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: February 25, 2009

T Bone Burnett – Tooth of Crime

Tom Waits and T Bone Burnett, separated at birth?  Perhaps, but perhaps quite a bit more.  The record starts with the song, “Anything I Say Can and Will be Used Against You”, where Burnette sings “People tell me I look like hell, well I am hell” and you suddenly feel like this might be part of a collection of lost tracks from Tom Waits’ Mule Variations album. Read More


posted: June 1, 2009

Taking Back Sunday – New Again

If you’ve been watching any television at all lately, chances are good you’ve seen or at least heard Taking Back Sunday.  These guys seem to be making all the right moves; they’ve been on The Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel, Live!, provided a song for Degrassi: The Next Generation, have three of their songs ready for Rock Band and feature a classic car with the top down on their new album cover. Read More


posted: April 10, 2009

Talking Heads ’77 Talking Heads '77

Sire CD, Dual Disc, 180g. LP
Talking Heads ’77

For years I’ve considered Fear of Music to be Talking Heads masterpiece, but after trotting out their 1977 debut album a few months ago, I may have to reconsider. ’77 remains so fresh and vibrant after 32 years that I believe it could be released today and still be considered a vital, unique contribution to indie music. Read More


posted: February 13, 2009

Teddy Thompson – A Piece of What You Need

Oddly enough, this record sounds a lot more like Warren Zevon than Jordan Zevon’s record did. Teddy Thompson’s last record Up Front and Down Low had a lot more of a hard core country groove to it and this one has much more of a pop feel. Thompson said “I think this is my pop record, but I’m not really sure, because I’m not sure what that word means anymore. Read More


posted: November 22, 2011

The Black Keys El Camino

Nonesuch LP, CD
The Black Keys

The Black Keys might be the only recession-proof thing Akron, Ohio has produced in recent decades. Even as the former rubber capitol—at one point in its history home to four major tire companies—struggles to reinvent itself, the blues-rock duo has continued its rise virtually unabated.

Since The Big Come Up first surfaced back in 2002, the group’s music has practically become ubiquitous in popular culture, with songs appearing in an endless stream of films and television commercials—a development singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney joked about on an episode of “The Colbert Report,” engaging in a “sell-out-off” with Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig that ended in a humorous, Warriors-style brawl. Read More


posted: May 13, 2014

The Black Keys – Turn Blue Turn Blue

Nonesuch records LP or CD
The Black Keys – Turn Blue

Before the May 13, 2014 release of Turn Blue, the Black Keys’ eighth studio album, the Ohio-borne duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney released a tour itinerary. It was one befitting of one of the biggest rock bands in the country—a band that wins Grammy Awards and appears on gossip sites such as TMZ mocking Justin Bieber—and included stops at most of our nation’s famous basketball arenas. Read More


posted: April 14, 2011

The Complete Original Masters The Complete Original Masters: The Centennial Collection

Sony Legacy 4CD + 12 45rpm 10" LP + DVD Box Set or 2 CD
The Complete Original Masters

No figure in the history of music, not even Hank Williams or Keith Richards, is more mythologized than Robert Johnson. As the bluesman heralded for advancing the Mississippi Delta tradition via his haunting, microtonal timbre and inimitable guitar techniques that provide the illusion of several instruments being played at once, Johnson’s vengeance-fueled death from poisoning at the age of 27—along with the foreboding atmosphere and lyrics of his songs, mysterious burial circumstances, tenebrous presence in few existing photographs, poorly chronicled transient existence, and alleged deal to sell his soul to the devil at the crossroads—have made him the source of many of rock’s most often-told and revered fables. Read More


posted: February 25, 2009

The Dodos – Visiter

Visiter is The Dodos’ second recording since 2006 and their first proper release.  Comprised of Meric Long on vocals and strings with percussionist Logan Kroeber, who has a penchant for tribal rhythms, they offer up a sound somewhat like Vampire Weekend and perhaps even Graceland era Paul Simon. Read More


posted: July 5, 2009

The Jayhawks Latest

“What if You Made a Classic, and No One Cared?” The New York Times posed in its review of the Jayhawks’ 2000 album Smile. Rhetorical albeit telegraphic, the question could’ve just as easily applied to any of the four records the Minnesota-based band made between 1992 and 2000. Read More


posted: May 22, 2013

The latest from Daft Punk

On “Beyond,” a weightless number that arrives just past the midpoint of Daft Punk’s long-in-the-works new album, Random Access Memories, the French electronic duo lays out the blueprint for the perfect song.

