review Archive

Album Review: The Mommyheads — Age of Isolation

The Mommyheads aren’t widely known outside of New York City (and Sweden), and that’s a shame. With wit that sometimes rivals that of XTC, a melodic sense that recalls 10cc and a prolific nature (more than a dozen albums released, even while taking a decade-long hiatus), The Mommyheads are one of pop music’s undiscovered gems.

Album Review: Jim Basnight and The Moberlys – Seattle – New York – Los Angeles

Describing something as underrated is sometimes little more than a lazy way of approaching an artist’s work. But it can have useful meaning. In the case of The Moberlys, the group could well be described that way. But the label doesn’t quite get to the heart of the matter: how can you be underrated if

Album Review: Steve Barton – Love & Destruction

Steve Barton is best known as one of two guitarists and songwriters in Translator, the San Francisco band that gave us “Everywhere That I’m Not.” But while the band went semi-dormant a number of years ago, Barton remains active as a solo artist. His latest release is Love & Destruction. Like his earlier records, it

Album Review: Memphis Slim – 1964 Live

As Ray Templeton reminds us in his liner notes for this newly-issued archival release, “When Memphis Slim first visited Europe in 1960, he was already a twenty year veteran recording artist.” His first charting single was in 1948 with “Messin’ Around”; it reached the #1 spot on the r&b chart of the day. Slim’s album

Album Review: The Cruzados – She’s Automatic

When Los Angeles punk outfit The Plugz metamorphosed into The Cruzados in 1984, they altered their musical approach. The spiky punk textures showcased on the soundtrack of Repo Man remained, but some of the edges were sanded smooth. The quality didn’t diminish; they simply made music that as somewhat more accessible. Two albums – a

Album Review: Explorer Tapes

As someone who follows such things – and as such ought to know better – I nevertheless continue to be amazed whenever I learn about a promising act that recorded an album only to find it shelved. It’s the musical version of that iconic final scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark,

Album Review: John McLaughlin — Liberation Time

A deeply spiritual artist, John McLaughlin makes music that moves the mind, body and spirit. There’s certainly plenty of technical precision in his music, but with in it beats a living heart. As such, the creation of that music is greatly informed and colored by the interaction among the participants (usually some of the finest

Album Review: Alchemy Sound Project – Afrika Love

Jazz differs from rock in some important, fundamental ways. While there are exceptions, one is the manner in which jazz ensemble tend to be collectives of equals rather than stars with backup. So it is with Alchemy Sound Project, a septet in which at least five of the musicians are composers. On Afrika Love, each

Album Review: The Black Watch — Led Zeppelin Five

I don’t make a habit of employing Yiddish words or phrases in writing of speaking. I’m not a member of the tribe. But when the situations call for it, when no other word will do, I make an exception. Here goes: The Black Watch has some chutzpah. Or at least they did in 2011, when

Album Review: The Gun Club — Fire of Love

Blixa Sounds released an expanded reissue of the Gun Club’s Miami in 2000, and now their similar treatment of the Los Angeles punk band’s debut album, Fire of Love, is getting similar treatment. Oddly – at least to these ears – it’s more accessible than the second LP. Yes, Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s open relationship with