Everything but the Girl – Walking Wounded, New York City, 1996

Album cover for Everything but the Girl "Walking Wounded"

When I hear music that confuses me, I commit to listening to it. Electronic dance music was the exception, though. Dance music confused the hell out of me, but I fought it. I fought it hard. For years, I refused to dig in and try to understand it. I ranted about turntables not being instruments and DJs not being musicians…. Read more »

Townes Van Zandt – Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas

One of the worst things that can happen at a show is for the songs on the stage to reproduce the songs from the studio, yet live records fall into this trap more often than not. Crowd noise is cleaned up and artificially returned between songs. Rather than reproducing the best show, tracks are culled from multiple shows. Part of… Read more »

Natalie Bergman – Mercy

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Someone once told me, “If you’re not troubled by anything in the Bible, you’re not paying attention.” There’s a lot of truth to that and I think that is something that a lot of overtly religious music misses. The sugary sweetness of “praise” music leads to what I see as the very odd, but convenient conclusion that a faith-based life… Read more »

Iron Maiden – “The Writing on the Wall”

What? Were they listening to a lot of Bon Jovi during quarantine?  Before the vocals cut in, I was expecting, “I’m a cowboy/On a steel horse I ride/I’m wanted dead or alive …”  I know that’s unfair, because it does have some weird gypsy/folky stuff going on, but my first reaction was “Wanted Dead or Alive,” only a little heavier… Read more »

Nils Lofgren – Night After Night

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Nils Lofgren’s earlier band Grin had some teeth, but for the most part, I find his solo records to be lacking any of that. They’re not bad so much as they are just lacking in anything ecstatic. That makes Night After Night a bit of a surprise. Steven Kurutz at allmusic.com calls the record “not an inspired effort,” but to… Read more »

Nirvana – Nevermind: Is It a Great Album?

Album cover for Nirvana "Nevermind"

We were restless. We were young and passionate and starving for great music, music with an edge, music that expressed the turmoil of how we felt. It was 1991 and it was a difficult time to love rock. Hard rock was dominated by bands like Warrant and Extreme and Tesla, bands who could sell out arenas but were devoid of… Read more »

Loney Dear – Loney Dear

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Album cover for "Loney Dear"

I am rooted in songs filled with drive and urgency and yearning. I stray into other worlds—worlds filled with opera singers and dub basslines and experimental noises—but inevitably I hear an album filled with driving rhythms and urgent melodies and yearning lyrics, and I am drawn in and taken back to my roots. Loney Dear’s songs have drawn me in… Read more »

Kölsch – fabric Presents Kölsch

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Album cover for "fabric Presents Kölsch"

Two things immediately strike me about Rune Reilly Kölsch’s set for Fabric. First, Kölsch’s compositions rest upon thick beds of harmony that take me back to my earliest experiences with electronic music, when I was a high school heavy metal fan trying to understand the sonic landscapes of Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre. Second, his rhythms feel boundless, weaving in… Read more »

Low – “Days Like These”

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Low’s first release from their upcoming Hey What, due out in September, is simple and sparse, relying mostly on subtlety to convey its voice. The a capella opening descends at the end of each line with chorus effect that sounds as much like organ as a human voice, yet remains very organic. Around the minute mark, the chorus of voice… Read more »