Posted inMusic

Down to Earth

Divine Comedy Absent Friends (Nettwerk America) Does anyone have more than the vaguest idea what the lyrics in a typical Radiohead song mean? Care to explicate a few Guided by Voices couplets? Forget discerning a message in the vocals to a My Bloody Valentine tune–under those gusts of squalling guitar, can you even tell what […]

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Heavy Meddling

West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band Part One (Sundazed) West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band Vol. 2 (Sundazed) West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band A Child’s Guide to Good and Evil (Sundazed) In the late 19th century, composers wrote highly detailed scores to preserve their particular vision of a piece of music. For them the […]

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Heavy Lifting

Samhain Samhain Box Set (E-Magine Entertainment) Glenn Danzig isn’t an easy guy to like. In an era when serious music fans tend to prefer their pop stars in the Elliott Smith and Thom Yorke mold–skinny, introverted, and melancholic–Danzig is a buffed, bellowing centaur. He’s Jim Morrison on steroids, a self-aggrandizing, melodramatic seer spewing oracular, satanic […]

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Black Beauty

Cathal Coughlan Black River Falls (Cooking Vinyl) By Rick Reger One of the most apt terms ever applied to Irish-born singer-songwriter Cathal Coughlan is “churl.” He leads a side project called Bubonique and entitled one of its records Trance Arse Vol. 3. He’s fond of song titles like “Ray of Hope, Hoe of Rape” and […]

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Dynamic Duo

Daryl Hall Sacred Songs (Buddha Records) By Rick Reger Last year, when Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach fused muses for a collaborative LP and tour, they extended a long-standing pop tradition: since as far back as the 70s, rock/pop luminaries have come together to twine their creative tendrils and see what unique flora might spring […]

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Cheating Fame

Martin Newell The Wayward Genius of Martin Newell (Cherry Red) By Rick Reger In its broad outline, the plight of British guitarist and songwriter Martin Newell will sound familiar. Since 1980 Newell has been releasing brilliant, deliriously tuneful pop records–as the Cleaners From Venus and the Brotherhood of Lizards as well as under his own […]

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Letter From a Friend

Bevis Frond North Circular (Flydaddy) By Rick Reger The Bevis Frond has just released North Circular, its 15th LP in a little over a decade. Many forward-thinking musicians and critics will respond to it with an emphatic “So what?” I can understand that. I’ve been there too. The Bevis Frond is the nom de rock […]

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Volume on Volume

The Collector’s Guide to Heavy Metal By Martin Popoff (Collector’s Guide Publishing) How many times has this happened to you? You’re sitting in your cubicle, slogging away as usual, when suddenly the woman across the aisle leans over and says something like: “Hey, you know what? I just picked up that last Carcass LP, Wake […]

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Shouts and Murmurs

Cream Those Were the Days (Polydor) Zombies Zombie Heaven (Big Beat) Agricultural history can be summed up as the progressive triumph of human ingenuity over the uncertainty of nature–unless you happen to be a pig or a cow, in which case it’s a tale of increasingly efficient slaughter. In other words, history is shaped by […]

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Return of the Prog Monster

Various Artists Supernatural Fairy Tales (Rhino) Rachel’s Th Sea and the Bells (Quarterstick) In the mid-80s, a decade after punk rock’s coup d’etat, the movements fervor still saturated the independent rock scene–and its dictates were clear. Progressive rock was flabby and inauthentic. Synthesizers were evil. Suites and instrumentals were pretentious. Four legs good! Two legs […]

Posted inMusic

Return of the Prog Monster

Various Artists Supernatural Fairy Tales (Rhino) Rachel’s The Sea and the Bells (Quarterstick) By Rick Reger In the mid-80s, a decade after punk rock’s coup d’etat, the movement’s fervor still saturated the independent rock scene–and its dictates were clear. Progressive rock was flabby and inauthentic. Synthesizers were evil. Suites and instrumentals were pretentious. Four legs […]

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Air Miami

Perhaps no one recording today has a more eclectic take on pop music than Air Miami singer/guitarist Mark Robinson. His previous band Unrest started out in 1987 as a punk band, yet their odd selection of covers (“21st Century Schizoid Man”) and steadfast refusal to adhere to the genre’s musical strictures put them on the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Freakwater

Freakwater knows it takes more than a pedal steel guitar, a big belt buckle, and a broken heart to make country music. Over the last decade Freakwater’s Catherine Irwin and Janet Beveridge Bean have mastered old-fashioned hillbilly music’s essentials: poignant storytelling, ruggedly congenial musicianship, and an appreciation for life’s endless struggles, basic pleasures, and brief […]

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Roy Montgomery

For a long time it seemed that guitarist Roy Montgomery would be remembered, if at all, simply for playing on the first record ever released by New Zealand’s renowned Flying Nun label. Though he and his band Pin Group put out two more singles after that historic 1981 release, in 1983 Montgomery went into semiretirement […]

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My Dad Is Dead

Under one of the starkest monikers in rock, Mark Edwards has been making bracing, powerful music for almost a decade, yet even modest fame and fortune have eluded the Cleveland native. Since MDID’s earliest records were distinguished by dark, droning music, despondent, emotionally naked lyrics, and Edwards’s sepulchral baritone, which sounds uncannily like that of […]