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Album Reviews
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Medicine (Telarc Blues)

If your worst hangover had a voice all its own, it might well echo like that of Tab Benoit. Consider the guitarist's wail on the title track as he throatily moans to “bring me my medicine.” Full of pan-fried gristle, boggy humidity and the ulcerous pain of years of too much hot sauce and moonshine, it's as guttural and...
Album Reviews
Monday, Dec. 13, 2010

Epic (Ba Da Bing Records)

Diminutive Sharon Van Etten reaches for a big, expansive voice with Epic. Her sophomore effort comes on like the lilting soundtrack to a breakup phone call: Powerful, almost angrily strummed chords set the stage as full-on country-folk instrumentation hovers mournfully, and there’s more heart-on-sleeve, lonely-girl...
Album Reviews
Monday, Nov. 29, 2010

Happy Talk (Basin Street)

Fresh from introducing his modern-day-Satchmo shtick to the world—or at least the HBO-subscribing world—on the series “Treme,” the ever-smiling, Bud-swigging, pot-smoking barbecue master and trumpet-slinging bandleader that couldn’t give two hoots of his horn as to who Elvis Costello is releases his first...
Album Reviews
Monday, Nov. 22, 2010

Buzzard (Mariel Recording)

Supposedly deriving their name from Gwyneth Paltrow’s character as the daughter in The Royal Tenenbaums (actually, “adopted daughter”), Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s deliver a Wes Anderson-appropriate product that is broody, angst-ridden, occasionally dreamy, bittersweet and, of...
Album Reviews
Monday, Nov. 1, 2010

Never Stop (E1 Music)

Whether it's The Bad Plus’ album's worth of prog rock covers, snark-scented tribute to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or straight-faced take on ABBA, it’s always been a bit hard to take the trio completely seriously as a jazz group. At least on the group’s latest venture of trancey, dancey post-bop, Never Stop, they lay it...
Album Reviews
Monday, Oct. 11, 2010

Harlem River Blues (Bloodshot Records)

Justin Townes Earle’s down-home blend of Americana so perfectly marries that genre’s most crucial aspects—indie singer-songwriter sensibilities, shitkicker stomp, rustic twang, Springsteen-esque blue-collar empathy—that his latest might well be served with a side of apple pie...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010

We Walk This Road (Warner Bros.)

Through three full-length releases Robert Randolph has strived, and mostly succeeded, for a seamless mash-up of gritty jam band funk, soul, blues and his own gospel roots. On We Walk This Road, though, the slide guitar guru wears those stitches on his sleeve. Six half-minute segues of archival footage break up the...
Album Reviews
Monday, June 28, 2010

The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)

Bounding, ebullient, fraught with youth, at once joyous and tortured: The diminutive Swedish whirlwind of songwriting energy known as The Tallest Man on Earth is back for a second full-length release. As on 2008’s Shallow Grave, Kristian Matsson reveals himself to be undoubtedly a man of the world...
Album Reviews
Monday, June 21, 2010

Brothers (Nonesuch)

In the beginning, it was all greasy riffage, lean beats and an unerring, angst-ridden crunch. Everything The Black Keys did reeked of sweaty adolescents getting off to Zeppelin in between frozen pizza rolls and Pabsts in a basement in Akron, Ohio. On the likes of Rubber Factory and Magic Potion, purists of...
Album Reviews
Monday, May 17, 2010

Last Call (Stony Plain Records)

Though the title of Jeff Healey’s third posthumous release hints at the barreling barroom boogie blues-rock that epitomized his brilliant cameo in the film Road House, Last Call actually focuses on the blind guitarist’s penchant for the 1920s Hoagy Carmichael-via-Django Reinhardt jazz he explored during the last decade of his career...

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