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Sunny Jain's Impressive 'Wild Wild East' Is a Compelling Call for Human Rights

After this moving set of tracks, "Brooklyn Dhamal" brings us back to the idea of action. The percussion is in full force once more, and guitars, brass, and feedback build into the album's climactic final moments, a sonic peak that closes the album with a sense of urgency. Rightly so, as Jain's entire album has been working so hard to tell us. Wild Wild East presents stories that speak to the importance of human rights and criticizes a distinct and dangerous lack of them for so many Americans w...
Tags: Music, India, World Music, Jazz, Bollywood, Music Review, Folk, Jain, Smithsonian Folkways, Sunny Jain, Wild Wild East, Bhangra, Indian folk, Brooklyn Dhamal

Ben Watt Turns Middle-aged Angst Into Gold on 'Storm Damage'

Storm Damage is an album by a man in his late 50s, musing on his life, lost love, changing surroundings, and mortality. By some incredible sleight of hand, he's managed to make that unpalatable dish, delicious. On the credits amongst his numerous musical contributions, is the word "Alchemy". I believe it. He's turned his mid-life crisis into gold, and combine that with the clairvoyance, Mr. Watt has a couple of lucrative alternative careers if his muse ever departs him. On the strength of this...
Tags: Music, Music Review, Alternative Rock, Watt, Ben Watt, Folk Rock, Alternative pop

Shopping's Brand of Post-Punk Will Get You Moving

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Tags: Music, Shopping, Music Review, Indie Rock, Punk Rock, Post-punk, FatCat Records

Plugging Into the Third Mind

The Third Mind closes with a tribute to Roky Erickson and the 13th Story Elevators' dark classic "Reverberation". This cover feels like the most straightforward track on the album, coming across like a particularly sprightly (and Edgy) U2 tune with a dash of hair metal thrown in the mix. On paper that might sound horrific but scraping away a bit of the original's psychedelia reveals "Reverberation" to be a terrific rock tune, and there's nothing wrong with that. That's the cool thing about The...
Tags: Music, Rock, Music Review, Yep Roc Records, Alternative Rock, Roky Erickson, Dave Alvin, Psychedelic Rock, Folk Rock, Experimental rock, The third mind

Euglossine Creates a Gleaming Electronic Vista with 'Psaronius'

"Utah Teapot", named after the famous 3D graphics test model, begins with breezy flourishes before a funky beat takes over, and the song is transformed into a strange, sparse dance track. If the sudden appearance of a standard time signature is Euglossine's bid for mainstream acceptance, he does an immediate 180 with "Dryocampa Messenger Service". It's a song full of random bursts of electronic squalls, in addition to random beats that (thankfully) never quite coalesce into a song-length pulse...
Tags: Music, California, Experimental, Music Review, Frank Zappa, Ambient, Jazz Fusion, Electronic, Sound Design, Orange Milk Records, John Tesh, Euglossine, Psaronius, Utah Teapot, Dryocampa Messenger Service, Megaphyton

Brooding Goth Meets Post-Punk on Bambara's 'Stray'

"Ben & Lily" plays out like the flipside to "Johnny and Mary" by Robert Palmer. With its sweeping orchestration and minimalistic and repetitive figures, it could be a post-punk movie score. Lyrically, It's an affecting, somber tale about a married couple who were chemically sterilized in the state of Georgia. "Made For Me" sounds like the Cramps channeling Johnny Cash on a country, goth surf rock journey while on "Sweat" Bateh howls with almost religious fervor as the band build and then rele...
Tags: Music, Georgia, Rock, Music Review, Mary, Johnny Cash, Johnny, Bambara, Indie Rock, Wharf Cat Records, Robert Palmer, Post-punk, Gothic rock, Noise rock, Ben Lily

Nada Surf Get Philosophical on 'Never Not Together'

The insistent "Ride in the Unknown" finishes out the album with an upbeat, high-energy feel. The driving beat and bass from Elliot and Lorca push the song along, and subtle saxophone and keys fill out the sound. Caws again has a strong melody and vocals here. And again, he's talking about empathy, in this case being there for one another no matter the situation. That lyrical focus on moving forward, supporting one another, and having empathy could easily have turned cloying throughout a whole...
Tags: Music, Rock, Music Review, Power Pop, Alternative Rock, Elliot, Indie Rock, Barsuk Records, Lorca, Nada Surf

Tame Impala's 'The Slow Rush' Is an Open Diary Set to Perfect Music

On the final track of The Slow Rush, "One More Hour", we are told time has passed. We are older now, together. Whereas the first track asked for one more year, now we ask for just 60 more minutes. Parker is at his most self-reflective here. There might not be another chance at connection, he warms. "Whatever I've done, I did it for love. I did it for fun. Couldn't get enough. I did it for fame but never for money!" Whether these are thoughts expressed tongue-in-cheek, they are also soaked in t...
Tags: Music, Rock, Tame Impala, Kanye West, Music Review, Neo-psychedelia, Parker, Psychedelic Rock, Psychedelic Pop

Christopher Paul Stelling Wishes You 'Best of Luck'

However, by placing "Hear Me Calling", a blistering rocker just after "Something in Return", Stelling shows that sometimes the path to a new way of life isn't always linear, and some backsliding is inevitable. With that last blast of rock'n'roll, Stelling then ends the album with two quiet reflections. On "Waiting Game", Stelling notes, "Is this a test of our resilience, or is it just a waiting game?" With the final song, "Good Night Sweet Dreams" the wait appears to be over, for now, as the s...
Tags: Music, Music Review, Folk, Singer-songwriter, Stelling, Anti- Records, Christopher Paul Stelling, Indie folk

