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Album Reviews
Monday, Jan. 19, 2009

Say You Will (CMG Entertainment/Wefunk)

San Francisco-based Americana-rocker Stefanie Keys may have nabbed a record deal with her gutsy, carefree version of Janis Joplin's "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)," but her own songs on the debut CD Say You Will-including the acoustic, catchy and organ-driven I-found-my-man affirmation of "Whiskey Bottles," the slick blues rock...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008

Budokan! (Epic/Legacy)

There should be little argument that Cheap Trick's 1979 live album, At Budokan, ranks among rock's seminal live recordings, paving the way for practically every band that dared call itself "power pop." No wonder Epic Records has reissued numerous versions of that April 1978 concert at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan arena over the years. But none comes close to Budokan!, the Godzilla of reissues, featuring three CDs and one DVD that mark the original...
Album Reviews
Monday, Nov. 17, 2008

Peaceblaster (1320 Records)

California's Sound Tribe Sector 9 claims that instrumental music can reflect the tension of the times. In fact, the five-man collective considers its dense Eno-esque swirl of pulsing live and electronic sounds a means of "conversation" between band and listener. And Peaceblaster, STS9's fourth studio album, finds band members in a dark mood that's occasionally tempered by shimmering rays of light. Their genre-shattering...
Album Reviews
Monday, Nov. 10, 2008

F5

The Reckoning (OarFin)

Old-school metalheads Dave Ellefson and Jimmy DeGrasso-who both did time in Megadeth's rhythm section-try to snag a new generation of fans with The Reckoning, F5's second album. This aggressive five-man band blurs Megadeth, Symphony X and Disturbed with a dark, dense and raw arsenal that includes twin guitars, thudding bass and drums, and gritty, urgent vocals. But the bludgeoning...
Album Reviews
Monday, Nov. 3, 2008

Music for Pictures (7d Media)

Alternately exhilarating and frustrating, Music for Pictures collects 29 pieces culled and tweaked from multi-instrumentalist Trey Gunn's film and television work. The King Crimson alum-renowned for his use of the 10-string Warr Guitar, a tapped instrument with a wide range-recruited a lineup of heavy-duty drummers to record these works between 2003 and 2008. The result is Brian Eno-like...
Album Reviews
Monday, Oct. 20, 2008

Nobody Left to Crown (Verve)

Almost 40 years after he opened Woodstock with a mesmerizing three-hour performance, becoming the voice of a generation with an improvised tune that evolved into "Freedom," folk-rocker Richie Havens remains relevant. On Nobody Left to Crown, the 67-year-old singer's still-distinct, soulful voice introduces listeners to memorable and politically charged songs such as "The Key" and "(Can't You Hear) Zeus's Anger Roar," as well as smartly chosen covers...
Album Reviews
Friday, Oct. 10, 2008

When In Rome 2007 (Atlantic/Rhino)

  Genesis skipped Wisconsin during last year's reunion tour, but the three-DVD box set When In Rome 2007 spectacularly captures what we missed. Although original frontman Peter Gabriel and guitarist Steve Hackett passed on this tour, the incarnation of Genesis captured at a free open-air performance in front of 500,000 fans at Rome's historic Circo Massimo still boasted the longtime trio of vocalist/drummer Phil Collins, bassist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist...
Concert Reviews
Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008

Sept. 26, 2008

   Despite two decades and nine albums to his credit, Mikael Åkerfeldt, the compelling frontman of the Swedish dark-metal band Opeth, recently told Powerplay magazine that he still gets anxious playing live. "Why am I nervous?" he asked. "It's just metal."  Actually, it's not, and Opeth proved why during a jaw-dropping performance of melodic beauty and brutality Friday night in a packed room at The Rave. In fact, the quintet manages to transcend metal while still sounding quintessentially...
Album Reviews
Monday, Sept. 29, 2008

Pancho and the Kid

  The second solo album from Chris Barron sounds nothing like his old band, the Spin Doctors-which is reason enough to give Pancho and the Kid a spin. But more importantly, the dozen songs reflect the image of a much more thoughtful singer/songwriter than the one who penned "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong."That maturity is no doubt the result of Barron's full recovery from a paralyzed vocal cord, which back in 1999 left him...
Album Reviews
Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008

Building An Empire (InsideOut Music/SPV)

  Nicolas Chapel, a one-Frenchman band, lands somewhere between the progressive rock of Porcupine Tree and the alternative metal of Tool on Building An Empire, released under the moniker Demians. By adding color and depth to ambient electronica, he manages to sum up Demians' entire sound on the 16-minute track "Sand."

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