Mike Zito’s Resurrection (Gulf Coast Records/Hillside Global), produced by David Z (Prince), is an all-out bonanza of rock star proportions, for it is here that the St. Louis blues-rock guitarist/singer/songwriter stretches out and comes up a stone-cold winner on his eight originals and three scintillating covers (JJ Cale’s 1979 “I’ll Make Love To You,” Blind Faith’s 1969 “In The Presence Of The Lord” and Willie Dixon’s 1954 “Evil).
Is John McTigue III a musical genius or what? It’s About Time (MC3 Records) has the percussionist/composer surrounding himself with the cream of the Americana crop for his solo debut away from Carlene Carter’s band. The stunning lineup of sound—four guitars, two vocalists, fiddle, bass, electric mandolin, pedal steel and even a string quartet—provides a stirring backdrop for 12 gems. Besides a rockabilly version of the 1923 folk song “Deep Ellum Blues” and a samba feel for The Tennessee Mountain Boys’ 1951 “Ashes Of Love” bluegrass classic, McTigue cross-pollinates genres with ease and daring. There’s progressive-rock instrumentals and he twists Buck Owens’ 1965 “Buckaroo” into an Afro-Cuban song (“Starbuck”). He even arranges Frederic Chopin’s 1830 “Etude #4” into pure jazz. Is there nothing this amazing cat cannot do?
The Molly Miller Trio positively rocks on St. George (GSI Records). She’s an incredible whiz-bang guitarist who just happens to own a USC Doctorate in Musical Arts and is the chair of the Guitar Department at the Los Angeles College of Music. She’s the go-to gal for Jason Mraz, Black Eyed Peas, and even an ABC-TV reality show. Her two mates are also A-Listers: Jennifer Condos, the bassist for Stevie Nicks and Jackson Browne, plus Jay Bellerose, the drummer for Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. Together, they swing, roll, bop, bash and smoothly set forth 11 instrumental jams with Miller’s versatile guitar leads taking the place of vocals. She can go from a whisper to a scream and does so to sublime effect.
The Cold Stares wear Heavy Shoes (Mascot Records). At first glance, this Indiana duo is an ass-kick of a band: hard, heavy, fuzz-toned to the max with an aural sheen like a Mike Tyson uppercut, maybe because it was mixed and mastered by the guys who did it for The Killers, Beastie Boys and Smashing Pumpkins. But dig a little deeper and lyrical themes of addiction, torture, destruction and manipulation come from singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Chris Tap. Tap treads where Poe and Faulkner wrote. Murder, suicide, cancer and the dead are all in his head, heart and family history like a long line of Southern Gothic novels. Four-armed Monster Drummer Brian Mullins is his perfect foil. Your choice. Be forewarned. Rock out. Or rock out while being seduced by Tap’s poetry. Either way, this one’s a stone-cold winner.
Rock and Roll Floozy: Lazy Susan (Atomicat Records) compiles 28 odes to femininity including “Linda Lu” (Curley Langley and His Western All Stars), “Willa Mae” (Al Casey), “Evalina Mahoney” (John Worthan) and the title track by The Brothers (sounding like the Everlys). Along the way, there’s rockabilly, swing and pop songs and the kind of primitive rock’n’roll that populated the airwaves prior to 1963. Floyd Whitehurst has a “Brand New Baby.” Howard Crockett is full of promises “If You Let Me.” Dig that rare Roy Orbison being too “Chicken Hearted” to get a date. Jerry Jaye calls his honey “Sugar Dumplin’” while Paul Seipp and The Rhythmaires just want to go back to that “Little Gray Shack” where she’s waiting. And who knows what’s going on in Buzz Clifford’s “Padiddle (The Car With One Light.).”