review Archive

Book Review: The White Label Promo Preservation Society

It’s happened to me, and I’d imagine it has happened to you. You’re out in public somewhere – a bar, a food court, a record store, outside a music venue waiting for the doors to open – somewhere you’d encounter strangers. And being a not-unfriendly sort, you find yourself drawn into conversation with one of

Album Review: Jem Records Celebrates Brian Wilson

Here we go again. I’ve long held that various-artists tribute albums are by definition uneven. Some acts try to take the songs too far from their essence, stripping the songs of whatever made them special and noteworthy to begin with. Others are too slavish by half, effectively adding nothing to the discussion, making what amounts

Album Review: Johnathan Pushkar – Compositions

File Under: Too twee for me, but perhaps not for thee. This by-the-numbers powerpop album would seem to have all the requisite elements: catchy choruses, creamy vocal harmonies, and a sunny, upbeat disposition. But there’s something just too saccharine about the whole thing. When The SpongeTones made Beatle-y music, it was inspired. When the That

Album Review: American Folk Blues Festival Live in Manchester 1962

Owing to a fascinating and complicated set of circumstances, for many years American musicians of color were recognized and celebrated more in the UK and Europe than they were at home. This was the case for quite a few jazz and blues artists; revered overseas, some made the transatlantic trek to appear in front of

Album Review: Chris Cain — Raisin’ Cain

Though he’s a West Coast musician based in San Jose, California, Chris Cain’s vocal and guitar styles owe a significant debt to Mississippi-born B.B. King. As showcased on Raisin’ Cain, his first album for Alligator Records, Cain’s approach to the blues is one steeped in the postwar electric tradition. Lyrically, Raisin’ Cain traffics in familiar

Album Review: David Rotundo Band – So Much Trouble

A protégé of Danish harmonica star Lee Oskar (of ‘70s funk-rock-soul group War), Canadian musician David Rotundo sings, plays harmonica and occasional guitar, and writes all of the music on So Much Trouble, his fifth album. Toronto-based Rotundo launched his first band in 1997, and was first heard on record when he released Blowin’ for

Album Review: Last Days of April – Even the Good Days Are Bad

If one were to combine hooky songwriting, a lush pop landscape and a bit of shoegaze, the result might approach Last Days of April’s Even the Good Days Are Bad. The downbeat message of its title notwithstanding, this is a lovely collection of emotion-laden tunes that feature indelible melodic lines. There’s a pleasing variety to

Album Review: The Armoires — Incognito

There’s a proud and creatively fertile tradition in rock’n’roll: playing dress-up, assuming an alter ego. The Beatles may have done it first with Sgt. Pepper, and six months later The Who’s The Who Sell Out found them (sort of) taking on the identity of a pirate radio station. Unmasked by no less a figure than

Album Review: District 97 — Screenplay

Like, I suspect, more than a few potential listeners, I looked askance at District 97 when I first heard of them more than a decade ago. What possible skill could a former American Idol finalist display in the progressive rock idiom? Well, I and others like me were quickly set right: Leslie Hunt has an

Album Review: Chris Church – Game Dirt

Chris Church is that rare musical auteur who succeeds at most everything to which he applies his talents. And his body of work resolutely resists pigeonholing; he’s done everything from metal to prog to powerpop to .. well, you get the idea. And carrying forth the proud tradition forged by Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Emitt