The Scientists

Swampland Soirée: The Scientists Dig It Up and Revel In It “The Scientists were fueled on negative energy – a negative sort of group. A bit like the Stooges, the way the group worked is very similar. There’s not many groups that have worked that way, and I think the result is intense energy.” That’s Kim… Continue reading The Scientists

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers – Years

Early on in her sophomore album, Sarah Shook offers a wry, yet revealing, personal assessment: “I need this shit like I need another hole in my head.” Framed against a straight-up honky-tonk arrangement – guitar, bass, drums, lap steel – Shook’s vocal is equal parts defiance and self-loathing as she details a scenario rapidly going… Continue reading Sarah Shook & the Disarmers – Years

Flamin’ Groovies, Part 1

Shake Some Action All Over Again! Okay, all you list-makers and mixtape-compilers, what’s the one song that should be on every goddam list, mixtape or, for that matter, K-Tel compilation of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll songs… ever. Think for a sec. Okay, got it? You sure about that? Positive? Hah. You’re wrong. It’s not… Continue reading Flamin’ Groovies, Part 1

Flamin’ Groovies, Part 2

Between The Lines: Flamin’ Groovies Singer Chris Wilson Looks Back on the Band’s Classic Period In the fall of 2005 I interviewed Chris Wilson from his home in England; at the time he was still somewhat estranged from erstwhile songwriting partner Cyril Jordan – intriguingly, he was also working on a Groovies-inspired project with some… Continue reading Flamin’ Groovies, Part 2

Samba Toure – Gandadiko

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Guitarist/vocalist Samba Touré, from Mali, born in 1968, achieved regional success early on with Farafina Lolo and Super Lolo, but it was his tutelage under fellow Malian and international blues legend Ali Farka Touré in the late ‘90s that cemented his reputation and gained him entrée to the Western music-consuming world. (He also worked with… Continue reading Samba Toure – Gandadiko

Lucinda Williams – Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone

Lucinda Williams has gone and made herself a double album. It’s technically not her first one, but in an artistic sense, it is. Back in 2005 she released a double concert album, Live @ The Fillmore, a bloated affair so ‘luded out and meandering you were left begging for a drum solo. Subsequent studio recs,… Continue reading Lucinda Williams – Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone

Warpaint – Warpaint

My introduction to these L.A.-based distaff dreampoppers arrived, appropriately enough, in a dream (of sorts): collapsed on the sofa after work one evening I’d drifted off, only to gradually and groggily awaken to the radio and strains of “Undertow,” from Warpaint’s 2010 album The Fool. The song’s ethereal melody and layered vocals, anchored by an… Continue reading Warpaint – Warpaint

Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans

A dozen albums down, Peach State heroes the Drive-By Truckers appear to have settled in for the long haul – no pun intended – and are capitalizing on their reputation as premiere torchbearers of the Southern aesthetic in all its tattered, post-Confederacy glory. In 2014, that doesn’t mean, for the band who broke through in 2001… Continue reading Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – Give the People What They Want

Anyone who’s ever witnessed firsthand the sonic dynamo that is Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings knows what an inspiring, exhilarating experience the show can be, from the pint-sized, clarion-lunged Jones’ strutting, swaggering and moneymaker-shaking to her backing band’s effortless conjuring of vintage revues from the ’60s and ’70s. This ain’t no neo-soul, man; it’s solid… Continue reading Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – Give the People What They Want

Nox Boys – Nox Boys

By the way, which one’s er, Nox? All of ‘em, actually: Bob Nox, Zack Nox, Sam Nox and Zach Nox (Powers, Keim, Berman and Stadtlander, respectively). Three of ‘em aren’t even out of high school – Powers is the lone legal drinker – but, as a fearsome four-headed rock ‘n’ roll collective, they’ve blitzed the… Continue reading Nox Boys – Nox Boys

Shearwater – Fellow Travelers

In recent times it’s increasingly been the fashion for musicians to do their covers project sooner rather than later in the career; an unintended by-product of this is that it allays accusations of writer’s block, since artistic burnout doesn’t typically happen until the creative sunset years. Supporting this theory is Shearwater’s ninth album, which adds… Continue reading Shearwater – Fellow Travelers

Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – Under the Covers Vol. 3

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs – aka “Sid ‘n’ Susie,” as the booklet cover gently advises – pull off quite a hat-trick on the third installment of their Under the Covers series. We’ll get to that in a moment. Where 2006’s delightful first volume tackled ’60s covers from the likes of Beatles, Fairports, Velvets and… Continue reading Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – Under the Covers Vol. 3

King Khan & the Shrines – Idle No More

Boy, that’s what ya call truth-in-titling. It’s been six damn years since the last King Khan & the Shrines album, 2007’s What Is!?, and while in that time the titular King (that’s Arish Ahmad Khan to his mom) hasn’t been exactly dormant – the Montreal-born/Germany-residing garage rock icon has been seen collaborating with everyone from… Continue reading King Khan & the Shrines – Idle No More

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

It’s the gayest album you’ll encounter this year, and I mean that in the most rainbow-hued sense. Youngsters can’t possibly understand how, once upon a time, disco music represented a line in the sand. It’s tragic but true that subtle elements of racism and overt elements of homophobia rendered it anathema to rock ‘n’ roll;… Continue reading Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

Out/proud Austin combo the Black Angels – “out” as in, “far out, maaan…”; “proud” because they make no apologies for their overt brand of Sixties-channeling psychedelia – have been churning out sonic bummers since 2004, four albums and sundry EPs’ worth of fuzz, feedback ‘n’ drone that’s only grown more potent, like a barrel of… Continue reading The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

The Bryan Ferry Orchestra – The Jazz Age

Why is it that so-called “heritage artists” (translation: at least three decades’ music biz tenure) almost always get a pass, despite their very longevity making it more rather than less likely they’ll release a stinker or two over time? I recall how once, as a guest on a radio show, I proposed that then-recent releases… Continue reading The Bryan Ferry Orchestra – The Jazz Age

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away

This ain’t yer mama’s Bad Seeds – or at least not the Bad Seeds of 2008’s Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!, a dark, deliciously decadent blast of voodoo hoodoo and post-punk rumble that at times seemed intent upon exhuming the fetid corpse of Cave’s old band the Birthday Party. Instead, Push The Sky Away plays like an… Continue reading Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Live From Alabama

While you weren’t looking, Jason Isbell became one of America’s best songwriters – from any genre; rock, folk, country, garage, you name it. Commencing during his 2001-07 stint with the Drive-By Truckers, Isbell quietly began establishing his bonafides via such tracks as “Decoration Day,” “Danko/Manuel” and “Goddamn Lonely Love,” all faves among Truckers fans. With… Continue reading Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Live From Alabama

Theresa Andersson – Street Parade

Sweden-born, New Orleans-formed Theresa Andersson has been compared to a host of distaff musical iconoclasts, among them Kate Bush, Tori Amos and Laurie Anderson. To be sure, she does share Bush’s obsession with sonic detail as well as certain vocal similarities, Amos’ flair for performance drama and Anderson’s eternal quest for the unexpected. But placing… Continue reading Theresa Andersson – Street Parade

Michael Rank & Stag – Kin

Chapel Hill’s Michael Rank is best known for his notorious combo Snatches of Pink, which formed in the mid ’80s and traced a boozy, brawny Johnny Thunders-meets-Replacements path into the early ’90s. Following a hiatus during which Rank released a folky solo album, Coral, and also published a book of poetry, Snatches resurfaced in the… Continue reading Michael Rank & Stag – Kin

Cotton Mather – Kontiki: Deluxe Edition

Here’s one that got away, kids. Austin psych-pop legends Cotton Mather – named after the Puritan minister/Salem witch trials bon vivant – shone promisingly throughout the ’90s, although the ascendancy and takeover of corporate alt-rock and nü-metal eventually doomed them and other likeminded outfits to obscurity. Three full-lengths plus a couple of EPs, and they… Continue reading Cotton Mather – Kontiki: Deluxe Edition

Jason Isbell

Working Class Hero: Jason Isbell’s Country and Soul Anthems Offer Solace from Desperate Times The first time I meet Jason Isbell it’s at a Drive-By Truckers show, circa the winter of 2005-06, and although the mood backstage is festive bordering on the boisterous, with well-wishers, hangers-on and bandmembers and crew all mingling noisily, Isbell seems… Continue reading Jason Isbell