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03.03.2008 | | Posted at 12:00 AM
By Evan Rytlewski
Nine Inch Nails unveiled yesterday a new, 36-song instrumental album with a distinctly Radiohead-ish marketing scheme. Like In Rainbows, Ghosts I � IV was recorded relatively quickly and released without advanced notice. Part of the album is available for as a free download, but for fans that like to buy up, they can drop as much as $75 on a deluxe hard copy. Before I continue, an impor...
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Jesus of Cool: 30th Anniversary Edition (Yep Roc)

If there’s another album that gives such an impression of pop offhandedness yet holds up three decades later as a work of brilliance, I can’t think of it. For most listeners, Nick Lowe came onto the scene via his 1979 hit “Cruel to Be Kind” and Rockpile, the band he co-fronted with Dave Edmunds. But before that he was the primary songwriter/singer/bassist for Brinsley Schwarz, reigning champions of England’s rootsy pub rock scene. It’s a safe bet that over the course of the group’s half-dozen albums, Lowe learned a thing or two about making records. So when his buddies Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson started Stiff Records, they gave Nick the nod as house producer.
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

River: the joni letters (Verve)

Joni Mitchell may be more revered by jazz players than by her pop-music peers. Pianist Herbie Hancock is the latest acolyte, releasing River: the joni letters, a tribute disc that delivers at a high, innovative level. Hancock’s assimilation of the material is unexpectedly introspective. His performance—which boasts the now-requisite guest artists, including Norah Jones, Tina Turner and, surprisingly, Leonard Cohen, in addition to Mitchell herself—is one of the pianist’s best efforts.
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Made in China (Invisible China)

Made in China (Invisible China) “I just want some rock music”: The first words you hear on the latest offering from Martin Atkins—ex-PiL/Killing Joke drummer, Pigface ringmaster and industrial entrepreneur— have grown so familiar to us in the West that they sound comical. In some parts of the world, however, a simple attraction to rock music still constitutes an act of defiance with potentially grave consequences. Of course, as the Chinese economy awakens into the profit-ravenous behemoth that it is, Chinese society is undergoing massive, sweeping changes. And, like a predictable virus, rock music isn’t far behind, already infiltrating Chinese life and spinning off new strains. Savvy to this and sensing untapped creative frontiers, Atkins set off for China in 2006 and began an intensive two-week process of collaboration and sampling.
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

The Music of the Three Musketeers (Xauen)

The mission of the Arabesque Music Ensemble (formerly the Chicago Classical Oriental Ensemble) is to recreate the sounds of the Near East from earlier periods. They are like early music consorts in classical music and New Orleans revivalists in jazz.
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

It All Started With Doo Wop (Time Life)

Doo-wop was the urban sound of New York City as the 1950s began. It started with teenage black singers harmonizing on street corners and spread to neighboring Italian, Puerto Rican and other youths. As the title of this six-disc set indicates, doowop is recognized as one of rock ’n’ roll’s roots.
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.
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008

Shoghaken Ensemble (Traditional Crossroads)

Under-recognized in most historical accounts, Armenia was a portal between East and West for much of its history and developed a rich culture of its own. The Shoghaken Ensemble is among the best contemporary Armenian folk groups, encompassing a full spectrum of the country’s sonic heritage. Included are the unearthly piping of the duduk, a wooden flute producing the most lonesome sounds in the universe; bewitchingly powerful songs for voice; and the percussive, rhythmic music of weddings and other festivals. Some of the numbers will sound familiar enough to fans of Near Eastern music, but other melodies, especially those associated with the duduk, are probably more ancient in origin than even the Byzantine and Islamic empires that once surrounded Armenia.
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008

So Far From Home

Glendale’s Clarke Groholski remembers how 1980s commercial country singers such as Mickey Gilley and Ronnie Milsap reimagined down-tempo ‘50s rockin’ in this tribute to a soldier who has been sent overseas and misses his beloved. Sincere as anything, Groholski sings his heart out over a backdrop made for dancing slow and close. With firmedup production values, Groholski may have a hit that will remain relevant for a long time to come.
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008

The Lost One (Skybucket Records)

The “lost one” that Barton Carroll refers to throughout his third solo album is really several people: a young German girl who survived the Soviet occupation of Berlin, for example, or a misinformed lover. But it could just as easily be the singer/songwriter himself, whose sorrow, sensitivity and selfeffacing wit make these dozen songs a bittersweet symphony of slide guitar, fiddle, harmonica and bassoon.