Category Archives: Music

Rupa and the April Fish’s Growing Up

I’d recently written about hopepunk in literature, so the appearance of Rupa and the April Fishes’ Growing Upward across my virtual desk was as timely and inevitable as the first day of spring. Lead singer Rupa is one of the … Continue reading

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Arvo Pärt’s Kanon Pokajanen

It is no small irony that in an age that is condemned for being increasingly secular and materialistic, at least some of, if not the most significant and compelling music in Europe and America is, or has as its inspiration, … Continue reading

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John Tavener’s The Last Sleep of the Virgin; The Hidden Treasure

Like many contemporary composers, John Tavener uses music in the service of spirituality. He is a convert to the Russian Orthodox faith; the traditions of that faith have influenced his work as much or perhaps more than trends in music. … Continue reading

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Grupo Fantasma’s American Music: Vol. VII

I don’t think you’ll hear many records this year that move effortlessly from Turkish psychedelia on one track to Tex-Mex to cumbia and other Afro-Caribbean rhythms, all set to a big, brash funk sound. So if that sounds intriguing to … Continue reading

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West of Eden’s Flat Earth Society

I have followed West of Eden for almost 20 years, and seen them go through different phases. Once they tried to come across as a mix of the Corrs and ABBA, for a long time they kept recording theme-albums, about … Continue reading

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Kronos Quartet’s Winter Was Hard

Winter was Hard is one of Kronos Quartet’s anthology albums, and contains a wealth of contemporary music from a wide range of approaches. It is one of the first of their recordings that I owned (in cassette) and my first … Continue reading

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Stephen Emmer’s Recitement

I love it: pop culture invades the avant-garde. OK – now I’ve got that off my chest and am sitting here listening to Stephen Emmer’s Recitement. It’s really popular music, and Emmer has boosted it up a level in the … Continue reading

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The Dowland Project’s Romaria

It’s only fair to inform you that when the press information for this release hit the GMR editorial staff, it caused quite a discussion, stemming in large part from John Potter’s comments about “musicological thought police” and “negotiating with dead … Continue reading

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Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves’ self-titled

Allison de Groot and Tatiana Hargreaves are two up-and-coming young musicians on the old-time music scene in the U.S. and Canada, and they’ve teamed up for an utterly charming debut as a duo on clawhammer banjo and fiddle, respectively. De … Continue reading

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Vassar Clements’ Full Circle

Vassar Clements was the first fiddle player whose playing I fell in love with. I’ve always just naturally gravitated to the guitar, but Vassar’s playing on the legendary Will the Circle Be Unbroken album made me sit up and pay … Continue reading

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McDermott’s 2 Hours’ Besieged

Named after a radio show McDermott’s 2 Hours was formed in 1986 by Nick Burbridge. More than 30 years later Burbridge is the only surviving member from the original line up. This, their ninth album if my mathematics work, is … Continue reading

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Garmarna’s Hildegard von Bingen

The sticker says “12th century chants, 21st century sounds.” But don’t let that strike fear into your soul. This is no mamby pamby attempt to cash in on the unexpected appeal of Gregorian chants with new age backgrounds. Nor is … Continue reading

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Keith Jarrett’s Radiance

Keith Jarrett is a remarkable example of the phenomenon of the performer/composer. Although he is generally considered a jazz pianist — one of the finest — I first became acquainted with his work through his recordings of the twentieth century … Continue reading

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Various artists’ The Social Power of Music

One of my earliest memories, musical or otherwise, is of sitting on my bedroom floor listening to records on my own little portable record player. Among my favorites was a set of albums that collected well-known songs of various styles … Continue reading

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César Franck’s Symphony in D Minor; Igor Stravinsky’s Pétrouchka

Music critic Roger Dettmer of the Chicago American called Pierre Monteux’s performance of César Franck’s Symphony in D Minor “a model of rectitude and dignity.” Anyone who has paid much attention to the course of music in the 19th century, … Continue reading

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Philip Glass/Signal: Glassworks and Music in Similar Motion, Live at Poisson Rouge

Philip Glass’ Glassworks had never been performed in New York until the contemporary ensemble Signal asked Michael Riesman, long-time music director of the Philip Glass Ensemble, to arrange it for live performance. (It was originally conceived for the recording studio.) … Continue reading

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Mandolin Orange’s Tides of a Teardrop

Mandolin Orange, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is one of the most prolific of current Americana acts. Tides of a Teardrop is their sixth since their debut in 2010 with Quiet Little Room, all featuring songs written by Andrew Marlin … Continue reading

