review Archive

Album Review: Robert Berry’s 3.2 — Alive at Progstock

Most music fans know of Keith Emerson for his work with Emerson Lake and Palmer. The progressive supergroup scored a succession of hits and well-regarded albums through the 1970s. Sure, naysayers point to them as part of the so-called “dinosaurs” that punk is thought to have saved us from, but the truth is far more

Album Review: Allan Holdsworth — Jarasum International Jazz Festival 2014

“In the moment.” That’s one of the phrases bassist Jimmy Haslip employs in his brief liner note essay for this, the latest in the ongoing series of archival live Allan Holdsworth performance releases. This set documents a concert in Gapyeong-gun, South Korea. The show was the final stop on a two-week pan-Pacific tour that included

Album Review: Ellen Starski — Sara’s Half Finished Love Affair

Tuneful, heartfelt and impeccably arranged singer-songwriter fare is the stock in trade of Ellen Starski. On the Nashville artist’s latest release, Sara’s Half-Finished Love Affair, she presents a varied set of songs. Rising above the singer-with-an-acoustic milieu, Starski draws deftly from glitchy 90s’ alt rock (Suzanne Vega’s 99.9F° seems a useful reference point), Americana (the

Album Review: Walker Brigade — If Only

If we’re honest, it’s not the hardest thing in the world to create a batch of hard rocking tunes. It’s substantially more challenging to write durable melodies, and/or to create meaningful lyrics that exude passion, commitment and authenticity. And to do all of those things at once is a rare feat indeed. But a new

Album Review: Spygenius — Jobbernowl

Those Cantabrigian masters of melody are at it again. Jobbernowl may sport an inscrutable title, but the music is accessible in the extreme. Spygenius’ knowing way with ear candy tune creation is showcased once again on their latest release. The wordplay that is a baked-in characteristic of their music crops up immediately: the opening sonic

EP Review: Stick Men — Tentacles

Considering the degree to which each of its members is known for other projects, it’s remarkable that Stick Men even exists. Drummer extraordinaire Pat Mastelotto has been on every King Crimson album and tour since 1994. Bassist/Chapman stick player Tony Levin is one of the world’s most recorded musicians, having played on considerably more than

Album Review: The Chemistry Set — Pink Felt Trip

For some, the idea of making (much less listening to) psychedelic music inn the 21st century seems anachronistic. I don’t share that sentiment; even without the use of psychedelic drugs, the music continues to entertain me. And a current-day act calling itself The Chemistry Set has just released Pink Felt Trip, a raging slab of

Album Review: Terry Carolan — Flights of Fancy

The music of Terry Carolan first came to my attention nearly a decade ago when I encountered a CD reissue of a 1980 self-titled album by his band True Hearts. Some four years later I heard his album Circus of Mirth, credited to Heirs of Fortune. Quite different from that ‘80s music, it was somehow

Book Review: Wicked Game

San Francisco and the Bay Area have long been fertile creative ground. Even confining the discussion to music, there’s been a staggering volume of important music coming out of the Bay Area: jazz, psychedelia, folk rock, punk, metal, new wave…on and on. Among the long list of luminaries, the name Chris Isaak deserves mention. His

Album Review: Jimi Tenor — Multiversum

It’s a delight to stumble upon music that resolutely resists categorization. That’s the case with Multiversum, the latest album form Finnish musician Jimi Tenor. His chosen instrumental palette suggests jazz, but the music draws from trip-hop, electronica, baroque pop and other disparate inspirations. One moment the music seems to bear the influence of Burt Bacharach;