Music

Stay Gold

By First Aid Kit
5
Rated by Diana S.
Apr 9, 2020

The third album released by the Swedish sister duo Johanna Söderberg and Klara Söderberg, but by popular opinion their most powerful.  These sisters are 4 time recipients of the Swedish Grammis awards - similar to our American Grammy's.  This album is an indie rock and folk music combo breath of fresh air that can easily and should be played from start to finish.  In the last few years they have been making their presence known globally and have been featured on many well known TV shows in North America.  Give it a try, great for a long drive or working around the house.
 

Jul 17, 2019

There is a lot of music in the world. But have you ever thought about the music that is set in space? Here are a few space concept albums that fit perfectly into our summer reading theme, A Universe of Stories.


Arctic Monkeys, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino


This space-inspired concept album features the Arctic Monkeys as the lounge band on the moon. It blew my mind to realize they are playing the Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino as the lounge band. Give this one a few listens to appreciate the nuance and lyrics. I especially enjoy the thought of putting a taqueria on the roof and

Dec 19, 2018

Do you ever want to match the tone of a novel to music? I do! Here's some of my favorite music and author combinations matched up for your listening and reading pleasure. Enjoy!


Radiohead and George Orwell 


Stylistically unique, dystopian, paranoid, deep, fascinating, groundbreaking in sound and genre, political, and futuristic are hallmarks of both Radiohead and George Orwell. The reflection of culture makes these works timeless. These British legends pair perfectly together.


Radiohead, Kid A


George Orwell, Animal Farm


 


The Beatles and Harry Potter 


As you're

Hitch

By The Joy Formidable
4
Rated by Dylan R
Jan 5, 2018

The third major release from Wales' The Joy Formidable, Hitch offers many of hallmarks of their alt-rock sound: Impeccable dynamics (those familiar with their body of work know they may start softly often, but boy do they like to get loud!), arrangements and chord progressions which are creative without becoming distracting, and an absolutely epic, multi-layered recording.


The record also brings some pleasant surprises; chiefly among them is an increased level of clarity in Ritzy's vocals at just the right point on certain songs. While the band certainly slips back into familiar "Wait, what

Interiors (Music CD)

By Quicksand
4
Rated by Dylan R
Dec 17, 2017

Interiors is Quicksand's third full-length studio release, and their first since 1995's superb Manic Compression. The post-hardcore legends from New York City come out swinging with this wide-ranging, 12-track effort, which will no doubt sound both familiar and foreign to long-time listeners. From the land of the recognizable, fans will no doubt be happily reunited with the clipped, staccato delivery of singer/guitarist Walter Schriefels' signature vocals. Interiors also features many of the pieces which make up Quicksand's traditional sonic-scape: Unconventional, hard-but-not-precisely-heavy

Sep 5, 2017

This is the greatest album released in my lifetime. OK Computer changed the sound, quality, and art of music. Radiohead’s work spreads beyond alternative rock to inspire a new generation of musicians in multiple genres. As a critically acclaimed and culturally beloved piece of art, OK Computer’s rerelease is necessary to celebrate this intensely great album. OK Computer is so perfect the Library of Congress archived it as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” to the musical canon in 2014.


This is one of many masterpieces created by Radiohead. Beautiful and perfection are

Jun 12, 2017

Let's get all the obvious jokes out of the way first. It's not just one song over and over. It's not just Sonny and Cher's "I Got You, Babe" on repeat. It's the original Broadway cast recording of Groundhog Day: The Musical, and I love it. Most people probably know the premise of Groundhog Day from the film upon which the musical is based--Phil the arrogant weatherman is stuck in Punxsutawney, PA, covering the festivities of Groundhog Day again and again. As with any musical, the songs don't just tell the story, they let us know what the characters are thinking and feeling at any given time

