Music Reviews Stories 1 to 10 of 196  
6/25/2014
Music Reviews: Glass Animals, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, James
Glass AnimalsZaba (Harvest)* * * * Since I’ve been banging on against the increasing homogeny of contemporary indie electro (frankly, it’s boring), it’s a pleasure to hear a debut that’s as engaging and imaginative as Oxford quartet Glass Animals’ Zaba. Vocalist/songwriter Dave Bailey, who’s studied both medicine and neuroscience by the ripe old age of 23, invests his sonic explorations with infinite variety. Mid-tempo soul numbers such as “Gooey” and the trippy opener “Flip” are built on basic ingredients—strokes of electronics, sequenced rhythms, Bailey’s high tenor/falsetto fillips—that the band then invests with a concentrated attention to subtle details …
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6/11/2014
Music Reviews: Broken Records, Sam Smith, Tom Vek
Broken RecordsWeights & Pulleys(Self-Released) Eschewing rock music’s current ‘less-is-more’ attitude, Edinburgh’s Broken Records continues its three-album tradition of excess and bombast. The band’s last LP was a rushed affair and lacked the nuance of its debut, but Broken Records took its time with Weights & Pulleys, and the wait partially paid off. While W&P is as confident as the debut, some originality has washed away. “Winterless Son,” while incredibly catchy, sounds like U2 covering Arcade Fire. The drama that normally comes with a Broken Records LP remains, but the whole affair seems rather anonymous. Jamie Sutherland’s voice …
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5/30/2014
Music Reviews: Chromeo, Coldplay, Michael Jackson, Sharon Van Etten, The Sunshine Underground
ChromeoWhite Women(Atlantic)** Canadian duo Chromeo are stuck in a huge late-‘70s, early-‘80s timewarp, where the neon is switched on 24/7, synthesizers and keytars are on a non-stop loop and Day Glo leg warmers are required attire. In a world of droning, hipster indie rock and generic techno tarts, Chromeo remains adept at crafting infectious ditties with prismatic melodies and stick-in-your-head lyrics. On the group’s fourth effort, they are still equally and unashamedly influenced by Hall & Oates, Steely Dan, Prince and Chic (and the Flashdance soundtrack?), but not in an annoying “Oh, look how ironic I’m being!” …
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5/15/2014
Music Reviews: Lykke Li, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Echo & The BunnymenMeteorites(Universal)* * * Oh, shimmering and melodic post-punk, how I’ve missed you! As a fan of this band from whence they started 35 years ago, I’m thrilled to hear them back in such fine form. Anchored by only two founding members (charismatic vocalist Ian McCulloch and guitarist Will Sergeant), Meteorites was produced by Youth and finds them digging deep to unearth celestial new sounds and sweeping vistas influenced mostly by their classic Ocean Rain period. Though it’s not a perfect record—I wish they’d given us even a few moments of some uptempo grit—when their …
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4/29/2014
Music Reviews: Damon Albarn, Hercules & Love Affair, Lily Allen
Damon AlbarnEveryday Robots (Warner Bros.)**** Blur. Gorillaz. The Good The Bad & The Queen. Operas. Theater soundtracks. Damon Albarn doesn’t want for projects, and now, 23 years after Blur’s debut, here comes his first official solo album. To call Everyday Robots a slow burn would be to ignore that it never burns. It’s a meditative, nostalgic affair that moves at a snail’s pace yet ultimately leaves a lasting impression. Half the record is given to musing on the alienation of modern technology (the title track; “Lonely Press Play”). The rest confronts the past, most Bowie-esque on “You and …
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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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