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Album Reviews
Monday, Oct. 11, 2010

Penny Sparkle (4AD)

The lineup of Blonde Redhead—two Italian brothers, Amedeo and Simone Pace, and one Japanese woman, Kazu Makino—almost makes the band so exotic as to be from another planet. From its 1995 self-titled debut up through 1998’s In An Expression of the Inexpressible, Blonde Redhead could...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009

Snowflake Midnight (Yep Roc)

Mercury Rev's latest album is so dreamy that it makes The Flaming Lips seem comparatively grounded. Snowflake Midnight drifts and pulses through a natural world observed with occasionally microscopic vision and near-constant wide-eyed wonder. That drift is not without direction or coherence, though-just as a twig borne along the currents of a river is definitely going...
Album Reviews
Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008

You Think You Really Know Me: The Gary Wilson Story (Plexifilm)

During the 1970s, Gary Wilson was hanging around his hometown of Endicott, N.Y. He made small experimental films and played concerts that resembled performance art. In 1977, he took his creativity into his parents' basement, where he recorded You Think You Really Know Me. He and his band, The Blind . . .
Album Reviews
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Seventh Tree (Mute)

On their last two albums, 2003's Black Cherry and 2005's Supernature, the duo of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory—known together under her surname—achieved the uncommon feat of making dance music that didn't require its listeners to stop thinking. Their latest, Seventh Tree, keeps the musical intelligence, but . . .
Album Reviews
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lucky (Barsuk)

In 1996, Nada Surf got lucky with “Popular,” although the song was practically designed to relegate the band to one-hit-wonder status. By the end of the ‘90s, they seemed bound for oblivion, but it turned out that they were just regrouping. 2003’s Let Go was a quietly stunning . . .
Album Reviews
Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Watershed (Nonesuch)

Five years ago, Tony Bennett and k.d. lang had completed A Wonderful World, a tribute to Louis Armstrong, when an interviewer on a radio show asked Bennett about his duet partner. He said, “In my opinion, she’s the best singer since Judy Garland.” After a pause that brought surprise from the interviewer and surprised laughter from lang, he added, “Well, it’s true.” And so it is, but lang has shared with Garland, and with Bennett, an uneven artistic instinct, as though her ability to sing anything has left her helpless to make the smartest song choices. Was it necessary to turn away so completely from Patsy Cline country on 1992’s Ingnue?
Album Reviews
Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Odelay Deluxe Edition (Geffen)

Until Beck Hansen released Odelay in 1996, he was a one-hit wonder: In the period when indie-rock was making its way onto the pop charts, his “Loser” was one of its iconic novelty songs. Odelay informed listeners that Beck was to be taken seriously, although he didn’t actually sound like he intended to be. Twelve years later, the double-disc deluxe version of Odelay has it the same two ways. It bulks up the original release with plenty of bonus material, but spurns reverent, meaningful liner notes in favor of consciously rambling reminiscences—at least that’s what they might be—from Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore, and variously irrelevant and intriguing opinions on the album from 15 teenagers interviewed by . . .
Album Reviews
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

District Line (Granary Music/Anti-)

Even when Bob Mould was a young punk fronting Hsker D during the 1980s, he grasped that mature intelligence and loud electric guitars could forge a near-seamless partnership. Like Pete Townshend and Richard Thompson—his closest artistic forefathers—he hasn’t turned away from the knowledge, welcome and unwelcome, that age can bring. On District Line, the unwelcome knowledge is that growing older is no guarantee, where the heart is concerned, of growing wiser. The welcome knowledge is that Mould can still crank pain through amplifiers and catalyze it into something that can feel like catharsis.