Tex-Mex, served up Freddy-Fender style and a new release by an ex ‘American Idol’ contestant and more

Country Side by former ‘American Idol’ contestant Buckstein.
Country Side by former ‘American Idol’ contestant Buckstein.

Today’s Sound Check features reviews of a CD/EP from a former “American Idol” contestant and two full-fledged CD/albums.

Hopefully, readers will find something to enjoy within.

‘Lovin’ Tex-Mex Style,’ Freddy Fender (RockBeat Records, )

This June 9 CD, which may be available in other formats, features the late Freddy Fender’s biggest national hits and other favorites like “Leaving It Up To You,” “Silver Wings,” “She’s About A Mover” in live and alternate studio versions with his unique, high vibrato-laden voice right up front. He passed away Oct. 14, 2006.

Highlights include most of the seven live tracks, including “Mathilda,” “Lovin’ Cajun Style” and Fender’s two swamp-pop based humungous hits (“Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” and “Before The Next Teardrop Falls”) despite noodle-heavy sax/guitar solos. Studio highlights: “Silver Wings,” “Almost Persuade” and “The Girl Who Waits On Tables.”

Fans of vintage country and/or swamp pop will dig this recording.

‘Country Side,’ Buckstein (Angry Duck Records, 1/2)

This June 2 CD/EP presents Colorado-based country singer Buckstein, who was once an “American Idol” contestant, embarking on his next chapter with this EP, which is produced by Andy Rok. Supporting players are Rok plus Jennifer Deann Scott, Brett Walston, Mike Rice, Mark Mauldin, Noah Matthews, Joseph Humphreys, Phil Stone and Adam Haag. Who plays what isn’t listed.

Buckstein has a powerful baritone/bass voice, which is put to good use in these mostly “bro country” songs. My favorite one is “10 At 2:00,” which has super-witty lyrics. The resigned cheating song “This Time” is also effective.

Modern country music fans will enjoy these tunes.

‘Gone,’ The Mojo Gurus (MRI Entertainment, 1/2)

This June 30 CD, also available in other formats, comes from singer/songwriter/harmonicat Kevin Steele, who has worked with producers including Jack Douglas, and his band (Vinnie Granese: bass, electric/acoustic guitar and vocals; Sean Doyle: drums, tambourine, Tibetan singing bowl and vocals; Doc Lovett: electric and acoustic guitars). Other talented friends add keyboards, strings and horns (keyboardist Steve Peake, trumpeter Mike Smith, trombonist David Hope, saxophonist Gene Cannon, violinist Rebecca Zapen, cellist Tom Kersey and sitarist Raj Jett) to this 15-song “concept” album where music-genres are meaningless.

Highlights include the snaky instrumental intro/title tune and its sequel at number fifteen, the rocking “What’s Wrong With You,” the driving “Love Somebody,” the horn-drenched “Fifty Miles,” the Peter Gunn-ish “Two Smokin’ Barrels” and the James Brown-flavored “Busted.”

Fans of good music will enjoy this recording.

Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at flakericky@gmail.com.