Album Review: Lord Sonny the Unifier — Final Notice!

With a title like “The Starman,” one might expect a song that bears a passing similarity to the music of the original Starman, David Bowie. And in fact that’s not too wide of the mark; the opening track on Final Notice!, the new album from Lord Sonny the Unifier. Lead singer and guitarist Greg Jiritano’s

Sloan: Past, Present and Future

Indie rockers Sloan have built an impressive body of work since forming in Halifax, Nova Scotia back in 1991. Whether the foursome should be classified as indie rock or power pop is open for debate; what’s certain is that the group makes memorable, hooky rock in a style that recalls both the Beatles and Fountains

Album Review: The Fall – I Am Kurious Oranj

The Fall were never most people’s idea of a commercial group. They didn’t have the jangling melodicism of the Smiths, nor the sophisticated funk groove of Gang of Four. But the British postpunk band did have Brix Smith. She was Mark E. Smith’s wife and lead guitarist, and her influence moved the band in its

Album Review: Brian Wilson (1988)

If we’re being honest with ourselves, most sympathetic critics grade the post-Beach Boys music of Brian Wilson on a curve. Unquestionably a musical genius, Wilson is responsible for Pet Sounds and the legendary long-thought-lost SMiLE, arguably two of the most revolutionary albums in the history of popular music. The Beatles certainly regarded Pet Sounds as

Album Review: Gwenifer Raymond — You Never Were Much of a Dancer

There’s a dark undercurrent to much of the folk music coming out of the tradition of the British Isles; maybe that has to do with the region’s history. But that brooding vibe pervades the style, adding weight and mystery to the already intriguing music. Welsh-born Gwenifer Raymond’s debut release, You Never Were Much of a

A Few Moments with Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal (born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks) is equal parts musician, songwriter, folklorist and musicologist. But despite his impeccable credentials, the man has never taken an academic approach to music. With more than 30 albums to his name — solo records, collaborations, live sets — Taj Mahal has created a virtual audio travelogue, exploring the

Victory Boyd: From Subway to Festival Stage

Victory Boyd was “discovered” busking Stevie Wonder songs on the streets and in the subway stations of New York City, and that discovery led to a recording contract not only for her, but for her entire family including her father and eight siblings. The singer-songwriter was a featured performer at the fourth annual LEAF Downtown

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 4 / conclusion)

Continued from Part Three… And even though Fantastic Negrito is now a high-profile Grammy-winning performer and recording artist, he still feels and maintains a close connection to that neighborhood. “The people I started my collective label [Blackball Universe] with, they’re all guys I grew up with,” he says. “We did everything – committed crimes and

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 3)

Continued from Part Two… The production on The Last Days of Oakland is “boxy,” and Xavier says that that quality is a deliberate aesthetic choice. “I wanted it to feel like I’m sitting right in someone’s living room,” he says. And I tried to minimize production; I was really going for a sense of urgency,

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 2)

Continued from Part One… A 2014 EP titled Fantastic Negrito debuted Xavier’s new approach. Ostensibly blues, the five-song EP draws from a wider array of influences. Released to enthusiastic critical notices, the EP created a buzz but didn’t break through on a large scale. Undaunted and sure of his musical direction, Xavier created a low-budget