Monday, December 27, 2010

Black River, "Black 'n Roll"

Black River
Black 'n Roll

Polish supergroup Black River might call themselves death metal, but there's a definite punk edge to their music that makes them catchy enough to head-bang along with them, and which ultimately makes their album, Black n' Roll, a great listen.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

IAM Artists, "Its About Christmas, Volume II"

IAM Artists
It's About Christmas, Volume II

Everyone has their favorite Christmas album and song, which makes putting out a new album of holiday music difficult – you certainly won't please everyone.It's About Christmas, Volume II will come close, however.

Shawna Virago, "Objectified"

Shawna Virago
Objectified

I guess the reason Shawna Virago wants to be Objectified so badly is because she was born a man and had transgender surgery in the 1990's. She now sees herself as an activist of some sort, and I suppose her album is supposed to be really striking or shocking.

Radio Drive, "Life Today"

Radio Drive
Life Today

There's no denying that an album is successful when almost every song makes you literally dance ridiculously around your house. Life Today, the newest release by Radio Drive, made me do just that, while clearly reaching me with its message to enjoy life.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gina Holsopple, "From The Earth"

Gina Holsopple
From The Earth

Anyone who really listens to Bob Dylan will admit that about half of his albums are absolutely terrible – not because the material is bad, but because it just doesn't fit Dylan, and when he tries too hard, it's disastrous. That's how I feel about From The Earth, the newest release by fellow folk-ster Gina Holsopple; she could be really great, just not with this material.

Joe Cassady And The West End Sound, "The Chymical Vegas Wedding"

Joe Cassady and the West End Sound
The Chymical Vegas Wedding

There is a quality that folk artists must have to be believable that have made legends of Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead; it's a nameless something somewhere between having enough wisdom to lecture an audience and having just enough cool to not sound full of your own intelligence. Joe Cassady's The Chymical Vegas Wedding is leaking with this poetic quality, as well as a brilliant musical background.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Eight Feet Deep, "Eight Feet Deep"

Eight Feet Deep
Eight Feet Deep

I'm not a huge Led Zeppelin fan, but I didn't need to read Eight Feet Deep's bio to know that they are, probably because they sound like a cover band that made up their own lyrics.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Darrell Katz & The Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, "A Wallflower In The Amazon"

Darrell Katz & The Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra
A Wallflower In The Amazon

If you know anything at all about jazz, (enough that the name Duke Ellington means anything to you), and you enjoy what you do know, then you'll enjoy A Wallflower in the Sun, the newest release from Darrell Katz and the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra. If you don't, it won't impress you enough to change your mind.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Klezwoods, "Oy Yeah!"

Klezwoods
Oy Yeah!

There's something about the cover art of Klezwood's Oy Yeah! that speaks volumes about the music. Most jazz albums have a dark image on the front of one person playing a piano or saxophone, and they're almost never inviting. But here we have a circus-like group parading with instruments, and on the inside cover, a ferris wheel.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Peter Jennison, "Longing For Home (Songs From War)"

Peter Jennison
Longing For Home (Songs From War)

It would be easy for an Iraqi War veteran to be bitter, and it would be expected for a musician trapped in the war to make an angry album full of explosive opinions on politics. But on Longing For Home (Songs From War), Peter Jennison goes the opposite direction; he doesn't state a side or stand on a soap box. Instead, he delivers heart-breaking melodies about his time in the war that make it clear that no matter what his brain was thinking in Iraq, his heart was still feeling.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Abyssal Creatures, "Abyssal Creatures"

Abyssal Creatures
Abyssal Creatures

After listening to Ian Fellerman's Abyssal Creatures, the newest album by his solo project with the same name, I was literally dumbfounded. It's pretty clear to me that the only abyssal thing here is Fellerman.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shota Osabe and Margie Barker, "A Bit of Jazz and More...:

Shota Osabe and Margie Barker
A Bit Of Jazz And More...

An unlikely jazz duo, Margie Barker and Shota Osabe, have been making music together live for years, and they bring their chemistry and fluidity to life on their first studio release together, A Bit of Jazz And More...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Christopher Boscole, "Inner Voyages"

Christopher Boscole
Inner Voyages

I recently finished reading all of the Harry Potter books in order, and afterward, I picked up the next book in my pile of things to read, which happened to be a silly chick book my mom sent me. And while there's nothing wrong with it, and it's not poorly written, I'm having a hard time making myself stick with it because I'm so used to the excitement of the well-written books I've been reading.

