Album Review: Michael Mazzarella – Songwriter

I’ve noticed an interesting mini-trend of late: high-quality but relatively obscure (commercially speaking) recording artists are putting together and releasing multiple-disc sets. These are taking the form of Odds and Sods-style compilations, bringing together alternate takes, demos, unreleased tracks, covers, collaborations, live versions and whatnot. Karl Wallinger is readying release of his own World Party

Album Review: The Grip Weeds – Under the Influence of Christmas

I suspect I’m not alone in my thinking that holiday-themed albums are often greeted with some trepidation. Oftentimes saccharine sentimentality trumps all, and the results are mawkish, half-baked or otherwise ill-advised. For every “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” there are three like “Wonderful Christmastime.” The occasional inspired concept album comes along: witness The Husky Team‘s

A Conversation with The Grip Weeds’ Kurt Reil

Though they prefer to think of themselves as creators of a classic-style rock’n’roll, to most ears, The Grip Weeds are carriers of a powerpop tradition. And while that alone should be enough to bring them fame, the sheer quality of their music should earn them fortune. As it is, while they maintain a successful career,

Album Review: Various – Through a Faraway Window – A Tribute to Jimmy Silva

Tribute albums are a curious beast, the sort of enterprise that can conjure up the cynical suspicion of reviewers. Oftentimes tribute compilations are populated by hipsters or au courant acts, and the subject of said tribute is an artist who’s back on the radar screen for one or another reason. In short, more often than

Holiday Music: Christmas in Memphis

Way back in ancient history (well, late 2002) a bunch of friends and musicians dubbed themselves Husky Team and got together for a quick, one-off project: recording a bunch of holiday classics with a twist. What they did and who they are make this a worthwhile departure from the normal let-it-snow Christmas collections that come

Interview: Dennis Diken – Ear Candy That Matters

“Ear candy that matters.” That’s one of the succinct labels drummer/vocalist Dennis Diken uses to describe the songs on his album Late Music (Cryptovision). The Smithereens drummer stepped out for a solo project in 2009, and Late Music is the audio result of a project that has (in some ways) spanned more than 30 years

Album Review: Julian Lennon – Help Yourself

NOTE: In 2009 Noble Rot reissued three of Julian Lennon‘s albums. They didn’t reissue the Valotte debut, nor did the put out a new release of Photograph Smile, Julian’s 1999 album (and arguably the finest work he’s produced). Instead, this new label — in keeping with its reputation for unearthing underappreciated albums from the 80s

Concert Review: Charlotte Pop Fest, Day 3

After the semi-disaster of Night #2 (I had missed Night #1 altogether) of the 2009 Charlotte Pop Fest, I was left wondering how things would go. Event impresario James Deem had come out onstage part-way through the Friday set to announce to the crowd (well, not a crowd; more like a gathering) that due to

Preview of Upcoming Posts

There’s quite a lot in the hopper right now; here’s a brief summary of items I’m working on. This is NOT a complete list… Interviews and Features: Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. Done, and hopefully to be published this week. But I always say that. Day 3 of the Charlotte Pop Fest Alice Cooper‘s concert

Album Review: Jim Duffy – Mood Lit

Pop-jazz. Jazz-pop. The labels are mere shorthand for a sort of music that’s tough to describe. The terms can often be applied in a pejorative sense, used to describe (and dismiss) disposable music. But that’s not at all what we have here. Mood Lit, the second album from Brooklyn pianist Jim Duffy, is a delight