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John Wesley – Disconnect

April 13th, 2014
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Doesn’t Quite Connect

Prog-rock mainstay John Wesley (AKA Wes Dearth) gives us the best and worst of the genre on his eighth studio release, Disconnect. Wesley is known for touring with the likes of Steve Hogarth (Marillion) and Sean Malone. He has supported larger acts as well, such as Peter Frampton and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but he has never seemed able to break out of that “sideman” role. Disconnect will do little to change that. With its 10 capable but forgettable numbers, Disconnect is destined to remain hidden among your CD collection. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

The Mary Onettes – Portico:

March 26th, 2014
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Synth-Portico

Swedish synth-pop quartet focuses more on the “synth” and less on the “pop” with their latest release, the seven-song Portico:. Last year’s Hit the Waves was chock full of catchy singles, sometimes veering away from the band’s multi-layered compositions but maintaining a decidedly ’80s feel. The end result was an ice cream buffet with no whipped cream; it was almost there. With Portico, Phillip Ekstrom & co. produced a more modern-sounding collection of tunes, at times getting closer to perfection, though still lacking the edge to push them to the next level. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Skaters – Manhattan

March 20th, 2014
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The Future of Punk

New York is an inspirational city. This four-piece rock band is comprised of members hailing from other places, but who all now call the Big Apple home, and to celebrate has based their debut LP on one of its boroughs. Manhattan is a collection of eleven vignettes, interspersed with sounds of the city (recorded and mimicked), all chronicling what it’s like, as one song suggests, “To Be Young in NYC.” Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Beck – Morning Phase

March 1st, 2014
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Every Day Should Be Like Sunday

There’s something comforting about the ebb and flow of Beck Hanson. Since 1996’s groundbreaking Odelay, he has ventured among and across various genres, creating a pattern that makes the next album predictable, yet not. After 2008’s beat-heavy Modern Guilt, which followed 2006’s dance-pop The Information, the assumption would be that the next release would be subdued, perhaps traveling back to the Sea Change era. In 2012, Beck threw fans a curve, putting out Song Reader, a collection only available on sheet music. Finally, this year, with Morning Phase, he delivers what fans were hoping for: a reminder of the exceptional troubadour that resides in the heart of the jester. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews

Nicole Atkins – Slow Phaser

February 5th, 2014
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Phase Her In Quickly

It would be so easy for Nicole Atkins to denominate with other artists with whom she has something in common. There’s a throwback element to her deep yet omnipresent vibrato and Phil-Spector-esque arrangements, but she cannot be compared to Adele or even She & Him. Her music has a theatrical element, but she is not as absorbed as Amanda Palmer. There’s an alt-country element, but not quite as overt as Neko Case. Jersey’s Nicole Atkins just is, and what she happens to be. And what she happens to be shines from all sides on her third full-length album, Slow Phaser. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews

Kye Kye – Fantasize

February 1st, 2014
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Big and Beautiful

There may not exist speakers powerful enough to project the fury contained within Estonian-born Kye Kye’s sophomore LP, Fantasize. That’s not to say it’s full of violent, noisy, attacking songs; it’s not. Singer/gutarist Olga Yagolnikov has a perfectly sweet, wispy voice, reminiscent of Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins but more coherent, but the atmospheric music behind her is big and full and wonderfully supportive and it makes you wish you had a full 500 watt sound system at your disposal to catch the full effect. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews

Various Artists – BOATS

January 24th, 2014
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Sinking Ship

Transgressive North, the Scottish arts community known for pulling together impressive collections for charitable causes, has compiled BOATS, 28 tracks from artists ranging from the atmospheric Lucky Dragons to the experimental indie-folk of Taken By Trees to the avant-garde noise-pop of Deerhoof for “Scottish Love in Action.” Proceeds will help feed, clothe, house and educate children in South India. While that is a noble cause, and anyone with a heart hopes they succeed in their endeavor, those children’s lives will not be improved upon by the music in this compilation. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews , , , , , ,

Mastodon – Live at Brixton (DVD)

December 14th, 2013
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Greatest Hits Live

Metal heroes Mastodon do not need to release a “greatest hits” album. All you need to know about the Georgian four-piece is contained within their latest release, the Live at Brixton DVD. Recorded in February 2012 in London, Live at Brixton spans their entire catalog in 23 songs (plus one extended guitar solo). While some artists use live performance to expand upon their studio efforts, Mastodon shows instead that their impressive recordings are not the result of mixboard magic; this DVD is evidence that their talent is legitimate. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum

December 8th, 2013
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Schizophrenia at Its Finest

The happy little notes that open Cate Le Bon’s latest offering, Mug Museum, are not to be trusted. The Welsh crooner-ella, best known for moody songs and dark lyrics, may want you to think her perspective has changed, but as the chorus of “I Can’t Help You” strikes a deliberately sour note and as she sings lyrics like “beat me like egg yolks,” you know it’s all an illusion. Mug Museum is like that: fun to listen to, dreary to listen to. But the melodies and Le Bon’s range draw you in and keep you there throughout. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

A Perfect Circle – Three Sixty

November 23rd, 2013
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Around and Around They Go

Tool’s Maynard James Keenan’s side project, A Perfect Circle, released three albums between 2000 and 2004, and as any good side project should, it displayed a range of talents that differed from his main band. A Perfect Circle was more artistic and melodic, often capturing Keenan’s subdued side. In 2010, the band, including founding member Billy Howerdel and former Smahing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, started touring again and hinted at the possibility of some new songs, if not an entire album. What fans received instead was Three Sixty, a compilation of the band’s favorite tunes, some live tracks and one new song. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews ,