Posts Categorized: Music Review

Interview with Weakened Friends

The ‘grunge dad’ himself, DJ Shaxx, caught up with local band Weakened Friends.  Catch his edited radio show here:

Molly Nillson: Imaginations

Molly Nillson’s Imaginations reviewed by Jake Folsom.

Last Friday, Berlin-based Swedish singer-songwriter Molly Nilsson released ‘s her seventh LP, Imaginations. Molly Nilsson’s style is consistent – independent, straightforward, minimal synth-pop. She produces & releases all of her material through her own label, Dark Skies Association, creates her own music videos, organizes tours and designs all the album artwork. If you look up any of her live performances on YouTube, most of shows feature Nilsson alone on stage singing over pre-programmed tracks. While big “indie” labels like Secretly Group and Sub Pop consistently push out a catchy brand of rock & pop free of “corporate influence”, Molly Nilsson reminds us that it’s still possible for an artist to self-produce great music.

Molly Nillson: Imaginations

David Pence Reviews Neu! Nei! 2 & Neu! 75 by Neu

Neu!
Neu! Neu! 2 & Neu! 75
Astralwerks Records
By David Pence

Last year saw the reissue of three records that have thrown a long shadow across the landscape of rock. These three albums were made by Neu! (pronounced noy and meaning “new”) in Dusseldorf and Hamburg between 1972 and 1975, after Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger had abandoned the fledgling Kraftwerk to work as a duo. In the ensuing three decades, the influence of Neu! has reached bands like Pere Ubu, Joy Division, Mission of Burma, Sonic Youth, and Stereolab.

Dylan Morrow Reviews Hannibalism! by The Mighty Hannibal

The Mighty Hannibal
Hannibalism!
Norton Records
By Dylan Morrow

West Coast soulster the Mighty Hannibal aka James T. Shaw is a master songwriter and fine vocalist. He is also a great storyteller as exemplified both by his lyrics and in the liner notes accompanying this 28 song collection (there is a nice story about Ray Charles the pilot in here). Apparently this man has made some interesting career moves (for example as a “Master Advisor and Maintainer of Women’s Affairs”) and seen some bad times as attested to in the gospel/funk of “The Truth Shall Make You Free” (containing the line “drugs is just a new name for slavery”). In this instance hard times and heroin made for some interesting music. This collection contains tracks ranging stylistically from 1950’s r&b clatter “Big Chief Hug-Um an’ Kiss-Um” and “My Name is Hannibal” to the deep mournful 70’s soul of the deceptively titled “Party Life”. There is something for the kids with ” Motha !

Chris Darling Reviews River Coffee by Sean McGowan

Sean McGowan
River Coffee
By Chris Darling

Well, in this huge world of music, with “umpteen” artists debuting their work way before their time, few artists I’ve come across match the readiness and musical knowledge of native Mainer, Sean McGowan. Throw in the sonically pure steel-string guitar prowess & Sean’s masterful delivery and this Solo Guitar (DEBUT) release River Coffee displays, and your in for a treat.

Pete Hodgin Reviews There Are No New Clouds by Ideas of Space

This debut release from Sydney, Australia’s Ides of Space arrived at WMPG late last year and promptly blew my teenie little indie mind. Completely skipping a gawky musical adolescence, this quintet managed to show up on the first day of school with a nearly flawless balance of lush, shoe-gazing melody and carefully controlled bursts of thunderous, fuzzy guitar.

Valerie Cartonio Reviews Amajacoustic by Clan/destine

Clan/destine
Amajacoustic
By Valerie Cartonio

This is the third release for this band out of Tempe, Arizona. Last year they walked away with a Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Pop/Rock Recording of the Year. Recently, “Clan/destine” was nominated for Best Duo/Group of the Year.

Lenny Smith Reviews The Id by Macy Gray

Macy Gray
The Id
By Lenny Smith

Macy Gray set the bar extraordinarily high for herself with her debut album, On How Life Is, her tremendously commercially and artistically successful 1999 release, but with her second offering, The Id, she may have surpassed it. It may take a few thousand more listenings to know for sure, but then, like her first LP, The Id is tremendously repeatable. While this album feels in no way like a copy or a rehash of her first release, there is a continuity with it, and the same lushness of arrangements and astonishing blend of styles and influences. That and Macy’s unique vocals and worldview make for thirteen killer tracks, complete with beautiful booklet with production notes and lyrics.

Ron Raymond Reviews 22 Dreams by Paul Weller

Paul Weller
22 Dreams
Yep Rock Records, 2008

By Ron Raymond
WMPG Music Director

Once the musical force behind two memorable 80s bands, The Jam and The Style Council, Paul Weller has since made taken his Brit pop/rock to all different kinds of levels. His new album, his ninth solo effort titled 22 Dreams, is no exception. “After [2005’s] As Is Now, I thought the time was right to make the sort of record I wanted to make,” he says of the creative process which led to the new album. “Instead of worrying about anyone else, I wanted to really push the boat out. I think the result is going to surprise a few people.”

