David LaMotte: Bringing it All Back Together

Prior to 2006, David LaMotte was an extremely busy musician. “In those first 18 years, I kicked out 10 records,” he says. But in the decade that followed, he would released exactly zero albums of new material. It wasn’t as if he had gone inactive, or had even stopped writing music; he was simply involved

Nada Surf: Surf’s Up in Europe

New York City-based Nada Surf has been making albums and touring since 1992. And while their albums fare well among critics, they haven’t managed to break into the top tier of well-known rock bands. At least not in their home country. But in Europe, it’s a different matter. “We’ve worked really hard to cultivate various

Album Mini-review: The Archies — Sugar, Sugar: The Complete Albums Collection

File next to: Bay City Rollers, 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Jackson 5 After his experience with The Monkees, pop impresario Don Kirshner made the calculated decision that his next project would be one in which the artists couldn’t rebel. Thus was born The Archies, a cartoon group that only existed on television. Well, that’s not

Album Mini-review: Starling Electric — Electric Company

File next to: Pete Yorn, Bob Pollard, Bob Mould In 2008, Michigan’s Starling Electric released Clouded Staircase, one of the best albums of that decade, and one that almost nobody heard. The original songs combined the best qualities of Guided by Voices‘ Anglophile rock with vocal and arrangement prowess that encouraged positive comparisons with Brian

Yo La Tengo is Still “Murdering the Classics”

Hoboken, N.J.-based indie-rock band Yo La Tengo has long been recognized as much for their selection of cover songs as for their original material. Their sonic approach can recall anything from the dark psychedelia of the Velvet Underground to sweet, chiming pop. But on their latest album, 2015’s Stuff Like That There, the group chose

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2016, Part 5

My week-long barrage of brief reviews wraps up with these last five. Look for more soon. Professor Longhair – Live in Chicago In 1976, New Orleans legend Professor Longhair played at the University of Chicago Folk Festival. This high-quality recording documents that show, and the acoustic piano is captured wonderfully. The nuances of Longhair’s work

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2016, Part 4

Five more quick ones. All these albums bear further investigation. Wild Man Fischer – An Evening with Wild Man Fischer Conventional wisdom holds that while Gail Zappa was alive, she prevented reissues of many albums originally released on Frank’s Bizarre/Straight labels. Whether that’s true or not, Gail’s gone now and we finally have a legit

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2016, Part 3

Cutting a swath through the pile of CDs in my inbox, here I present five more quick reviews. Maynard Ferguson – Complete High Voltage The 1980s aren’t generally thought of as a fertile period in the jazz idiom. Fusion had had its moment, and what most people though of jazz in the 80s was a

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2016, Part 2

Five more quick reviews, presented in random order. The Bangles – Ladies and Gentlemen … the Bangles! This Los Angeles group never got the serious recognition they deserved. Chalk it up to the marketing approach of the time, but the focus was more on their undeniable good looks than their top-notch playing and writing skills.

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2016, Part 1

This week, I’m publishing 25 album reviews, each a tidy 100 words. In no particular order. Asia – Phoenix For most listeners, Asia was a one-and-done proposition; their self-titled 1982 debut was a huge hit that spawned three Top 10 hit singles. True, their second and third albums charted and had singles, too, but nobody