review Archive

Album Mini-review: Bell X1 — Arms

File next to: Talking Heads, Crowded House Because of the wide array of styles explored on Arms, the record sometimes feels more like a mixtape than an album. “Fail Again, Fail Better” sounds like a half-finished collaboration between Paul Simon and David Byrne. The electronically-textured “Bring Me a Fireking” is vaguely reminiscent of Neil Finn’s

Album Mini-review: Jake Shimabukuro — Nashville Sessions

File next to: Michael Hedges, Joe Satriani Generally associated with Hawaiian music and culture, in recent years the ukulele has gained wider acceptance and credibility as a musical instrument suitable for other genres. To the uninitiated, the term “ukulele virtuoso” might seem a kind of joke, but there’s no doubt as to Shimabukuro’s astounding facility

Album Mini-review: Gang of Four — Live … in the Moment

File next to: Wire, Mission of Burma This Leeds group is often cited as a punk pioneer; with its original lineup, the Leeds, England quartet explored and pushed beyond the limits of punk. Like the Clash, Gang of Four seamlessly added strong elements of funk and dub reggae into the mix, but the resulting sound

Album Mini-review: Opeth — Sorceress

File next to: Porcupine Tree, Metallica On their 12th studio album, Swedish group Opeth continues its move away from its death metal origins. Fans who cherish Mikael Åkerfeldt‘s Cookie-Monster-from-Hell vocal growling will be disappointed, but their loss is everyone else’s gain. In fact Opeth has been on this path for years now; their current sound

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 10 of 10

Two weeks of capsule reviews wrap up today with the final five. The Well Wishers – Comes and Goes Style: powerpop Jeff Shelton is the Well Wishers. And he’s quite prolific: I think I’ve seen at least four of his albums come across my desk. He’s part of that breed that writes and plays everything

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 9 of 10

Gary Ritchie – Poptimistic Style: powerpop Melodic, good-natured powerpop is the order of the day on Ritchie’s new album. Musical touchstones include the obvious ones (Beatles, Raspberries, Romantics) and some perhaps less obvious ones (he reminds me a good bit of Donnie Iris). There’s always room on my shelf for some quirk-free rock ‘n’ roll,

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 8 of 10

Manu Katché – Unstatic Style: jazz This is an album of tasty mostly-instrumental jazz that sometimes – but not always – leans in an Afro-Cuban direction. Luca Aquino’s trumpet is often the lead instrument, but there is plenty else going on throughout. The overall vibe is more subtle than fiery, but there’s some fascinating interplay

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 6 of 10

All through last week, I plowed through my to-be-reviewed CD shelf, covering 50 discs (45 CDs, 5 DVDs) in five days. All of the music was reissues, compilations and/or archival releases. This week the march toward a clean shelf continues, with the focus now on new (as in, released in 2016) CDs. Off we go!

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 5 of 10

Today I take a look at five DVDs, all of which should be of interest to aficionados of 1960s pop culture, and all available only from The Video Beat. National Bandstand & Dig We Must (DVD) These two programs were broadcast on Australian TV in November 1965 ( the 48-minute National Bandstand, subtitled “The New

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 4 of 10

Happy Thanksgiving. Here are five more quick reviews. Today it’s all jazz. John Surman et. al. – Morning Glory If your tastes extend toward free and modal jazz – think Ornette Coleman, for example – then a new reissue of this 1973 live album may be just the thing for you. Alternating between high-flying musical