Music Reviews

00:00 April 16, 2012
By: David Vicari

Chris Ardoin
Maison De Soul Records

You hear it all the time, (insert artist here) has a real unique sound. So when I tell you that Chris Ardoin has a sound unlike anything you've ever heard, you're going to have to trust me.
Ardoin is putting a 2012 twist on a type of music—zydeco—that originated in southwest Louisiana in the early 19th century. Zydeco is a part of Creole culture, and the main instrument in Zydeco is the accordion. It also features drums, fiddles, guitars, and bass and the keyboard.
Ardoin's latest album is called Headliner.The whole album is upbeat and fun. Something you would want to listen to in your car when you're in a good mood, or something you could put on when you have a small party at your apartment and want to create a fun vibe. None of the songs on the album have much in the way of lyrics. Normally, there's just a catchy chorus to sing along to. This is fine because the music itself is so complex, it has so many different sounds going on at once.
Ardoin was born in 1981 in Lake Charles, LA and has put out 12 albums since 1994. Most of them can now be purchased on iTunes.
Listen to the song "Laid It Down" on YouTube. If you like it, you will like the entire Headliner album.—Peter Dupont

Josh Ginsburg
Zembla Variations
Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records

Here's some good news for fans of jazz music. Josh Ginsburg has released his first album, Zembla Variations. The album, which has eight tracks and can be purchased on iTunes, is receiving tremendous review from critics. writes, "From a purely compositional standpoint, Ginsburg commands a solid tone along with a keen rhythmic sensibility and creates music that touches both the visceral and cerebral portions of the musical soul."
A native of Baltimore, Ginesburg is now one of the most sought after jazz musicians in New York City. He has performed in Asia, Europe, and all over North America.
Check out for a biography, the entire Zembla Variations album, and three music videos. His contact information is also available on his website.
Jordan Richardson of writes: "Ginsburg, who has studied with legends like Buster Williams and Jackie McLean, delivers a debut with grace and openness. His compositions are undoubtedly grounded in concentrated knowledge of jazz and unstable rhythms, but there's something altogether 'normal' about Zembla Variations that makes this a particularly charming and gratifying piece of work."
Ginsburg's album can be had for less than $8 on iTunes, I would suggest jazz fans think about a possible purchase. —Peter Dupont

Kipori Woods
Blues Gone Wild
Louisiana Red Hot Records

Kipori "Baby Wolf" Woods has released a new album, the appropriately titled Blues Gone Wild.
Blues Gone Wild has 12 tracks with the sounds you expect to hear in New Orleans' French Quarter. The lyrics are about women, dancing, partying and just having a good time. This is an album you put on at a party to keep the mood light and fun.
Woods has a Twitter (@Kiporiwoods) and both a personal and fan page on Facebook. He also has his own website, Check out this album on iTunes, any fan of jazz music will surely like what they hear. —Peter Dupont

The Unnaturals
The Unnaturals vs. The 50-Foot Bettie
Sheer Terror Records

Just reading the title of this album, you know that The Unnaturals are into pulp nostalgia, and they use that love of decades past on every one of these instrumental songs to put you in the middle of a campy 1960s beach movie right next to Frankie Avalon and Anette Funicello. The 12 great songs are called by equally awesome names. How can you resist listening to a track called "If Only Keith Richards Could Surf…," the heart-bending, romantic song seemingly written about James Dean, "Ballad for a Rebel," or "Tequila Mockingbird"? Jenn Attaway's bass lines are edgy and dangerous, and Kevin Bowles, constantly sporting a big cowboy hat and a big smile at the many shows they play around the city, plays that classic, twangy guitar like he lived in the mid-20th century, bending notes like Link Wray to create a spooky tone. And the perfectly archetypal drum beats that Dan Cardona lays down will make your hips move like a real rockabilly fan. My favorite part was in "Whiskey Surf," when the music slows down and then stops completely. Dan quietly plays a beat before Kevin tears through the soft drums, playing a shredding riff, then showing off his excellent solo abilities. This album is perfect for rocking out to something that anyone can get into. Beware: listening to The Unnaturals vs. The 50-Foot Bettie may make you just a little bit unnatural yourself. —Emily Hingle

Truckstop Honeymoon
Steamboat in a Cornfield
Squirrel Records

Truckstop Honeymoon's latest album takes the story of a wayward steamboat and turns it into NOLA nostalgia on Steamboat in a Cornfield. The Lawrence, Kansas-based duo bring elements of traditional jazz, bluegrass and their typical playful lyrics to this versatile album. "Play Along" and "She Wants to be French" are typical Truckstop Honeymoon, with rollicking strings trading beats with percussive gutbucket and a few surprises. One of the few electrified songs, "Grateful Dead Show," is biting and sardonic, dropping Dead song titles amidst tambourine jangles and rocking guitar. "Corn Maze" and the eponymous "Steamboat in a Cornfield" tie the album together, calling to mind Neutral Milk Hotel and Snowglobe. For an album based off a kids story, Truckstop Honeymoon are seriously good musicians.—April Siese

Little Freddie King
Chasing Tha Blues
MadeWright Records

Born in 1940 in McComb, Miss., Fread E. Martin would go on to take the stage name Little Freddie King. King is one of New Orleans' iconic jazz singers and guitarists.
On January 17, King released his latest album, Chasing tha Blues. This 12-track album, which you can find on iTunes, is King at his finest.
Tracks like "Got tha Blues On My Back" give you a taste of his country Mississippi roots, while tracks like "Louisiana Train Wreck" give you music you want to snap your fingers to.
If you want see Little Freddie live, go to for his schedule. They also have reviews from the experts on jazz music, saying why they like Freddie's style so much.
If you want to consider yourself a true student of New Orleans culture, you have to know all about King Freddie. Seeing him live would be unforgettable, but buying the album works for those too busy to see a New Orleans icon.—Peter Dupont

