The Features – Self-TitledSerpents and Snakes/BMG-out tomorrow2 / 5 You’d think by their fourth album Nashville-based pop band The Features wouldn’t put you to sleep, But the foursome clearly has difficulty putting together dynamic-sounding songs, with verses and choruses that draw us in and should swim about deftly. Instead, these songs stay in the water and stagnate, they crust over and refuse to move from their opening riffs. We think there are a few culprits to the low rating; one, the writing, of course, and two, leadman Matthew Pelham’s vocals don’t ted to go beyond a dull recitation. Some vocalists can make reading a phoneRead More →

Patty Griffin – “American Kid”New West-out today!4 / 5 She has a beautiful voice. But you already knew that. What you may not have known is that, on her seventh studio album, Old Town, Maine native Patty Griffin isn’t slowing down a whit. Her latest collection of mostly new folkies is charming, powerful, and gorgeous, to say the least. Dedicated to her father, these songs come from a drifter’s heart (“Ohio”) or are directly pay homage to parents and their burdens (“Mom and Dad’s Waltz”), and overall you get three things: great songwriting, Patty Griffin’s beautiful vocals, and even Robert Plant (on occasion). There areRead More →

Beware of Darkness – “Orthodox”Bright Antenna-out May 74.5 / 5 The L.A. rock-and-rock-more trio is our first big album of the year. Finally. We were blown away for weeks by Howl off their EP of the same name, and now their debut has come. And it has come rocking. They’ve been compared to Led Zeppelin, and while they have one Zeppelin-esque riff, we think a better way to describe their sound is that it’s depressed by the 90s, like if Nirvana and Pearl Jam weren’t so heavy and distorted all the time, while infused with classic rock hooks and riffs. In fact, classic is keyRead More →

Hanni El Khatib – “Head in the Dirt”Innovative Leisure-out April 303.5 / 5 L.A.-based garage-rocker Hanni El Khatib arrives with this second album, a Dan Auerbach-produced affair (headman of the Black Keys, if you were wondering), and it has his influence all over it. Grimy, fuzzy guitar, straight rocking hooks, even vocals that seem Auerbach puts air to. In fact, it’s a little hard to put it apart from Auerbach’s 2009 solo album “Keep it Hid,” except that “Head in the Dirt” eschews wind chimes and all the other extras in favor of guitar and drums. So what do we get, then? Ultimately, it’s aRead More →