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Big Deal – Sakura EP

July 18th, 2014
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Bigger, Better Deals Await Them

Big Deal’s vocalist Kacey Underwood is as California as it gets. With her Michelle Phillips’ beauty and her sweet and lazy voice, one can imagine that not a day went by in the recording studio where fresh flowers weren’t nearby. A few years ago,  she trekked to London where she teamed up with Alice Costelloe and formed the edgy, indie-shoegaze band Big Deal. They released two LPs, but on their newest four-song offering Sakura they appear to have found their focus. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Corrosion of Conformity – IX

June 30th, 2014
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Nix It

When Corrosion of Conformity returned in 2012 with a classic but refreshed lineup and a new self-titled LP, the result was akin to a history of the band itself, touching on their hardcore past, southern-rock middle and other doom-metal stylings they’ve shown, but the end result was cohesive and well-done. With their latest, IX, Mike Dean & Co. take the same approach, but with different results. The ambitious and random mix is similar, but the end result is something disorganized and disjointed. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

The Teen Age – Ways to Adapt EP

June 13th, 2014
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Adaptation Achieved

Brooklyn four-piece The Teen Age describes the band’s music as “Doo Wop Garage.” But such a pigeon-holed description does them a disservice. On their latest EP, Ways to Adapt, this young act (formed in 2012) displays a depth in simplicity and simplicity in depth with songs that are at once basic and rich, accessible and daring. Over the course of four songs, The Teen Age demonstrates an impressive range of influences while adhering to a cohesive and original sound. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Haunted Hearts – Initiation

June 3rd, 2014
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Join the Club

Husband-and-wife duo Brandon Welchez and Dee Dee Penny have combined the musical styles from their respective “home” bands to create a new sound with Haunted Hearts. Haunted Hearts mixes Welchez’s fuzzy-rock from Crocodiles with the pop sensibilities Penny honed with Dum Dum Girls. The end result is their debut album, Initiation, an homage to late ’80s/early ’90s noise-pop that throws in some modern touches. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews , ,

Tweak Bird – Any Ol’ Way

May 22nd, 2014
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In With the New

In 2012, the Carbondale, Illinois brothers Caleb and Ashton Bird released Undercover Crops, a delicious mish-mash of sounds all falling under an indie-sludge umbrella. Crops stood out from the crowd, however, because of the way the duo experimented as if trying to find their sound, but if you listened closely, their sound was right there all along. On their latest, Any Ol’ Way, it’s clear they figured out what that sound should be, and proved it with 11 tracks that are distinctively Tweak Bird compositions. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Ringo Deathstarr – God’s Dream

May 9th, 2014
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Come for the Band Name, Stay for the Talent

With a name like Ringo Deathstarr, one has to assume that this Austin shoegaze-noise-pop trio has a sense of humor. That’s important, because otherwise lyrics like “Can’t spend time with my friends / ‘Cause I no longer have friends” would be met with an eye-roll. Knowing right off that a band, especially a band whose brand of music is not typically associated with “fun,” doesn’t take themselves too seriously, helps set an expectation for the listener. With their latest EP, God’s Dream, Ringo Deathstarr establishes that tone early, and that gives them license to hurl musical whims at your head to great effect. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Natalie Merchant – Natalie Merchant

May 7th, 2014
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Are You Buying What She’s Selling?

Yes, that Natalie Merchant. That’s the message the raven-haired, lazy hummingbird-voiced darling of the late ’80s/early ’90s is delivering on her self-titled sixth solo album since leaving 10,000 Maniacs in 1993. Merchant released a collection of contemporary folk songs in 2003 with The House Carpenter’s Daughter and set music to children’s poems and lullabies in 2010 with Leave Your Sleep. But that Natalie Merchant hasn’t put out a collection of new, original songs since Motherland in 2001. With this new album, she picks off where she left off, and that is either wonderful or a bore depending on your attraction to the artist. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

Mount Salem – Endless

May 5th, 2014
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Not a New Beginning

No one will argue that doom metal doesn’t need a facelift. From Sabbath to Pentagram to The Sword, the genre has evolved into a caricature of its past, characterized by slow riffs with as many “devil’s triad” variations as possible and song subjects that tend to include the mythical, the magical and the mysterious. The singer would be wise to mimic Ozzy, and the guitarist would be wise to emulate Tony Iommi, as if there is no reasonable alternative. Chicago’s Mount Salem throws a monkey wrench into the formula with their debut, Endless, by introducing a new element: a female vocalist. Unfortunately, that was the only step forward they took. Read more…

By Chad Gorn Posted in Reviews

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