If I'm One, You're One Too
While artists with old-school blues roots may be hard to come by these days, the North Coast still boasts of one of the most durable and well-traveled. With his 17th album, septuagenarian Haddix makes a strong case for the adage "age ain't nothin' but a number." The Mississippi-bred, Cleveland-based singer-guitarist delivers a solid set of his signature horn-driven blues. But the man's ace in the hole has always been his knack with lyrics. That skill served him well during a good run in the '80s and '90s with the then-potent Atlanta-based Ichiban label. This time around, tracks like "Scared Half to Death, Twice" and "Hard to Teach, Hard to Learn" prove the Haddix formula still has a kick to it. Trumpeter Jeff Hager's punchy show-band-style horn charts push from behind through most of the tunes. Blues like this grows rarer by the day, in this town and elsewhere.
— Duane Verh
Smog Veil has had a busy year. Between reissues of Cleveland punk bands like Face Value and the Easter Monkeys and Akron's Tin Huey, the Chicago-based label has practically purged Cleveland's punk-rock vaults. So why not venture out to Erie? This collection includes all the major tunes by Erie's Pistol Whip, which claims to be the city's first punk band. Formed in 1976 and disbanded in 1978, the group had talent to spare. "Heart Throb" and "Untouchables," the first two songs here, are catchy and melodic, and even feature harmony vocals. But all 10 songs on this album have held up well. A bonus DVD includes live footage and interviews with band members. — Jeff Niesel