A Classic Education – “Call It Blazing”Lefse-out tomorrow2.5 / 5 There are any number of ways to make a particular release stand out sonically: good hooks, powerful vocals, Robert Plant’s exposed chest. Consider this, then, a backhanded compliment: A Classic Education is capable of making themselves sound like other bands. The vocals and song structure reminisce over Band of Horses, while early Yo La Tengo almost certainly inspires “Place a Bet on You.” Now, the reality of these comparisons is that ACE doesn’t really add their own to the mix here. At least, we hope not. Because the end result of Call It Blazing isRead More →

My Brightest Diamond – “All Things Will Unwind”Asthmatic Kitty-out tomorrow4 / 5 We love this cover. Absolutely adore it. It’s as vibrant, fun, and unusual as the work within; and considering Michiganian Shara Worden’s penchant for unusuality (see Decemberists’ rock opera “Hazards”), that’s no minor compliment. What grabs us about All Things Will Unwind, other than the classical orchestration, other than the rock-ish song structure worked with a orchestral ear, is the depth of Ms. Worden’s musical vision here. These songs, carried with her, at times, operatic voice (check out “Be Brave”), could easily be the mere eccentricities of an untrained, but curious ear. Yet,Read More →

Brown Bird – “Salt for Salt”Supply and Demand-out Oct. 184.5 / 5 It’s not Rhode Island love that lights this reviewer’s heart (the band is, after all, originally from Washington). And it’s not that David Lamb’s got to do vocals/ guitar/ bass drum simultaneously at shows. It’s, quite frankly, the moody “Bilgewater” and the fire of “Cast No Shadow” that slay us. But, if a couple songs on the previous EP were all that caught our attention, we’d not’ve given this album such striking marks. As excellent as those two songs are, it’s the entire mood of this album, an all-acoustic affair inspired by long-goneRead More →

Pokey Lafarge and the South City Three – Middle of EverywhereFree Dirt Records-out now3 / 5 Style. These guys are all about style. And Lafarge + 3 certainly have it: they’ve got spit-shine shoes and some knee-slapping grooves. On Middle of Everywhere, you get the pure distillation of early ragtime blues, crystalline, unadulterated, and most definitely traditional, in every and any sense of the word. And, having met this outfit, they dress the part incredibly well; all that’s missing is a whistlin’ of Dixie. But enough of that, you want to know why we adore these guys but don’t quite obsess over their music. AsRead More →