Boniface's Debut Album Is a Complex, Deeply Personal Pop Masterpiece

As if to drive home the "concept album" theme, Boniface is bookended by two odes to suburban youth. Opening track "Waking Up in Suburbia" is a gentle piano ballad that allows the listener to ease into the album gently. On the closing song, "Making Peace with Suburbia", Visser seems exhausted from the emotional weight of the 11 previous songs, but he soldiers on with one final episode. "I'm crying on a queen-size bed," they sing. "You called, but I'd already passed out / I woke up to your text,...
Tags: Music, London, Lana Del Rey, Pop, Dance, Music Review, Indie Pop, Winnipeg, Suburbia, Dance Pop, Boniface, Synthpop, Transgressive records, Suburbia Visser, Norman Fucking Rockwell Boniface

Indie Pop's Tennis Are Increasingly Sophisticated on 'Swimmer'

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Tags: Music, Pop, Tennis, Music Review, Dream Pop, Indie Pop

La Roux Returns Without 'Supervision'

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Tags: Music, Pop, Music Review, La Roux, Dance Pop, New Wave, Synthpop, Electropop

Beck + Pharrell = Mushy Synth Songs? Huh.

"Dark Places", on the other hand, uses many of the same musical elements, but with Pharrell back onboard, it's easy to see how the two men's approaches differ. Lyrically, the song is about obsessing over a broken relationship at all hours of the night and imagining better times. But Williams envisions this as a smooth '80s R&B track. So behind Beck's singing and the acoustic guitar, the synths burble and wobble, a bass walks all over the place, and the drums play the same intrusive fill agai...
Tags: Music, Beck, Star, Williams, Pharrell, Pharrell Williams, Music Review, Alternative Rock, Greg Kurstin, Art pop, Beck Pharrell

Delfeayo Marsalis Makes a Joyful Noise on 'Jazz Party'

"Mboya's Midnight Cocktail" is a tribute to Delfeayo's younger brother. On the spectrum, Marsalis shares, Mboya is non-verbal but likes to get "suited up" and go out on the town. The song told from the viewpoint of a bartender (played by Karen Livers) who has eyes for the song's attractive subject, is a fun and sultry stopgap during all the festivities. It's like we're eavesdropping on her one-way conversation before we head off in another direction, where we encounter "Dr. Hardgroove" - a tri...
Tags: Music, Swing, New Orleans, Jazz, Music Review, Funk, Marsalis, Delfeayo, Delfeayo Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Jazz Party, Mboya, Jazz funk, Uptown jazz orchestra, Jump blues, Troubador jass

Charles Wright and Company Express Themselves

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Tags: Music, Soul, R&B, Music Review, Charles Wright, Real gone music

The Homesick Make a Big Noise on 'The Big Exercise'

XTC isn't the only possible influence that can be detected on The Big Exercise, though. The band members themselves note that they have been obsessed with Dolmen Music, the 1981 album by American composer Meredith Monk, and the album's title is derived from a biography of avant-garde pop star Scott Walker. Plus, many of the songs on the album have an overactive Sufjan Stevens "Chicago"-style vibe to them.All of this, plus the band's musical attack and intricate vocal interplay, serve to make T...
Tags: Music, Sufjan Stevens, Scott Walker, Music Review, Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Meredith Monk, XTC, New Wave, Post-punk, Sub Pop Records, Art Rock, The Homesick, Progressive pop

Punk's Spanish Love Songs Urge 'Brave Faces Everyone'

Those same followers may be a little surprised to see then a song entitled "Optimism" on the album. However, it is a remarkably self-aware track about the dangers of being dragged down into a world of endless pessimism and cynicism. To thrive, the band understand that they need to paint with more colors than just black and grey.That's not to say that Spanish Love Songs don't know how to use those colors well. "Losers 2" is the comedown after the hedonism of "Losers" as the band identifies with...
Tags: Music, Rock, Neil Young, Music Review, Dolores, Indie Rock, Punk Rock, Pop Punk, Slocum, Pure noise records, Spanish love songs

Mezcla's Jazz Fusion Debut Offers Hits and Misses for Bandleader David Bowden

But, on other songs, the band don't fall on formula, the tried and tired and true, as much as they stop slightly short of work that's truly inspiring. Guitarist Ben MacDonald redeems himself a bit on the closing track, but early in the record, he is muted and hesitant to the point of barely registering. On "Volta", the record's second track, there's a bongo- and bass-assisted shimmy that begs for a scorching guitar lead. MacDonald lurks quietly somewhere in the background. Lost opportunity. "S...
Tags: Music, Jazz, Music Review, Jazz Fusion, Sami, MacDonald, VOLTA, David Bowden, Africa Latin America, Elcock, Mezcla, Ben MacDonald

Elkhorn Improvise the Hypnotic 'Storm Sessions'

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Tags: Music, Experimental, Music Review, Folk, Instrumental, Elkhorn, Psychedelic folk

Bobby Patterson Gets the 'Real Gone' Reissue Treatment

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Tags: Music, Review, Soul, R&B, Music Review, Bobby Patterson, Real gone music

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