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New Releases

Reviews of records by Jimmy Adler and AppalAsia

Jimmy Adler
Grease Alley
(Sprucewood Records)

Thanks to the many hours of stage time Jimmy Adler has racked up over the years (both as a solo artist and in various bands), the blues guitarist should be familiar to anyone with an interest in the Pittsburgh music scene. For his newest release, the Carrick native traveled to California to record with noted guitarist Kid Anderson at Greaseland Studio — which might be why this collection of original songs sounds like it’s been steeped in West Coast sunshine. Adler’s soulful blues swing retains a healthy amount of rock ’n’ roll (he counts Keith Richards as one of his earliest influences), which helps make Grease Alley a particularly buoyant and accessible record. Margaret Welsh

JIMMY ADLER RECORD-RELEASE SHOW 8:30 p.m. Fri., Nov. 27. Moondogs, 378 Freeport Road, Blawnox. 412-828-2040 or


AppalAsia’s second album continues to seamlessly blend the Western strains of Jeff Berman’s dulcimer and Susan Powers’ banjo with Mimi Jong’s erhu and zhonghu (Chinese bowed instruments) to create something that reaches beyond the concept of genre hybrids. The trio, aided by bassist Jeff Grubbs, has a knack for taking folk-like melodies and expanding them with unique textures, shifting time signatures and arresting vocals. “Green Island,” a Mandarin Chinese song, starts slow and traditional, then shifts into a Western groove without losing the song’s hypnotic quality. Jong’s bowing gives “Up and Down the River” a rustic quality that fits the haunting Appalachian side of the trio. These melodies stick with you long after the songs finish. Mike Shanley