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Album Reviews
Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009

Welcome Joy (Matador)

Kicking off like Seattle’s answer to our very own Bon Iver, The Cave Singers’ sophomore effort cracks and acoustically buzzes like the busy lot of today’s bearded, flannel-clad folk rock. While not so overly harmony-happy as their obvious cohorts, Fleet Foxes, the granola lyricism and poppy twang sound much like a different strand in that same earthy quilt. The boys are at their best when vamping up their bare-bones approach...
Album Reviews
Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2009

Disfarmer (Nonesuch)

Among his colleagues in the big four of modern jazz guitar-John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Mike Stern-Bill Frisell's place is most distinctive by a few identifying characteristics: a refusal to get down in any kind of groove, a penchant for old-timey Americana, and a sound largely comprised of finger-picked country twang. Namely, he's the most hillbilly of the bunch. Which is the vibe the WexnerCenter for the Arts was hoping to bottle when they commissioned...
Album Reviews
Monday, June 15, 2009

Roll On (Rounder)

Opening studio album No. 15, Roll On, with some rapping about modern-day angst ("Who Knew") and a reflection on his advancing age ("Former Me"), J.J. Cale might hint at a wizened, changed outlook. Yet besides a couple of digital bleeps and embellishments (who showed the old guy Pro Tools?), this is but another installment...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Piety Street (Emarcy)

One can never know quite what to expect from guitarist John Scofield: traditional quartet bop here, straight soul jazz groove there, maybe a smattering of avant-garde otherness. A guest-laden tribute of Ray Charles covers? Why not? His latest finds the guitarist in a new mood altogether-that of Sunday morning...
Album Reviews
Saturday, May 9, 2009

Compass (Nonesuch)

Expounding on 2007's Grammy-nominated Back East and his growing jambase.com-friendly following, saxophonist Joshua Redman seemingly has new directions on his mind for Compass. Tracks such as "Uncharted," "Faraway," "March" and "Through the Valley" might hint at progression, but it's basically a lot more of his "shoot the piano player" experimentation...
Album Reviews
Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hold Time (Merge Records)

Possibly the most appealing quality about lo-fi folk hero M. Ward-namely that unrelenting pleasantness-could also prove the biggest deal-breaker for new listeners: As Kate Winslet reprimands Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of theSpotless Mind, "I don't need 'nice.'" And so begins Hold Time, Ward's sixth...
Album Reviews
Sunday, March 15, 2009

Back to the River (Verve Forecast)

Coming off like a drunken Bonnie Raitt-all mournful wailing, whiskey-sodden riffs and prurient urges-Susan Tedeschi's latest album aims for the gut and, even when it swings a bit wide, is likely to rustle more than a few bar stools. With the Skynyrd-drenched "Talking About" kicking...
Album Reviews
Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009

Already Free (Victor)

No one enters a song like Derek Trucks. Understated and refined, with his own band or as a guest, playing a cover or an original, from the very first note of slide riffage there is never a "who is that?" moment on a Trucks recording. All the things that make the guitarist so distinct-that immaculate tone, Eastern tinge, precise frenzy and pure Empathy-are back...
Album Reviews
Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009

OH (ohio) (Merge Records)

While nearly impossible to describe without the perfunctory "sleepy" label, Lambchop seems especially well settled into their languid leanings on OH. From the gentle pull of an "oh, oh, ohio" that leads into the title track, there's less of everything big-electric, strings, piano balladry-that the band has used since 2001's Nixon, and much more of their well-worn, old-shoe country warmness...
Album Reviews
Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009

Peace Queer (MRI)

"Lately, my friends have been telling me that my songs have gotten more and more opinionated," says Todd Snider, struggling to explain himself on Peace Queer. Sure the romantic that normally populates Snider's musical landscape of Mellencamp-esque Americana seems to have suddenly found CNN, yet this isn't a complete departure from the "alright guy" that fans originally found so amusing. After all, Snider follows the clarification...

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