Album Review: Marshall Crenshaw — #447

I vividly recall just how knocked out I was upon first hearing Marshall Crenshaw’s self-titled LP debut in 1982. Recorded four decades ago this month, it was released a few months later. Its chiming sound and uncluttered instrumentation provided a perfect canvas for Crenshaw’s wonderful songwriting and appealing vocals. In some ways it was totally

Album Review: The Grip Weeds – Dig

If you’re a band that has a well-earned reputation for top-notch original material, an album of covers had better add something worthwhile to listeners’ understanding and appreciation of what you do. Otherwise, beyond a busman’s holiday, what’s the point? The Grip Weeds have long since established their rock-solid rep as purveyors of hard-charging, muscular (yet

Album Review: True West — Kaleidoscope of Shadows

Even among vinyl aficionados like myself, there’s an acknowledgment that the CD era brought with it some important benefits. Chief among those was the archival movement: compilations and reissues of (often) long-lost or forgotten music that deserved wider hearing on its first go-round. In the U.S. music marketplace, that movement has largely petered out in

Album Review: Spygenius – Blow Their Covers

When a group – especially one with a proven track record of releasing high quality original material – appears with an album full of covers, it’s fair to wonder. Have they run out of ideas and/or material? Or do they have something of value to add to the interpretation of the songs of other artists?

Album Review: Novelty Island – How Are You Coping With This Century?

Being a musician and recording artist from Liverpool carries with it certain responsibilities. One has to reconcile the fact that their music is made in the shadow of Echo and the Bunnymen (ha). But seriously, much is expected from those who create music in the city on the Mersey. It’s not clear if Tom McConnell

Album Review: David Brookings – Mania at the Talent Showcase

A quick bit of context here, if you don’t mind. I’ve been a fan of Brookings’ music for some years now, and have reviewed at least two of his albums (the 2016 release by David Brookings and the Average Lookings and Scorpio Monologue) as well as mentioning his work in the context of a number

Album Review: The Freeway Jubilee — On the Horizon Volume 1

The close vocal harmony that opens “In Motion” sets a mood and establishes a high bar. The first track on The Freeway Jubilee’s On the Horizon Volume 1 is suffused with positivity and enthusiasm. And the band’s appealing mix – augmenting rock’s traditional guitars/bass/drums configuration with baritone and tenor saxophones – highlights the deep connections

Deerhoof’s Slow Burn Approach to Making Magic

The following feature was commissioned by a publication, but prior to its running, their management made an editorial decision to cut arts and entertainment coverage. I’ve rescued it from obscurity and share it here. — bk. Ever since Deerhoof came together in San Francisco some 25 years ago, the band’s releases have tended to be

Scholars Consider Metallica, Part Two

Continued from Part One… “Metallica creates emotionally intense music, both sonically and lyrically,” Swanson points out. “It’s so intense that it creates a ‘virtual violence,’ one that creates a release valve for despair and violent feelings.” By his estimation, some of society’s pent-up rage can be lessened by experiencing the music of the Bay Area

Scholars Consider Metallica, Part One

This story was part of a larger feature – a collaboration with Nick Veronin – previously published in SF Standard. Metallica: Counter-cultural Critics, Vehicle for Catharsis As Metallica prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary with December’s “San Francisco Takeover” – concerts plus a raft of related events – it’s the perfect time to take a