That's how I feel about Christopher Boscole's Inner Voyages. There's not really anything particularly wrong with the album of piano solos, but there's not really anything right with it, either. It's just kind of there – an ode to mediocrity, and after years of searching for good music, it was hard to make myself listen to the entire album.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kle, K-L-E

Kle
K-L-E

About half-way through the first song on K-L-E, I had to stop and think about what makes a good R&B album. Because while some of the lyrics on K-L-E are absolutely ridiculous, no one ever said they were supposed to be anything else. R&B is entertainment in its most instantly gratifying way – there's nothing serious about it, and a good beat can make a good song great.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Aoeria, "Waterwheel"

Aoeria
Waterwheel

There are a lot of genres of music that rose to popularity in the 1990s; nearly everyone can reminisce, whether they were fans of boy bands, alternative Train-esque bands, nerd rock, or “hard rock”, which is what Aoeria calls itself. If you spent the '90s in Tool t-shirts and combat boots, you'll probably likeWaterwheel.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lisa Brigantino, "Wonder Wheel"

Lisa Brigantino
Wonder Wheel

It's hard to place Lisa Brigantino in a genre. Maybe it's her rock background (she used to play in an all female Zeppelin cover band), or her phenomenal talent to play an array of instruments ranging from guitar to accordion, or her full, twangy voice, but something about this mixture is too unique to stuff in one genre.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tribal Machine, "The Orwellian Night"

Tribal Machine
The Orwellian Night

Chances are, if you were born past 1980 and you hear the words “concept album”, your mind automatically jumps to Green Day and their most recent two albums. However, they're not the only band making such albums today (and they were hardly the first), and other than a political theme, Tribal Machine shares nothing in common with the California pop-punk-sters, so before you listen to The Orwellian Night, get that thought out of your head.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Willie Nelson, "Setlist: Best Of Willie Nelson Live"

Willie Nelson
Setlist: Best of Willie Nelson Live

What can you really say about an American legend who still makes worthwhile music? Plenty of Willie Nelson's musical brothers are churning out poor albums and starring in Victoria's Secret commercials, but Nelson continues to make good music, and even a greatest hits CD is worth your money.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Percy Howard's Meridiem, "A Pleasant Fiction"

Percy Howard's Meridiem
A Pleasant Fiction

Before I look at any information about an artist or the album I'm reviewing, I listen to the entire thing first. I did this with A Pleasant Fiction, the 2004 release from Percy Howard, and then I looked him up on his website and on Google expecting to find people like me who didn't quite understand or particularly enjoy the album. Instead, I was greeted by rave review after rave review.

Heathen, "The Evolution of Chaos"

Heathen
The Evolution of Chaos

If you're not a metal fan, then you probably haven't heard of Heathen, but you probably have heard music just like their newest album The Evolution of Chaos.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Downchild, "I Need A Hat"

Downchild
I Need A Hat

Downchild's current lineup has been together for over 15 years, and I Need A Hat shows their experience and talent. Don Walsh leads the group, followed by Chuck Jackson, Pat Carey, Michael Fonfara, Gary Kendall, and Mike Fitzpatrick, with others scattered in on random instruments.

Bill Price, "With The Eye Of A Skeptic And A Few Other Likely Stories"

Bill Price
With the Eye of a Skeptic and a Few Other Likely Stories

You might be skeptical about Bill Price before you hear his music, but With the Eye of a Skeptic and a Few Other Likely Stories will leave you sure about his talent, not only with music but with songwriting, timing, and vocals.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Goodbye Radio, "The Year We Didn't Have"

The Goodbye Radio
The Year We Didn't Have

Every now and then, in a pile of indie albums full of irony and sarcasm, you find one band that screams sincerity. That's exactly what The Goodbye Radio's newest release, The Year We Didn't Have, does, and the summery, almost dreamy songs do the opposite of what most indie music does these days – they leave you smiling.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sandro Dominelli, "The Alvo Sessions"

Sandro Dominelli
The Alvo Sessions

I watched a PBS special once about child musicians and one of the kids involved was a ten year old from the Bronx who played drums. He was talking to the camera about why he loved the drums so much, and he mentioned the noise of the city and how easily it turned into a beat. I remember thinking that though this thought is a teeny bit cliché, it was refreshing to hear someone that young talk about it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Evan Spade, "Evan Spade"

Evan Spade
Evan Spade

“I'm hypersensitive, a wallflower,” Evan Spade sings on “Joyride”, the second track on his eponymous first album. Unfortunately, while being a wallflower is about the hip-est thing to be these days, Spade should have just stayed in the background.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Julien Kasper Band, "Trance Groove"

The Julien Kasper Band
Trance Groove

When I was a college freshman, I was introduced to a friend of a friend's band and told that the guitarist was one of the best in the city. I watched the band play, confused, as I had, at the time, only heard my brother, a classic rock enthusiast, talk about guitar playing extensively, and this was not my brother's scene. The band was playing music far from the rock solos I'd heard my brother rave about for the previous five years. The guitarist that day was playing what I like to call groove rock, and that's exactly what The Julien Kasper Band makes.

