Johnny Kidd and the Pirates – Shakin’ All Over

We’ve all heard the term “going down a rabbit hole,” usually applied to a Google or Wikipedia search that goes off the rails and turns into hours of reading following an improbable path.  As a music lover, I like to think of this as more akin to stepping into a river that is the rich history of musical expression.  The… Read more »

Combo Qazam – Owls

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Album cover for Combo Qazam "Flight Music"

“Owls” explodes out of the speakers and rushes into your ears. The whole thing moves at about 190 beats per minute. It is exhilarating, yet there is a sense that everything will go terribly wrong if you blink at the incorrect moment. This sounds the way it feels to drive at 100 mph. The intro unfolds over the first minute… Read more »

Loraine James – Reflection

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Album Cover for Loraine James "Reflection"

I sometimes wonder what would happen if reviewers didn’t receive press kits. It’s a question that re-emerges as I read about Loraine James and encounter phrases like “genre-bending IDM” and “paint portraits of Blackness, queerness and loneliness.” I don’t know what genre-bending IDM sounds like. What I hear in Reflection is a thoughtful and emotional record that builds on the… Read more »

Modeselektor, The Fall, and the Rules of Electronic Dance Mixes

Album cover for Modeselektor Presents Modeselktion Vol. 03

Every genre of music defines an early set of rules, devolves into a chaotic sense of anarchy, then finds its way to a new set of rules. Look at rock. Early rock and roll followed rules largely inherited from country and R&B. The British Invasion initially stuck with those rules, but by about 1966, the Beatles and the Stones were… Read more »

Joey and Norman Jay – Good Times with Joey and Norman Jay: Classic Party Tunes from the Good Times Sound System

Album cover for Good Times With Joey and Norman Jay Vol. 1

It’s tough to make a great mix tape. Great mix tapes require knowledge and thoughtfulness and love. You need to dig deep, not only into the crate but into what you know about the person who’ll be listening. The flow of the mix is important, but so is the selection of songs and artists and genres. When you make a… Read more »

Dorothea Paas – Anything Can’t Happen

I used to work with a guy who thought Joni Mitchell was a genius. He wasn’t one of those hyper-focused fans who have one or two favorites that could do no wrong. This guy really loved music. He just thought Joni Mitchell had produced probably a dozen or so records he would call “masterpieces.” In his eyes, the Beatles only… Read more »

Illuminati Hotties – “Mmmoooaaaaaayaya”

There is nothing wrong with lo-fi cacophony, but a messy recording today is not quite the same as a messy recording 30 or 40 years ago. Much like a pair of jeans that are bought with holes in them are not the same as ones whose holes were worn into them. “Mmmoooaaaaaayaya” has a catchy hook juxtaposed with a lot… Read more »