Originally published on Sun November 16, 2014 8:59 pm
Damien Rice's creative ambition has always outstripped his personal ambition: The Irish singer-songwriter's 2002 debut O yielded many lavish orchestral flourishes, and even a foray into opera near the end, but Rice himself always seemed a reluctant star. After 2006's 9, he quietly retreated from the public eye and relocated to Iceland, barely popping up publicly since, so the arrival of these eight new songs comes as a welcome and periodically thrilling surprise.
Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 10:36 am
It's rare that a record lays out a mission statement as efficiently as the new supergroup Thompson does in the first 60 seconds of "Family." Here's Teddy Thompson, singing about the perils of being surrounded by his particular relatives:
My father is one of the greats to ever step on a stage
My mother has the most beautiful voice in the world
Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 10:34 am
For a record about journeying deep inside the darkest recesses of the mind, there's nothing introverted about the Cleveland duo Mr. Gnome's new album, The Heart Of A Dark Star. Named for an evocative phrase in a Neil Gaiman book, The Heart Of A Dark Star is a bold and blustery hurricane of guitars, organs and voices, all swirling around in the night air.
Originally published on Wed November 19, 2014 10:33 am
Bryan Ferry rolls back the years with Avonmore, an album with eight original songs that recall his classic mid-'70s albums with Roxy Music, as well as two covers that are by themselves worth the price of admission.
Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 9:28 am
This is not Dueling Banjos: The Married Couple Edition. You won't find the careening energy of the mano-a-mano from the Deliverance soundtrack, or of the Flatt and Scruggs classic "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." Outbreaks of dazzling, speed-demon technique are few.
Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 10:38 am
Vermont native King Tuff, a.k.a. Kyle Thomas, has been prowling the corners of the D.I.Y. scene for years, both in this solo guise and as a member of several vastly different acts: the freak-folk outfit Feathers, the wunderkind pop band Happy Birthday, the doom-metal burner Witch. But until Black Moon Spell, he hadn't really pushed his persona so far in a single direction. On his third full-length album, Thomas re-brands himself as some sort of demonic teenager, out for kicks, laughs, and maybe a little mailbox baseball, as opposed to bloodshed and the apocalypse.
Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 10:39 am
A clue about the scruffy aesthetic of Sukierae arrives at the 2:27 mark of "World Away," one of 20 (!) songs on the first family-band album from Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. Until this point, the tune — a variation on the Bo Diddley beat strummed on acoustic guitar, with Tweedy's sleepy voice distantly implying a blues cadence — has been fairly straightforward.
Originally published on Wed September 24, 2014 10:41 am
Leonard Cohen is not a man for manifestos. Peripatetic bohemian, Montreal native, Zen meditator, diaspora Jew: Rock's almost-octogenarian philosopher emeritus inhabits identities that are multiple, contested, and resistant to orthodoxy. He is, however, willing to lay some things on the line. "I'm slowing down the tune, I never liked it fast," he intones over a burlesque blues line in the first track on his 13th studio album, Popular Problems. "You want to get there soon; I want to get there last."
Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 9:31 am
Lydia Loveless released her third album, Somewhere Else, early this year. The 23-year-old released her first album when she was 19, though it was filled with songs she'd written early in her teenage years. By any measure, that's a lot of music in a short amount of time.
Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 10:28 am
The word "charisma" is often used to imply a certain kind of attention-grabbing showiness, or even neediness. But it can also suggest subtle ease; a simple gravitational pull that draws people in by making them feel comfortable and at home.
Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 10:29 am
Whether you know its work or just its reputation, you've probably already made up your mind about Phish. Maybe you love the band and its music, maybe you can't stand them, or maybe you liked them and have since moved on to other things. Phish is one of the most dynamic and celebrated live acts in all of music, with a loyal community any artist would envy, but it's also divisive. This is a band that inspires passion with its multipart compositions, meandering improvisations, playful (often nonsensical) lyrics and unwavering positivity.