Coming Attractions: Larry Coryell

Groundbreaking multi-genre guitarist Larry Coryell passed away unexpectedly in February. I’m a longtime fan of his; I first interviewed him in 2014. And then last year I had the honor of curating a reissue – the first-ever on CD – of his second solo album, 1970’s Coryell. Another Coryell project is in the pipeline right

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

Empire Strikes Brass: Everyone Loves a Parade

Empire Strikes Brass managed quite a feat in its first five years as a group. The 10-plus-piece band worked diligently on a grassroots level, playing benefits and street festivals, and became a household name in its hometown of Asheville without releasing an album. When the group finally entered the studio it recorded not one but two

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,

Album Mini-review: Otis Taylor — Fantasizing About Being Black

File next to Ali Farka Touré, Robert Johnson, Miles Davis Otis Taylor is one of the foremost modern-day practitioners of the blues. He doesn’t make bar-band electric blues; instead, his largely acoustic approach to the form is built upon the Delta traditions of old, delivered with a decidedly contemporary mindset. Honored recipient of a dozen

Hilary Scott Gets the Balance Right

Though she’s formally trained in classical and opera – she studied voice and piano in Italy – Washington state-based Hilary Scott chose the musical path of singer-songwriter more than a decade ago. From a very early age, Scott was more concerned with expressing her thoughts and ideas via words than playing with the other neighborhood

Eric Johnson: Cutting the Cord

Ever since he broke through with his third album (1990’s Ah Via Musicom), Austin, Texas guitarist Eric Johnson has been a prominent musical figure, a widely admired guitar hero. From his start, Johnson wedded dazzling technique to a strong melodic sense, gaining fans along the way. Guitar World rated his Grammy Award-winning single “Cliffs of