Grand Archives – “Keep in Mind Frankenstein”Sub pop Records-Due out Sept. 15 With a bit of acoustic Band of Horses flavor (guitarist Mat Brooke was on their debut), the Seattle quartet offers a second album of calm, quietly rocking tracks. With the likes of the plaintive “Oslo Novelist” and crisp dance of “Left for all the Strays,” “Frankenstein” has strong tracks for fans of Mat Brooke and calmer, restrained pop. But the tradeoff here is that these tracks don’t immediately grip you; the best of them require room and time for them to grow, whereas the worst simply fade from memory. One of the weakerRead More →

So,This week has been a bit slow, mostly due to a contract dispute (“I get nothing?”) with an online mag (think “sliced ____ meats”), but I assure you, each and every one of you, that you’ll still receive the same quality reviews, health care, and general warmth/abuse you’ve come to expect. Or maybe you expect nothing. Anyway, here goes:1. I decree there will be an exciting new album by a Sub Pop band next week. And lo, we shall see if it rocks.2. No more of this “work for free” communist propaganda stuff. Simplify: everything belongs to me.3. I’m starting up palm reading. Scan yourRead More →

Yo La Tengo – “Popular Songs”Matador Records-due out Sept. 84.5 / 5 On their 16th album, Hoboken trio Yo La Tengo crack open with strings, layering as complex and listenable as Beck, and their own dreary/dreamy vocals in “Here to Fall,” the opener track. Download this track; it is as exciting and groovy as any you’re bound to find in the vein of Depeche Mode (and there’s strings, to boot). “Popular Songs” is chock-a-block with similarly poppy tracks, and for a moment, the album seems to have more focus and enjoyability than their typical spacious space jams. But even here they supply, as the lastRead More →

Hey y’all,So hope you had fun with Jazz Week. Coming up next will be more indie bands, including one from Matador today (hint hint). It’s always a good idea to go out and check out different genres of music, so hopefully you got your feet wet in America’s great musical tradition.That would be jazz. Not complaining about royalties. (Or purchasing mansions.)Okay, so that’s maybe the top 1% of bands. Regardless: go forth, young people, and indulge in music.-MgmtRead More →

McCoy Tyner – “Solo; Live from San Fransicsco”Half Note Records-out today4.5 / 5 With a legendary career like pianist McCoy Tyner’s, there is always the nagging comparison between his latest release and his classic ’60s and ’70s albums. To clarify: yes, he is in his 70s, and yes, this album may not be as classic as “The Real McCoy.” But is it worthwhile? Yes. Here’s why: even in his advanced years, and even with a slightly lacking a bit of touch on his fingers, the solo work here is marvelous, deep, complex, intimate. It is as easy for a person inexperienced in jazz to getRead More →

James Carter – Heaven on Earth (Live)Half Note Records-due out Tomorrow Not to editorialize, but the musicians here are fantastic: John Medeski of Martin, Medeski and Wood, Christian McBride with his own burgeoning solo career, and James Carter, a passionate and wild soloist in a live setting. Then what we have with “Heaven on Earth,” I desperately want to say is a fantastic, must-get album: it displays musicianship, ability, and technical powers well beyond most musicians. But it lacks an ear, and what we get is half a fantastic album, restrained and gorgeous as on the bluesy “Street of Dreams,” or thrashing and wandering asRead More →

Robert Glasper – “Double Booked”Blue Note Records– due out Aug 254 / 5 His third album on Blue Note Records has Glasper doubling his band; the first segment is his acoustic jazz trio, followed by his more electric and hip-hop group the Robert Glasper Experiment. Of the first six tracks, there is little wasted space, as the loping, upbeat strides of “I’m Country (And That’s Okay)” and the dense and melodic treatment of Monk’s “Think of One” proves themselves the highlights of the first half. A couple of phone calls segues Glasper for the second half, which, while not quite as exciting as the first,Read More →

This week, I’m all in favor of Catie Curtis, who not only has a new album out, but has taken it upon herself to start Aspire to Inspire, a program that gives guitars to kids who can’t afford them. Props to that, Catie; here’s the recent phone interview: Did you do the cover art for “Hello, Stranger”?No, I didn’t. The woman who drew it is a good friend of mine who’s also a best-selling author. She wrote and illustrated the book, “All I Needed to Know I Learned from my Cat.” She’s the real deal. We asked her to make up something for the coverRead More →

Colin Hay – “American Sunshine”Compass Records-due out Aug 18 The opener to Hay’s tenth solo album is a placid, someone stagnant celebration of his home state in his adopted country. “California,” like other pieces in this album, just seems to lack a real excitement, and don’t evince that necessary freshness that art is supposed to bring to its subject. The following “Prison Time” is a well-crafted, somewhat sunshiny feel-good track, and this is how this album stumbles, with one good, and one limp leg. Hay’s laid-back, home-country groove seems to be either on or off, making for an uneven album. Hay’s fans should find enoughRead More →

Terence Blanchard – “Choices”Concord Jazz-due out Aug 18 If you’re unfamiliar with Blanchard’s work, simply sit back and enjoy the unexpected twists and snakes of “Byus,” the first track to his latest album. “Choices” is interspersed with spoken vocals by Dr. Cornel West about the choices people make in life: whether to go to school, whether to be a musician, whether to be good or not. This conversational tone to the album spices it up a bit and gives it a second voice; one that it can use, because it doesn’t quite have the sweetness and light of his 2003 “Bounce,” or the thunder ofRead More →