Devon Sproule, "Don't Hurry For Heaven!"

Devon Sproule
Don't Hurry For Heaven!

Even Jenny Lewis isn't this Jenny Lewis. You'll turn on Don't Hurry For Heaven!, the newest release from Devon Sproule, and you'll swear it's an old Rilo Kiley demo, re-released in a flowery new package.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Reasoning, "Dark Angel"

The Reasoning
Dark Angel

The problem with The Reasoning is that there's no real reason for them to be as unremarkable as they are. Everyone in the band is obviously talented, but they just don't leave an impression.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Luther Allison, "Songs From The Road"

Luther Allison
Songs From The Road

Luther Allison died four days after playing the concert that is Songs From The Road. I guess he's gone a little Tupac since then, since this is his fifth or sixth release since his death in 1997, but it could easily be called the most appreciated posthumous album release in music history.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

White Apple Tree, "Velvet Mustache"

White Apple Tree
Velvet Mustache

White Apple Tree is the kind of music that you know has a gimmick (it's about as realistically unique as Juno), but it's so catchy; you can't help liking it anyway.

Mitch Burger, "Reactive"

Mitch Burger
Reactive

I was sitting on my porch when I turned on Reactive, the debut album from Mitch Burger. And from the first note of the first song, I continuously looked around me, hoping none of my neighbors could see (or hear, I guess), me listening to what might be the only embarrassing album I've ever listened to in public. I'd rather be caught singing along to Mika.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Steve Palmer Band, "Apparition"

Steve Palmer Band
Apparition

At some point while listening to the Steve Palmer's Band's debut album, Apparition, you'll think you're listening to all the classics – Skynyrd, Springsteen, Dylan, and Tom Petty will all come to mind, if not more.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Brian Lindsay, "Esperanza"

Brian Lindsay
Esperanza

I 'm not entirely sure why Brian Lindsay's sophomore album is supposed to be the epitome of Americana but has the Spanish name Esperanza. Lindsay isn't the first artist to name an album this, but most of the others who have had at least a touch of Spanish in their heritage and music.

Chris Cagle, "Best of Chris Cagle"

Chris Cagle
Best Of Chris Cagle

I always feel kind of squirmy when a label announces that they're going to release a greatest hits album. I can't help but imagine the artist standing behind a business man at a press conference, rolling their eyes and sighing. It always feels like a shove out the door (Hilary Duff?) or a quick way to make money for an artist that's not as successful as the label hoped (Hilary Duff's second greatest hits album?).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bill Wren, "One Day In A Life"

Bill Wren
One Day In A Life

Bill Wren calls himself a songbird from Texas – and that's exactly what he is. It's not clear if his name is just that ironic, or if he changed it somewhere down the line, but for novelty's sake, let's assume it's the irony.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Mannish Boys, "Shake For Me"

The Mannish Boys
Shake For Me

The Mannish Boys are less of a band and more of a royal jam session. Every big name around today in blues is (or has been) involved with the band, and their latest release, Shake For Me, shows their combined talents off even more impressively than their previous four albums together.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kirk Fletcher, "My Turn"

Kirk Fletcher
My Turn

It certainly is Kirk Fletcher's turn. On his third solo album, the guitarist is stepping into the spotlight after touring and guest starring for years. And he handles the spotlight with technical and vocal skill that makes you sure he's ready for it.

Stephen Soul, "Wingless Not Hopeless"

Stephen Soul
Wingless Not Hopeless

At some point in your college or high school career, you probably went to a house party where an artist like Stephen Soul was set up in the corner, playing music and selling CDs. You probably didn't like it then, and you probably won't like it now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kirsten DeHaan, "Thorns On A Crown"

Kirsten DeHaan
Thorns On A Crown

I wasn't impressed with Kirsten DeHaan's Thorns on a Crown after the first few songs, but the more I listened to it, the more I liked it. The problem with that is that the five song album is hailed as containing five different genres of music. But you can't please everyone, and DeHaan should stick to the genres she plays well.

Poostosh, "Herbarium"

Poostosh
Herbarium

Poostosh's Herbarium is the kind of album you need to listen to while watching the visualizer available on whatever media player you're using. (What our parents did with records and cassettes, without visualizers to stare at, I have no idea.)