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Album Reviews
Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009

The Fine Print (A Collection of Oddities and Rarities) 2003-2008 (New West)

From the scuzzy Skynyrd-esque guitars to the dirty Southern mentality and devil-may-care hairdos, the Drive-By Truckers’ charm is all about from-the-hip looseness. Their career has also covered much of Dixie’s wide-open musical spaces, from alt-country and modern hillbilly to straight Allman’s rock. Last year they even made it over...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009

Flower Petals (429 Records)

Delivering their second Katrina-anniversary-timed album in four years, New Orleans’ Subdudes continue to explore a water-themed, working-class-sympathetic, minimal-pop take on their city’s roots. And if they’ve all but dropped the full drum kit since 2007’s Street Symphony, the drumbeat of dread and resigned...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009

Could We Get Any Closer? (Sky Crunch)

If not the most innovative man in Nashville these days, Jim Lauderdale is certainly one of the most expansive. His career has spanned pop, contemporary country and bluegrass, and he’s found considerable success as a songsmith for the likes of George Strait, Patty Loveless and Vince Gill. Now, amid swirling and hopeful reports that Lauderdale’s been collaborating with Milwaukee’s own Paul Cebar...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009

Welcome Joy (Matador)

Kicking off like Seattle’s answer to our very own Bon Iver, The Cave Singers’ sophomore effort cracks and acoustically buzzes like the busy lot of today’s bearded, flannel-clad folk rock. While not so overly harmony-happy as their obvious cohorts, Fleet Foxes, the granola lyricism and poppy twang sound much like a different strand in that same earthy quilt. The boys are at their best when vamping up their bare-bones approach...
Album Reviews
Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2009

Disfarmer (Nonesuch)

Among his colleagues in the big four of modern jazz guitar-John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Mike Stern-Bill Frisell's place is most distinctive by a few identifying characteristics: a refusal to get down in any kind of groove, a penchant for old-timey Americana, and a sound largely comprised of finger-picked country twang. Namely, he's the most hillbilly of the bunch. Which is the vibe the WexnerCenter for the Arts was hoping to bottle when they commissioned...
Album Reviews
Monday, June 15, 2009

Roll On (Rounder)

Opening studio album No. 15, Roll On, with some rapping about modern-day angst ("Who Knew") and a reflection on his advancing age ("Former Me"), J.J. Cale might hint at a wizened, changed outlook. Yet besides a couple of digital bleeps and embellishments (who showed the old guy Pro Tools?), this is but another installment...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Piety Street (Emarcy)

One can never know quite what to expect from guitarist John Scofield: traditional quartet bop here, straight soul jazz groove there, maybe a smattering of avant-garde otherness. A guest-laden tribute of Ray Charles covers? Why not? His latest finds the guitarist in a new mood altogether-that of Sunday morning...
Album Reviews
Saturday, May 9, 2009

Compass (Nonesuch)

Expounding on 2007's Grammy-nominated Back East and his growing jambase.com-friendly following, saxophonist Joshua Redman seemingly has new directions on his mind for Compass. Tracks such as "Uncharted," "Faraway," "March" and "Through the Valley" might hint at progression, but it's basically a lot more of his "shoot the piano player" experimentation...
Album Reviews
Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hold Time (Merge Records)

Possibly the most appealing quality about lo-fi folk hero M. Ward-namely that unrelenting pleasantness-could also prove the biggest deal-breaker for new listeners: As Kate Winslet reprimands Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of theSpotless Mind, "I don't need 'nice.'" And so begins Hold Time, Ward's sixth...
Album Reviews
Sunday, March 15, 2009

Back to the River (Verve Forecast)

Coming off like a drunken Bonnie Raitt-all mournful wailing, whiskey-sodden riffs and prurient urges-Susan Tedeschi's latest album aims for the gut and, even when it swings a bit wide, is likely to rustle more than a few bar stools. With the Skynyrd-drenched "Talking About" kicking...