essay Archive

Ice-T’s ‘Power’ at 30

When considering the work of a high-profile, successful recording artist, it’s often instructive to look at the work they did prior to their breakthrough. Important clues in regard to their creative development can often be identified, and the arc of that development can be more fully understood and appreciated. In hip-hop, one of the genre’s

Greta Van Fleet: The Sound Remains the Same

Greta Van Fleet can’t seem to catch a break. The young foursome from the faux-Bavarian town of Frankenmuth, Michigan, has sustained criticism for copping its sound from 1970s rock giants Led Zeppelin. The group’s debut track, “Highway Tune” is characterized by Josh Kiszka’s Robert Plant doppelganger wail and Jacob Kiszka’s Jimmy Page-style guitar licks; the

Los Lobos: Genre-spanning NorteAmericana Heroes

Los Lobos is an American treasure. Formed in East L.A. in the early 1970s, the band has always drawn from across the entire spectrum of American music. While the group’s Latino roots invite easy comparison to groundbreaking acts like Thee Midniters, El Chicano, Malo and Santana, the group (whose name means “the wolves”) has always

Todd Rundgren’s ‘No World Order” at 25

Todd Rundgren has long made a career out of alternatively (and sometimes simultaneously) confounding and delighting his most ardent fans. Resolutely following his muse wherever it takes him, Rundgren is remarkably unbound from commercial considerations; he makes the music he wants to make, how and when he chooses. The result is a body of work

The Fire Still Burns for the Animals’ Eric Burdon

Many of the bands considered part of the “British invasion” of the mid-sixties drew from American rhythm & blues or soul. Some, like the Beatles, filtered those influences through their own musical sensibilities, creating something completely new in the process. Others – the Rolling Stones, for example – built upon a r&b foundation, initially playing

In Memory of Tommy Keene

Every so often – and not really that often at all – I hear a song that figuratively grabs me by the lapels and shakes me. It happened with World Party’s “Put the Message in the Box.” It happened with Todd Rundgren’s “Love of the Common Man.” And if most definitely happened one day during

A Pink Floyd Anniversary

I first discovered the music of Pink Floyd in the mid 1970s. The Dark Side of the Moon had already been out a few years, and Wish You Were Here had been released, too. Animals hadn’t yet come out, so this would have been 1976. I was 11 or 12 years old, and the music

A Johnny Mathis Playlist

To preview a Johnny Mathis concert, my editor at Salt Lake City Paper recently asked me to compile a playlist of the vocalist’s lesser-known tracks. This I did. The piece as it ran was edited for space, but some good stuff got cut. Here’s the entire essay. — bk Johnny Mathis has been a staggeringly

Floating Festivals

Rock ‘n’ Roll-themed Cruises While retirees and young professionals might not always share the same taste in music, one leisure activity with appeal that spans generations is the music festival experience. And in recent years, many ocean cruises have come up with a successful way to capture that excitement. Rock ‘n’ roll-themed cruises are among

Sigur Rós Proves That Music Really is the Universal Language

A brief written description of the music of Sigur Rós rarely does it justice. Variously described as post-rock, impressionistic, glacial and abstract, the music on the trio’s seven studio albums often features falsetto vocals in either the group’s native Icelandic or an invented, wordless “language” called Hopelandic or vonlenska. But while that summary might suggest