Kurt von Stetten – “Pyramid”Static Motor Recordings-out now!3 / 5 Admittedly, it takes a few listens to get used to the Boston-based multi-instru-mentalist/ photographer’s fifth solo release. It’s probably Kurt von Stetten’s authentic and organic approach to “Pyramid” that makes it an acquired taste, but our main complaint is that it still lacks that mysterious force that grabs you and makes you put his record on. There’s no one way about it: memorable guitar hooks, catchy choruses, and strong power-vocals are among the common ways a band crafts a song that sticks with you. And, in a good way, there’s nothing common about von Stetten’sRead More →

Analog Moon – Ascent and the Secret There BelowCircuit Rider Productions-out now!3.5 / 5 With a little twang of country does Asheville, NC’s Analog Moon release their second full-length. On “Ascent and the Secret There Below,” pop is ultimately the flavor of the day, especially on “Soda City,” replete with falsetto in the chorus and a great, driving beat. The self-described “band of ideas” has good ones throughout, and has obviously taken time and care to hone them down. The moments of weakness are when the whetstone of editing (how’s that for a metaphor?) has ground down a little too far, and not left enoughRead More →

Liz Janes – Say GoodbyeAsthmatic Kitty-out now!2.5 / 5 Liz Janes can be cool, Liz Janes can be smooth. But on Liz Janes’ “Say Goodbye,” her latest release in five years, she comes off slight and under- whelming. While the opener, “I Don’t Believe,” sways sexily with Rhodes and percussion (and we do adore that), much of the album comes off too pretty and music-box-y. “Bitty Thing” and Time and Space” fall into this description almost intentionally, with glockenspiel and whispery voices making the track a bit too saccharine. What makes that opening track so strong is the depth of personality it has, striking aRead More →

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings – “I Learned the Hard Way”Daptone Records-out now!4 / 5 So you’ve been lamenting the end of Motown ever since you learned about the Temptations and the Four Tops. We’ll, we’ve got good news for you: Motown is alive and well in Sharon Jones. The powerful singer belts in the tradition of Diana Ross, and her Dap-Kings back her all the way: horns, backup singers, strings and glockenspiel carry the tradition of the Supremes et al. It’s no surprise that many groups of the Supremes’ era have carried well over the years, as they contain powerful lead singers and harmonies,Read More →