review Archive

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

Album Mini-review: Wild Adriatic — Feel

File next to: The Heavy, The New Mastersounds, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings This NYC-based trio describes its music as “power soul,” and for once a genre label is dead-on describing an artist. Rich Derbyshire‘s kinetic basslines, taut and assured drumming from Mateo Vosganian and aggressive, wah-wah-laden guitar lines support Travis Gray‘s assured vocals on

Album Mini-review: Steve Hackett — The Night Siren

File next to: IQ, Genesis, Marillion Back in his days as Genesis’ guitarist, Steve Hackett was somewhat reined in as far as expressing himself on guitar. The progressive rock group’s arty arrangements rarely allowed the opportunity for extended, expressive solos. When Hackett went solo in 1977, he was freed to explore his potential. But even

Album Mini-review: Rhiannon Giddens — Freedom Highway

File next to: Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch, Mary Gauthier Grammy Award winner Rhiannon Giddens is the well-deserved darling of the burgeoning Americana movement. As a person of color, Giddens adds some diversity into the otherwise largely lily-white scene, but it would be a gross miscalculation to chalk her success up to that fact. As the

Album Mini-review: R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner — Make it Be

File next to: Martin Newell, The Orange Peels, Fountains of Wayne With output that makes Guided by Voices’ Robert Pollard look like Boston’s Tom Scholz, lo-fi hero R. Stevie Moore knows how to write indelibly catchy songs. But he often doesn’t: on his 400-plus albums, Moore’s decidedly skewed pop often wraps accessible melodies inside ultra-quirky,

Album Mini-review: The Godfathers — A Big Bad Beautiful Noise

File next to: The Stranglers, Midnight Oil, Mekons From the slashing opening chord – followed in quick succession by a thunderous and insistent bass line – it’s clear that The Godfathers have come to rock. Deftly combining a workmanlike meat ‘n’ potatoes approach to their instruments with a punky, edge-of-chaos mindset, The Godfathers go for

Album Mini-review: Andrew Joslyn — Awake at the Bottom of the Ocean

File next to: Pet Sounds era Beach Boys, Sufjan Stevens, Neutral Milk Hotel Seattle area composer-arranger-violinist Andrew Joslyn has made a (slightly underground) name for himself lending his myriad talents to the work of other, more high-profile artists. He has worked with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan and Mark Lanegan, among

Album Mini-review: Circus Devils — Laughs Last

File next to: Guided by Voices, Flaming Lips, Starling Electric Seemingly random – yet reliably clever – wordplay has long been a hallmark of Robert Pollard’s work. Along with prodigious output, that quality is something he shares not only with his primary group Guided by Voices, but with long-running side project Circus Devils. After more

Album Mini-review: Valerie June — The Order of Time

File next to: Rhiannon Giddens, Ali Farka Touré, Shovels & Rope If with The Order of Time, Valerie June Hockett sought to create a resolutely unclassifiable record, she’s succeeded beyond a doubt. For the Memphis-based singer-songwriter’s fourth full-length, she’s come up with a dozen tunes that will delight the adventurous listener, but likely confuse and

Album Mini-review: Willodean — Awesome Life Decisions Volume One

File next to: David Bowie, Todd Rundgren, Ben Folds Way back in 2005, Los Angeles-based Randy & the Bloody Lovelies released their second album, Lift. The album straddled Americana and power pop, with songwriting that recalled another Randy (Newman) with its inventive wordplay and wicket yet subtle humor. Predictably in a market dominated by Coldplay,