Blues From All Points

Vince Salerno and Gerald McClendon

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Blues From All Points

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Hot on the heels of their acclaimed 2019 Pravda CD Grabbing the Blues by the Horns, veteran Chicago saxophonist/harpist Vince Salerno and vocalist Gerald McClendon return with a tough encore disc expanding even more daringly on their eclecticism than on its predecessor. Long a fixture on the Windy City blues scene, Vince unleashes his horn on an extraordinarily wide-ranging musical menu encompassing swinging blues (T-Bone Walker’s “Street Walking Woman”), zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier’s “Ay-Tete Fee,” and John Coltrane’s “Bessie’s Blues,” where he switches to baritone sax from his customary tenor. A double helping of Jr. Walker (“Cleo’s Mood” and “Hip City”) allows Vince plenty of room to wail in his upper register, and he whips out his harmonica for the blistering traditional Chicago blues “Highway 49,” slathered in slashing slide guitar by Thomas Klein. Gerald sings everything with soul-dripping, impassioned power, including the hard-rocking originals “Antidote To Love” and “Do Drop In.” The splendidly solid rhythm section is headed by highly versatile keyboardist Thomas Linsk. Nearly half of the album is fresh material, including the rollicking instrumental “Harpcordia.” The driving “Blues And Trouble” finds McClendon shaking the rafters vocally, Klein peeling off two choruses of laser-beam guitar, and Vince magically trading fours with himself on bari and harp. Blues From All Points is the best kind of pandemic salve imaginable, making the body move and healing the soul simultaneously. Time to get in the groove! — BILL DAHL

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The Static

Hushdrops

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Few things seem more inevitable than the convergence of the two Chicago institutions Hushdrops and Pravda Records. Pravda Records has been documenting an impressive and varied roster of the city’s greatest talents for more than 3.5 decades, while veteran supergroup Hushdrops have been loudly banging out their own brand of power trio melodicism for nearly as long. Friends and collaborators of the band have both worked and recorded for the label, and members of the group have contributed to several of the label’s releases. That Pravda should deliver Hushdrops’ third, and possibly final, full length feels like nothing so much as the closing of a circle. Work on The Static – due out November 12th – was completed just after the tragic, sudden, and untimely death of Hushdrops drummer Joe Camarillo (at 52), and now exists – in part – as a final tribute to Camarillo’s inimitable musical gifts. Bandmates John San Juan and Jim Shapiro have always regarded Camarillo as the soul of the band – not only for his unparalleled feel and creativity as a drummer, but also his ability to crucially drive the musical direction of each project, performance, and song – typically as a modest, unseen hand (“The Soft Alpha”). San Juan feels that The Static features some of Joe’s most free and magical drumming: “Better to celebrate than to mourn him, and he has given us an abundance of very special playing to celebrate.

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At the Bottom of a Canyon in the Branches of a Tree

Steve Dawson

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Steve Dawson’s new solo album tells a powerful story of faith lost and artistry reborn. 
Fans of Dolly Varden, Funeral Bonsai Wedding and Dawson’s previous solo works will recognize the beautiful melodicism, brilliant craftsmanship and emotional depth expressed in the soulful balladry of “Hard Time Friend” and “Forgiveness Is Nothing Like I Thought It Would Be,” the folky reflections of “The Spaces In Between,” the sublime yearning of “Beautiful Mathematics” and the gentle dreamscape of “We Are Walking in a Forest,” a duet with Dolly Varden’s Diane Christiansen. This is material that couldn’t have been written at any other time in Dawson’s life—and it addresses life in the here and now. His songwriting continues to grow in depth and lyricism while his voice has never sounded more rich or resonant. The album’s twelve songs (plus two CD/digital bonus tracks) tie together the American musical influences that span his life: the late 60’s/early 70’s folk-rock of California, where he was born; the country music of Idaho, where he grew up; and the blues, gospel and soul of Chicago, where he has spent the bulk of his adult life. AT THE BOTTOM OF A CANYON IN THE BRANCHES OF A TREE revisits depths that many of us have experienced in recent years and takes us to heights to which we all aspire.

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The Hideout Sessions

Josh Caterer

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The Hideout Sessions stands as a powerful and highly listenable document of Smoking Popes frontman Josh Caterer stretching out with a new band of accomplished players for a one-night-only, live-to-tape recording. The album is being released by Pravda Records on 12” vinyl LP in gatefold sleeve, CD, as digital download and via streaming platforms on March 26.

