review Archive

EP Review: The Hero Cycle — Lakes and Ponds

On their Lakes and Ponds EP, Burlington Vermont’s The Hero Cycle manage the neat trick of evoking memories of Echo and the Bunnymen and Modern English without sounding the least bit retro. The group’s sound is completely and refreshingly free from the influence of hip-hop or metal. They seem to want to self-classify as shoegaze

Album Review: Hedley — s/t

Not certifiably awful in any way, the debut album by Canadian quartet Hedley is simply another serving of the tired, shopworn formula that the record industry serves up. Like a musical version of the stereotypical elementary school lunch lady, the folks at Capitol (theoretically the same people that gave us Frank Sinatra and the Beatles)

Album Review: Hayseed Dixie – A Hot Piece of Grass

Hayseed Dixie is bluegrass music’s answer to Dread Zeppelin. But then, who asked the question? Hayseed Dixie’s high-concept approach recasts hard rock songs in a bluegrass context (for a secret message, say “Hayseed Dixie” out loud, over and over, until you get it). These guys most certainly have a sense of humor — how else

Album Review: Isaac Hayes — Ultimate Isaac Hayes: Can You Dig It?

Finally we have an Isaac Hayes career retrospective that is both succinct and sprawling. Of course “The Theme from Shaft” is here; it leads off the first disc on this two-disc, non-chronological compilation of Black Moses’ finest and most commercial offerings. Isaac Hayes is the ideal example of a performer’s artistic aspirations dovetailing perfectly with

Album Review: Holding Mercury — Downfall of an Empire

There’s a strong and proud tradition of Midwestern power pop. Cheap Trick, Material Issue, The Shoes; I could go on. The straightforward, hard-yet-melodic approach of these and groups like them has long been a characteristic of music from the region. But of course the Midwest turns out all kinds of music. So when I received

Album Review: The Fuzztones – Horny as Hell

Now there’s a concept: take classic garage-punk songs from the 1960s (plus a fistful of Fuzztones originals) and put together new arrangements that add…wait for it…a horn section. No kidding. The Fuzztones have been at it for a long time, keeping the flames of 60s punk going. The hallmarks of that genre — snotty vocals,

Album Review: Fluttr Effect — Marking Time

This disc gets off to a good start. The instrumentation is varied and intriguing; tempos shift and keep the listener on his or her toes. But the band’s shtick seems to be the whole juxtaposition thing. It’s as if the group was assembled by Central Casting: “Hey: let’s assemble players from various musical disciplines and

Album Review: DJ Envy & Red Cafe — The Co-op

On first listen, my attention was grabbed by a track (or “skit,” as it’s called on the disc) in which a character named DJ Death Murder Homicide rattles off every gangsta cliché while recording his latest joint. The recording ends, and it is quickly (and amusingly) revealed that Mr. Homicide is a total phony; one

Concert Review: Japanese Motors, Raleigh NC 03/11/09

A quick listen — heck, even a careful, critical series of listens — to “Single Fins & Safety Pins,” the latest single from Japanese Motors, would give most people the clear impression that the band owns a well-worn copy of the (apocryphal) Noo Yawk Song and Stylebook authored by members of The Strokes and the

Album Review: Cradle of Filth — Thornography

This is some very silly music. The first track “Under Pregnant Skies She Comes Alive Like Miss Leviathan,” comes in with a bombastic movie-soundtrack vibe, all robed-choruses and scratching cellos. Of course that’s all flown in, having little to do with the group. Yet it’s the best thing about the album. Think Metallica meets Dead