Oct 31, 2016

Considered by some to be the Count's last great masterpiece, Basie and his orchestra's The Atomic Mr. Basie blasts big band swing at its edgy and exciting best, still filling the space that would soon become the domain of rhythm and blues and later rock and roll. Popular, fashionable, mainstream jazz would eventually evolve away from big swing bands, using small combos to further the bebop revolution and refine the cool movement. In many situations, jazz became a sit-down affair, one to be digested with the keenest of detached intellectual and musical acumen. In this set, the Count

Sep 23, 2016

Did Van Morrison ever improve on the series of concerts he performed in 1973, the same shows represented in this new set? He may have but It’s Too Late to Stop Now in all its various editions raises the bar exceptionally high. This is new collection, taken from shows first released as a double album in 1974, includes three discs of additional music from the 1973 tour as well as an extraordinary (and short) DVD of concert footage.


Seeing Morrison on stage during what many consider to be the peak of his powers as a songwriter and performer is a lesson on how to command an audience. Rarely

Head Carrier

By Pixies
4
Rated by Bryan V.
Sep 23, 2016

Let’s talk expectations. When it comes to the much-loved and influential band Pixies, expectations for the second album since their 2004 reunion are all over the map. Inevitable comparisons to material recorded and released in the late 80s and early 90s add baggage that may be fun to talk about but can also get in the way of listening with clear ears. Such is the case with Head Carrier, an album doomed from the beginning to suffer under the weight of both heightened and lowered expectations, especially since Pixies’s 2013 Indie Cindy proved so mediocre and slick.


While not a perfect album,

Aug 23, 2016

Who are your musical influences? This is a question asked of musicians, obviously, but what about the ordinary music listener? Why do you listen (or not listen) to certain artists and genres? More than just filling the time during the commute home, listening to John Fogerty’s Wrote a Song for Everyone made me reflect on my own musical influences and why this album is a good illustration of them.


I am familiar with the works of John Fogerty and Bob Seger thanks to my dad. We didn’t listen to much music in the house, but when we were in the car, it was rock and classic rock. The more guitar

Aug 22, 2016

Pres hooks up with the Maharaja. According to legend, Young's powers faded after a traumatic stint in the army during World War II. And yes, the opening four numbers seem to corroborate this story. Peterson's quartet (the title was a mistake in its first printing and has thus never been fixed) cooks, jives, swings, pushes and otherwise sizzles behind Lester. Barney Kessel in particular throws out some some super hot licks and Peterson does his usual genius turn at every opportunity. 


Young's playing becomes prominent as the combo shifts away from high-octane numbers to slower tunes. There

Jul 14, 2016

Five stars? Excellent? Necessary? This album is far beyond all those things and more:


It is the frenetic yawp of youth. It is unfettered joy, it is class rage, it is delinquent delicacy.


It is misspent summer nights, windows rolled down, distant threat of responsibility kept in check.


It is broken bottles and stolen cigarettes.


It is sweat-soaked sacrosanct abandon, the saliva-drenched howling of the disavowed.


It is the disjunct, shattering simultaneity of high-art mind and low-brow boogie woogie.


It is the unity of its membership, bound by furious rhythm and atomic volume.

Dec 19, 2015

Soak is 18 year-old Birdie Monds-Watson, an Irish singer-songwriter who sounds at once wise beyond her years and refreshingly unfamiliar. Before We Forgot How to Dream would be an astonishing debut for any artist, let alone a teenager, let alone a teenager who, according to the liner notes, had been working on these songs for four years prior to recording the album.


Before We Forgot How to Dream is filled with mysterious and uplifting dream-pop songs that can conjure everything from mid-80s 4AD atmospherics to Laura Marling-esque chamber folk to Camera Obscura. Through it all, Soak’s is an

Dec 12, 2015

The how of whatever "spooky action at a distance" a particular song or sound performs on our hearts and minds ranks up there, along with dark matter and love-at-first-sight, as one of the most confounding mysteries in the human experience. A perfect example of this sublime magic is The Verve label's release of recordings led by alto saxophonist Benny Carter, Benny Carter: 3, 4, 5 the Verve Small Group Sessions. As the title suggests, the sessions are played on the CD in the consecutive order of a trio, quartet, and finally a quintet. Yet all three combos find a grand unified theory in the

Hamilton

By Lin-Manuel Miranda
5
Rated by Rachel C.
Nov 5, 2015

I recently found myself saying something I never would have thought I might say: "I'm so in love with George Washington right now."


