Staff Music Picks

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Apr 11, 2014 by deirdres

One of the reasons Beck is beloved by critics is that he doesn't just put out warmed over versions of his "sound;" although, his music is certainly identifiable.  Morning Phase is recognizably Beck, but the more atmospheric, reflective Beck. Almost every one of his albums has had a song on it that I've loved instantly and forever and this album is no exception. In this case that song is "Heart is a Drum." That's not to say that there is only one good song, there are many: "Say Goodbye", "Blue Moon", "Morning" and "Blackbird Chain" among the best. Throughout there is an overriding melancholy to the lovely instrumental arrangements and if there is one quibble, it is that the lyrics are opaque at best. But overall it is a lovely work that really grows on you after a few listens. Check our catalog.

Apr 7, 2014 by claytonc

Remember Luka? Suzanne Vega has just released her first album of original material in seven years (her 8th album for those of you counting). These ten new tracks instantly sound familiar and comfortable, like reuniting with an old friend. I hadn't realized I missed her, but her voice takes me back and the simple guitar work is the perfect accompanment (this is not the Tom's Diner remix!) Ms. Vega has great industry connections. She started her own label in 2010 and this album was mixed by Kevin Killen (who has worked with Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush). The recently recorded clip below (from NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts - check them out if you've never heard of them!) uses her classics as bookends for the new material. Check our catalog.

Feb 18, 2014 by megana

Retro r&b belter Sharon Jones remains in fine form on her latest album of funky, soulful, horn-punctuated songs, backed up by the fabulous Dap-Kings. Whether or not you remember the heyday of 60s r&b and soul music, you'll be hard put not to love this stuff. Exciting and ecstatically fun to sing along with, dance to, drive to, or just listen to! Check Our Catalog

Feb 14, 2014 by claytonc

With a sound that could have been recorded by Blue Note in 1954, this album is sure to delight vocal jazz fans. Three years after winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocalist competition this twenty-something rising star has been lauded by luminaries including Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Al Jarreau, and Dianne Reeves. Stephen Holden, writing for the New York Times positions Cécile McLorin Salvant in the direct lineage of the Big Three - Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald. Watch the live clip below for a sample. Check our Catalog

Nov 20, 2013 by ginaf

Bob Dylan's Another Self-Portrait, the tenth volume of the Bootleg Series, includes four CDs that will delight any Dylan fan that longs for his Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait, folk-roots days. While the original Self Portrait album was panned in 1970 by fans who weren't interested in hearing Dylan return to his roots, it is worth a listen now and especially in this remastered and reimagined form. Also included in the set is the full 1969 Isle of Wight concert with The Band, as well as some wonderful and insightful liner notes. Check Our Catalog

Oct 15, 2013 by claytonc

Local power-pop craftsmen, Air Traffic Controller provide some light, catchy tunes on this sophomore album. Sometimes sounding a bit like They Might Be Giants, with significant influence from Bleu (the producer for Nordo and their previous album, The One), this will sound new but familiar all at once. If you missed the kickstarter campaign that funded this album you can still tune in to their live on-air concert on WERS on Thursday, October 24th at 4:00 pm. Below is the official video for their first single off this album, Hurry Hurry. Slow down for a minute and enjoy it!

Check our catalog

Jul 29, 2013 by deirdres

 Although much of this CD features a generic disco beat and really long, repetitive songs, I encourage everyone to have a listen.  I sincerely believe this album was released on a dare. Sadly, for the listener, every song on this album is a least 3 minutes too long, except disco monologue "Moroder" which, at 9 minutes and 4 seconds, is 9 minutes and 4 seconds too long.  The overuse of Auto-tune suggests a deep love of gadgets that, in the case of "Instant Crush" anyway, ruins what is still the best song on the CD. There is also "Get Lucky" featuring Pharrell Williams, which is mediocre but festive. The centerpiece of this monstrosity is "Touch," co-written and sung by none other than Paul Williams, the elfin songwriter/actor from the 70s. You will marvel at the overwrought lyrics and delivery. Here's a sample: "a room within a room, a door behind a door, touch where do you lead?" Really. Brace yourself. We've been Daft Punk'd. Check our Catalog

Jan 10, 2013 by dorothyc

Psychedelic Pill absolutely rocks. This is what rock-and-roll is supposed to be: loud, cranky, and grungy. You won't want to listen to these tracks on shuffle--this is an album meant to be experienced beginning to end. That being said, if listening to 87 minutes of Neil Young and Crazy Horse isn’t your style, you still won’t want to miss “Ramada Inn” and “Walk Like a Giant,” two of their best songs ever and probably two of the best songs of the year. These cranky old rockers sound like they did at their peak, and if that sounds like something you'd like, you will love Psychedelic Pill. Check Our Catalog

Jan 8, 2013 by deirdres

I am of two minds about this CD. I love it but I also think it's pretentious and ridiculous.  I love the music and her voice but the poetry sometimes makes me cringe...or chuckle.  But who am I to complain?  I have no muse.

