January 15, 2013 |
"New York City," the third song on Christopher Owens' debut solo album "Lysandre," is kind of an opposite-universe version of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side. " It's a sax-soaked tale of turning tricks in the big city, but zips along a major-key melody with a mix of hope and devastation. That blend has been the hallmark of Owens' writing since his time fronting the indie-rock band Girls. "Lysandre" isn't much of a departure But it does broaden the range and refine the writing that made him a troubadour of millennial drifters (and those who go to bed with them)
September 4, 2012 |
Admit it. You thought you had Cat Power's Chan Marshall pegged - and maybe grown a little nervous that her smooth, smoky voice and increasingly carefree demeanor had settled into a blue-eyed soul groove that would soundtrack hipster dinner parties through the next decade. But "Sun" will prove you wrong. A big, confident, and captivating pop album that's so far removed from her Memphis-inspired previous album of originals "The Greatest" (In between, she released an album of covers called "Jukebox")
March 11, 2013 |
A Devendra Banhart album is akin to an art exhibit of miniatures, the rewards contingent on the viewer's/listener's commitment to exploring each tiny detail in his microcosmic mise-en-scènes. Those rewards here more often are moments of smiling "ahhhhs" than of wide-eyed "A-has!" The indie folk darling's brand of Latin- and electronic-tinged pop yields a broad range of musical and sonic textures here. The lyrics range from snippets of ideas, such as the title track's brief rumination on acceptance of a missed opportunity to a slightly more elucidated homage to a musical hero ("Fur Hildegard von Bingen")
August 28, 2012 |
Dan Deacon "America" (Domino Records) Two and a half stars (out of four) It takes nerve to title a record “America,” a loaded word if there ever was one, and acclaimed electronic music performer Dan Deacon is embracing the challenge. Deacon, whose middle-of-the-crowd gigs, in which he sets up his gear in the pit and rocks hard along with fans rocking hard to his music, are some of the most frenzied and inspiring shows I've seen in recent years. He's also a video artist and combines his frantic neon-colored mantra clips with like-minded music to create a modern-day A.V. overload writ large.
August 22, 2013 |
Close your eyes. Erase your mind. Forget about Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and the various extracurricular activities that have hobbled singer-guitarist-romantic John Mayer's reputation off the playing field. Breathe, and think about the guitar while inhaling fresh air and electrified guitar licks. As a Wyoming wind blows through your hair, imagine that the John Mayer Cruise never happened. For many -- but by no means all -- such a Mayer reboot is necessary. Doing so in earnest before popping on his new album, "Paradise Valley," will offer payback for those yearning for peaceful, well-imagined guitar rock as earlier crafted by bands including the Eagles, the Flying Burrito Bros., the Grateful Dead and “Nashville Skyline”-era Bob Dylan.
January 21, 2014 |
Can a jazz guitarist grow up idolizing Stevie Ray Vaughan? That may be a question for the purists in considering “Golden Age,” the debut album from Nir Felder, who took up guitar at age 13 and still plays the $250 Stratocaster he bought with the blues-rock legend in mind. Potential future covers of Kenny Burrell's “Chitlins Con Carne” aside, Felder is after more subtle, yet no less electric pleasures than his idol with a swift, lyrical flow sharpened in stints backing Greg Osby, Jack DeJohnette and Esperanza Spalding.