Staff Detail


Country Hustle (CD)

Somehow, Jeb Loy Nichols traverses the seemingly incongruent genres of reggae and country with ease, touching on any and all overlapping styles between the two, such as soul, blues, funk, etc. Country Hustle is his tenth release since Nichols began his solo career 20 years ago, and makes its claim for the greatest yet. There’s a tape hiss that permeates the record and makes it sound like a long-lost artifact from yesteryear, along with these tunes imbuing a classic funky style indebted to the soul heroes of the '60s and '70s. The minimal, psychedelic cover of Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much” has to be heard to believed, with a skeletal drum machine beat, hazy synths, and dubby production bringing to mind something William Onyeabor might have drafted. There ain't anything else out there quite like this.

Read more
Relatives In Descent (CD)

With Relatives In Descent, Detroit post-punks Protomartyr have made an angular, intense, and ominous record — in sum, it’s perfect for our times. The band takes an unflinching look at modern civilization, serving up their observations with intelligence, admonishment, and more than a little darkness. Which isn’t to say the LP is preachy; no, Protomartyr are much too smart for that. Their lyrical daggers dig deeper. Danger churns beneath the driving guitars and steely melodies, danger that’s sorely lacking in the recycled tropes of most modern post-punk bands. Protomartyr are the real deal.

Read more
This Sweet Old World (CD)

Originally released in 1992, this year’s take on Williams’ alt-country classic This Sweet Old World is more than just a reissue; the Grammy-winner has completely rerecorded the LP for its 25th anniversary. As a bonus, Williams throws in four immensely enjoyable extra tracks from her early career. Williams’ gravelly, evocative voice brings a new sense of atmosphere to these familiar songs. Listening to the LP is a transportive experience, not just back to the early ‘90s, but back to old loves, dusty roads, and lost chances. Fans will dig this special release.

Read more
Dreams & Daggers (CD)

“You get a singer like this once in a generation or two,” Wynton Marsalis has said of Cecile McLorin Salvant. It’s true: Ms. McLorin Savant has a dazzling voice, a cool confidence, and an artistic bent in the tradition of classic jazz singers like Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald. Her latest, the follow-up to her 2016 Grammy Award winning album For One to Love, Dreams & Daggers has a sense of timelessness to it, like a record from the golden era of jazz recently rediscovered. The album is a rare jewel: exquisite, well-rounded, and astounding.

Read more
Sky Trails (CD)

The Croz is back! Kicking off his solo career with the legendary 1971 album If I Could Only Remember My Name, a beautiful tapestry of psychedelic folk that sounds almost baroque, his solo output slowed down to about an album a decade. But the elusive hippie has gotten incredibly prolific in the last few years since teaming up with his formerly estranged son, James Raymond, who also produced this album. In a complete change from his expected folkie sound that goes as far back as The Byrds, David Crosby channels his inner R&B artist for a smooth jammer that feels more like Bobby Caldwell than the mustachioed Crosby. The Croz drops the small rock ensemble for a larger group of jazz trained musicians who spice up his music with an unexpected dose of fusion and experimentation. The absolute banger title track sounds like no Crosby song you've ever heard before. Opening with a funky organ riff, his beautiful voice sounds strangely ethereal with a band like this. Its catchy beat and riff owes more to '70s soul than it does to the '60s, and it works in a strange, mysterious way as the sound has a spacey vibe to it. "Curved Air" opens up with a beautiful bossa nova-ish riff that shows off Crosby's talent as an acoustic guitarist, but then the early '90s synth bass riff is almost a shock when it comes in. The jazz harmonies of the accompanying piano also add a dimension and depth to the song that makes it feel truly mind melting, despite the peaceful lyrics and harmonies chiming out of Crosby's voice. Sky Trails is proof that the great artists of the '60s don't need to be stuck in the past to create interesting music. David Crosby manages to make an album that sounds equally archaic and futuristic in a zen hodge-podge that's perfect for late night listens.

Read more
NOW (CD)

It's incredible to think that Shania Twain has been away for fifteen years. She was a mega celebrity in the '90s and was one of the major country stars (along with Garth Brooks) that successfully crossed over onto the pop charts with her seemingly inescapable hits. But the last decade-and-a-half hasn't been the kindest to her professionally or personally. Aside from some drastic life changes, including a divorce from her former writing partner, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, she also was suffering from dysphonia and Lyme disease, which nearly took away her famous voice. But after some soul searching and physical recovery, she's back to conquer the charts again with her new album, NOW. Though her voice has changed a little bit since her early days, it's still recognizably Shania Twain and she uses her powerful country twang with songs that now play around with modern pop production. Listening to "Life's About To Get Good," you wouldn't know there had been anything wrong this last decade-and-a-half. It's an absolutely joyous pop ballad that is a perfect celebration of life. The layers of happy sounds and bright-eyed optimism in her lyrics create a song that feels like the musical embodiment of happiness. It's hard not to listen to her life-affirming lyrics and smile to the melody. Shania Twain is back without fumbling for one second. NOW is a musical ray of sunshine for your cloudy day and captures how great life can really be.

Read more
The Desaturating Seven (CD)

Drawing on a 1978 children’s book by Ul de Rico, The Desaturating Seven is a concept album that deals with a group of goblins who drain the color from rainbows to fill their insatiable appetites. As bizarre and fantastical as this premise is, it is only fitting for a band that has found great success with their strange blend of funk and heaviness, as well as offbeat sense of humor. The Desaturating Seven finds Primus venturing into proggier pastures, with multi-part suites and Rush-like interludes working their way into the band’s signature formula. The album takes cues from King Crimson’s Discipline as well, with angular guitar lines and groovy use of complex time signatures abound. However, by and large this is the same group you know and love, with Les Claypool’s distinctive lead bass playing and carnie-through-a-CB-radio squawk front and center. The Desaturating Seven is a convincing argument for totally making “Goblin Rock” a thing.

Read more
Luciferian Towers (CD)

The imposingly-named Luciferian Towers is the latest from post-rock stalwarts Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The name is fitting; there’s a sense of gravity, a cinematic, sweeping quality to the band’s latest collection of soundscapes. At times triumphant, at times devastated, the album’s occasional dissonance gives the moments of melody an even more tangible impact. This latest LP has the look and sound of a future classic.

Read more
Door Girl (CD)

Shilpa Ray's Door Girl is a New York punk record in the grand tradition of New York punk records. Ray's latest raucous, lively collection of songs traffics in the grit and glamour of the Velvet Underground, the raw energy of the New York Dolls, and the infectious melodies of Blondie. It's a no-holds barred, take-no-prisoners account of living in the city as a woman in these strange days. When so much punk has been toned down into melodic sing-alongs and radio-friendly teen hits, it's a blessing to have Shilpa Ray still at it, making rough-and-tumble rock 'n' roll music with fire in her heart.

Read more
Roll With The Punches (CD)

First, it has to be mentioned that Van Morrison is 72 and still cranking out albums with workhorse consistency. Roll With The Punches follows last year’s Keep Me Singing and is the 37th studio album in the legendary Irish troubadour’s career. On this love letter to the blues, Morrison blends original compositions with covers of blues classics by T-Bone Walker, Mose Allison, and Sam Cooke, among others. As can be ascertained by the choice of source material, the album is very much a homecoming, stylistically speaking. Minus the sleek production, “Transformation” would easily slot onto Moondance or Tupelo Honey. “Ordinary People” would also fit neatly within that same era…because that’s when it was written. A solid collection of tunes that fit Morrison’s voice like a glove, as well as a worthy album in an absolutely legendary career.

Read more