Album Reviews

Sort By:  Post Date TitlePublish Date
Michael Fremer  |  May 23, 2020  |  2 comments
Tucson Arizona-based minimalist synth, guitar and drum duo Trees Speak (with help from friends) released a limited to 100 edition white label 45 rpm single that quickly sold out. The story goes the action caught the attention of the U.K. based Soul Jazz Records label, which originally specialized in reggae, ska, dub and soul and later expanded its reach to include “world music”, mostly sourced from Africa and Brazil. More recently the label increased its reach to include electronica, which is probably how this duo’s full length album of minimalist, cinematic collages got a Soul Jazz release.

Malachi Lui  |  May 05, 2020  |  22 comments
Drake is now a walking corporation. Actually, he’s an entire industry. As he enters his career’s second decade, he’s invincible in a way unseen since Michael Jackson (to whom Drake frequently compares himself). He escapes every scandal unscathed: a secret kid with a porn star, accusations of sexual harassment, cultural appropriation, and using ghostwriters; Pusha T’s brutal diss track, and questions regarding contact with teen celebrities don’t harm the artist born Aubrey Graham. Just one of the above kills or greatly diminishes most stars’ relevance; Drake is so culturally omnipresent that he won’t go away anytime soon. Whenever he drops a somewhat mediocre lead single, I say “he’s struggling for relevance now, his reign is almost over.” And? Said single becomes an inescapable hit. The full-length project drops, and everyone walking the earth stops dead in their tracks to stream it. His music is meant to sound emotionally genuine, yet nowadays Drake and his OVO team carefully calculate his every word.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 23, 2020  |  2 comments
Cushioned by the Netherlands-based Matangi String Quartet, plus bass drums, percussion and occasional guitar, singer/songwriter/pianist Lori Lieberman delivers a tender, occasionally excruciatingly intimate song cycle replete with regret, heartache, abandonment, longing and loss.

Malachi Lui  |  Apr 09, 2020  |  116 comments
(“Hype: to promote or publicize something intensively, often exaggerating its importance or benefits.” We all succumb to hype, either from others’ high recommendations or our own excitement and anticipation. Once something falls short of those expectations, we rush to denounce it as “overhyped;” not necessarily bad, but underwhelming for however much we expect. Today’s Vinyl Reports feature centers around such overhyped records.)

Jeff Flaim  |  Mar 31, 2020  |  15 comments
Brooklyn- based quartet Big Thief formed after all four of its members— Adrianne Lenker (guitar, vocals), Buck Meek (guitar, backing vocals), Max Oleartchik (bass), and James Krivchenia (drums)— had graduated from the Berklee College Of Music.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 30, 2020  |  20 comments
If you're saying Monk's creative juices had begun to dry up by the time he signed with Columbia Records and released this 1963 label debut album you'll get no argument from me. But Monk, all of 46 when this was recorded, had a secret weapon: his rock'n'roll band of the hard-blowing Charlie Rouse on tenor sax, John Ore on bass and Frankie Dunlop on drums.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 25, 2020  |  7 comments
These two releases, one culled from a 2006 Rhino Tony Joe White compilation and the other a new one from APO (an Analogue Productions label) are naturals for a linked review.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 19, 2020  |  4 comments
What better time than now for the all-analog resurrection of this Chesky classic? Easter is three weeks away (though “Oh Great Mystery” is really about Christmas) and home lock down in a dreary time is here now.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 17, 2020  |  14 comments
I didn’t know who Mandy Moore was when the press blurb arrived in my inbox. Incredible Boomer ignorance. What my eyes latched onto was the blurb’s “laid down to tape” line. A web search quickly informed my Boomer/pop culture cluelessness! I should be embarrassed, but I don’t embarrass easily.
Michael Fremer  |  Mar 14, 2020  |  6 comments
Charles Lloyd turns 82 tomorrow (March 15th). Two years ago, to celebrate his 80th, Dorothy Darr, his wife/manager and herself an artist, threw a year-long party for him and as a present made him work.

Lloyd and his group toured, with each stop a celebration. On his birthday the entourage pulled into his hometown of Santa Barbara, California and performed at the 150 year old Lobero Theater.

The annotation notes that Lloyd has played there more often than any other venue and more often than any other performer, so it was a true homecoming celebration with “kindred spirits” on-stage and in the audience.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 29, 2020  |  6 comments
Tenor saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh's follow up to The Turn, a duet album with guitarist Greg Tuohey arrived quite some time ago. I've been playing it repeatedly trying to get a grasp.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 22, 2020  |  2 comments
R. Crumb’s cover illustration first drew me to this record, which recently arrived with others sent by Third Man Records. It opened to a triple gatefold that provided a fairly complete backgrounder on the folk violinist Alexis Zoumbas who was born in Ioannina, the capital of Epirus the Northern Greece region adjacent to Albania between the Pindus Mountains and the Ionian Sea. The notes by producer Christopher King suggest listening to the opening track “Epirotiko Mirologi” with undivided attention, which means stopping reading the extensive annotation.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 20, 2020  |  22 comments
It takes a rocker with "brass in pocket" to deliver a jazz album. It takes more than that to produce a great one, which is what Hynde does on Valve Bone Woe, the title of which was her trombonist brother's "beatnik haiku" response to hearing about the passing of Bob Brookmeyer. Hynde here is no jazz pretender.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 05, 2020  |  10 comments
For every reason, from mastering to pressing to packaging and annotation—and pricing, Craft’s 5 LP Chet Baker Riverside box scores the highest marks.

The recent RSD mono release of It Could Happen to You—Chet Baker Sings signaled what this set might and turned out to be. For those fans who might have some of these albums on original or OJC reissues, you can be sure the audio here soundly beats those.

Michael Fremer  |  Dec 16, 2019  |  19 comments
When first released in America in 1978 Dire Straits’ debut was an immediate sensation, though cautious record labels at first rejected signing the group until Warner Brothers bit. The original Vertigo release hit the U.K. earlier. Eventually, propelled by the catchy single “Sultans of Swing”, the album was Top Ten throughout Europe and much of the world.

Pages

X