Oliver the Crow – Self-Titled Self-released -out June 22 3 / 5   We brimmed with excitement at the Civil Wars-inspired Nashville duo Oliver the Crow. Kaitlyn Raitz and Ben Plotnick trade cello and violin riffs respectively, and weave their vocals throughout their confident self-released folker of a debut, and we greatly enjoyed picking this album up. Their instrumentation is very barebones, their vocals simple, and their sound sparse; they make a lot with very little. But the proof of the pudding: while we enjoyed playing their self-titled a few times, we eventually found ourselves trailing off and listening to other new releases of thisRead More →

Chris Crofton – Hello It’s Me Arrowhawk Records -out June 22 2.5 / 5   Nashville’s macabre comedian Chris Crofton fights through alcoholism and the loss of a relationship in Hello It’s Me, a smattering of laid-back rock tracks centered around his newfound sobriety. Coming through the other side of a life change has given Crofton a soft, earnest sound and desire to share his insight, and a handful of mainstream musicians have come together to support him: Jim James’ guitar is here, as well as Matt Myers from Houndmouth, among several others. There is something here, certainly, but unfortunately, there isn’t enough to meet up toRead More →

Lake Street Dive – Free Yourself Up Nonesuch Records -out May 4 3.5 / 5   Lake Street Dive has come a long way from the dives they (and streetcorners) they’ve performed on. Former Bostonites and now current New Yorkers (no bitterness here!), the quartet digs into a groove similar to their 2014 Bad Self Portraits, a groove of jazzy quartet with pop tendencies and non-standard song choices. Their latest Free Yourself Up hits upon their more whimsical notes (lyrically) in common with 2016’s Side Pony, but it’s in Bad Self Portraits‘ sound where they find their more familiar ground. And that’s what this album is: familiar. It’s a second attempt atRead More →

Shakey Graves – Can’t Wake Up Dualtone Music -out May 4 4.5 / 5 We have some misplaced anger at Austin-ite Shakey Graves. You see, his albums (specifically his last one, 2014’s And the War Came) are incredibly difficult to review. We reluctantly gave this one a 3.5 (see the review here) when, really, it’s one of our favorites of the year. Shame on you, Alejandro Rose-Garcia, for flying under the radar! The “problem” with his music is that it’s difficult to categorize, and to compare to other musicians out there. It’s easy to get confused, to work at it to tune your ear to it; inRead More →

Mark Erelli – Mixtape  Self-Released -out Jan. 26 4 / 5   MA-based folkie Mark Erelli first came to our attention with his 2008 album of political discontent Delivered. It is, in short, a brilliant and beautiful album, and we’ve been following Erelli since. Mixtape is his new covers album pulled from thirteen years of performances at Cambridge, MA’s Club Passim spanning songs from The Grateful Dead to Neko Case and Arcade Fire. While we don’t often review covers albums, Mixtape is a welcome reprieve from our usual modus operandi. It’s nice to mix(tape) things up once in a while. Despite going from pop (“The Boys of Summer“) to aRead More →

Typhoon – Offerings Roll Call Records -out Jan. 12 3.5 / 5   We’ve thought greatly about this double-album fresh from Portland, OR’s Typhoon. There is one word that circles about our head like a persistent muse: Ambitious. There is no doubt here that Offerings, the third full-length studio offering (and the band’s first double-album) is the most ambitious album we’ve reviewed in our ten years of reviewing. This is exactly what we wanted to see from Typhoon, fresh off their brilliant White Lighter in 2013, one of our two 5 of 5 reviews on here. It’s a double album in three movements that plays off of aRead More →

Various Artists – 7″ for Planned Parenthood  A Dizzying Array of Artists -out now digitally, Nov. 17 for vinyl box set Can we state how important this is / 5 ?   First things first: 100% of the proceeds of sales go to Planned Parenthood. If you’re not aware of what Planned Parenthood is, they’re the most important provider of sexual health care in the US. They serve 2.4 million people a year, many and many of them in difficult financial situations (ie broke and working at Wal-Mart); and it’s estimated 1 in 5 women have visited a Planned Parenthood clinic in their lives. Planned ParenthoodRead More →

The New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions Concord Records – out now 3.5 / 5 To understand our frustrations with the New Pornographers’ latest album, we’re going to have to summon two older ones of theirs. So, frustration: Whiteout Conditions, while perhaps one of their best albums in terms of performances, and in terms of musical ability, feels cluttered with too many sounds. Literally. It’s a fun album, yes, but perhaps one of the weakest in their 17-year repertoire. And while we tend to appreciate layering and depth of sound, we find a lot of these extra sonic bits to be extraneous. Let’s bring in that earlier albumRead More →

RG Lowe – Slow Time Western Vinyl – out now 4.5 / 5 This Austin, Texan pianist/guitarist, who is the fountainhead for the instrumental group Balmorhea, decided to take a trip through the 70s and 80s. Citing Prince, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder, his previous ten years of work came through the vocal-less, introspective, quiet Balmorhea. Thus, one would assume RG Lowe would be entirely out of his element on a pop-rock album. But you know the saying about assumptions: turns out Slow Time, Lowe’s debut solo LP, is pure, unadulterated bliss. Coming seemingly out of nowhere, Lowe’s nine tracks here are some of the least self-conscious,Read More →

  “I Got A Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival” by Rick Massimo Wesleyan Press – out tomorrow 4.5 / 5   We are a hard sell on reads, especially nonfiction. We are incredible biased. And we feel that Rick Massimo, formerly of Providence Journal fame, is one of perhaps two reporters we could imagine who’d put together such a fine history of our favorite festival. (The other being the oft-quoted Jim Gillis in this book, retired from The Newport Daily News.) This history is coming out tomorrow. It is as exhaustive as it gets: several sources, dozens of interviews, archival reviews, et ceteraRead More →