Album Reviews

"I caught a plane to Denver - your eyes had turned to stone."

The opening track for Alela Diane’s fifth full-length, About Farewell, is a farewell. A winter’s-gone-by reminiscence of you thinking about her, leaving me in the snow, the sort of melancholy low-lit melody that fans of Diane’s early work are bound to praise as a return to roots, a coming full circle. But this record’s plain-stated heartache is anything but a rekindling of old flames and reliable fingerpicking.

The Yawpers hail from Boulder, Colorado. They are mostly a rock and roll band but since there is a mandolin on a couple of songs I guess they get filed in the Country section.  They aren’t country. If anything, there is a roots vibe that fits. They play acoustic guitars and have no bassist and don’t need or want one. A harmonica player was added a year or so ago to the lineup to round out the 4 piece. The sound is big and raw-the band makes a big sound by the drummer using two floor toms and huge kick drum.

Released 2012 Nonesuch Records

Welcome to the swamp! The last of the Trichnologists (it’s in the left hand) is back with an amazing album, filled with voodoo, revolutionary politics, religion, and chants. 

Wax Tailor // Dusty Rainbow From The Dark

Dec 11, 2012

Released 09.18.2012 Le Plan Records

Wax Tailor could arguably be one of the best and most under rated DJ’s around.   This complex and genius concept album demands your attention as it winds you up and draws you into its bad ass breaks and grooves.  Sit down in a dark room and listen to this one by yourself!

Skipping Girl Vinegar // Keep Calm Carry The Monkey

Dec 11, 2012


Don’t let the name of the band fool you – this is a sweet album!   Full of surprises with sounds reminiscent of Joy Division and The Avett Brothers.  Put this CD on and listen to great music – from end to end.

The Heavy // The Glorious Dead

Dec 11, 2012

Released 8/21/2012  Counter Records

Rock & Roll album of the year?   The Heavy lay down a driving intensity in this CD  - with multiple layers of rock and roll.   Undercurrent vibes from Jack White, Led Zeppelin, The Black Keys and others as the album explodes with creativity.   It’s funky, punky, jazzy, and makes me wanna ROCK & ROLL!

Released 11/19/12 by Atlantic Records

Do you like Led Zeppelin? If so, you will love this live recording. Just remember, this is LZ, so turn it up!  "Celebration Day" is a tribute to Ahmet Ertegun, one of the movers and shakers of the music world for over half a century, and this recording is likely the last time LZ will play. Who knows?

Aimee Mann // Charmer

Nov 26, 2012

Released  09/18/12  Superego Records

I have been a huge fan of Aimee since her album “I’m With Stupid,” As a lyricist and musician, she is a national treasure. Her live shows are always wonderful.

Kelly Richey Band // Carry The Light

Nov 17, 2012

Released June 3, 2008 Sweet Lucy Records

Kelly’s guitar playing and singing are amazing. She’s been described as “Stevie Ray Vaughan in a woman’s body with Janis Joplin screaming to get out.” Kelly does things with a guitar that simply amaze me.

Released 05.15.2012 Starfaith

With the release of this CD, Carlos returns to the classic Santana Sound.  Stunning music, simply stunning.  The  CD’s title track, "Shape Shifter," as well as “Nomad,” are emblematic of Santa’s stinging guitar solos, the big Hammond B3 organ weaving in and out, relentless percussionists keeping everyone honest . . . Carlos' transgalactic musique is back . . . big time.

Released 09/13/2012 Beeble Records

Sugar Blue has done it again with his live 2-CD release “Raw Sugar.” One of the most striking tunes is an updated “Miss You.” Striking as in “it will flat blow you away.”

Released 10.15.12 Daptone Records

The Menahan Street Band is one of a crew of performers -- Sharon Jones, The Budos Band, Antibalas, Sugarman 3 to name a few -- who record on the Daptone Label out of Brooklyn. The Daptone artists as well as a bunch of other musicians are leading the Nu-Soul movement. 