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Larry Grenadier’s The Gleaners

I did not know (until I read the publicity material for this record) that Manfred Eicher, founder and chief producer of Germany’s ECM jazz and classical labels, was a former bass player himself. He certainly has set the standard for … Continue reading

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Deer Tick’s Mayonnaise

After the critical and popular success of their 2017 self-titled double release Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2, the Rhode Island rockers are back with a beguiling compilation. Mayonnaise is a companion piece to those previous two records, with … Continue reading

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Abigail Lapell’s Getaway

Toronto-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Abigail Lapell follows up her Canadian Folk Music award-winning sophomore album Hide Nor Hair with Getaway. It is a remarkably mature record — both musically and emotionally — for a young musician cutting her third album. … Continue reading

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Mats Eilertsen Trio’s And Then Comes The Night

One of the highlights of 2018 for me was a visit to the Royal Albatross Centre on the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin, New Zealand. It’s the site of a breeding colony – one of only two known in the world … Continue reading

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Frigg’s Live and Economy Class

With their self-titled debut CD and their sophomore effort Oasis, Frigg have quickly established themselves as the best young band in Nordic folk music. Finns Antti Järvelä (double bass and fiddle), Esko Järvelä (fiddle and piano), Antti Järvelä (fiddle), Tuomas … Continue reading

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Tiny Ruins’ Olympic Girls

Hollie Fullbrook has an arresting, husky alto that makes her singing stand out immediately. Add that to her multi-faceted songwriting talents and a New Zealand “accent” that’s going to sound pretty exotic to American ears, and Olympic Girls, her first … Continue reading

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Yonathan Avishai’s Joys and Solitudes

For such an economical package — at eight tracks and just 55 minutes, it’s practically an EP by today’s jazz CD standards — Yonathan Avishai’s Joys and Solitudes is brimming with musical riches. On the strength of this album, the … Continue reading

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Johannes Brahms, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, Op. 77; Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra in A Minor, Op. 102

There are certain artists whose work becomes an inextricable part of one’s life, whether it be a writer, a painter, or a composer. One develops a sense of the work, sometimes to the point where it all becomes one great … Continue reading

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The Transgressors’ They Made Her a Criminal

They Made Her a Criminal by the Austin-based Transgressors is sort of new and sort of not, depending on how you count these things. But its somewhat twisty release history pales in comparison to the deliciously tortured music this four-piece … Continue reading

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John Mailander’s Forecast

Fiddler John Mailander on his second full-length release Forecast is attempting to bridge the worlds of jazz, folk and Americana music – and pretty much succeeding. The Nashville-based fiddler has played with a who’s who of Americana artists from stalwarts … Continue reading

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Joseph Haydn’s Die Jahreszeit (The Seasons)

I’m always delighted and amused by what the eighteenth century — one of the most mannered and formal periods in Western history — considered “lacking in artifice.” However, whatever my personal opinion (coming, as it does, from a casual and … Continue reading

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Various Artists’ Ragas Live Retrospective, 2012-2017

The ancient musical form of the Indian subcontinent known as raga is experiencing a renaissance in New York. It’s been going on for at least a decade now, and in 2011 performers descended on a New York City radio station … Continue reading

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Jethro Tull’s Songs from the Wood and Heavy Horses (Reissues)

Over the past several years, many classic rock bands have been re-releasing their backlists, and Jethro Tull is no exception. Like most Tull fans, I already have these albums, in some cases in multiple formats, so I was initially skeptical … Continue reading

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Jethro Tull’s The Jethro Tull Christmas Album

Now I have to tell you, when I first saw this album listed on the Jethro Tull Web site I did a double take. I read it like this…The JETHRO TULL CHRISTMAS???? album? I was not the only surprised person … Continue reading

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Depeche Mode’s Playing the Angel

Somewhere along the line, I rediscovered Depeche Mode. I pretty much had everything available up through Depeche Mode 101 (which I didn’t think much of — it’s one of the worst live albums I’ve heard), but on a whim I … Continue reading

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The Beatles’ The Beatles and Esher Demos

Well here we are again, celebrating another 50th anniversary of a ground-breaking Beatles LP with a deluxe, remastered reissue. This time it is the double LP The Beatles, otherwise known as The White Album, the first proper album the Beatles … Continue reading

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Arthur Fiedler’s Hi-Fi Fiedler

