Tom Moon

Tom Moon has been writing about pop, rock, jazz, blues, hip-hop and the music of the world since 1983.

He is the author of the New York Times bestseller 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die (Workman Publishing), and a contributor to other books including The Final Four of Everything.

A saxophonist whose professional credits include stints on cruise ships and several tours with the Maynard Ferguson orchestra, Moon served as music critic at the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1988 until 2004. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GQ, Blender, Spin, Vibe, Harp and other publications, and has won several awards, including two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Music Journalism awards. He has contributed to NPR's All Things Considered since 1996.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun July 27, 2014

First Listen: Adult Jazz, 'Gist Is'

Adult Jazz's new album, Gist Is, comes out Aug. 4.
James Pearson Howes Courtesy of the artist

To music obsessives of a certain age, the current generation of listeners sometimes appears as lightweight grazers at the Internet smorgasbord who seem unwilling (possibly unable) to focus attention at depth on a single piece of music. The summary dismissal: The kids today, they can't handle all of what somebody like a Frank Zappa (or a band like King Crimson) throws at them.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun July 20, 2014

First Listen: Bear In Heaven, 'Time Is Over One Day Old'

Bear In Heaven's new album, Time Is Over One Day Old, comes out Aug. 5.
Dusdin Condren Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 9:39 am

Two minutes and 11 seconds into "They Dream," from Bear in Heaven's fourth album Time Is Over One Day Old, the music takes a strange turn. The band has been shuttling along at a riveting adventure-movie clip, with Jon Philpot's reverb-swaddled voice functioning as the primary distinct element in a sleek blur. Then, abruptly, the tempo stops. A wash of Space Mountain synths dissolves slowly — the set has been struck. When Philpot begins to sing again, he's the sole occupant of the spotlight.

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Music Reviews
2:44 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

A Sax Trio Taps Tradition While Thriving In The Present

Melissa Aldana and Crash Trio released its self-titled debut album in June.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 5:23 pm

Melissa Aldana, who became the first female instrumentalist and first South American musician to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition last fall, is not the average talent-contest winner.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun June 29, 2014

First Listen: Cloud Boat, 'Model Of You'

Cloud Boat's new album, Model of You, comes out July 8.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 9:31 am

"The madness runs in cycles," Tom Clarke sings forebodingly in "The Glow," one of the highlights of the U.K. duo Cloud Boat's second album. The music rushes along, propelled by the high-efficiency tick of a drum loop, but there's no trace of madness or even anxiety in his voice. Instead, Clarke radiates priestly calm as he gives listeners a set of vague, odd instructions: "Take some of these candles," he intones darkly, as if calling from some Middle Ages theater. "The glow will guide you."

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Music Reviews
2:06 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Album Review: 'While You Were Sleeping'

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 9:28 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: A jazz singer for the hip-hop generation - that's how Jose James was described after he released his first album last year for the famed Blue Note record label. James has now released a follow-up. It's called, While You Were Sleeping. And reviewer Tom Moon says the 35-year-old shows phenomenal growth.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING")

JOSE JAMES: (Singing) Shadows long upon my face. Shadows long upon my face.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: Catch up with Jose James now because he's a rarity - an artist evolving at warp speed.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun May 11, 2014

First Listen: Conor Oberst, 'Upside Down Mountain'

Conor Oberst's new album, Upside Down Mountain, comes out May 20.
Butch Hogan Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 10:53 am

You probably haven't been waiting around for some singer-songwriter to update Harry Chapin's inescapable 1974 hit "Cat's In the Cradle," the slightly cloying tune about the changing dynamic between parents and children over time. And if you did happen to be waiting for such a song, you probably wouldn't put Conor Oberst, noted sensitive indie-rock soul, in charge of writing it.

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Music Reviews
2:03 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Album Review: 'Everyday Robots'

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 12:28 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Damon Albarn's first solo album is out today. Albarn was the frontman of the acclaimed British rock band Blur in the '90s, and since 2000, he has spearheaded the multi-platinum group Gorillaz.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE WINDMILL")

GORILLAZ: (Singing) Take it all it on your stride. And it's sticking, falling down. Love forever...

SIEGEL: Reviewer Tom Moon says Albarn's new work seeks out the flipside to the Gorillaz' manic intensity. The new album "Everyday Robots."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYDAY ROBOTS")

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First Listen
6:04 am
Fri April 25, 2014

First Listen: tUnE-yArDs, 'Nikki Nack'

tUnE-yArDs' new album, Nikki Nack, comes out May 6.
Holly Andres Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 10:13 am

The creators of pop music are usually able to break down the fundamentals of their craft — that search for the clever rhyme, the killer beat, the singable chorus. They are less articulate, understandably, about the other quest, the one that powers those everyday searches: the pursuit of ecstasy in sound. There's something almost paranormal about that part of the creative process, yet we know those moments, instantly, when we hear them.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

First Listen: Thievery Corporation, 'Saudade'

Thievery Corporation's new album, Saudade, comes out April 1.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 12:16 pm

Every language has words and phrases that elude easy translation. In Portuguese, "saudade" (pronounced by Brazilians as "sow-DAH-djee") is one of those. Some musicians equate it with the blues; it's generally associated with melancholy and longing. In its most recent bio, the Washington, D.C., electronic duo Thievery Corporation defines it as "a longing for something or someone that is lost."

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Music Reviews
2:35 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Album Review: 'Morning Phase'

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 9:05 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The singer and songwriter Beck is considered one of the most innovative artists of his generation. This week, he released "Morning Phase," his first new album in six years. Critic Tom Moon says the new record returns back to the brooding pop of 2002's "Sea Change," which many consider his best work.

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