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Monday, Sept. 29, 2008

Death Magnetic (Warner Bros.)

   First, the good news: Death Magnetic contains Metallica's most sophisticated, energized and-yes-heavy material since its 1988 classic, ...And Justice for All. If you were hoping for a return to form, it's hard to deny the ways that Death Magnetic sounds like one. Finally, Metallica has revived the long-song format that it built a career on, and the guitar sound hearkens back to the monumental Master of Puppets, the last time James Hetfield and company were coming from an underground...
Monday, Sept. 29, 2008

Pancho and the Kid

  The second solo album from Chris Barron sounds nothing like his old band, the Spin Doctors-which is reason enough to give Pancho and the Kid a spin. But more importantly, the dozen songs reflect the image of a much more thoughtful singer/songwriter than the one who penned "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong."That maturity is no doubt the result of Barron's full recovery from a paralyzed vocal cord, which back in 1999 left him...
Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008

Building An Empire (InsideOut Music/SPV)

  Nicolas Chapel, a one-Frenchman band, lands somewhere between the progressive rock of Porcupine Tree and the alternative metal of Tool on Building An Empire, released under the moniker Demians. By adding color and depth to ambient electronica, he manages to sum up Demians' entire sound on the 16-minute track "Sand."
Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2008

Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul (Rhino)

  "Essential" has become an overused word, like many words in our language. In the case of Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul, essential is, for once, applicable. It's one of the great LPs of 1960s soul, featuring classics such as "Change Gonna Come" and "Respect" (which Aretha Franklin later topped with her cover) plus a version of "Satisfaction" that left the Stones in the dust...
Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008

Richmond Blues (Smithsonian Folkways)

Cephas & Wiggins are among the most respected contemporary exponents of traditional blues and focus on a particular outcropping of that bedrock music. They steer away from the Mississippi Delta sound that influenced the development of rock 'n' roll and toward the Piedmont blues that flourished in Appalachia in . . .
Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008

Songs from Shows (Uvulittle Records)

The liner notes for Songs from Shows, a collection of musical pieces from Chicago performance artist Jenny Magnus, credit such instruments as leather gloves, a Kleenex box, a manual typewriter, a barrel rolling down the hall and a busted organ . . .
Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008

Splitsville (Smiling Fez)

The minor-key sound of the Middle East was long embedded in the Balkans and carried westward by the Crusaders, eventually making its way to Appalachia with the earliest British settlers. Meanwhile it traveled to the Islamic kingdoms of West Africa and was transported to the New World with the slaves . . .
Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008

03/07 – 09/07 (Thrill Jockey)

The duo High Places defies categorization. This collection of recordings previously available on 7-inch vinyl or exclusive to the 'Net has the uncanny ability to not only get you dancing, but to also serve as suitable listening while reading a good book before bed . . .
Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008

Scars on Broadway (Velvet Hammer)

System of a Down made some of the smartest, most bracing metal ever. Two of SOAD's members, Daron Malakian and John Dolmayan, have branched off as Scars on Broadway. Their debut disc is a logical continuation of SOAD, a pointedly angry assault against everything from Turkish genocide denials to . . .

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