Arthur Fiedler has the distinction of being the best-selling classical conductor of all time, due in no small part to his immense popularity as the musical director of the Boston Pops, a post he held for fifty years. His recordings … Continue reading

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Ian Anderson at the Beacon Theater, October 13 2009

There are many different stages to Ian Anderson’s seemingly endless artistry with Jethro Tull, the band with whom he is synonymous. There is the tramp/vagrant persona of the late 60s, the Aqualung character, the medieval minstrel of the early and … Continue reading

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Jethro Tull at Jones Beach, NY June 11, 2010

After more than four decades of making music, Jethro Tull still has the kind of magic that defines rock ‘n roll. Ian Anderson’s wild onstage antics may have mellowed somewhat over the years, but he is still shockingly agile and … Continue reading

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Terry Riley’s Lisbon Concert

One of the high points of my music-listening career, right up there with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Irwin Hoffman performing the perfect Brahms Symphony No, 1, was the chance to hear Terry Riley in concert. For those who haven’t … Continue reading

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Ryley Walker’s The Lillywhite Sessions

It’s always interesting to find out what kind of music your favorite musicians were listening to as teenagers. Sometimes it’s surprising, like finding out that Chicago-based indie-folk-jazz-rocker Ryley Walker was a huge Dave Matthews Band fan in his mid-teens. Pretty … Continue reading

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Thick As a Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock?

Forty years after the groundbreaking progressive rock classic Thick as a Brick, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull brings us Thick as A Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock? Is he Too Old to Rock n’ Roll? Hardly. This album … Continue reading

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Vaughan Williams’s Orchestral Works

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) is certainly one of the foremost English composers of the twentieth century. Like many of his contemporaries – Bartók and Copeland come immediately to mind – he drew a great deal of his inspiration from folk … Continue reading

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Flash Girls’ Play Each Morning Wild Queen

“They talk about the Islands and they have been called Wild Queens. I wonder if they were not really Anne Bonney and Mary Read, those piratical dames, those buccaneer broads, those sword-and-knife wielding beauties of the Bounding Main. After all, … Continue reading

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Rachel Baiman’s Thanksgiving EP

A lot of American holidays have their own music, and every musician’s fallback is the Christmas album. But I can’t think of any Thanksgiving records, although I’m sure there are some in the contemporary Christian catalog. But we won’t go … Continue reading

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Folk Underground’s Buried Things

I must confess that Cat, our fearless editor-in-chief, handed me this CD and said, “You’ll like this, they’re fun”, or something to that effect. He knows my weird taste well enough that I could tell by the way he spoke … Continue reading

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Flash Girls’ The Return of Pansy Smith and Violet Jones (Postmortem on Our Love, Tea and Corpses and more)

I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses… I can teach you how to … Continue reading

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Flash Girls’ Maurice & I

Judith Gennet penned this review. Emma Bull is a science fiction and fantasy writer, having published a number of sometimes odd works including War for the Oaks, Territory, and Bone Dance: A Fantasy For Technophiles. Lorraine Garland is a “comic … Continue reading

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Duchas’ Solstice

Naomi de Bruyn penned this review. Duchas, pronounced “du-kuss,” is an Irish Gaelic word meaning “heritage.” And this is what this high energy group from Connemara is playing: their musical heritage. This is their second release, and it is filled … Continue reading

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Burach’s Born Tired

Chuck Lipsig penned this review. Many forms of music have been fused with Celtic — hard rock, new age, jazz, and South American, just to name a few — with varying success. With Born Tired, Burach fuses with several styles, … Continue reading

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Ben Lennon & Friends’ The Natural Bridge

Judith Gennett penned this review. The Natural Bridge is a heavily traditional Irish album featuring septuagenarian fiddler Ben Lennon, a native of County Leitrim. Lennon’s friends include members of his Eighties plus traditional band Dog Big and Dog Little, all … Continue reading

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Jakob Bro at The Old Church, Portland, Oregon, October 28, 2018

The music that Danish guitarist Jakob Bro makes with his trio is paradoxical, such that much better music writers than I have difficulty describing it. He’s currently working with two Americans, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Joey Baron, with whom … Continue reading

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Kathryn Tickell’s Borderlands and Kathryn Tickell Band’s Kathryn Tickell

Kathryn Tickell has made a name for herself as well as working tirelessly to promote her instruments, the Northumbrian smallpipes. Coming from a family of musicians, she has extended her work into academia through her position at Newcastle University as … Continue reading

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