If you can get past lyrics such as:   "The silver ladle of his throat,  The boy the beast and the butterfly" or "She walks across a bridge of magpies, Her hollow tongue fills the brightness with water" both from Tarkovsky (The Second Stop is Jupiter) you're golden. She  works with long time collaborators who really know how to put her words to music. The best tracks,  Amerigo, April Fool, This is the Girl and Mosaic, are all very melodic.  I'd be happy to have those songs follow me around all day. Check Our Catalog



Dec 23, 2012 by deirdres

I figured I better review the new dB's CD Falling Off the Sky since I mentioned its release as being the reason behind my recommending their Sound of Music a few months ago.   One of the best things about it is that the music isn't a rehash of old dB's, they are older and wiser and it shows in the content of their songs.  There are several catchy songs but also a few colossal duds,  the worst being the weepy lament "Far Away and Long Ago".  The rest of them are middle of the road pop/rock.  They aren't awful and they aren't great.  I like "Send Me Something Real"  even though the lyrics are really corny and predictable and I really like "That Time is Gone" and "The Wonder of Love". Check Our Catalog

Dec 22, 2012 by deirdres

Everyone I've played this CD for loves it.  Well, not my sister's boyfriend who is Alice Cooper's biggest fan, but everyone else.  It's a great retro 50s R&B album with a modern sensibility.   Even the songs that you don't love at once, which were Wolf Teeth and Scratching Circles for me, will grow on you after a few listens.  The album was produced by bassist Jimmy Sutton who also co-worte most of the songs with McPherson.  I've been listening to this for months and never grow tired of it.  I particularly love Your Love (All that I'm Missing), which they DIDN'T write and B.G.M.O.S.R.N.R.  They are fantastic live so if you ever get the chance to see them jump on it. Check Our Catalog

Nov 15, 2012 by megana

Playful quirkiness, precisely detailed songcraft, and lyrics that you want to listen to are the hallmarks of this New York's "anti-folk" singer-songwriter.  Upon first listen, I loved the quality of Spektor's voice but was slightly put off by some of her characteristic vocal mannerisms and doodads.  Listeners will probably either love her or hate her, but I found that after the second time through this album, I was won over. I knew for sure when I found musical phrases from both the ballads and the more up-tempo numbers running through my head all day long.  Check Our Catalog

Aug 15, 2012 by deirdres
I find the White Stripes hit or miss so I wasn't expecting to love this CD.  But I do. There is no denying that Jack White is a talented guy.  The songs are familiar yet unexpected.  The opening riff of Love Interruption is pretty close to Son of a Preacher Man but the lyrics: "I want love to: grab my fingers gently, Slam them in a doorway, Put my face into the ground" aren't run of the mill.   There is a theme of love gone wrong, or never being right,  that runs through the whole cd particularly in the songs Missing Pieces, Freedom at 21,  Hypocritical Kiss and Trash Tongue Talker. There's also a rollicking cover of "I'm Shakin'" that'll make you dance around the room. Check Our Catalog

 

Jul 12, 2012 by megana

The band's name says it all: Fun. I started listening to this CD in the car without knowing what to expect and was a believer by the end of the first track. Loaded with hooks and anthemic sing-along choruses, the whole album will just lift you up. You'll time travel to the days of Queen when listening to "Some Nights Intro" and even if you haven't been young for years, you'll love "We Are Young", the hit single that reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Sign me up for the fan club! Check Our Catalog

Jun 13, 2012 by deirdres

The release today of the dB's first album in 25 years got me to thinking about The Sound of Music.  The catchy tunes and smart lyrics are timeless.  You won't be saying "that's wicked eighties" like my sister's boyfriend always does when she plays her favorites from that era.  These are just well crafted pop songs that are about something.    Who can't relate to lyrics like these from "Working for Somebody Else": "I been working too hard and too long for too little / Seems like every day is just about the same / And it don't get any better." It's a rare thing for an album to have nothing but great songs but the dB's have done it here. Although every song on this album is fantastic, the best are "Any Old Thing" and "Think too Hard". Check Our Catalog

Jun 12, 2012 by deirdres

Former Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty's wordplay is what makes this an interesting CD.  He can be very amusing and he comes up with great lines.  When was the last time you heard someone say claptrap?  In Rational Man he starts with "Don't give me your claptrap, Don't give me your stinking words, You make me feel like a fat sap, Hapless, in a dirty shirt."   Another great line is "She doesn't fall in love, She takes hostages" from The Huffer and the Cutter.   The duet with Rosanne Cash, Holiday (What do you want), is as much about the holiday as Joni Mitchell's River but is a fine song with a good melody.  This is definitely worth a listen. Check Our Catalog

May 18, 2012 by julier

This book is a hard-to-describe addicting read, in fact I'm going to read it again tonight.  On the surface, Chopsticks is the story of 16-year-old piano prodigy Glory Fleming, who falls in love with the new boy next door, Fransico Mendoza, but pay careful attention and a whole other story emerges.   Beginning with a news broadcast of Glory's disappearance, the story is told through a collection of news clippings, photos, memorabilia, IM messages and other random items. The story is carefully constructed and engrossing, and you never know what the next page turn will bring. Check Our Catalog

Jan 30, 2012 by ginaf

Will Dailey—a local musician who has been playing in Boston and around the country for many years—compiled his two digitally released EPs from 2009 to create this 13-song powerhouse CD that includes a 60s-inspired rock song evoking Neil Young, an anthem for Boston’s Allston neighborhood, and guest vocals and guitar work from veterans of the Boston music scene, including Kay Hanley (Letters to Cleo), Elliot Easton (The Cars), and Tim Brennan (Dropkick Murphys). If you haven’t heard Dailey’s music, he’s worth the listen! Check our Catalog

Jan 22, 2012 by megana

This is an ear-opening CD for those who haven't already discovered composer Eric Whitacre's music. The recording features polyphonic, mostly a cappella choral music, set to poems by a variety of poets, from e.e. cummings to Emily Dickinson to Octavio Paz. The result is an arresting soundscape with unexpected chord progressions and a unique ensemble effect. Check Our Catalog

Jan 19, 2012 by megana

This innovative Scottish guitarist and songwriter was influential both as a solo artist and as a key member of the popular British folk-rock group Pentangle during the 1960s and 70s.  His subject matter was often dark, as in one of his most famous songs, "Needle of Death", and his delivery restrained but very affecting. Jansch died in October 2011 at the age of 67. If you've never heard his music, give it a listen! Check Our Catalog


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