The reason for such a strange statement?  Hamilton.  It's an odd concept, a hip-hop musical about the guy on the ten dollar bill, most famous for having been killed in a duel with the current Vice President, based on the 800+ page biography by Ron Chernow.  And it's magnificent.  Lin-Manuel Miranda earned his MacArthur Genius Grant with this work.


There are a number of reasons that this is a perfect storm of a musical. Narratively, it's a story with

Nov 1, 2015

 It's a safe bet that I'll kick off every jazz review I write with some statement concerning the dense, cerebral nature of the idiom and its unique and demanding nature. The predictable, metronomic feel of pop (or even most rock, for that matter) makes for an easier, less obtrusive listen. And yet Mehldau and company's 're-telling' ('cover' sounds too simple for the trio's imaginative reinvention) of English rock band Radiohead's "Exit Music (for a Film)" closes out their album, Art of the Trio 4: Back At The Vanguard and is one of many highlights. Seriously: Jazz+Radiohead? It's like peanut

Stay Gold

By First Aid Kit
4
Rated by Amanda H.
Aug 1, 2015

What is it about Swedish pop music? It’s incredibly catchy and top-notch, from the disco harmonies of ABBA to First Aid Kit’s country melodies on Stay Gold.


For listeners who love the folk side of country music, First Aid Kit plays simple melodies with an authentic backwoods sound. You would never guess the two sisters, Klara and Johanna Söderberg, are Swedish just from hearing them sing; their English is excellent and their understanding of the Americana musical tradition is deep.


Almost all the tracks are break-up songs, but the album isn’t depressing; rather, there is a such a feeling

Only In Dreams

By Dum Dum Girls
3
Rated by Scott S.
Jul 19, 2015

One might think that an album whose title references songs by alt-rockers Weezer and rock-‘n'- roll troubadour Roy Orbison might play like a confused mish-mash of ironic lyrics, hipster-disposition delivery, and metronomic performances. Thankfully, that is not the case. While doling out healthy portions of psychedelic reverb, warbly guitars, and biting vocal takes on Only In Dreams, The Dum Dum Girls (mostly) transcend their seeming influences to concoct a hypnotizing brew of raucous ravers and the odd gauzy gazer. Most of the songs necessarily deal with the nature of relationships: love, lust

Has Been

By William Shatner
5
Rated by Brian B.
Feb 5, 2015

This album is a fantastic treat, the true definition of a "hidden gem." I'm not entirely sure why I first purchased this album on its release. Maybe because I was so into Ben Folds at the time and this album is produced by Folds. I had heard William Shatner's previous attempts at "singing" so I was not expecting much besides something to laugh at and listen to every once in awhile. However, Has Been became an album that I have listened to regularly for the last decade. Folds did a wonderful job pulling great emotion from Shatner and focusing more on a spoken-word vibe for the album instead of

The Voyager

By Jenny Lewis
4
Rated by Heather B.
Jan 27, 2015

Despite its appearance on more than one best of 2014 list, you could be forgiven for thinking Jenny Lewis' new album, The Voyager, came straight out of the 1970s; just take one listen to "She's Not Me" and you'll be breaking out your bell-bottoms and platform shoes and searching for the nearest disco. A significant proportion of the media coverage upon the album's release was taken up with name-dropping its celebrity producers (Ryan Adams and Beck) and video guest stars for the first single, "Just One of the Guys" (Anne Hathaway and Kristen Stewart). The album's true attractions for me