On October 28th, 2020, Caterer joined forces with John San Juan (Hushdrops) and John Perrin (NRBQ) to rock out 21st century versions of songs your grandparents used to dance to “back in the day.” They covered a few Popes songs, too. It was an inspired evening of music.

The recording took place on stage at the Hideout, one of Chicago’s most beloved intimate music venues. Due to the pandemic, the Hideout’s doors had been closed to the public for several months, and the room had to be empty for this performance, save for the skeleton crew of sound engineers who captured the event. As Josh and his band recorded the album, the entire thing was live-streamed as a ticketed virtual concert.

The result was a high-quality rock show – raw, sweet, honest and cathartic. Harnessing the unique blend of punk energy and Sinatra-style sophistication that has made Caterer’s work with the Smoking Popes so enduring, The Hideout Sessions throws a surprising mix of musical ingredients into the power-pop blender, and what comes out is a truly satisfying and savory sonic experience.

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The Red Step

The Red Step

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The Red Step is the eponymous debut album from the powerful pairing of The Black Heart Procession’s Tobias Nathaniel with the cream of Belgrade’s Garage-Rock music scene. The Red Step is being released on colored marbled vinyl with a download card, for digital download and via streaming platforms by Chicago’s Pravda Records on December 11.

The Red Step’s first single “Black Summer” is the perfect introduction to the group’s dynamic mix of energetic garage rock, post punk gloom, and world-weary lyrics. Further singles to look out for this autumn are “Reset,” a call against stasis and a primal scream for vitality, “Before the Storm,” a slow burner with a bitter edge, and “For the Dead,” a haunting song of resignation and regret.

Assembled in 2015 in Serbia’s capital city, The Red Step is a formidable gathering of notable Belgrade music figures: keyboardist Boris Eftovski, bassist Rudolf Cibulski, and drummer Vladimir Markoski, all hailing from the longstanding Serbian garage rock band Kazna za uši. Londoner Sarah Jane Seatherton also joins The Red Step on cello, and Tobias handles vocals and guitar. In addition, Boris and Vladimir are current members of the Black Heart Procession lineup, and Vladimir has played drums with Andre Williams.

Beyond his work with The Black Heart Procession, Nathaniel has recorded with indie rock legends Blonde Redhead, and played piano on what became the “Evil Morty” theme on the hit TV show Rick and Morty. He has also played with Bauhaus bassist David J.

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Another World

The Flat Five

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Another World was produced by band member Scott Ligon and The Flat Five. It was recorded/engineered by Flat Five drummer Alex Hall at his popular Chicago studio, Reliable Recorders with some additional sessions done at Wilco’s gearhead paradise, The Loft, engineered by Mark Greenberg.

The charms of this band are manifest. These guys are all about vocal harmony — five hardcore vocal buzz junkies — and they share a vast range of influences from The Free Design to The Three Degrees to Captain Beefheart and a restless desire to explore a song from the inside out: to see just how far out it’ll go. This sophomore album showcases The Flat Five’s trademark keen musicianship and their slightly subversive sense of humor. It’s marked by the playful wide-eyed sweetness that colors all their music, tempered with their appreciation for how freaking good it feels to listen to a beautiful bummer on repeat sometimes. Like Charles Schultz said: “Happiness is a Sad Song.”

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Mind Control

Lab Partners

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The first album in 6 years from Dayton Ohio's space rock kings. Melody, guitars, beauty, and fierceness comes through heavily on this latest release.

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Moshi Moshi

Ryan and Pony

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Ryan is a workaholic multi-instrumentalist who has been playing lead guitar in Soul Asylum since 2016. Pony is a flamboyant performer and artist raised by deaf parents. Together they have made numerous albums and toured internationally leading The Melismatics. On Moshi Moshi they fuse Dream-Pop, post-Punk, Brit-rock, EDM, and good ol' fashioned Rock ‘n’ Roll into a sound all their own; irony, weirdness, and melody are at its heart. Peter Anderson (The Ocean Blue, Run Westy Run, The Honeydogs) adds his killer drum skills to the mix.

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Drip a Drop

The Flat Five

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The feel-good first single from the upcoming full length from Chicago supergroup The Flat Five is out now!

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