Music Reviews Stories 1 to 10 of 191  
4/16/2014
Music Reviews: RAC, Architecture in Helsinki, The Afghan Whigs
The Afghan WhigsDo to the Beast(Sub Pop)* * * *Band reunions are a double-edged sword. Pro: you get to see beloved performers one more time. Con: new music, if any, usually disappoints. Greg Dulli, the band’s main motivator and frontman, must have been aware of this during recording of this first record in 16 years, because he and bassist John Curley (the only remaining original members) not only recapture the spark of the band at its finest but turn inspiration into a blaze. They’re as rough and elegant as ever while putting to shame rock ...
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4/2/2014
Music Reviews: George Michael, Kylie Minogue, Tokyo Police Club
George MichaelSymphonica(Virgin EMI Records)* * * The worst thing that happened to George Michael was his debut, Faith, becoming an enormous success. After that, he stopped being a pop star and became an ‘artist.’ That’s great, but not much fun. He’s still chasing his misdirected muse on Symphonica, his sixth release, a collection of well-loved songs and covers performed with an orchestra. He’s in superb voice here, and he’s sure to appeal to the aging New Wave contingency looking for a Rod Stewart-type songbook set, yet I can’t help but wish Michael had spent his time writing ...
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3/20/2014
Music Reviews: Metronomy, Future Island, Karmin
MetronomyLove Letters(Because Music)***** This is a perfect album made up of 10 perfect songs, clocking in at a brisk 42 minutes. You really don’t need any more information. It’s ‘80s-inspired electronica-meets-‘70s bubblegum R&B with startlingly unique production. The songs are spectacular, and the recent single and title track “Love Letters” sounds much better in the context of the album, if anyone was worried. As a whole, Love Letters rewards with repeated listens but is also instantly enigmatic. I’d say the band has found its footing, but its last two albums are just as good. This is ...
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2/27/2014
Music Reviews: Slowly Rolling Camera, Fanfarlo, Hollow & Akimbo, Lune, Nina Persson, Roman Remains
Slowly Rolling CameraSlowly Rolling Camera(Edition Records)* * * * * It’s a rarity when music that’s an amalgamation of so many styles sounds fresh and unlike anything you’ve heard before. In such uncommon cases, we critics have a tendency to overrate said artist, in which case I’d caution you to take the rest of this review with a few grains of salt. That said, this U.K. foursome is a truly special case. Composer-pianist Dave Stapleton, producer Deri Roberts, drummer Elliot Bennett and vocalist/lyricist Dionne Bennett have come up with a progressive soul jazz trip-hop electronica that is, ...
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2/18/2014
Music Reviews: Broken Bells, Beck, The China Gang of 1974, Drowners, Lake Street Dive, Maximo PArk
Broken BellsAfter the Disco(Columbia)* * * Broken Bells (The Shins’ James Mercer and Danger Mouse) have finally released a second album after four years, and it’s aimed to please the crowds. Quiet and moody, the first Broken Bells album appeared out of the blue, essentially making Mercer a songwriting force to be reckoned with. The joy of that album was how unexpected it was—fresh and different while being safe and similar. The group’s follow-up, After the Disco, is the same but also different. With a sophomore album come expectations, and Mercer and (er...) Mouse (?) have decided ...
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1/31/2014
Music Reviews: Ramesh Srivastava, Gramatik, Kurtis Simmons, The New Royales, Sarah Dooley, Xiu Xiu
Ramesh SrivastavaThe King(Self-Released) ***** In 2005, Voxtrot burst onto the indie music scene with a string of literate, insanely catchy and unique EPs, followed up with an eponymous full length that was on every hipster’s stereo in 2007. Then … nothing. Barring the stray single, the band disappeared without a trace. After seven years of radio silence, lead vocalist Ramesh Srivastava returns with something that sounds like it could’ve been the lost sophomore Voxtrot album. It was always clear that Srivastava was the driving voice behind Voxtrot, but if anyone had any doubts, he need only listen to ...
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1/20/2014
Music Reviews: Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, A Great Big World, Bruce Springsteen, Dum Dum Girls, The Notwist, Pow!
Sharon Jones and The Dap KingsGive the People What They Want(Daptone)**** Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are in a unique position in the indie rock world. While their contemporaries are encouraged—even expected—to change with each release, Sharon Jones’ decidedly retro sound is praised and lauded. Any deviation or change will put Jones’ and her 11-piece band’s viability at risk. Give the People What They Want couldn’t be more aptly titled. It’s a wonderful, warm, fun record—brief and precise. The album couldn’t possibly elicit a frown in its 33 minutes, but one wonders about the woman behind ...
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1/5/2014
Music Reviews: Beyoncé, I Break Horses, Lacrosse, Mary Lambert, Strangers, TOY
Beyoncé Beyoncé(iTunes)****Hey, did you hear? Beyoncé surprised everyone with 17 new songs/videos, and pretty much ‘pwned’ the internet and the iTunes chart. For her fifth album, she straddles multiple genres anchored together with everything from stream-of-consciousness lyrics, trap beats, the gurgles of her daughter Blue Ivy and even old-school Destiny's Child footage. It’s kind of a mature listen (with atmospheres created by Timbaland, Detail, Pharrell, Hit-Boy and Boots), and she lyrically tackles her fears, indecision and even marital worry on the steadfast “No Angel” and “Jealous.” She also assails the delusion of size-zero beauty with lines like ...
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12/6/2013
Music Reviews: Britney Spears, bEEdEEgEE, Blue Zoo, Brendan Benson, Kelly Clarkson, Mutual Benefit
Britney SpearsBritney Jean(Jive)** I’m a pretty passive Britney fan. She’s wowed me with a few of her singles, but I generally don’t lose my gay cookies with each new record. Produced by will.i.am and featuring tracks written by Sia, Luciana, Katy Perry and Diplo, one gets the feeling that, sadly, she is now nothing more than the shiny object used to put a face/body behind the songs. In other words, where is Britney’s true personality in all these “personally honest” songs? Having said that, a few of the songs are decently strong. Disc opener “Alien” (subtly produced ...
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11/25/2013
Music Reviews: Boy George, Jenny Wilson,Blood Orange, Shearwater, Throwing Muses, The Wanted
Boy GeorgeThis Is What I Do(Kobalt)*** The last few Boy George efforts have been throwaway dance records, but this one (his first of all-new material in 18 years) is a nice return to form for the iconic queer singer. Written by George and longtime partners John Themis and Richie Stevens, it also features collaborations with legendary producer Youth. The first thing you’ll notice is George’s highly personal lyrical storytelling and peaceful, positive vibe. As he explains, “I was writing from a happy place. This time, no ex-lovers to get revenge on. For me, ‘Bigger Than War’ sums ...
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