Ron Raymond Reviews Don’t you know who I think I was? Best of the Replacements by The Replacements

The Replacements
Don’t you know who I think I was? Best of the Replacements
Rhino Records, 2006
By Ron Raymond
WMPG Music Director

Minneapolis rock heroes The Replacements (led by a rock hero in his own right, Paul Westerberg) have had a best-of compilation before (the fantastic 1997, 2-CD Reprise collection All For Nothing, Nothing For All immediately comes to mind), and I know what you’re saying – why review a compilation that’s already 2 years old? Well, in April 2008, the good folks at Rhino reissued deluxe editions of all of the band’s great early Twin/Tone Records albums Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash, Stink, Hootenanny and Let It Be. And in honor of that, I thought for those folks looking for a starter course on the music of The Replacements, they should start with this great collection Rhino released before the reissues.

Ron Raymond Reviews Everything That Happens Will Happen Today by David Byrne & Brian Eno

David Byrne & Brian Eno
Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Todomundo, Ltd./Opal, 2008
By Ron Raymond
WMPG Music Director

Alt-rock legends David Byrne and Brian Eno have teamed together for the first time since 1981’s brilliant My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts on a release that, on the one hand, is less experimental and funky than Bush Of Ghosts, and on the other hand, is a more mature recording. Bush Of Ghosts was kind of like a first cousin to the Talking Heads; part of its sound, most notably on the track “The Jezebel Spirit, was very similar to the Talking Heads’ classic “I Zimbra” (from 1979’s Fear Of Music). The new album, though, tends to lean more towards David Byrne’s most recent solo efforts, including 2001’s Look Into The Eyeball, and especially, 2004’s Grown Backwards.

Ron Raymond Reviews The Sound of the Smiths by The Smiths

The Smiths
The Sound Of The Smiths
Sire/Rhino Records; 2008
By Ron Raymond
WMPG Music Director

Over the years, 80s modern rock heroes, The Smiths, have had their share of greatest hits collections, including the brilliant 1987 collective LOUDER THAN BOMBS. Now, Sire and Rhino have teamed up once again to bring fans THE SOUND OF THE SMITHS, a 23-track, one-CD offering of this 4-man band’s most memorable hits. Included are favorites like “Hand In Glove,” “This Charming Man,” “William, Was It Really Nothing,” “Bigmouth Strikes Again,” “Panic,” “Ask,” “Sheila Take A Bow,” “Girlfriend In A Coma,” the full-length version of “How Soon Is Now?” and the John Peel Sessions version of “What Difference Does It Make?”

Ron Raymond Reviews 4:13 Dream by The Cure

THE CURE
4:13 Dream
Suretone/Geffen Records; 2008
By Ron Raymond
WMPG Music DirectorHow does a 32-year-old alt-rock/goth band get the fans excited about a new album months in advance of the album’s release date? Well, to prepare for the 13th album by 80s alt-rock/goth heroes The Cure, 4:13 Dream, the 4-man band led by Robert Smith, released singles on the 13th of each month leading up to the album’s initial release date of September 13th. Each of these singles had non-album B-sides, which have always been a Cure staple. However, the album got pushed back to October 13th and was ultimately released on October 28th. After a remix EP was released on September 13th to tide fans over, the album arrived and is the first album since 1989’s Disintegration that, for the most part, sounds like The Cure we used to know.

Ron Raymond reviews Merl Saunders’ “Blues From The Rainforest: A Musical Suite”

Merl Saunders
Blues From The Rainforest: A Musical Suite
Grateful Dead Records, 1990
By Ron Raymond
WMPG Music Director

The recent passing in October 2008 of legendary musician and frequent Grateful Dead collaborator, Merl Saunders, at the age of 74, reminded me of an album he did in 1990 titled Blues From The Rainforest. This was the album he was promoting when I actually got to meet him that same year. And, it’s one of the most beautiful and relaxing albums I’ve ever heard. While this album could be construed as New Age-ish, it’s more of a World album. The album’s six songs clock in at just over an hour, beginning with the 15 and a half-minute title track. The late Jerry Garcia lent his guitar talents to four tracks on the album (5 years before his passing), and you can certainly tell when he pops in. Merl takes you all over the globe on this one, from “Sunrise Over Haleakala” to “Sri Lanka” to “Blue Hill Ocean Dance” (I like to think it was for Blue Hill, Maine, but I don’t believe it was). My favorite song on the album happens to be the shortest song on the set, “Dance Of The Fireflies,” a lovely track which features additional help from Muruga (of the Global Jazz Trio) and Eddie Moore.