Music Reviews

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posted: July 19, 2017

William Parker

Whenever I see William Parker in action, I’m reminded of the first time I watched him play, at New York’s Sweet Basil as part of Cecil Taylor’s band in the early 80s. Thirty-five years later, he’s an icon of the NYC experimental-improv scene and a reliably physical jazz bassist who can make a fierce thump come from his instrument whenever need be. Read More


posted: July 14, 2017

Dasher Sodium

Jagjaguwar, LP or CD
Dasher

Dasher leader Kylee Kimbrough said in a recent interview that one of her favorite things about her time spent living in Bloomington, Indiana, relates to the fact that most of the houses in the city have basements. The Atlanta native’s love of the subterranean should be relatively apparent after one spends a few moments with Sodium, the debut from her all-loud, all-the-time punk outfit. Read More


posted: July 11, 2017

Nicole Mitchell

Composer and flute virtuoso Nicole Mitchell now teaches in Southern California, but her music remains rooted in Chicago, where she recorded Mandorla Awakening II with hometown colleagues. As a former president of the city’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), she reserves the right to draw on any music that interests her, remaking it in her own image, as artists everywhere so often do. Read More


posted: July 6, 2017

Bedouine Bedouine

Spacebomb Records, LP or CD
Bedouine

Azniv Korkejian, who performs under the name Bedouine, has followed a nomadic path in both her life and music. A singer-songwriter of Armenian heritage, she was born in Aleppo, Syria, and raised in Saudi Arabia before relocating to the United States with her parents. Continuing her wandering ways, she spent time in Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Lexington, Austin, and Savannah. Read More


posted: July 3, 2017

Jim Lauderdale London Southern

Proper Records, CD
Jim Lauderdale

I first interviewed Jim Lauderdale 20 years ago. During the course of our conversation, we went to the Nashville music club the Station Inn. He was eager to catch a set by his dear pal and mentor, bluegrass icon Ralph Stanley. Lauderdale drove a nondescript late-model car—functional, but nothing fancy. Read More


posted: June 26, 2017

Fleet Foxes Crack-Up

Nonesuch, 2LP or CD
Fleet Foxes

“I am all that I need.” These are the words that greet the listener at the start of Fleet Foxes’ Crack-Up, the group’s first album in six years. It’s a phrase that immediately seems to shut out the eavesdropper, and you must strain to hear it. Singer/band architect Robin Pecknold appears buried in the shadows of some deep-toned, echo-filled acoustic guitar notes, sounding as if he doesn’t really want to be found. Read More


posted: June 24, 2017

Algiers The Underside of Power

Matador, 2LP or CD
Algiers

America, 1971. Soul singer Marvin Gaye released What’s Going On, the pop-music equivalent of a breaking news alert. Racism, poverty, war: Gaye brought a personal and groove-laden touch to monumental topics, creating a work that decades later still feels urgent. Two years prior, and seemingly a musical universe away, the MC5 issued what served as a rock n’ roll call to a revolution with Kick Out the Jams. Read More


posted: June 19, 2017

Steve Earle So You Wannabe An Outlaw

Warner Bros. Records, 2LP or CD
Steve Earle

Steve Earle is an esteemed musical veteran, but there was a time when the Texas troubadour was the new kid on the block. He first landed in Nashville in 1974 at the age of 19, just in time to see the outlaw movement break wide open with Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson leading the way. Earle’s new So You Wannabe An Outlaw serves a salute to the artists of that era—and the beloved firebrands who shaped Earle’s own aesthetic of raw country-rock rave-ups and wounded balladry. Read More


posted: June 14, 2017

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit The Nashville Sound

Southeastern Records, LP or CD
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Jason Isbell goes home on the remarkable The Nashville Sound. While the notion of place has always played a considerable role in the singer/guitarist’s music, the comfort, grounding, and direction it provides on his sixth studio album have never been greater. Economically concise and conversationally poetic, this a record on which Isbell lets us see the prairie grass shift in the breeze, hear the gentle rustling of wind, stare at the big sky overhead, smell the sweetness of ripening corn, and feel the settled dirt on the ground of the very spaces he holds dear. Read More


posted: June 9, 2017

Cuong Vu 4tet

Ballet, by trumpeter Cuong Vu’s 4tet with guitarist Bill Frisell, functions as sort of a double sequel. In 2015, Cuneiform released Michael Gibbs & The NDR Bigband Play a Bill Frisell Set List: Gibbs arrangements of tunes Frisell composed or played. This short set of Gibbs compositions returns the favor. Read More


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Recent Music Reviews