Quick Spins: Electronica, Jazz and Alternative

Guster

Look Alive (Nettewerk)

www.guster.com

$15.99

While a lot of their contemporaries are leaning on retro 80’s and ’90’s electronica for inspiration, Guster presents nine guitar-driven songs that range from ELO’s softer material on “Look Alive,” to an almost Yes-like harmony stack with the anthem, “Hard Times.”

Whereas Guster hadn’t previously caught my ear, these songs are of such high caliber that you won’t even hear me complain that there are only nine tracks. Okay, so, technically that was a complaint, but it’s a complaint about not getting enough of a really good thing. You will play this repeatedly.

 

Rob Paravonian

Rob P. Rocks A Jazz Club (Xenolith)

robprocks.bandcamp.com

In the interest of transparency, I must begin this review with a disclaimer. Comedian Rob Paravonian and I have known each other since high school in Waukegan, which is is where our similar senses of humor cemented our friendship. To this day, no one can get a beverage shooting out of my nostrils faster, and I mean that as the highest of praise.

Every few years, Rob puts out a comedy record, and here, his electric live set is caught in the intimate setting of a moody jazz club. In the opener, “Devil Dealing,” he runs into a less-than-savvy Devil on a dark walk home. “Driving With Grandpa,” which also has a nifty YouTube video, tells the harrowing tale of a youngster driving home with a Grandpa who should definitely NOT be behind the wheel. Set to a Beach Boys’ beat, this is my fave of the set.

Paravonian has always had a knack for avoiding the drivel that most comedians use as their stock-in-trade. He deftly jogs among fresh subject matter; “Grown Men In Flip Flops”,”Vocal Fry Girl” and “Armenians In Media” are just a few of his targets. If you need a laugh, you’ll get more than a few with “Rob P. Rocks A Jazz Club.” Enjoy.

 

Christopher David

Indigo (P&R)

christopherdavid.bandcamp.com

One of Chicago’s criminally-overlooked songwriters is Christopher David, who divides his time between his solo career and fronting alt-pop outfit Magatha Trysty. Here, on a limited edition vinyl 45, David wears his influences on his sleeve, with a bit of Chicago seasoning mixed in for good measure.

The “A” side, “Indigo,” is a moody romp that would find itself at home on R.E.M.’s “Murmur” or “Reckoning.” Like a John Cusack character standing pitifully in the rain, this song and its flip side “Lost Child Of The ’70’s,” spare no melancholy, even in positive moments. Remember when quality music played on college radio first began to be tagged “Alternative?” This is that.

New Releases:

Karen O & Danger Mouse/Lux Prima

Todd Snider/Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3

Jerry Garcia Band/Electric On The Eel

Snarky Puppy/Immigrance

Tal Wilkenfeld/Love Remains

William Murphy/Settle Here

Nat King Cole/Ultimate Nat King Cole

The Alarm/Strength 85-86

CD’s Provided By CD-DVD-Games Warehouse, 3717 80th Street, Kenosha, Wi, 53142,

(262) 942-9400