Tag Archives: review

Review: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit Need to Quickly Exit the Murat Please (via Indianapolis Monthly)


Indianapolis Monthly — There’s a moment in Jason Isbell shows that comes during the second verse of “Cover Me Up,” a vivid love letter that’s also the sound of a guy falling to the floor and smashing into pieces. Isbell sings of some definitively indefensible booze-fueled infraction, and midway through it the crowd starts cheering, and this pre-emptive cheer builds on itself and builds some more, and by the time Isbell gets to the payoff line about sobering up and swearing off liquor “forever this time,” this cheer sounds like a wave, an instinctive release of support, and understanding, and either the memory of or wish for committing to the kind of all-or-nothing change required to reclaim a life. It’s an incredible few seconds of direct nerve-to-nerve contact, not to a band or a singer, but to a human being at the front of the room. And even if you’ve seen Isbell’s four Indy-market shows in the past three-and-a-half years, it still wields the power to remind you of his gifts as a writer while also, at the same time, taking your hair and physically blowing it toward the back of your head. Actual, 100 percent physically. I am pretty sure that after “Cover Me Up,” I spent the rest of the night looking like Doctor Who.






Give This Man Some More Awards: A Review of Gregory Porter at the Palladium (Indianapolis Monthly)


Indianapolis Monthly — Gregory Porter’s rich, sturdy baritone is filed under jazz in large part because singers have to be called something; those “genre” fields don’t fill themselves out, people.

It’s true that Porter won exceedingly deserved jazz vocal Grammys for 2017’s Take Me to the Alleyand 2014’s Liquid Spirit (and odds are pretty good on a third for his new tribute album, Nat “King” Cole and Me), all of which arrived via Blue Note. But while his big, booming voice is worthy of gold, filing it under jazz leaves out more than it lets in. Porter wields command over a vast range of genre fields, as he proved in a gleaming and diverse Saturday night set at the Palladium: Rare is the performer who can conjure Cole’s ghost, lead his own band through a steam-train version of “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and close by gorgeously damning an industry complicit in “musical genocide” all in a baritone that booms as much as it comforts.




Alive Out There: Review — Bruce Springsteen, “London Calling: Live In Hyde Park”

Paste — Bruce Springsteen’s most recent eyebrow-removing live documentary is evidence that the aging process may be purely theoretical. “IS THERE ANYBODY ALIVE OUT THERE?” he shouts all of 12 minutes into the show, throwing down the gauntlet to the behemoth Hard Rock Calling Festival audience with a crazy-eyed boxer’s glare that’s part statement of purpose and part f*#&-you to the AARP Magazine cover. London Calling: Live at Hyde Park then explodes open with its ace in the hole: Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt tearing into the Clash like two scuzzy-looking punks thirsting to prove themselves, which is, of course, profoundly insane: By the time London Calling was shot in June 2009, Springsteen and the E Street Band, most loitering around the parking lot of 60, were firing on all cylinders, inventing more cylinders and then firing on those too, laying waste to festivals and towns huge and small with three-hour sweat-fests highlighted by nightly Stump The Band requests delivered via creative poster boards (the DVD’s: the Young Rascals’ fest-ready “Good Lovin’”).

Read the full review at Paste.


Billboard’s Top 10 Bonnaroo Moments, feat. Coco, Jay-Z and, it goes without saying, Daryl Hall

Billboard — Trying to boil down three days and four nights of relentless music, comedy, distant bass thumping, a unrelenting jerk of a sun that made you sort of wish you had never been born, heat-based insomnia, unstable baked-mud terrain, fried foods in paper trays, sympathy-inducing sunburns and displeasing olfactory combinations into an Internet-friendly list is an absolutely impossible job; a team of a dozen working the festival at all times would be inadequate.

But nonetheless, our small but intrepid team fearlessly managed to put together Billboard’s Best Moments of Bonnaroo 2010, in no particular order, and issued with the caveat that when these moments were happening, dozens more were happening elsewhere, but we were probably in the press area, where we found a little air-conditioned spot. Read the full list, with plentiful videos, here.


