Author Archive

Album Review: Willie Nile — New York at Night

Way back when Bob Seger finally broke through nationally, much was written about how it took him many years to become an overnight sensation. And he’s merely one example of highly talented artists who toil in obscurity for years. Some – most, actually – never break out. They might earn a measure of critical claim,

Album Review: Lane Thaw — Falling off the Planet

Existing outside the world of rock ‘n’ roll, Lane Thaw’s Falling off the Planet is the kind of record that suggests an alternate timeline, one in which cult artists like Leon Redbone and Randy Newman hit the big time. With a large ensemble that includes violin, viola, marimba, lap steel, banjo, ukulele and flugelhorn alongside

Album Review: Todd Rundgren’s Utopia – Benefit for Moogy Klingman

After the success of his double LPs Something/Anything? (1972) and Todd (1974) as well as the double-album in all but pressing A Wizard/A True Star (1973), Todd Rundgren decided to channel his progressive proclivities into a project separate from his solo work. Utopia was thus born. And while the earliest lineup never recorded, as the

Album Review: The Explorers Club — s/t

In my previous review I, um, explored To Sing and Be Born Again, the new all-covers album from Jason Brewer’s The Explorers Club. The group isn’t exactly what one would call prolific, having maintained a consistent pace of a new album every four years since 2008’s Freedom Wind. But as 2020 has come around, the

Album Review: The Explorers Club — To Sing and Be Born Again

For more than a decade now, The Explorers Club have been bringing their brand of ear candy pop to listeners. Essentially a vehicle for songwriter, musician, arranger and producer Jason Brewer, the EC’s lineup has been fluid. Originally a band based in Charleston, today The Explorers Club is the creative product of Brewer and whomever

Album Review: Miles Davis – Music From and Inspired by ‘Birth of the Cool’

There’s a trend in recent years: when releasing a film’s companion audio, the CD is sometimes branded as “Music From and Inspired By…” That gives to compiler of the audio document a freer hand to include material that is conceptually relevant even if it didn’t feature in the film itself. Such releases can’t strictly be

Brushfire Stankgrass: Making Up for Lost Time

“We’re not a bluegrass band,” insists Will Saylor, co-leader with brother Ben in Brushfire Stankgrass. Instead, the popular Asheville quartet uses bluegrass as the launching point for its musical excursions, venturing well into folk, jam and rock forms in the process. And while the group makes no claims to capture the essence of Asheville in

Album Review: Vito Dieterle and Joel Forrester – StatusSphere

Jazz fans are likely to pick up on the in-joke of this album’s cover art immediately. It’s a visual homage to the 1957 LP Monk’s Music. And the two round objects in the wagon are a nod to Thelonious Monk’s nickname, “Sphere.” StatusSphere is, then, a fitting name for a Monk tribute. Vito Dieterle plays

Album Review: Ella 100 – Live at the Apollo!

The First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald was among the most influential vocalists of the 20th century. Her distinctive voice, her seemingly effortless and natural delivery and her winning personality combined to great effect. April 2017 marked the 1200th anniversary of her birth, and to commemorate her life and work, an all-star lineup of musicians

Album Review: David Cross and Peter Banks — Crossover

David Cross came to fame as member of King Crimson during the band’s first run of incarnations; he played violin on Larks Tongues in Aspic and Starless and Bible Black. Peter Banks was the original guitarist in Yes. Both musicians continued to work after their most high-profile turns, often drawing on assistance from their former