Mar. 4, 2015
Mar. 2, 2015
The occasional and exceptional celebration of a Patricia Arquette aside, popular cultureâ€™s tendency to discount female artists once they hit the second third of their lives and careers is despicable, and it leads to missing far too much great art. Case in point: The resurgent voice of â€™80s synth-pop icon Alison Moyet, who thundered back from the theatrical stage into the pop realm with a brilliant album called The Minutes in 2013, and who provides as strong a career recap and argument for a renewed celebration of her musical accomplishments as can be imagined with the recent concert set Minutes and Secondsâ€”Live.
Moyet always has had a powerful, boundlessly emotional voice much more impressive than more celebrated and younger Brit phenoms like Adele and Amy Winehouse. And rather than reveling in retro poses, the Essex native always has employed her incredible instrument via a forward-thinking approach that represents the perfect merger of woman and machine, synths and soul.
Feb. 24, 2015
â€śSo, what did you think of Whiplash?â€ť
As a drummer, as a music critic, and as a sometimes curator of great films about music (via the occasional Sound Opinions movie nights), itâ€™s a logical question to toss my way, and I started getting it long before J.K. Simmons took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor Sunday night, when the film began its limited art-house run last fall. My answer, then as now:
I hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie.
I do not invoke my heroic former colleague Roger Ebertâ€™s infamous assessment of North lightly. While I never discussed that review with him, it should be obvious to anyone who reads it that his problems with the 1994 movie go far deeper than what he calls a lapse in director Rob Reinerâ€™s usual skills as a filmmakerâ€”â€śTo call it manipulative would be inaccurate; it has an ambition to manipulate, but failsâ€ťâ€”striking at the core theme that parents should slavishly dote on their child prodigy or face dire consequences.
Feb. 23, 2015
Celebrating a decade of swirling, atmospheric sounds based on a unique approach to shoegazing indie-rock, the Dodos sound as passionate as ever on their sixth studio album Individ. Rarely has a band made music this lush and enveloping with such a simple sonic palette: Most songs rely only on Meric Longâ€™s dreamy vocals and intricate, semi-acoustic finger-picking and Logan Kroeberâ€™s minimalist but colorful drumming. With the exception of an occasional cameo (Brigid Dawson of thee Oh Sees sings on â€śPattern/Shadow,â€ť filling the role here that Neko Case played on No Color in 2011), thatâ€™s it.
Feb. 18, 2015
Feb. 16, 2015
While Live Nation/Ticketmaster continues to get pretty much anything it wants in Chicago, the giant concert promoter that many have called a monopoly is coming under increased scrutiny elsewhere in the U.S.
Last week, Washington Post reporter Lydia DePillis wrote a piece criticizing the company for using independent contractors in a dozen major markets, including Nashville, Memphis, and Atlanta. The contractors are paid as little as $10 an hour to do â€śtricky, dangerous jobsâ€ť involving staging that might be better overseen by union professionals, albeit at a greater cost.
Feb. 13, 2015
â€śIâ€™m back where I started from,â€ť vocalist Jessica Boudreaux sings as sweet backing harmonies flirt with growling guitars and hard-hitting rhythms in the choruses of â€śAll It Takes,â€ť the opening track on Summer Cannibalsâ€™ Show Us Your Mind. She could be talking about the state of a troublesome relationship, or about the bandâ€™s roots in the great, grungy tradition of Northwest bands such as the Sonics and the Wipers. Either way, the noise/melody mix is indicative of the quartetâ€™s approach on the 11 tracks from its second album, and itâ€™s irresistible.
Named for a track by Patti and Fred â€śSonicâ€ť Smith on the 1996 album Gone Again, Boudreaux, Marc Swart, Devon Shirley, and Jenny Logan made their debut with No Make Up in 2013, a promising effort that only hinted at the strength of the songwriting and playing on its follow-up. Like Southern Californiaâ€™s beloved Muffs, the pop-meets-garage ethos is hardly innovative.
Feb. 11, 2015
Measured against other historical rock archives devoted to unearthing hidden gems from the fertile period of psychedelic exploration in the late â€™60s and early â€™70s, Numero Groupâ€™s Local Customs: Cavern Sound is no Nuggets in terms of being truly indispensible, but then few such compilations are. It is, however, easily the equal of, say, the Pebbles series; that is, these groovy period ditties may not be treasures youâ€™ll wonder how you ever lived without, but they do make for a pleasant and trippy soundtrack, delivered with the Chicago labelâ€™s usual loving care toward presentation, annotation, and audio quality.
The story this time centers on one aptly named recording studio located deep underground in Independence, Missouriâ€™s Pixley limestone mine.