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Album Reviews
Monday, June 13, 2011

Grappling Hooks (Kscope/Snapper Music)

At first, you refuse to believe the lush soundscapes created by Scotland's North Atlantic Oscillation are the work of only two musicians. “This sounds more like five or six,” you proclaim incredulously. But the band's U.S. debut, Grappling Hooks—a sonic treat that melds classic rock with digital sequencing and laptop...
Album Reviews
Monday, April 25, 2011

If God Is a Drug (Hikikomori Records)

Pure evil. There really is no other way to describe the dark, experimental music of Haiku Funeral, a demonic duo featuring former Racine bassist William Kopecky. If God Is a Drug, the second full-length album in Kopecky's alliance with Bulgarian...
Album Reviews
Sunday, April 17, 2011

Smash Record (Waterdog Records)

When Chicago hipster Ralph Covert's family-music project Ralph's World took off (10 albums, Disney deals and a Grammy nomination), his days of recording with his fun power-pop band, The Bad Examples, seemed over...
Album Reviews
Monday, March 14, 2011

Distance and Fortune (Dreamcar Records)

Looking at the cover of Texas-based singer-songwriter Jonny Burke's debut CD, Distance and Fortune, it's easy to mistake this for a reissue of a long-lost country-rock album from the 1970s. There's a satisfied-looking Burke—gazing off into the distance, wearing bell-bottom jeans and a too-small T-shirt—frozen in a...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Alpine Valley 2010 (JEMP Records)

If you're tired of the cold, this warm and fuzzy two-DVD/two-CD box of Phish captured at Alpine Valley last summer will make you forget about winter. There are few crowd shots—don't look for yourself on camera if you were there—but watching this, it's easy enough to position yourself in the front row...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (Cruz del Sur)

Don't call the five members of Germany's oddly named Atlantean Kodex underachievers. The Golden Bough, the band's ambitious debut CD, takes inspiration from the late Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer's scholarly work of the same name, which explored the notion that organized religion...
Album Reviews
Monday, Dec. 27, 2010

Random Acts of Beauty (ProgRock Records)

If James Cameron decided to halt work on the Avatar sequel and the 3-D conversion of Titanic to record a progressive-rock album, it would probably sound quite a bit like David Minasian’s lofty, keyboards-rich Random Acts of Beauty. Minasian also is a film director (plus multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and...
Album Reviews
Monday, Dec. 20, 2010

Aqua (SPV/Steamhammer)

The South American influences that once colored Angra’s brand of symphonic power metal have grown more subtle over the past two decades, but with Aqua—the band’s first studio album in four years—these Brazilians prove they haven’t run out of ideas. Considering the genre’s limited creativity, which has kept it...
Album Reviews
Monday, Dec. 6, 2010

The Face of the Unknown (Time Divide Records)

It’s one thing to be Adam Young, the one-man electronic brainchild behind Owl City, composing Auto-Tuned tracks on a computer in his parents’ basement. It’s quite another to be Rich Hinks, the young U.K.-based multi-instrumentalist who helms the progressive-metal behemoth Aeon Zen...
Books
Monday, Nov. 22, 2010

Book Review

The debate over which ’60s-spawned band is best has raged for decades, but renowned Chicago rock critics Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot claim the question has never been the focus of an entire book. Well, now it is. In The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones—an attractive volume loaded with rare photographs and...