Author Archive

Seven Jazz Reviews for July 2017

Here’s a look at seven recent reissue and/or archival releases of note. All are enthusiastically recommended. Bobby Darin & Johnny Mercer – Two of a Kind (Omnivore Recordings) Founded in 2010, Omnivore Recordings is a boutique label that quickly became renowned for its thoughtful and carefully-curated reissues and archival releases; the release schedule of the

Album Review: Gov’t Mule — Revolution Come…Revolution Go

The early 1970s were a momentous time in the history of rock. Mighty men with loud guitars roamed the land, often leading groups of two or three other men. The best of that era’s bands crafted a sound that enjoyed widespread appeal, thanks to a balance of hard-as-nails beats, thunderous bottom-end, and highly appealing guitar

Album Review: John Lee Hooker — Whiskey & Wimmen

John Lee Hooker was one of the most important blues artists of his – or any other – generation. With a style that managed at once to be thoroughly authentic and somehow commercial, Hooker’s output has become part of the American musical lexicon. After a stint on a smaller label, Hooker signed with Vee-Jay, for

Album Review: Flamin’ Groovies — Live 1971 San Francisco

One could be forgiven for thinking that the Flamin’ Groovies visited our planet from another time and or/dimension. Their music has been resolutely out of step with prevailing trends. Which isn’t to say it’s not great: tracks like “Teenage Head” are classics of the garage rock subgenre, and “Shake Some Action” is an exemplar of

Album Review: Emerson Lake and Palmer – Once Upon a Time in South America

By the early- to mid-1990s, ELP had seen its share of ups and downs. The band that had created some of the most compelling progressive (and often classical-leaning) rock of the 1970s had fallen victim not only to changing tastes, but – it must be said – to the vicissitudes of a post-creative-peak world. After

Album Review: The Tills — Canon

Hardcore 1960s pop acolytes hold a special place in their hearts and record collections for “Mr. Dieingly Sad,” a minor ’66 hit for New Jersey group The Critters. And while everything about that track — its vocal harmonies and gentle guitar strumming — suggest The Critters are a friendly bunch of guys, the surviving band

Album Review: Stephanie Morgan — Chrysalism

Stephaniesid, the former group of prodigiously talented singer Stephanie Morgan, had a kind of arty pop sound with the added interest of a strong jazz sensibility. Since the end of that project, Morgan has ventured out on her own, and, while Chrysalism should please longtime fans of her old band, it represents a decisive break from

Album Review: Laura Blackley and the Wildflowers — Tell it to the Darkness

An engaging Southern gothic troubadour, Laura Blackley is a beloved fixture on the regional live concert circuit. On Tell It to the Darkness, her well-honed strengths are on prominent display. Chief among her assets is a skill at crafting thoughtful lyrics — word pictures, really — that work as well on the printed page as

Album Review: Carpal Tullar — Horse of a Different Tullar

Carpal Tullar is an arty rock trio based in Asheville, N.C.; the band plays local dates occasionally. But Carpal Tullar is also a studio project that’s essentially the work of one man, Chris Tullar. Carpal Tullar (the project) has made four albums; the first of those, The Milquetoast Manual, was released in 2007. The latest

Album Review: Zoe and Cloyd — Eyes Brand New

High quality musicianship is rarely in short supply, especially in Western North Carolina. That fact –coupled with the presence of several top-notch recording studios in the region – means that the bar is set quite high for a new album release. This is especially true in the crowded field of Americana and its related genres