Tag Archives: music

PRIM’s Garnet Tales

Vienna-based PRIM isn’t the first or only ensemble to challenge the expectations of the piano trio format. But they’re doing it with a lot of wit and intelligence, as we see on their latest release Garnet Tales. I see them … Continue reading

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Nap Eyes’ Snapshot of a Beginner

Frontman, singer and songwriter Nigel Chapman gives himself a good talking to on Snapshot of a Beginner, the new album by Nap Eyes. And what he tells himself is something that we all might learn from too. This is the … Continue reading

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Divahn’s Shalhevet

Through the ages many traditions have sung hymns and worship songs based on the popular music of the day with the  secular lyrics replaced by religious themes and words. It’s also a tradition called piyyut among the Mizrahi, the Jews … Continue reading

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Machtelinckx/Badenhorst/Cools/Gouband’s porous structures

porous structures was the third part of a 2019 triptych for Belgian multi-instrumentalist and avant garde composer Ruben Machtelinckx. First came the debut album of Poor Isa, his duo with his countryman Frederik Leroux, who also plays guitar, banjo and … Continue reading

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Squirrel Flower’s I Was Born Swimming

Squirrel Flower is the stage name of the Boston-based singer-songwriter Ella O’Connor Williams, making her recording debut with the beautifully realized I Was Born Swimming. She has a singing voice that conveys heartache and steely determination in equal measures, an … Continue reading

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Joe Russo’s phér•bŏney

This debut solo album by drummer Joe Russo was released digitally in the summer of 2019, but I’m just catching up with it in time for its release on vinyl. phér•bŏney is the most eclectic set of tunes I’ve reviewed … Continue reading

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Son Little’s aloha

“We don’t have to suffer, you and I … we don’t have to wait in the shadows for the sunshine.” Thus goes the hooky chorus of “suffer,” a standout track on Son Little’s new aloha. The song was inspired by … Continue reading

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Emmi Kujanpää’s Nani

Finnish folk singer, composer, teacher and researcher Emmi Kujanpää continues her ongoing exploration of the intersection of Finnish and Balkan music with her first “solo” recording Nani. I put solo in quotes because this album includes the contributions of Le … Continue reading

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Gary’s favorite music of the 2010s

The 2010s have been a turbulent decade, and for me a life-changing one. In the closing months of 2010 I received a kidney transplant that transformed my life. And at about the same time, after a couple of decades of … Continue reading

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Nous’s Nous II

What first attracted me to this recording was the presence of Shahzad Ismaily, the New York-based multi-instrumentalist whose playing, composing and arranging skills have made him a valued contributer to projects by so many musicians it’s impossible to list them … Continue reading

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Various artists’ Down In Jamaica – 40 Years Of VP Records

VP Records has released a definitive set chronicaling its 40 years of bringing Jamaican music to the world. Down In Jamaica is a 94-track box set with 24-page booklet and art cards detailing the hits, rarities, and history of the … Continue reading

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Locobeach’s Psychedelic Disco Cumbia

This album’s title Psychedelic Disco Cumbia pretty much says it all. Danceable cumbia music with a combination of analog and electronic instruments and a psychedelic edge. Locobeach is a New York City-based supergroup with members from bands like Los Amigos … Continue reading

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Various artists’ Too Late to Pray: Defiant Chicago Roots

I’ve been a fan of Bloodshot Records, the Chicago insurgent country label since not quite the beginning, but sometime in the late 1990s. They’re celebrating their 25th anniversary this month with some live music events as is their wont, but … Continue reading

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Los Pirañas’ Historia Natural

The three musicians who comprise Los Pirañas have been playing together since they were in high school, 25 years ago, but they only formed this power trio in 2009. The three are based in Bogotá, Colombia, and guitarist Eblis Alvarez, … Continue reading

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BaBa ZuLa’s Derin Derin

It’s only been a couple of years since BaBa ZuLa first blew my mind with their 20th anniversary retrospective two-disc set XX, so it’s a real treat to have a new studio album already. Derin Derin is something like ninth … Continue reading

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Avishai Cohen and Yonathan Avishai’s Playing The Room

The overall impression I got of New York-based Israeli-born trumpeter Avishai Cohen’s playing when I saw him in Portland, Ore., a few years ago was of control. The young man is capable of many levels of nuance, but he seems … Continue reading

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Humbird’s Pharmakon

This new album by Humbird is promoted as “experimental.” At first blush, it sounds anything but. Humbird is a project of Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter (and pizza waitress) Siri Undlin, working with several other local musicians. As the album opens on an … Continue reading

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Modern Nature’s How To Live

I may not be listening to Modern Nature’s How To Live right, but know what? I don’t care! And somehow I don’t think frontman Jack Cooper would care much, either. Modern Nature is a new project for Cooper, who also … Continue reading

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The Rails’ Cancel The Sun

“Save the planet, kill yourself … it’s the least that you could do,” The Rails sing, slightly tongue in cheek, on one of the standout tracks on their third release Cancel The Sun. It’s a lovely folk-rocker with shimmering electric … Continue reading

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Locust Honey’s The Low and Low

You know how female country singers have often done “answer songs” that respond to the misogyny and sexism of hits by male country singers? The best known is “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels” by Kitty Wells, which was … Continue reading

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Michele Rabbia, Gianluca Petrella, Eivind Aarset’s Lost River

By turns ambient, majestic, contemplative, evocative, even at times unsettling, Lost River by the new trio of drummer Michele Rabbia, guitarist Eivind Aarset and trombonist Gianluca Petrella is a sonic hall of wonders. The album’s 10 tracks, mostly in the … Continue reading

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Kelly Hunt’s Even The Sparrow

“That banjo has stories,” Kelly Hunt says of the instrument on which she accompanies herself on her lovely debut album Even The Sparrow. “I wish I knew them all.” Hunt seems destined to add plenty of her own stories to … Continue reading

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Various artists’ Jazz Fest: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is one of the pre-eminent music festivals in the United States. Held annually in the Crescent City since 1969, after a few fits and starts earlier in the decade, it celebrates New Orleans … Continue reading

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An American Forrest’s O Bronder, Donder Yonder?

