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Record Roundup

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Astral Lite

Mesmerist’s Mainline

astrallite.bandcamp.com

The band is a great benchmark for how diverse the Beachcomberland music scene is. Dancing with heady doses of psychedelia, new wave and distortion, Astral Lite is a swirled concoction of mischief and merriment. They bridge the gap between the avant-garde trailblazers of decades past and today’s lo-fi noisemakers to create something enthralling and unique.

– Nikki Hedrick

Chauncy Crandall

Breakdown

Independent

Crandall is all about southern soul, with a focus on storytelling and more bite than typical Americana players. Grayson Capps labels himself “feral folk,” and that fits Crandall, too. These aren’t sweet folk songs, but something grittier and more honest about life’s shortcomings. A well-executed and joyful listen. Crandall performs June 25 at the Covenant Care Thrive Fest in Downtown Fort Walton Beach.

– Nikki Hedrick 

Jean-Marc Foltz

Gershwin

Vision Fugitive

Nothing knocks experimental jazz out of your head like George Gershwin, played by two guys—one on clarinet (Foltz), one on piano (Stephan Oliva). Obviously the composer of “Rhapsody in Blue” knew how to deploy his reeds. But hearing stripped-down, non-orchestral Gershwin played with such skill and elegance really brings him out of the fog of music theory. It made me think of Gershwin composing alone, hearing the music as it spun around, out of his head for the first time, and onto the page. It’s thoughtful, meditative stuff, and a great album to listen to on a rainy afternoon.

– Bruce Collier

Beth Orton

Kidsticks

ANTI-

Like many, I know Orton for her folk songs and sultry voice. But on Kidsticks, Orton takes big risks by ignoring these expectations. She’s experimenting with more electric instruments and even trip-hop beats, and successfully. None of it overpowers the centerpiece that is her voice—instead, it gives Orton a different sort of depth and freedom.

– Nikki Hedrick

Sun Ra

In Some Far Place: Roma 1977

Strut

Arkestra leader and extraterrestrial preacher Sun Ra might have some competition these days for eccentricity, but at least he was an original. In Some Far Place: Roma 1977 is a new release of a trio performance done that year by Sun Ra (piano, Moog), Luqman Ali (drums) and Thomas Thaddeus (vocals). The recording offers 18 tracks, ranging from the synthesized cosmic outland some claimed Ra hailed from (“Outer Spaceways Incorporated”) to pretty straightforward stuff, like a boogie woogie-laced “I Cover the Waterfront,” and a “St. Louis Blues” that might have made even Roman jazz aficionados rise to dance a second-line.

– Bruce Collier

Train

Train Does Led Zeppelin II

Atlantic

Note-for-note cover of Jimmy Page and company’s second album earns points for chutzpah and at least proves—finally—that this band can kick out the jams a little. If Train frontman Pat Monahan is auditioning to fill Robert Plant’s shoes for a future Zep reunion tour, he’s got my vote. For what it’s worth, way more listenable than Train’s recent Christmas album.

– Chris Manson

Bri Wehner

Nothing but Sunshine

briwehnermusic.com

The local songbird spreads her wings on her debut release. With a mix of New Orleans-flavored musicianship and honey vocals, Wehner dazzles with tunes about love, loss and everything in between. This young songwriter and performer has a lot to offer.

– Nikki Hedrick

The Rough Guide to Gospel Blues

World Music Network

Superb collection of big names (Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Memphis Minnie) and lots of worthy lesser knowns in a genre that I hadn’t realized was one of my favorites until I listened.

– Chris Manson
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