American Kid

By Patty Griffin
5
Rated by Sarah A.
Aug 12, 2014

American Kid is the 7th solo album of singer-songwriter Patty Griffin, and her first since 2007 that contains all original material.  She is strongly supported on the album by talented musicians Luther and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars and Robert Plant, of Led Zeppelin fame. But to me, the album is all about Patty – her vocals and her brilliant song writing. The first and last songs on the album were inspired by her father and his impending death in 2009. "Go Wherever You Wanna Go" is a sweet and whimsical look at the afterlife – “no paying bills, going to work or breaking a

Hanging Gardens

By Classixx
4
Rated by Scott S.
Jul 22, 2014

Let the hunt for the summer jams begin! From the first bubbly synth line, it's obvious that Classixx is all about fun. Which is a good thing as some dance music can take itself way to seriously and lose the whole point. Hanging Gardens is chock full of head-nodding, car-dancing, sun-bathing cuts that plays as the perfect summer soundtrack. Breezy, atmospheric and just the right bit of glitch are the perfect cocktail for a lazy day by the pool or just-loud enough for a dance party (usually right before or after things get out of control).


While there is a definite ambient feel to the album

The Bears for Lunch (CD)

By Guided by Voices
4
Rated by Bryan V.
Jun 28, 2014

Of the six and a half albums released since the resurrection of Guided By Voices in 2011, The Bears for Lunch is arguably the strongest (with 2014’s Cool Planet a close second). There is an energy and playfulness in a lot of these tunes that's lacking in the other albums. "Dome Rust" and "Finger Gang" are prime examples of the kind of oddball hookiness Robert Pollard, GBV’s lead songwriter, has mastered for decades. “Amorphous Surprise” continues in this giddy, surrealist vein. This is Pollard in an especially exuberant mood, throwing fragments of lyric and melody your way until something

MCII (CD)

By Mikal Cronin
4
Rated by Bryan V.
Jun 10, 2014

I don’t know much about Mikal Cronin. He has two albums out under his name, MCII and a self-titled debut that only hinted at the accomplishments found on here. He is obviously an acolyte of the kind of very melodic power pop music that doesn’t get a lot of attention. Does he reveal too much about himself in his music? Is it that he’d rather let his songs speak for themselves than have to provide a press-ready narrative? Who knows? What I know for sure is that MCII is a terrific set of songs that shows Cronin to be the kind of pop craftsman who doesn’t want the craft to get in the way of the

Parker Millsap

By Parker Millsap
5
Rated by Sarah A.
May 30, 2014

If you haven’t yet heard of Parker Millsap, and are a fan of folk music,  I'll bet that in the near future you will. I have pretty much been listening nonstop to this 21 year olds debut album, titled Parker Millsap.


It’s shelved under CD-Folk music, but it is also equal parts country and blues. His voice can sound rough, wild and raucous on some songs, (Truck Stop Gospel and Quite Contrary), and can also sound soft and soulful on others (The Villain). But it’s his lyrics that really impressed me, especially for someone so young and for a debut performance.  He has been nominated by the

Every Day

By Cinematic Orchestra
4
Rated by Scott S.
Jan 17, 2014

One part jazz, one part hip-hop, one part space jam, one part funk of the earth, Cinematic Orchestra’s Every Day is (at the very serious and dangerous risk of hyperbole and cliché) truly an album that defies convention and classification. For musicians, there are moments sublime and surreal harkening back to the funk/jazz cocktails of Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter featuring the superb vocals of Fontella Bass (particularly on the opening track, “All That You Give”). Hip-hop fans will discover slick beats reminiscent of the RZA, smooth breakdowns à la Dan the Automator, and a top-draw vocal

Underneath The Pine

By Toro Y Moi
3
Rated by Scott S.
Nov 25, 2013

I like to be challenged occasionally, but definitely not all of the time. The music I choose to enjoy (and by extension, most entertainment) carries an air of familiarity and comfortable context. Very rarely will I actively seek out the latest and greatest in a genre or medium that I’m not familiar with. And yet I’m always looking for really good night music for driving. It just seems to create that perfect soundtrack for the darkened interior of a car, lit only by little dots and dashes.


And it is in these ideals that Toro Y Moi’s Underneath The Pine mightily succeeds. Populated by spacey