Category Archives: Music Reviews

Review: Drive-By Truckers, “The Big To-Do”

Paste — The last hot-barbecue platter from these Athens, Ga.-based workaholics, 2008’s “Brighter Than Creation’s Dark,” was a characteristically stomping monster, 19 tracks of roaring awesomeness that felt like a pretty deliberate screw-off to supporters of the Judiciously Edited Album. This quick-to-arrive follow-up whittles things down to more manageable levels, but still swings big. The full review is over at pastemagazine.com.

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Review: Jimmy Buffett, “Buffet Hotel”

It was my understanding there would be no spelling on this

Billboard — Excepting “Weird Al” Yankovic and possibly AC/DC, there isn’t a musician alive who needs worry about recalibrating his system less than Jimmy Buffett, though he could pretty much deliver an album of sousaphone-powered oom-pah standards and still sell the fins out of his summer tour next year. True to form, “Buffet Hotel,” the title of which will ensure that the “one T/two Ts” debate among the entertainment world’s copy editors will persevere until the end of time, is an easy, breezy stroll through basically all of Buffett’s usual stomping grounds: well-poured sunshiney escapism (“Summerzcool,” better than its title), light ballads with Hawaiian hints (“Beautiful Swimmers”), a gently insistent carpe diem (Bruce Cockburn’s “Life Short Call Now”), a nearly unbearably cheesy love note to his fans (“Big Top”), a tale of international adventure (the title cut, featuring Toumani Diabate) and a snarky, Steve Goodman-style vaguely political monologue on current events (“A Lot To Drink About’). “Buffet Hotel” might be less about the songs and more about the generating a vibe, and if you subscribe to it going in, you’ll check out happy.

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The Steel Horse Archives: Cinderella, “Somebody Save Me” (1986)

1986+NIGHT+SONG

At midnight, they turn into Warrant.

PopDose — Part One of The Steel Horse Archives, my ridiculous and self-indulgent series over at PopDose concerning the rise and mostly fall of Hair Metal, involves Cinderella, the ladies pictured at right who were responsible for one of 1986’s fizziest pants-metal records, “Night Songs.” Head over to PopDose at once to get Saved and for a pumpkin-coach full of free mp3s that you can quietly download without telling anybody.


Review: Bruce Springsteen burns down Bonnaroo — for the Official Site (TM)

saddler_bonnaroobrucespringsteen.net (Tour Notes) — Even setting aside the Tennessee hot, the sprawling carnival-world landscape, and the frequent need to avoid people who are hula-hooping where you need to be walking, it’s safe to say Bruce Springsteen has never played an environment like the one he burned down Saturday night at Bonnaroo. The night was jammed full of Bruce-time idiosyncrasies: it was only the band’s second-ever festival date (after Pinkpop), and it unfolded not in the relative safety of an arena but on a lush, pastoral and almost entirely inaccessible farm that 48 hours prior had been prolifically drenched by what amounted to a freak one-night hurricane season (and spent all of Friday being dried out by a sultry sun that seared the grounds and turned the place into a wonderland for fans of the smell of fast-drying mud).

Read the full review at brucespringsteen.net (over in the Tour Notes section).

• Phish (with Bruce Springsteen) — Glory Days.mp3


Snoop Dogg on Hilton Head: He don’t cause trouble, he don’t bother nobody

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Photo: Sarah Welliver

Island Packet — The good news about Snoop Dogg’s sold-out show at the Shoreline Ballroom on Sunday night is that everyone appears to have emerged largely undamaged, that the island survived a music concert without plunging into sub-apocalyptic anarchy, like how things are in the new “Terminator” movie, or in Texas. Unless I was in the wrong parking lot, this concert did not result in flash-mobs in the streets, a terrorist attack, swine flu, or the return of Frankenstein (although it did mean bad things for the pinheads who banked on cops not noticing them smoking weed outside a Snoop Dogg concert — kids, if margaritas were illegal, do you think police might be on alert at Jimmy Buffett shows?).

