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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 . . .
Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008

Join the Band (429 Records)

Fans of gumbo jam band Little Feat, the unlikely result of Lowell George being fired from Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention back in 1969, will flock to Join the Band, a combination "greatest hits" and "best friends" release. Produced by Jimmy Buffett, the 14-track CD featured Buffett . . .
Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008

Sunshine Lies (Shout! Factory)

By now, you would think Matthew Sweet's sell-by date would be long passed, that his brand of '90s power pop would have gone sour. Yet here he is, 22 years after his first solo album with one of the strongest discs of his career. Self-described as "power-pop-folk-rock-psychedelic-melodic-singer-songwriter-type . . .
Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008

The Stranger: 30th Anniversary Edition (Columbia Legacy)

Although The Stranger became one of the best-selling LPs ever after its 1977 release, a year later Billy Joel found himself on the wrong side of the cultural chasm with the rise of punk. Associated with the chardonnay on the rocks side of rock music, Joel became terminally unhip in some circles, even as he continued . . .
Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2008

Venna EP (Common Cloud)

Venna is folk-pop (emphasis on the folk) for 10,000 Maniacs/Cowboy Junkies lovers. The Milwaukeean group makes Nick Drake sound absolutely chipper by comparison. Amid the wrist-slit melancholy are some decent melodies and a singer whose talents might be better assayed were she not always so close to . . .
Monday, Aug. 4, 2008

The Premonition (Century Media)

Do you still thrill to ’80s-era Whitesnake, Dio, Queensryche and Iron Maiden? Then Firewind should slot neatly into your head-banging collection. What this Greek powerhouse lacks in originality, it makes up for with a commitment to keeping melodic hard rock and heavy metal alive in an increasingly disparate . . .
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Our Wizards of Earth (Internal Combustion)

Milwaukee’s Cyberchump is an electronic duo crafting wonderful melodic soundscapes. Drawing from a wide palette of instruments and influences, Cyberchump summons Pink Floyd in a mellow moment, ambient chill room electronica, moody low-key art rock, whoosing spacey sounds of Krautwerk, Near Eastern . . .
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Dirty Laundry (Trikont)

Black country singers? It sounds as oxymoronic to some ears as Mexican polka, but then much Mexican music was influenced by polka and north of the Rio Grande, the cultural lines between black and white, blues and country, were often fluid. The pair of Dirty Laundry compilations is among the most enjoyable . . .
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Toaster Fires

Groove-oriented, improvisational-minded folk rock with a smattering of world music flavors is Milwaukee musician Matthew Haeffel's stock in trade. Haeffel and his percussionist, Cody "C-Note" Calderon, must be fans of Dave Matthews and Rusted Root. One may still hope that Haeffel cracks a few more smiles in . . .
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Here's J.D. King

Los Angeles based musician J.D. King is a man of few words on Myspace. But his recent release speaks for itself. King introduces himself with warm vocals, seamless lyrics and plays pure acoustic guitar, harmonica and flute. And with six band mates tossing around more than whistles, drums and mandolins . . .

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