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 →

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 →

Laura Marling – Semper Femina  More Alarming Records -out today 4 / 5 Laura Marling’s sixth album is not something we typically listen to. We like rock-outs, soul sessions, complicated layered what-have-yous. Stuff with a lotta moving parts. Contrary to our usual tastes, the Los Angeles native’s Semper Femina feels, to take the opener, “Soothing.” That is, sonically, it feels soothing; but make no mistake, behind the comfortable vocals, the sparse guitar, behind the illusion of a soothing album lies a quiet intensity. It’s an introverted LP, an album that begs multiple listens to catch the subtle effects that work here. In short, it is notRead More →

Dutch Uncles – Big BalloonMemphis Industries– out Feb. 174 / 5 We’re going to try a different approach for Manchester, England based quartet Dutch Uncles here. Their latest full-length, Big Balloon, is number five in their full-length discography. We’ve covered #3 – 2013’s Out of Touch in the Wild – which you can read right here. We also had to follow up with them in 2015 on their fourth full-length O Shudder (also read our review right here). If there’s something you, our readers, might have noticed about our reviews of Dutch Uncles’ last three albums, they’re all good, solid albums, at 4 / 5. (Four of fiveRead More →

Andy Shauf – The PartyAnti Records– out May 204 / 5 We have a strange relationship with Saskatchewan-ian Andy Shauf. We’re going to be honest: we caught a bit of his set at the Newport Folk Fest a year or two back, and we were entirely not blown away. Kind of underwhelmed. And so his fourth album, The Party, almost feels the same. But hear us out, because we believe the studio is his element. The Party is a concept album, a large cast of characters thrown together, each given a slice of the life of a house party. What seems underwhelming is here actuallyRead More →