Tag: album reviews

Album review: Tapes ‘n Tapes – Outside

Album review: Tapes ‘n Tapes – Outside

Music
Had Minneapolis indie rockers Tapes 'n Tapes released Outside (Ibid Records) as the followup to their sparkling 2005 debut, The Loon, it would still be considered a letdown.  It would, however, be miles ahead of their actual followup, Walk It Off.  The songs are more fully formed, the production is cleaner and warmer, and guitarist/vocalist Josh Grier sounds more assured than ever before.  But while Outside has some nice things going for it, it still falls short in a few significant ways. For one, the album starts off with a string of decent but ultimately unremarkable tracks.  "Badaboom" and "SWM" are a pair of understated tunes that showcase the band's renewed focus on songwriting but leave no lasting impression.  The album finally starts to build some steam about halfway through, whe
GFS home movies: Michael McDonald’s This Christmas: Live in Chicago

GFS home movies: Michael McDonald’s This Christmas: Live in Chicago

Music
Having already cultivated a sizable fan base through his work with Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, as well as from his solo work, Michael McDonald has spent the better part of the last decade following two different muses - classic Motown/soul and holiday music.  In 2009 he added another entry to the latter with This Christmas, pulled from a concert featuring McDonald and his band in a holiday performance on the PBS concert series Soundstage.  It's available on CD, but it's the DVD edition I'm reviewing here. I'll just say right up front that if you are already a fan of McDonald and his trademark soulful baritone, you will not be disappointed with This Christmas.  But even if you only have a passing interest in the man and his work, it's still a good addition to any holiday music co
New release roundup (feat. Midlake, Stone Temple Pilots, and Maya Beiser)

New release roundup (feat. Midlake, Stone Temple Pilots, and Maya Beiser)

Music
Sigh.  Once again there's so much music and so little time.  In fact, most of albums on this list can't properly be considered "new" anymore, but that's life. Dave King - Indelicate (Sunnyside Records) King has already established himself as a jazz percussionist par excellence with the Bad Plus and Happy Apple, but here he decides to carry the entire load himself.   While I'd love to say that Indelicate is a prime example of a talented artist finally allowed to break free from the shackles of the group format, that isn't really the case here.  King's muscular and primal rhythmic approach to the drum kit carries over to the piano but it becomes clear fairly quickly that while King has a number of good ideas (among them the simple but engaging "Homage: Young People" and the bouncy "I
Yea or Nay: Walk It Off

Yea or Nay: Walk It Off

Music
Over the years I've been reluctant to get rid of music that isn't good enough to enjoy repeatedly, but not bad enough to outright dismiss.  But now that I've acquired close to 30,000 songs it's time to make some decisions, and while hard drive space may be unlimited my patience is not.  So in the Yea or Nay series I'll give an album one final chance to prove its worth and avoid being jettisoned into the cold, black expanse of my Recycle Bin. I've observed over the past several years that few groups of music fans are as fickle as frequenters of indie music blogs.  They seem to judge music by some set of unwritten, yet ever-changing rules.  The slightest transgression - a change in sound, label, or look, for instance - is enough to turn album reviews into obituaries.  Such seemed to be th
Album review: Field Music – Field Music (Measure)

Album review: Field Music – Field Music (Measure)

Music
For fans of Sunderland's indie pop masters Field Music, the two-plus years since their announced hiatus felt like anything but.  Scarcely a year after the January 2007 release of Tones of Town, co-founder David Brewis released an album under the School of Language banner.   That was followed up in August '08 by the self-titled debut of brother Peter's project, The Week That Was.  To confuse matters even further both albums were only nominally solo efforts, as each brother contributed to the other one's disc. So while I greeted the news of Field Music's official resurrection as a musical concern with enthusiasm, it was hardly a shock.  I'll just chalk the whole hiatus thing up to artists needing to be artists, and leave it at that. All of which brings us to the first proper Field Musi
New release roundup (Ace Frehley, Muse, and more…)

New release roundup (Ace Frehley, Muse, and more…)

Music
Man, I take a short break from updating the site and, just like that, I'm buried under a pile of new music releases.  Not to mention, of course, the Beatles remasters.  So with no big preamble, let's get right into it... Ace Frehley - Anomaly (Brooklyn Born Records) Peter Criss couldn't do it, Paul Stanley almost did it, and who the hell knows what Gene Simmons was trying to do.  I'm speaking, of course, about original Kiss members putting out a solo album this decade that even approached their best work from previous decades.  So how does the Spaceman fare on his first release since George Bush Sr. was president?  Pretty decently, by and large.  Sure the album art is...well, it sucks.  It's just bad.  But who even notices such things anymore? The music's the thing, and Ace acqu
Album review: Robert Glasper – Double Booked

Album review: Robert Glasper – Double Booked

Music
It is tempting and easy to interpret the meaning behind the track order and title of Robert Glasper's latest album, Double Booked, as being a presentation of the artist's two separate sides - jazz and hip hop/R&B.  Certainly, given that the first half of the record is billed to the Robert Glasper Trio while the second is credited to the Robert Glasper Experiment, that conclusion seems inescapable. But to look at it this way would be to miss the statement that Glasper has been making with his music since his 2003 recorded debut, Mood - jazz, R&B, and hip hop are not disparate elements to be combined or mixed by Glasper for mere novelty or effect; they are both integral and inseparable parts of his artistic vision. It's that vision, combined with his prodigious talent, that mak
Album review: Amy X Neuburg & The Cello ChiXtet – The Secret Language of Subways

Album review: Amy X Neuburg & The Cello ChiXtet – The Secret Language of Subways

Music
Just when I start to pat myself on the back for expanding my musical horizons so much over recent years, along comes an album like The Secret Language of Subways to set me straight.  The record, a collaboration between English-born composer and vocalist Amy X Neuberg and the Cello ChiXtet, is billed as "a song cycle about the inane and perpetually unfinished businesses of love and war - and New York."  I'm not really sure what that means, but it sure sounds impressive. Make no mistake, this album is definitely Art with a capital A.  The opening track, "One Lie", unfolds slowly before reaching an almost martial crescendo.  It sets the stage for Neuberg's elastic, Kate Bush-like vocals and the playing of the ChiXtet (Elizabeth Vandervennet, Elaine Kreston, and Jessica Ivry), which is alte
Album review: Spinal Tap – Back From the Dead

Album review: Spinal Tap – Back From the Dead

Music
I don't think I could ever get tired of watching the 1984 mockumentary classic, This Is Spinal Tap, or listening to the accompanying soundtrack.  That movie and, more importantly, its music perfectly straddled the fine line between brutal satire and straight-laced performance.  It's this quality that spawned not only legions of fans for a fictitious band but more awesomely the legendary tale about the Scorpions storming out of a screening of the movie because the parody hit a little too close to home. It's as if Spinal Tap (Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, and Michael McKean) and director/co-writer Rob Reiner gazed into a crystal ball and saw just what a joke the heavy metal genre would become by the end of the decade, which makes the movie and songs even better after the fact.  But wh