The bad news: I was pulling for “Pump Pump,” but that’s from his debut record. I’m kind of old.

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Live Review: Elton John and Billy Joel in Jacksonville

73633-john_elton_joel_billy_01lBillboard — The closest thing the live music industry might have to a stimulus package, Elton John and Billy Joel’s Face 2 Face tour kicked off on March 1 to a packed house in Jacksonville, Fla. This latest incarnation of the pair’s tour operates under a simple business model: maximize reward, minimize risk.

Since its 1994 inception, John and Joel’s co-headlining tour has been as critic-proof as AC/DC lyrics and a reasonable backup option for the United States Mint, which probably explains its current revival — one that John indicated could continue on and off for two years. It’s a customarily full-bore nostalgia trip that’ll likely move tickets as fast as it does oversized souvenir sunglasses.

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Album Review: The Bad Plus (Joined By Wendy Lewis): “For All I Care”

badplusforallicareAll About Jazz — If you are The Bad Plus, and you’ve spent your acclaimed and wacky career dismantling pop and jazz tunes down to their barely recognizable components—spreading those components around like bike pieces on a garage floor and building them back together into a state that bears only occasional resemblances to its source material—it is not the easiest thing in the world to advertise for helpers.

But when the band found itself looking to employ a singer for the first time, the hiring process was surprisingly speedy. “We felt like it was time for something different, (but) we didn’t want to get a jazz singer,” says bassist Reid Anderson. “We wanted someone with a direct approach, because that’s really what we do as well.”

The Extended Review, over at All About Jazz.


PopDose Flashback: Tone Loc, “Loc’ed After Dark”

c90402m5yqlPopDose — There’s no way around this: Tone Lōc’s 1989 debut, Lōc-ed After Dark, is COMPLETELY ADORABLE. The elementary, dubious and occasionally tortured rhyme scheme (”lax-adaiscal’ with “that’s the way to go,” “night” with, uh, “tonight”)! The sustained reports about how skilled a rapper one can be without actually rapping anything! The neurotic reliance employment of the first four break-beats in the history of the world! Lōc-ed After Dark may be the only album with the word “motherfucker” in it you sort of feel like you could play for your kids.

The full review, via the extremely good people over at PopDose.



Review: Guns N’ Roses, “Chinese Democracy” (No, really)

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Popdose — Unless you spent a lot of time in the company of William Shatner, “Chinese Democracy” will likely be one of the most ridiculous audio recordings you ever come across. It is sprawling and stupid and ludicrous and hilarious and will make you shoot milk out of your nose and cringe and it is not very good and sometimes extremely terrible, and just when you think things cannot possibly get any more extraordinarily strange, that’s when Axl Rose drops the MLK sample on you.

Originally slated for release in 1948, “Chinese Democracy” comes out Sunday exclusively for people shopping for Black Friday-sale plasmas at Best Buy, a wise promotional stunt and kind of an all-in proposition — if putting this record out this week doesn’t create interest or move units, nothing will. Because one thing is sure: The songs won’t sell it. Read the full review via the good people at PopDose.


Concert review: Against Me!, Ted Leo continue the debate on, um, Hilton Head

Billboard — To say that local music fans were surprised to see Against Me! and Ted Leo booked on Hilton Head is to substantially repurpose the definition of the word. If they’d have woken up tomorrow with their head sewn to the carpet they wouldn’t have been more surprised.

It’s tough to overstate how weird it was that an agit-punk show featuring the left-leaning Ted Leo + the Pharmacists and the lefter-leaning Against Me! occurred at all Hilton Head, a lovely and moneyed barrier island known more for its well-manicured golf courses, unmanageable traffic circles and superb landscaping than punk, or rock music, or music. Frankly, watching the smokers from the sweaty, multiply pierced punk crowd mingle outside with the Polo-and-khaki-shorts set from the adjacent swanky tourist piano bar was kind of worth the price of admission alone.

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