Billboard @ Bonnaroo 2010: Dispatches from the RIDICULOUS SOUL-SCORCHING HOT

Pictured: Snoop Dogg, somewhere

Billboard — In flagrant defiance of the Weather Channel’s subtle forecast for central Tennessee this weekend — EXTREME CAUTION ADVISED FOR HEAT AND HUMIDITY THIS WEEKEND… BE PREPARED FOR HEAT STRESS says their delightful-sounding SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT — I’ll be covering Bonnaroo this weekend with the highly skilled and personable Troy Carpenter (and attempting to keep up with the equally skilled and bearded Tyson Wheatley at CNN), on the official Billboard site right here. Daily recaps, interviews, blogs, one-man mobile uplink units, etc. etc. Also we might die of heatstroke, so if the stories stop, that’s what probably happened.

We’ll also be tweeting, so point your personal World Wide Internet reading machine device to twitter.com/billboarddotcom and enjoy our slow descent into humidity-induced madness, or the almost-certain ankle injuries that happen when you stumble in the dark over passed-out twentysomethings lying upside down in dirt. Follow!


Review: Magnetic Fields, “69 Love Songs,” or, Magnetic Fields, how do they work?

Paste — Shopping for music reissues is like hitting the sundae buffet on your birthday: It’s one of the few times you are allowed, if not obligated, to put aside your cares about portion size. In the world of repackaged albums, volume is king, sets are super-sized and few demos are considered too scruffy for inclusion. The most bank-breaking reissue of Pearl Jam’s Ten, for example, came with dueling mixes of the album, a live DVD, a vinyl LP, a replica cassette of Vedder’s early demos, some recipes, a coupon for 50 percent off your second pair of shoes, Six Flags tickets and a Don Mattingly rookie card; an apparently sizable audience was once even heard clamoring for 22 outtakes from the Gin Blossoms’ New Miserable Experience.

Magnetic Fields’ spry, sprawling 69 Love Songs album was no small investment in its original proportions, and its three 23-track discs—each loaded end-to-end with near-comprehensive coverage of the highs and horrors of love—cemented Stephin Merritt’s standing as a kind of misanthropic dark knight. And so, while the recently-reissued version is plus-sized—the whole shebang comprised of six vinyl LPs (plus a code to download the remastered MP3s)—this new, limited-run package features no outtakes, no demos, no live cuts, no extra anything. It makes sense, as anything more would bungle the math. Plus, Merritt doesn’t exactly seem like the kind of guy who would throw open his journals. “He made Lou Reed look like Little Orphan Annie,” says author Neil Gaiman in the trailer for the newly released, decade-in-the-making documentary Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields. Read the full review over at Paste Magazine.



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Paste review: “Rock N’ Roll High School” 30th Anniversary Special Edition DVD

Paste — Producer Roger Corman’s Rock ’N’ Roll High School is a teenage lobotomy. It’s an overcaffeinated parable about punk rebellion and the seething drive to maintain one’s countercultural ethos against a long-ingrained totalitarianism that, in 2010, appears approximately as dangerous as a pre-sectionals pep rally. You get where Corman, the B-movie emperor, is going with the whole punk-inflames-the-youth thing somewhere around the 12-second mark, but why bother suppressing such gleeful silliness, especially when it assumes a world where the Ramones are national heroes? Read the full review at Paste.



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.



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.



The Steel Horse Archives: Tesla, “Love Song” (1989)


This record was Tesla's last to not include at least 9 classic-rock covers.

PopDose — Part Two of The Steel Horse Archives, featuring Tesla, whose important-looking 1989 morality play “The Great Radio Controversy” is pictured. Go to PopDose at once for some gorgeous Renaissance-era acoustic guitar magic and mp3s that you can quietly download without having to admit it.

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