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 →

Blitzen Trapper – “Destroyer of the Void”Sub Pop-out now!4 / 5 Since 2008’s breakout “Furr,” Blitzen Trapper has been (in personal opinion) a somewhat over-hyped band. But on “Destroyer of the Void,” the Portland, OR rock group pulls out all the stops, culminating in a fine selection of songs that would enthuse even the strictest of rock listeners. The title and opening track hits such a strong classic-rock vibe, that this little blog believe it merits comparison to “Stairway to Heaven”: with strong, rock-out guitars, it is Blitzen Trapper’s height by and far, a dizzying array of musical themes whose structure feels at ease withRead More →

Sufjan Stevens – “The Age of Adz”Asthmatic Kitty-out Oct. 124 / 5 Perhaps a more appropriate title for Detroit-native Sufjan Steven’s latest album might be “Sufjan Battles the Pink Robots.” That is to say, there are certainly Flaming Lips-ish space-a-delic themes both lyrically and sonically throughout on his seventh full-length album (excluding Avalanche), and those attuned to Beck’s electronica will almost certainly enjoy themselves here. The downshot is that fans of his breakthrough album Illinois may find themselves surprised, and not always in a pleasant way, as to this new direction; stepping back, Stevens still provides an excellent sense of the pop dynamic, as wellRead More →

Kings Go Forth – “The Outsiders Are Back”Luaka Bop-out now!4 / 5 Take Earth, Wind and Fire, add dense layers of percussion and a female lead vocal, and you might come close to Milwaukee’s retro-funk-soul outfit Kings Go Forth. With uplifting melodies and soulful harmonies, Kings brings back everything you loved about the 70s scene (shiny suits aside) on their debut release. And if you forgot what some of those things were, “You’re the One” will certainly remind you again: singable choruses, bright, danceable rhythms, lyrics that transport you straight back to back-seat first-kiss nostalgia. Our favorite, “High on Your Love,” is so pure andRead More →