The Oh Hellos – Dear WormwoodElektra– out now4.5 / 5 We’ve anticipated this follow-up to 2012’s bright folksome Through the Deep, Dark Valley for far, far too long – since Newport ’14. On their sophomore full-length, these southern Texans have put us in the awkward position of having to promote their first LP above their follow-up; and yet, if this is that supposed “sophomore slump” that so many bands seem to go through… then only “wow” can be said of it. If it weren’t for Dark Valley, which we’d give a more than solid 5 of 5 (the third in our 6 years of blogging),Read More →

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats – Self-TitledStax Records– out now4 / 5 We caught him at the Newport Folk Fest nigh two months ago, and this grimy, (night) sweaty fellow showed us how to boogie your tired soul out. The Herman, MO-born Rateliff is indeed soulful, smoking, burning on his self-titled Stax debut, his fourth full-length. If you haven’t heard “S.O.B” on the radio, humming in the bar, in the bottom of that bottle, then maybe you should sober up and clean your ears out. Seemingly his anthem, Rateliff’s strength here, and on this album, is the grit he blows through his lyrics. TheRead More →

Calexico – Edge of the SunAnti / City Slang-out April 144 / 5 It’s a return to everything we love about Calexico: swirling sand dunes, flamenco beats, mariachi swagger. The Tuscon, AZ sextet to their ninth studio album in a nearly twenty-year lifespan. How many things last twenty years? A good car? A stable marriage? If a band is in part a marriage of musicians, then we’d have assumed Calexico’s marriage to have grown quite stale and predictable by now. And on Edge of the Sun, band co-founders Joey Burns (vocals, guitar) and John Convertino (percussion) show that Calexico’s spark is alive and well. ToRead More →

Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & LowellAsthmatic Kitty Records-out now4.5 / 5 Stylistically, Sufjan Stevens’ seventh studio full-length falls somewhere between Michigan and Illinois: it takes Michigan‘s somber mood, a quieter, more introverted desperation than that album’s more externalized search. It takes not Illinois’ lush orchestration, but its polish, its perfectionism and completion. Add acoustic guitar, piano, and Stevens’ soft vocals, and the result is an achingly beautiful album about life and loss, death and ghosts. Yes, we gave high marks to his previous “Age of Adz,” but quite frankly, if we could take that back and give them all here, we would do that inRead More →

Dutch Uncles – O ShudderMemphis Industries-out Feb 24 (UK Feb 10)4 / 5 We are fans of this Manchester, UK five-some. Their fourth full-length brings them back into the e-sound that we prefer: lush popchestration, dense layering, a wide spread of variety. It’s a “pop electronic’d” that champions musicianship (and oboe, and other woodwinds), the kind of a ride that’s built on a solid four (we should say five) wheels. It’s got vocals, lyrics, instrumentation; it’s got joy, it’s got memory. Dutch Uncles is one of those bands that slips off the radar, but mostly because they haven’t come off the island and hopped aRead More →