Tag: album reviews

Sunday Jazz: Warren Wolf debuts on Mack Avenue

Sunday Jazz: Warren Wolf debuts on Mack Avenue

Music, Sunday Jazz
I'm happy to report that, despite what many think, jazz is indeed alive and well. Further proof of that can be found in the new, self-titled album from vibraphonist Warren Wolf (out now on Mack Avenue Records). After just one listen I knew this was a lock for my year-end best of list. Do yourself a favor and pick up Wolf's album today. But if you're one of those cautious types who needs a little proof, I've got you covered. Follow this link to SoundCloud to hear two tracks from the album -- "427 Mass Ave." and "Señor Mouse." "427 Mass Ave." puts me in mind of the Modern Jazz Quartet -- and it's no surprise that Wolf cites Milt Jackson as an influence -- but there's nothing retro or backward-looking about it. "Señor Mouse" is a Wolf solo showcase and as you might expect, it sports a s
Album review: Chicago — Live in ’75

Album review: Chicago — Live in ’75

Music
To read the Ben Edmonds-penned essay that accompanies Rhino Handmade's 2011 Chicago offering -- Live in '75 -- you'd get the impression that the two handsomely packaged discs contained therein contained a glimpse of the band at its apex. This is true to an extent, as Chicago was on a hot streak when they rolled into Maryland to play a series of shows in Largo's old Capital Centre. That tour -- which saw the group join forces with the Beach Boys -- marked the band's graduation to the Big Time, aka stadium and arena concerts. But artistically, the band was straying further and further from their jazz/rock roots and was on the precipice of Cetera Ballad Country. So in a sense, Live in '75 does offer diehard fans a service in that it presents Chicago as they were right before the bad times ...
Album review roundup: The Zombies, Build, and the Cars

Album review roundup: The Zombies, Build, and the Cars

Music
The Zombies -- Breathe Out, Breathe In (Red House) Well this was surprisingly pleasant, although nowhere near the greatness of the original incarnation of the group. The opening title track is a dead ringer for latter day Steely Dan, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But that's not really the Zombies that people are expecting to hear, is it? Still, it's clear that founding Zombies Colin Bluntstone and Rod Argent -- who receive featured billing status on Breathe Out, Breathe In -- still have plenty of songwriting gas left in the tank, as evidenced by strong songs like the prog-tinged rocker "Another Day," the delicate and melodic "Any Other Way," and the surprisingly effective and overtly religious "Christmas for the Free" -- the last of which comes damn close to recreating the vinta...
Album review mini-roundup: Alison Krauss & Union Station, Duran Duran, and Jim Noir

Album review mini-roundup: Alison Krauss & Union Station, Duran Duran, and Jim Noir

Music
Alison Krauss & Union Station, Paper Airplane (Rounder Records) -- Even if Union Station's brand of bluegrass and sweet country pop isn't your cup of sassafras tea, you need to listen to this at least once. Krauss has one of the most beautiful voices in music, and you should never pass up a chance to hear her. Turn off your cell phone, sit down, relax, and let the beauty of tracks like "Lay My Burden Down" and "Dimming of the Day" take you away. Paper Airplane is a subdued affair, and not exactly what you'd play at a party, but the performances are top notch and the production is warm and intimate. There is a little more grit on the songs led by Dan Tyminksi (whose voice many will recognize as the man actually singing George Clooney's parts on O Brother, Where Art Thou?), but "Dust ...
Album review roundup: The Go! Team, Cut Copy, and Adele

Album review roundup: The Go! Team, Cut Copy, and Adele

Music
It's just an extravaganza of music reviews on the Suit this week, no? Here's three more we didn't want to go without mentioning. The Go! Team — Rolling Blackouts (Memphis Industries) Wow, has it really been seven years since Thunder, Lightning, Strike came out? That hardly seems possible. The Go! Team did release an album between then and now, Proof of Youth, but it never even appeared on my radar. Luckily this album did, because I like it a lot. The opening track, "T.O.R.N.A.D.O.", is a 20-megaton blast of what makes the Go! Team so fun — big beats, clever orchestration, and of course those cheerleader vocals. The fun doesn't really let up over the course of a baker's dozen tracks. While a lesser outfit might be tempted to let the layered, dense arrangements do all the heavy lift
Album review: Iron & Wine — Kiss Each Other Clean

Album review: Iron & Wine — Kiss Each Other Clean

Music
I’m not sure that it’s possible for a stylistic change to be signaled faster than Iron & Wine does on Kiss Each Other Clean. Granted, four years have passed since the last proper album from singer/songwriter Sam Beam hit record store shelves — and even that one had begun to stray from his formula of acoustic guitar and hushed vocals — but the slight departure taken with the accompaniment on The Shepherd’s Dog is nothing compared to the leap taken here. With the first few notes of opener “Walking Far From Home,” all preconceptions of what defines an Iron & Wine album are shattered. Beam is not merely going to add a few instruments to create a more fleshed out sound — he’s headed to the studio with saxophones, synthesizers, flutes, and even some vocal tweaking. While 2007’s The
Album review: Brad Shepik Quartet — Across the Way

Album review: Brad Shepik Quartet — Across the Way

Music
It took all of five seconds before I was immediately sucked into guitarist Brad Shepik's latest release (billed to the Brad Shepik Quartet), Across the Way. The fluid playing and slightly dark, minor key tonality of the opening title cut evoked got me upright in my seat but also put me at ease. While this album is unmistakably Shepik's baby it also sounds very much like a democracy, in the true spirit of great jazz. The rhythm section of bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Mark Guiliana allow the eleven compositions on Across the Way to glide along effortlessly in most places, which give Shepik and vibraphonist Tom Beckham ample room to weave in and out as needed and to make each song a truly enjoyable listening experience. Fans of easygoing jazz (not easy listening or smooth, though) c...
Album review roundup: Cage the Elephant, Cold War Kids, and Deerhoof

Album review roundup: Cage the Elephant, Cold War Kids, and Deerhoof

Music
I didn't make a New Year's resolution to listen to more new music in 2011, but it just seems to be working out that way.  And so far I've been rewarded with some pretty decent stuff.  Will the good times continue?  Let's find out... Cage the Elephant – Thank You, Happy Birthday (Jive) Here's another group that managed to become pretty popular without even appearing on my radar.  I can't speak to how Cage the Elephant may or may not have changed since their first album, but this one is pretty damn good.  For a so-called indie rock band, Cage the Elephant displays a real knack for catchy aggression and a willingness to incorporate whatever sounds and styles necessary to get their point across.  Album opener "Always Something" nails the slinky, urban vibe that My Morning Jacket went for
Album review: The Decemberists – The King is Dead

Album review: The Decemberists – The King is Dead

Music
The term progressive can have rather dangerous effects on music. For starters it makes the typical music fan cringe with ideas of long-winded guitar solos and lyrics about gnomes fighting dragons. Second, it can cause musicians to try to make albums that actually match those ideas. When coupled with other words like “19th century sea-faring folk ballads” it has to be questioned whether anyone would even bother listening. And yet here we are witnessing the sixth studio album from the Decemberists more than a decade into their career. After having built a sizable following with what seems like a rather niche take on indie rock, perhaps it is those potential trappings that forced Colin Meloy and company’s hand towards taking a more stripped-down and straightforward approach on The King is