Music Reviews

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posted: February 26, 2014

English Oceans

ATO LP, CD

In his excellent new book I’ll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom’s Highway, veteran critic Greg Kot discusses the harmonic blend of styles that distinguished the late 1960s/early 1970s era Muscle Shoals sound from every other locale in America. Read More


posted: September 25, 2010

Le Noise review Le Noise

WB 180g. LP, CD
Le Noise review

Neil Young’s unparalleled legacy is defined in part by surprising decisions and eclectic albums. The iconoclastic artist is one of the very few musicians that genuinely does what he wants when he wants, consequences and public reaction be damned. Such sudden and odd choices have proven both beneficial (2006’s institutionally scathing Living With War, 1982’s ahead-of-the-times Trans) and disastrous (2009’s hit-and-run Fork In the Road, all of his feature film projects). Read More


posted: January 30, 2012

Leonard Cohen Old Ideas

Columbia LP and CD
Leonard Cohen

The title of Leonard Cohen’s latest album—his first since 2004′s Dear Heather—applies not to his advanced age (the singer turned 77 in September) but to the musings on human frailty, religion, sexuality, and mortality that have defined his work since he gave up poetry for a music career when he was still in his 30s. Read More


posted: November 22, 2011

Los Campesinos Hello Sadness

Arts & Crafts LP, CD
Los Campesinos

Gareth Campesinos!, frontman for the sprawling Welsh collective whose members, like those of the Ramones, all share a last name even if they don’t share familial blood, has always been infatuated with the way the human form reveals emotional wounds accrued through the years. “I cannot emphasize enough that my body is a badly designed poorly put together vessel harboring these diminishing so-called vital organs,” he sang on the title track to 2008′s We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed. Read More


posted: November 1, 2011

Lou Reed and Metallica

Early on in this ill-advised yet much-hyped collaboration, Lou Reed offers up what must have been the overriding mindset during the recording sessions that spawned this miserable album: “There is no time for guilt or second guessing.”

It’s clear from listening to this project, which finds former thrash masters Metallica serving up an array of turgid, by-the-numbers riffs while Reed recites lyrics that read like the rejected Penthouse Forum letters of a creepy sociopath, that no one involved gave pause to consider what exactly it was they were trying to accomplish. Read More


posted: March 18, 2013

Low The Invisible Way

Sub Pop LP, CD
Low

There’s mood music, and then there’s whatever it is Low is currently doing.

Now on its tenth album, the Duluth, Minn., trio remains perhaps the only band around about which its fans could plausibly worry that the act’s songs could disappear into nothingness. Not, of course, that the collective would call quits—but simply that Low’s grace with mining the quiet and perfecting the art of patience could lead Low down a path where its songs are barely a murmur. Read More


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