review Archive

Capsule Reviews for May 2017, Part Two

The Lancashire Hustlers – Adventures (Steep Hill Music) This London duo – Brent Thorley and Ian Pakes – has clearly come of age on a steady diet of Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles, Electric Light Orchestra, Arthur-era Kinks, Small Faces circa Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake and other fine influences. But there’s a pleasing DIY sensibility that

Capsule Reviews for May 2017, Part One

Thank You, Friends (Concord Bicycle Music) I remember a time when seemingly nobody knew about Big Star; happily for me, that was about the time I found “new old stock” vinyl copies of #1 Record and Radio City in a local record store. I was immediately hooked. As is its character, Big Star’s Third album

Album Mini-review: Buttercup — Battle of Flowers

File next to: Sugar, Crowded House With a name like Buttercup – not to mention album art scattered with flowers – one might expect Battle of Flowers to be a collection of winsome, treacly pop. Alas, no: slashing electric guitars abound here. The melodies are rooted in pop convention, and every song has a strong

Album Mini-review: Flywheels — I’m for the Flowers

File next to: The Bangles, Young Fresh Fellows, Matthew Sweet When Kim Wonderley takes lead vocals, the Flywheels sound a bit like early Bangles with a subtle touch of country twang. When Eric Scott – who sadly passed away before I’m for the Flowers was completed – sings lead, the group sounds closer to L.A.

Album Reviews: Three Standells Reissues

From one point of view, The Standells were opportunists. As that story goes, they got their start as a smiling, suited pop group, only changing their sound and collective demeanor once they took a new reading as to which way the pop culture winds were blowing. Moreover, that argument goes, they weren’t even from Boston,

Album Mini-review: The Feelies — In Between

File next to: Violent Femmes, Velvet Underground The choice of production aesthetic is everything on In Between, the Feelies‘ 6th album (and their second since ending their nearly two-decade hiatus). A deliberately quiet album, In Between favors acoustic guitars over electric; wood-block percussion over splashy cymbals, and hushed, breathy vocals. The net effect of those

Album Mini-review: Chicano Batman — Freedom is Free

File next to: War, Mayer Hawthorne, Sly & the Family Stone The spirit of late-sixties psychedelic soul is alive in Chicano Batman. On this collection of twelve socially aware originals, the Los Angeles quartet – augmented with an alluring female vocal chorus – makes some of the best music of its career. Musically, Freedom is

Album Mini-review: Colin Hay — Fierce Mercy

File next to: Men at Work, David Gray, Paul Kelly Colin Hay long ago left behind the bouncy pop of Men at Work, though his solo releases are every bit as warm and inviting. Hay possesses a voice that suggests an effortless ability to convey the emotion in his story-songs. Recorded in Nashville, Fierce Mercy

Album Mini-review: Judith Owen – Somebody’s Child

File next to: Carole King, Tori Amos, Ben Folds Judith Owen‘s impressive résumé includes a run as a key member of Richard Thompson‘s “1000 Years of Popular Music” tours, but she has a formidable body of her own work. Somebody’s Child is her 11th album, and here – joined by (among others) two of the

Album Review: Ultimate Spinach — Behold & See (Mono)

At the time of its 1968 release, Ultimate Spinach‘s Behold & See suffered from critical backlash. Those brickbats were directed primarily at the ill-advised “Bosstown Sound” marketing hype that surrounded the group. Considered on its own, Behold & See is a worthwhile and oft-overlooked artifact of its era. Yet the flow of Behold & See