“(It) speaks of places never seen/It holds a promise long forgotten,” the tandem sings, sounding something like sleep-deprived androids. Read More


posted: November 2, 2011

The Latest From Florence & the Machine

Florence Welch’s voice is an undeniable weapon. It brought concertgoers goers to a halt in 2010 at Southern California’s Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. Welch and her band, Florence & the Machine, were stationed at an outpost—a relatively small tent safely tucked away from the two outdoor mainstages. Read More


posted: March 10, 2009

The Latest From Jon Auer

Jon Auer has been trying to complete his first full-length solo album for the last five years. But he’d been in an unusually fertile period of his career, during which he released albums with his own band (The Posies) and a resurrection of a legendary one (Big Star). Auer was finally able to take a breath, face some major issues in his personal life, and complete this very personal and haunting collection of songs. Read More


posted: March 25, 2011

The Latest from Rhymin’ Simon is…

I know most white guys can’t jump and certainly, I can’t dance to save my life, but this white guy doesn’t have an ounce of soul. No one can produce completely soulless music like Paul Simon. Sure, in the sleeve to his new So Beautiful or So What, there’s the picture of a room with a trillion guitars in it, along with plenty of thanking the “right” people for inspiration. Read More


posted: May 6, 2013

The latest from She & Him Volume 3

Merge Records LP or CD
The latest from She & Him

One of the more unforgettable rock ‘n’ roll scenes in film comes during the 1980s sci-fi romance Back to the Future.

In the final act, Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly grabs a guitar at a 1955 high-school dance and anchors a capable rhythm & blues band through the scorcher “Johnny B. Read More


posted: February 25, 2009

The Luyas – Faker Death

In TONEAudio Magazine’s Issue 16, I interviewed Secret City Record’s Andrew Rose. He recommended a few local artists to check out as well as a fantastic little record store, called Phonopolis, right on Parc Avenue in Montreal’s Mile End district. Read More


posted: July 1, 2011

The Music Never Stopped

Bob Dylan hasn’t played conventional versions of his classic songs in more than two decades. Prince regularly takes license with his material onstage, weaving bold new colors, thrilling time signatures, and engaging breaks into pop standards. Elvis Costello rejects convention, constantly reworking older compositions by seeking out fresh details and unscripted devices that add to the ongoing sonic conversations and extend cultural dialogues. Read More


posted: April 28, 2009

The New York Dolls

“Tried to bum a cigarette/Nobody smokes no more” laments David Johansen on the ragged “Lonely So Long,” singing like a street-corner soul crooner down in a Brooklyn subway station. For the New York Dolls frontman, the line is telling: Yes, times have indeed changed since the influential band broke down stylistic borders back in the early 70s. Read More


posted: August 29, 2009

The newest from Beatallica

Whether you’re tired of arguing about the infinite possibilities of the new Beatles’ box sets or just need a change of pace, Beatallica’s Masterful Mystery Tour is just what the doctor ordered.

