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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Introducing: Perunika Trio (World Music Network)

The Bulgarian Women’s Choir introduced many Westerners to the haunting chorales of their Eastern European nation. Several other ensembles have followed in their path. The London-based Perunika group, a trio of women of Macedonian descent (the region’s borders are porous), are resolutely traditional despite their . . .
Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lesser Epitomes (Palace of Lights)

The ambient, disconnected work of minimalist composer K. Leimer exists on the fringes of experimental music. And yet, the Hawaii-based musician has nearly 10 albums to his credit. His latest release, Lesser Epitomes, is a 70-minute collection of 21 short and closely related pieces organized into three suites.
Monday, April 14, 2008

Let's Go Everywhere (MRI)

Once purveyors of traditional Jimmy Smith-esque, Verve!-era, dusty Hammond B-3 grooves, Medeski Martin & Wood (MMW) started down the avant-garde road of experimentation with 2000's The Dropper, dropped X for 2002's Uninvisible and had seemingly forgotten their organ-trio roots completely by 2004's End of the World Party. Which is maybe why a complete digression back to their musical womb—in the form of a children's album—shouldn't be that surprising. Instrumental interludes—gentle, curious, perfect segues between sleepy time and playtime—break up humorous tales ("Pirates Don't Take Baths") . . .
Monday, April 7, 2008

Secrets of the New Explorers (Independent)

The six sparse and spacey songs on Secrets of the New Explorers by Glen Phillips (the former frontman for ’90s alternative-popsters Toad the Wet Sprocket) could land this sonic astronaut some new fans. With low-fi guitars, minimal percussion and dreamy vocals, Phillips explores space travel and the mysteries of the solar system. The strongest cut here, “Solar Flare,” even invokes
Monday, April 7, 2008

Schwim Tiger

Neenah, Wis., native Tim Schweiger has already amassed a lengthy résumé in northeastern Wisconsin punk and power-pop. That history no doubt contributes to Schwim Tiger's rounded, fresh-out-of-the-garage rocking. His overall vibe . . .
Monday, April 7, 2008

Bushwhack (Bushwhack Entertainment)

Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree rank among the most common reference points for progressive metal in the early 21st century. Serious and technical, yet still melodic, both veteran bands have proven that complex music can find an audience—if not always mainstream acceptance. Now along comes Bushwhack, an all-instrumental quartet of college students from New Haven, Conn., that picks and chooses influences from Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree and other modern progressive
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Savage Beauty

The classicist electric blues of Milwaukee’s Perry Weber and the Devilles rocks the house. And the quartet has enough greasiness about their guitar, organ, harmonica and (occasional) pedal steel interplay that it’s easy to imagine them at the corner stage of a holein-the-wall bar. Weber’s adeptness at his six strings brings the same touch of coolness as his vintage sport coat. And whether plumbing Hank Williams Sr.’s “Your Cheatin’ Heart” or originals hailing women of varying sizes and temperaments, Weber and his Devilles put a fresh sheen on blues catharsis, from emotional devastation to boastful joy.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

No Ceiling (Channel A)

One of the sources of the psychedelic sound was the traditional music of the Near East. Iranian-American songwriter and singer Haale draws from her heritage as well as ’60s rock on her latest CD. The title of No Ceiling may refer to the roofless, heavenward vista of songs echoing the influence of Sufi trance and rock dance. One or two tracks veer close to shoegazer boredom, but most possess an urgent gravity reminiscent of Grace Slick’s early band, the Great Society, or some of the dreamier psychedelically tinged pop to emerge in the United Kingdom during the ’80s.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Iraq (United For Opportunity Music)

War may be hell, but Black 47 makes it rock. On Iraq, veteran Irish renegade Larry Kirwan and his band of pacifists attempt to conquer the current war with a song cycle of previously released and new material. The punchy melodies are Black 47’s best in years, as uilleann-pipe-fuelled rock, reggae, folk, jazz and traditional Irish music collide in a rewarding protest record.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lucky (Barsuk)

In 1996, Nada Surf got lucky with “Popular,” although the song was practically designed to relegate the band to one-hit-wonder status. By the end of the ‘90s, they seemed bound for oblivion, but it turned out that they were just regrouping. 2003’s Let Go was a quietly stunning . . .

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