Yonder, yonder, yonder. It’s a word you don’t hear much these days except in the poetry of cowboys or from the Shakespearean stage. Forrest Van Tuyl, who performs as An American Forrest, is a young cowboy poet and horse wrangler … Continue reading

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Stephan Micus’s White Night

Stephan Micus is a unique spirit in what used to be called world music. His dedication to unfettered exploration of his musical vision is truly impressive. On White Night, his 23rd solo album for ECM, Micus unleashes his visionary creativity … Continue reading

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Martin Barre Celebrates 50 Years of Jethro Tull

Martin Barre, who for more than four decades was the guitarist of legendary rock band Jethro Tull, is celebrating the band’s fiftieth anniversary this year with a greatest hits show that delves into the band’s deep, wonderful catalog. Fans will … Continue reading

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Daniel Norgren’s Wooh Dang

You know it’s true love when a Swede compares you to coffee, right? “You’re the coffee in my cup / you’re the one who woke me up …” So Daniel Norgren croons on the sweet, gospel-tinged love song “The Day … Continue reading

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Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan’s Epistrophy

All jazz music can be described as an exploration, of course. At its best, the musicians whether solo or in an ensemble can be heard as they improvise, listening to and playing off of each other as they go, never … Continue reading

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Field Medic’s Fade Into the Dawn

In case you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to be a semi-unknown singer-songwriter on tour, playing the role of the opener that nobody came to hear, you can hear it and feel it in the opening track and second … 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Ian Anderson at the Beacon Theater

Fifty years ago, a group of young musicians from Blackpool released a record called This Was, launching the career of Jethro Tull, one of the most influential and original rock bands ever. This year, Ian Anderson is out on the … Continue reading

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Mark Turner & Ethan Iverson’s Temporary Kings

I was sad and a little concerned in 2017 when pianist Ethan Iverson left The Bad Plus, the modern jazz trio he helped found nearly 20 years ago. Not to worry, though. He left that ensemble in good hands with … Continue reading

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Cliff Westfall’s Baby You Win

Been listening to the Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast and wonder where you can find some modern honky-tonk music like they used to make back in the mid-20th Century? Or maybe you just love the stuff and can’t seem to find … Continue reading

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Humphrey Carpenter’s Benjamin Britten: A Biography

Whatever one may think of Benjamin Britten’s place in the history of music, there is no doubt that his life provides a fascinating and insightful look into the place of the artist in the twentieth century. In Humphrey Carpenter’s biography, … Continue reading

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Duende Libre’s Drift

Drift is the sophomore release from the Seattle-based Latin-jazz/world music trio Duende Libre. It builds on the elements displayed on their self-titled debut, which was one of my favorite recordings of 2017. Duende Libre is composer and bandleader Alex Chadsey, … Continue reading

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Alan Trist and David Dodd’s The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics

I’m Uncle Sam that’s who I am / Been hidin’ out in a rock and roll band — ‘U.S. Blues’ by Robert Hunter What’s your favourite Dead song? Do you have a fair idea of what the lyrics for that song … Continue reading

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Ryley Walker’s Deafman Glance

I’ve been listening to Chicago-based folk-rocker Ryley Walker maturing his music since his first full-length All Kinds of You came out on Thompkins Square in 2014. He gained critical acclaim for his second Primrose Green the following year, with its … Continue reading

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Geoff Emerick’s Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles

Geoff Emerick is one of the unsung heroes of The Beatles’ saga. Inveterate reader of liner notes that I am, I’ve been aware of his name for some time, but it tended to blend into the amorphous blob of names … Continue reading

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Various artists’ Swing West!

Country music and Nashville are synonymous, right? Wrong. Since the late 1940s, California, particularly Bakersfield, has been the breeding ground for its own strain of country music that stands outside of the mainstream flowing from Nashville. Razor & Tie, which … Continue reading

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Sarah Shook & the Disarmers’ Years

By the time we reach the second track of Sarah Shook’s new album Years, it’s already the second time she’s not just saying goodbye to a lover who doesn’t meet her standards, but saying, in effect, “get the hell out, … Continue reading

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King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s Polygondwanaland

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard is a large Australian ensemble that is wildly prolific and insanely creative. In something like 13 albums since the band got together in 2010, they’ve plowed through styles that range from jazz fusion and … Continue reading

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Nona Hendryx and Gary Lucas’s The World of Captain Beefheart

It’s pretty audacious to record an album of Captain Beefheart’s music, but apparently guitarist Gary Lucas is that kind of guy. He comes by it honestly, though. He played in a late incarnation of Beefheart’s Magic Band in the 1980s, … Continue reading

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Eric Brace’s Cartes Postales

I’ve been reviewing the music of Eric Brace for perhaps 15 years now, and I didn’t think he could surprise me much. I’ve enjoyed him solo and in various permutations – with his band Last Train Home, with Peter Cooper … Continue reading

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