Masterfully done, MMT combines the riffs and melodies from your favorite Beatles and Metallica songs, hence the name. Read More


posted: February 25, 2009

The Parlor – Mob And You Were a Crow

Their website claims “You better latch onto these guys now before they take over the world, blah blah…”

While not quite as texturally complex as Led Zeppelin, or as gritty as early Black Crowes these guys are definitely on to something.  They certainly come across as a lot more genuine than Jet, that’s for sure. Read More


posted: March 10, 2014

The War on Drugs Lost in the Dream

Secretly Canadian 2 LP or CD
The War on Drugs

You could make worse wagers than betting that War on Drugs leader Adam Granduciel spent countless hours as a teenager in his room absorbing and memorizing every hi-fi attribute on aurally immersive albums like Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, and Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs. Read More


posted: July 15, 2015

The Word Soul Food

Vanguard, LP or CD
The Word

After a 14-year absence, the jazz-jam-band-meets-sacred-steel group the Word is reunited. The group sounds like it’s shrugged off whatever changes occurred in popular music since then, just as much as they did in the late 1990s. And even as the annual Jam Cruise continues to set sail around the Caribbean—while the Trey Anastasio-fronted Grateful Dead commands top dollar for concert tickets—the Word’s succinct songs and pronounced soul/gospel bent keeps it apart from its counterparts. Read More


posted: February 25, 2009

Tim Hockenberry – Back in Your Arms

Sometimes the postman leaves gold in the mailbox. Brought to my attention by Mike Regan, the guy that used to manage Jacqui Naylor, I had a good feeling about this.

After a quick look at the jacket photo, I was not prepared for the voice on the disc inside.  Hockenberry looks a lot more like a movie star than someone with so much soul. Read More


posted: February 25, 2009

Todd Rundgren – Arena Arena

HiFi Recordings CD
Todd Rundgren – Arena

The coolest thing about Todd Rundgren is that you never know what he’s going to come up with next.  Arena continues down the path of self-examination that TR started with Lies, but with a lot more bite.  In addition to the great, layered vocals that you would expect on a Todd record, there are monumental guitar and bass riffs throughout. Read More


posted: November 22, 2010

Tom Petty ORG Damn the Torpedoes, Deluxe Edition

Original Recordings Group 2-180g. LP and digital download
Tom Petty ORG

Tom Petty’s breakthrough record is back and sounding better than ever. The only burning question that remains is how you want your high-resolution served. Analog fans will be thrilled from the first track of ORG’s exquisite pressing. The label has knocked it out of the park (again) with Chris Bellman mastering from the original analog master tapes. Read More


posted: May 29, 2013

TONE First:  Jason Isbell’s “Southeastern”

Last year on Twitter, Jason Isbell accused country star Dierks Bentley of stealing his “In a Razor Town” song and co-opting it for “Home.”

The fact that the latter single became a number-one hit isn’t important. What matters is that it’s performed by a bland singer whose pedestrian fare subscribes to Nashville’s commercial rules and who responded to Isbell’s claims by facetiously Tweeting, “THIS JUST IN: Nashville and LA songwriters running out of ideas…rushing to steal jason [sic] songs!”

Anyone that’s listened to so-called country radio in the past decade would likely take issue with Bentley’s statement. Read More


posted: December 9, 2013

TONEAudio’s Best Music of 2013

It’s that time of year when music critics of every stripe pick what they consider the best records of the past 12 months. At TONE, we’re no different. Here are the 25 studio albums from 2013 that Music Editor Bob Gendron feels you should hear again and again—and five big-name releases you should avoid. Read More


posted: February 9, 2011

Twilight Singers review

Greg Dulli is the rare kind of artist who invites audiences to peer into the nether regions of his darkest thoughts. He uses albums as cathartic therapy, often teetering next to perilous edges and occasionally stepping across them. At his best, the vocalist/multi-instrumentalist provides listeners the type of intoxicating thrill that accompanies taking impetuous risks, witnessing back-alley exchanges, and being privy to secretive codes that reveal sensitive information. Read More


posted: March 30, 2009

Two More Classics From OMG Records

Whether you think of Diana Krall as being part of the modern jazz vanguard or just a highly commercial realization of a well-worn genre, these two albums represent this Canadian jazz pianist and singer at her best. These two albums, released in 2001 and 2002 respectively, were wildly popular and well-received: both won Grammy awards and topped the Billboard Jazz charts. Read More


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