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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Anywhere I Lay My Head (Rhino)

In between getting engaged to Van Wilder and filming a make-out session with Penélope Cruz for the new Woody Allen picture, Scarlett Johansson (Scar-Jo if you’re nasty) decided, “Hey, might as well record a bunch of Tom Waits songs.” So she called on the production skills of TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, and the two . . .
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Giant Sized Life

Milwaukee folk singer Micah Olsan ably performs solo acoustic with just voice and guitar. But when he fronts his band, he brings an Afro-Caribbean percussion and electric bass that are reminiscent of Ben Harper and Dave Matthews. With his singing and songwriting, however, Olsan is more plaintive than Matthews . . .
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nine Heavens (Six Degrees)

Age-old traditions come alive in a sound as contemporary as today on Niyaz’s new album. Nine Heavens features the sultry power of vocalist Azam Ali (who has recorded under her own name and with a group called Vas) enveloped in dark-hued sonic tapestries by multi-instrumentalist Loga Ramin . . .
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Hits...Then ’Til Now (Time Life)

The booklet accompanying the new George Jones box set notes that during his three years with the United Artists label, the singer recorded no less than 150 songs. Surely, some of the choices were misjudged; some of the performances must have been off-stride. But on the evidence of the tracks collected . . .
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

7 (Platetectonic Music)

One-time Columbia recording artists Poi Dog Pondering return with their first studio effort in five years, seemingly entering a third stage of the group's 20-plus years on the road of rock ’n’ roll: Formed as a world-infused, folk-rock outfit in Hawaii, their following days in Austin, Texas, and Chicago yielded dance . . .
Monday, June 9, 2008

Cellar Songs

Upon first listen, the pop-rock crafted by Apollo, a Minneapolis-via-Brookfield male duo, is almost too cheery for its own good. On subsequent spins, however, Cellar Songs mixes the twosome's ebullient love odes with deeper philosophizing. The duo’s philosophies may be rather vague, but such ambiguity has minted . . .
Monday, June 9, 2008

Nothing But the Best (Reprise)

How many more greatest-hits packages can be culled from Frank Sinatra’s catalog? The latest features crisp masters of nearly two-dozen recordings from the final segment of his recording career, when he was both mogul and star of Reprise Records. It’s great stuff to have on disc, assuming you don’t already own . . .
Monday, June 9, 2008

13th Star (Chocolate Frog Records)

Some of rock’s most memorable albums have been recorded by artists in the midst of grief and despair. While 13th Star, a poignant reflection on love by the recently heartbroken Derek Dick—better known as Fish, former frontman of the seminal British progressive-rock band Marillion—may not go down as one of the . . .
Monday, June 9, 2008

The Shaming of the True (Faux Real)

For more than two decades John Sieger has been cranking out great songs, ranging from tunes for the R&B Cadets and Semi-Twang to a string of solo albums. The man oozes soul, and his talent is not in question. Even still, Sieger and co-writer Michael Feldman’s gems too often fly under the radar. Recorded. . .
Monday, June 2, 2008

Rising Down (Def Jam)

As much as The Roots have undeniably revolutionized the genre, their records still sometimes succumb to hip-hop clichés. Maintaining a track-to-track flow, for example, remains an issue. However, unlike with other rap acts, the numerous guest appearances often provide their albums with a vital spark.