Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 7:03 am
Alt-J is a quirky band that, over the past few months, has found its way to the top of my listening pile and is now my favorite album of the year. I'm not alone. Yesterday Alt-J's album, An Awesome Wave, won the Mercury Prize. This choice prize for bands in Great Britain is selected by music journalists and other music business folks and often goes to underdogs. This year is no exception.
Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 7:06 am
One of the most critically acclaimed bands of the '90s, Afghan Whigs recently reunited for a string of live performances in 2012. Singer Greg Dulli, guitarist Rick McCollum and drummer Steve Earle met while attending the University of Cincinnati; bassist John Curley was a photographer at the Cincinnati Inquirer who happened to meet Dulli at a friend's apartment. They became Afghan Whigs in 1986 and attracted a dedicated cult following that's remained fervent long after the band's 2001 dissolution.
Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 6:32 pm
Pere Ubu made some of the darkest and most creative music of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Thirty five years after its release, The Modern Dance would easily make my top 10 of all time. We hear the word "industrial" bandied about to describe music — The Modern Dance exemplified that genre.
Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 5:22 am
Neil Young made me write this. Before last Thursday, when ol' Shakey and his golden garage band Crazy Horse stomped through my local amphitheater, the last thing I'd thought I'd be excited about was a bunch of guys hovering around 70, playing loud rock and roll into the night.
Diana Krall's extraordinary new album, 'Glad Rag Doll' (Verve Records) is an exhilarating and adventurous exploration of new sounds, new instrumentation and new musicians. It stars a singer and piano player, filled with mischief, humour and a renewed sense of tenderness and intimacy.
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 12:28 pm
I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for a confetti cannon. But even more so, I love it when visuals draw me into a song. It doesn't happen often, but this video for the song "Red Hands" by Walk Off The Earth had me scratching my head wondering how it was done while it kept me smiling at the same time.
It's not the first time this band has made me smile. Earlier this year this Canadian band gathered round a single acoustic guitar and recorded themselves playing a cover version of Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know" that has now been watched 138 million times.
Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 1:37 pm
"I feel like Zeus," Allen Stone announces with a laugh as gusts of wind whip his long hair in dramatic fashion. With a mountainous vista behind him, he's found himself in the kind of majestic rock 'n' roll moment that requires a callout to Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone" — is there ever a bad time to invoke The Log? — seeing as how it takes place during the 2012 Sasquatch! Music Festival in rural Washington state.
Ilsa makes no secret of reveling in debauchery and exploitation flicks, so Intoxicantations is a perfectly clever title for the band's new album. The word-mash is a little hokey, like a B-movie with a lot of blood and bare-chested women, but still a line every metalhead or pulp comic-book writer will wish he'd thought of first. But even the most awesomely gruesome titles and covers need real guts (spilling out or otherwise), and with "Fluid Bound," the Washington, D.C., metal band drips with demented horror.
Haley Bonar has been crafting gorgeous, stately pop and wounded ballads for more than a decade now, and her fans still often find themselves explaining, "It's pronounced Bonner." At this point, Bonar deserves to have people pronounce her name correctly and then some, because she's a remarkable performer, with a terrific ear for detail and a gift for masking melancholy observations with hooks that stick.