Dr. John
Locked Down
Nonesuch Records

Since the 1970s when Mac Rebennak decided to form his own Voodoo and Mardi Gras Influenced band, the world has been intrigued by the flamboyant and mysterious Dr. John. Dr. John's latest album has been gaining nationwide attention and for good reason. He goes back to his roots for this one. The album begins with the title track; birds calling out at night in the swamp, then goes into a groovy beat with a chanting chorus and light organ. Dr. John's unique voice comes in, and the song really takes off. This album has a very 1970s feel, especially in the background female vocal styling and the simple, yet soulful rock guitar riffs played during breakdowns. What I enjoy about listening to it is the somewhat lo-fi production. It gives Locked Down an extra vintage grittiness that makes it seem like you raided an old record shop. The sensual song called "Revolution" includes lots of deep saxophone, eerie organ during the bridge, and the man himself begs for rebellion and revolution in that trademark raspy voice. After that, an old jazzy clarinet opener sets the mood for the dark, old-timey jazz song. Dr. J states, "Ain't never gonna be another big shot like me." And I believe that's true after hearing this album.—Emily Hingle

Austin Reed Alleman
335 Productions

I have to say this kid's got a nice croon going on his self-titled EP, vaguely reminding me of a young Harry Connick Jr. After admiring the photography of his mother Elaine Alleman, it's hard not to notice Austin Reed may very well be the lady killer that Connick Jr. is. Now, all ass-grabbing aside, lets get down to it. The recording opens up with "Stuck Between The Cracks," a fast-paced track that has some nice sounds, particularly from the use of the Wurlitzer played by his brother Ben. "Let Me Live" is slightly reminiscent of some Stevie Wonder vocal tones, and there's a nice piano lead as well. "Going Home" is a sweet ballad, and I'll let you use your context clues to decide for yourselves the lyric theme. This track would be the radio stand out and overall has the most layered instrumentation of the six songs on the list. There's a bit of a rock 'n' roll feel on the EP as well, where you may catch a little crunch from a low gain effected Les Paul. Austin Reed Alleman was a theatre student at NOCCA and is an all around talented artist, having done the arrangements and lyrics on the EP. The help he received from family and friends makes the EP all the better; the talent of his brother Ben and friends has helped make this recording a great introduction for an upcoming New Orleans singer and showman. So if you'd like to continue your support of New Orleans musicians, give Austin Reed Alleman a shot.—Brian Serpas

Esperanza Spalding
Radio Music Society
Heads Up

If you haven't already fallen in love with Esperanza Spalding, the bassist extraordinaire upon whose shoulders lies the promise of jazz for the generations to come, please do yourself a favor and catch up. Her newest album or more accurately "project" is Radio Music Society, which is a musical showcase of jazz musicians in a way that would help the mainstream radio audience digest them.
Enough cannot be said about the production value, the arrangements, the composition and every performance on this album. The most surprising aspect of this album is that it was arranged, produced and in many cases written by Esperanza Spalding. One would wonder how close she is to eventually engineering her projects on her own, but before we get ahead of ourselves, the entire album is just incredible. Each arrangement harmonically thick but still melodically agile. Vocal phrases seem to effortlessly float through as each several different motifs are passed from instrument section to section.
Her musicality so out-paces music produced by others her age that you have to acknowledge that many of her musical peers are those from the previous generations. At this point, she has seemingly given up any sign of musical immaturity and has chosen instead genius on par with Stevie Wonder and Brenda Russell. There are many moments of this album that are absolutely transcendent, politically-charged, and emotionally touching. Each cut off her album seemingly changes its focus and speaks to another cross section of humanity, that there is seriously something on here for everyone to listen to.
As a jazz fan or even a lover of music, you are either going to own this album or have yet to enter this decade musically. Do yourself a favor and listen to Radio Music Society.—John Valdespino

The Lollies
Community Records

The Lollies Potential is one of those albums you start off listening to and three tracks in a vivid visual of a mosh pit begins to manifest in your mind, growing bigger with each successive song. You think to yourself, "Damn, these guys must be killer live," the mental rock show-melee continuing to wreak chaos on your concentration.
Clocking in at just under 30 minutes, Potential is composed of 10 succinct explosions of pop-punk adrenaline. Each track breaks out into a sprint from the first note, continuing to pick up the pace as the songs progress. The composition is agressive, yet graceful, each track carrying a memorable melody. The sound is similar in style to Rancid, Look Out! Records-era Green Day (before they broke big the first time nearly a decade ago), as well as pre-mainstream Blink-182.
Key tracks are the popish opener "I am Malcontent," the standout headbanger "Popsicle Stand," and the enoyably titled "Don't Shoot the Mailman and "Man and Dad are Cannibals (For Good Reason)."
Download Potential free of charge at
—Greg Roques

Kristin Diable and the City
Kristin Diable and the City
Speakeasy Records

For those not familiar with Diable, she combines a soulful voice with folk music and country instrumentals. Songs like "I've Been Searching" make you feel like you're in a small country town somewhere in Tennessee. The song "God's Chamber" has that country sound, but also gives you that blues sound that is so prevalent among New Orleans artists.
On Diable's website,, you can see a behind-the-scenes style music video for one of the tracks on the album. The video is for the track "Quittin' Kind."
If you are a fan of Lucinda Williams, check out this album by Diable. The similarities are striking, but you better believe Diable has made her own mark already, and will continue to do so.—Peter Dupont

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