Jamey Johnson & Guest Artists // Living For The Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran

Oct 23, 2012

Released 10.23.12 Mercury Nashville

Tribute albums are a dicey thing and usually don’t work. “Beat the Retreat” (tribute to Richard Thompson) & “Timeless: A Tribute to Hank Williams” come to mind as ones that really work. This one is equally well done.

Released 11.13.12 Asthmatic Kitty

Mark it down, guys: October 19th, the day KVNF started getting in Christmas albums. Not to worry, the airwaves won't be jingling for at least another month, I imagine. But with NPR's piece, New Holiday Songs: A Smart Career Move, we can ponder just why it is so attractive for every man, woman and child with access to a mic (read: every man, woman, and child) to record a bit of their own xmas cheer.

Ty Segal // Twins

Oct 15, 2012

Released 10.9.12  Drag City


In the malevolence of Ty Segall's 2012 album onslaught (this is #4 if you include his tasty, old-time-high-fi collaboration with White Fence), Twins is the most organized- like a less-severe natural disaster. As the cover depicts, we're still in for a mind-bend, but it's as if some of the sheer fuzz was combed & suited by NASA in preparation for a space launch.

-DJ Jurassica

Released 10.5.12 Walt Disney Records

Danny Elfman does an indie-pop packed soundtrack for the black and white stop motion remake by Tim Burton of his 1984 short film by the same name. It's cute and expected, but with a few tracks not to miss.

Van Morrison // Born to Sing: No Plan B

Oct 4, 2012

 Released 10.9.12 Blue Note

If I were a fire hydrant I would need to be turned off. I am gushing like one over this album. This is some of the best stuff Van has done in a while. Back on the Blue Note label he does Jazz, Blues, his own soul and sometimes all of them all together. I dare you to find a cut you don’t like!

The XX // Coexist

Sep 9, 2012

9.10.12 Young Turks

If you haven’t heard The xx before, their unique sound is hard to describe, but it's irresistible. (I still regularly turn to their first record from 2009 for everything from road trips to cooking music.) The music is soft, and although the vocals are lovely centerpieces, they also somehow fade into the songs. Chord arrangements are simple but combine to make beautiful tracks.

Bob Dylan // Tempest

Sep 8, 2012

Released 9.11.12 Columbia Records

Not many artists stay sharp, relevant, and great into their 70’s and later (Picasso, Neil Young, Vladimir Horowitz, et al., come to mind), I have no problem including Bob, at 71, in this elite group. If you are a Dylan fan and don’t have this record you must run, not walk, to your computer and order it.

Released 7.31.12 Polyvinyl

Sonny Smith recorded a country album after a breakup...When our tummies settle from the chuckle that incites, two things become clear:

  1. The drive to use steel guitar in the midst of pain must be innate
  2. A twang suits Sonny pretty well.

Released 7.24.12  Drag City

If this is your introduction to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, you are meeting a man part-genius, part-indulgent rambler. His score’s of albums under a variety of names (Palace Music, Palace Brothers, Palace, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Bonnie Billy, Bonnie 'Blue' Billy, & Will Oldham) are expansive and lonely, romping and snide, and all together strangely harmonious

Kalen Nash // Ukred

Jul 20, 2012

Released 5.29.12  Normaltown Records

Ukred, is exactly as fresh and lamby as its newly-birthed label, Normaltown. An imprint label of New West Records (Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earle, Kristofferson). Normaltown, named for the artists district in it's home town, Athens, GA, was established to grow young talent without immediate expectations.

Released 2.25.12 Matador

Another hauntingly soft and beautiful turn through the painful past of Mike Hadreas. This time the melodies aren't hung so gauntly on the notes of a singular piano, as with Learning, but fleshed out with a little more instrumentation and collaboration. Back deals with many of the same issues as Learning, but with a tinge of nourishment added to the pallor.