sports.


The Blood of Naftuli’s Dream (NDR Records) takes the Radical Jewish Culture movement to its next level. This band kicked it all off in the 1990s when John Zorn started his Tzadik label to promote Klezmer Jazz, Mid-Euro folk strains, Hebrew liturgy as pop and the avant-garde. Blood tackles all of the aforementioned plus prog, instrumental weirdo pop and even ambient strains. Yeah, it’s all in the Blood. With its clarinet/cornet/accordion/electric guitar/tuba and drums lineup, there’s a reckless free-for-all aesthetic at work that, over the course of nine kosher tracks, never fails to wildly entertain, surprise and reek with the kind of adventurousness that Israeli military leader and politician Moshe Dayan [1915-1981] displayed on the battlefield.


Just The Way That I Am by Austin singer/songwriter Dave Insley (self-released) is what country music should be in 2016. Haven’t you ever been “Drinkin’ Wine and Staring at the Phone”? With the babelicious Kelly Willis singing back-up (I swear I followed her around like a little puppy dog one night at The Broken Spoke in Austin just so I could look into her eyes and breathe the same air) and a hearty cast of seasoned players (including trucker hero Dale Watson) on guitar, piano, harmonica, trombone and backing vocals, Insley’s first new studio CD since 2008’s West Texas Wine is cause for celebration. His cover of “Arizona Territory 1904” by Marty Robbins is alone worth the price of admission. The kind of country that infests today’s television and radio is truly awful. But please be it known that there is some beautiful wild organic country music out there that scrapes the insides of one’s soul. They call Americana but it’s just code for Real Country Music.


Solidarity (Unseen Rain Records) by Matt Lavelle’s 12 Houses is a rampaging rollicking jazz affair with Lavelle’s cornet, flugelhorn and alto clarinet leading the charge on six original jam-packed elongated tracks. The action is fast and furious what with two soprano saxophones, two clarinets, alto sax, tenor sax, two flutes, bells, baritone sax, bass clarinet, piccolo, bassoon, piano, violin, cello, guitar, banjo, mandola, vibraphone, percussion, double-bass, drums and human voice.


I wish there were more artists like Dylan Wickens & The Grand Naturals because on their self-released Hi Lo-Fi, they take from power trios of the 1960s (Cream, anyone?) to forge their own heavy tones (dig that closing Zep cover of “In My Time Of Dying”). The guitars are fuzzy, the bass booms, and the drums insist on pushing, prodding and poking the music along in spurts.

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