Music Review

Farmers by Nature: Love and Ghosts

Farmers by Nature: Love and Ghosts (AUM Fidelity)

Farmers by Nature is an all-star trio: pianist Craig Taborn, bassist William Parker, and drummer Gerald Cleaver. Though it is sonically inevitable that the piano tends to dominate such a group's sound, these guys are truly equals. All the tracks on this two-CD set (containing a pair of French concerts) were spontaneously generated by all three individuals listening acutely to each other. The 18-minute title track that kicks off the set does find Taborn most prominent, by a narrow margin, but then the quiet rhythmic etude "Without a Name" tilts the balance toward Cleaver and Parker. Read more »

Song of the Week: I Am Giant - "Transmission"

Okay, so this is cool. A little proggy, a little metalish, and a pinch of 4-on-floor rock. The London-based via New Zealand quartet I Am Giant performing "Transmission" from their sophomore album Science & Survival, co-produced by Forrester Saville (Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus, Helmut), bassist Paul Matthews and drummer Shelton Woolright, is a righteous way to start your weekend. Rawk on, dudes!


Tim Sommer, rock raconteur extraordinaire, recently wrote a playlist for Tim Broun's blog Stupefaction. (#1 choice shown above.) Mr. Sommer has lately been writing a daily column in The Brooklyn Bugle (motto: "On the Web because paper is expensive") that immediately became the one thing that I read every day, just so I can enjoy his combination of cultural erudition and lunatic whimsy. In one of his Bugle columns he wrote about making the list. And in that article he posited other approaches/lists that I found myself wishing he had made as well. But he's undoubtedly got better things to do with his time. I apparently do not, however (okay, I do, I just have poor impulse control), and made my own lists based on his criteria. Read more »

Seventies Supergroup's Stadium Tour Revisited

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: CSNY 1974 (Rhino)

In my youth, which was their prime, I thought CSNY was the greatest band in the world. Now I hear more to nitpick than I used to, but still, I knew I'd only be satisfied by the three-CD-plus-DVD edition of this release, which also includes a 188-page booklet (there's also a one-CD distillation available). It draws from nine concerts on their epochal 1974 stadium tour (plus a tenth, a December benefit appearance) to construct an ideal show of 40 songs, 21 with the full electric band on the first and third CDs and 19 acoustic (caveat: electric bass on a few) performances on the second CD. Read more »

Song of the Week: Fierce Bad Rabbit - "Dreaming of Things To Be"

Don't know much about this American pop-rock quartet, but I'm sucker for a nice clean guitar hook and tight pop song structure. Apparently their lead vocalist Chris Anderson now makes Boston his home, moving from the band's homebase in Fort Collins, Colorado, but I couldn't tell you if that will be an issue moving forward, Check out two stellar tracks from their forthcoming September release, Living Asleep. Suffice it to say, if you're into Band of Horses, The Shins, or Arcade Fire, Fierce Bad Rabbit will most certainly appeal to you.

Johnny Winter R.I.P.

Song of the Week: Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas - "Caught Up"

Love the primal roots-rock Wanda Jackson-like flavor of Ms. Hernandez and her Deltas. "Caught Up" from her soon-to-be-released album Secret Evil. It's top shelf -- all big beats with no filler, no unnecessary bass moves, or guitar licks. And the black & white dance party antic adds to a terrific throwback vibe. This is on my weekend playlist. Play it loud & often.

Lorin Maazel, March 6, 1930 - July 13, 2014

Lorin Maazel, who died at age 84 on Sunday, from complications of pneumonia, was a true Renaissance man of music: a child prodigy as a conductor and violinist, and later a composer as well. Read more »

More Intoxicatingly Superb Piano Albums from Jenny Lin

Long-time readers may have noted my admiration for Lin's immaculate pianism and eclectic programming. She's been a prolific recording artist as well, with 21 albums to her credit (plus inclusion on a multi-pianist set), and her repertoire is highly eclectic even by modern standards.

She's back with two more brilliant albums, and even on the single-composer disc manages to throw some repertoire curveballs. Guido Agosti's rarely heard arrangements of the last three movements from the Firebird Suite is a dazzling tour-de-force; it works well and Lin's performance sparkles vividly (the outer movements sound like real knuckle-busters). Read more »

Song of the Week: The Mother Hips - "Desert Song"

I've been a fan of this rootsy alt-pop quasi-jam band for years. (Well, at least for two decades.) This is one of the tops tracks from an album of previously unreleased nuggets mined by SF-based The Mother Hips lads -- Tim Bluhm and Greg Loiaconog -- recorded, for the most part, around '96-97. Perfect hot weather action, crank it up! Chronicle Man album drops next Tuesday, July 15th.

ANNIVERSARIES: Ottorino Respighi Born 135 Year Ago in Bologna

Italian composer Ottorino Respighi (July 9, 1879-April 18, 1936) was a master of colorful orchestration whose evocative symphonic tone poems and suites arranging Baroque material in modern garb have been audience-pleasers since they were first heard.

The son of a piano teacher who gave him lessons on both piano and violin, Respighi excelled on the latter. It was while first violinist in the Russian Imperial Orchestra at St. Peterburg that Respighi was able to study with master orchestrator Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. He may have studied later with composer Max Bruch in Berlin (this is disputed), then returned to Italy, mostly working as first violin in the Mugellini Quintet. He moved to Rome in 1913 to teach and lived there for the rest of his life, which was ended by heart failure at the age of 56. Read more »

Half-Time Music Report - Best Music of the Past 6 Months

Happy 4th of July, my fellow Americans! Been a terrific six months for new music. Below are some of my favorite album releases that deserve early kudos at the half-way mark. 

The War on Drugs: Lost in the  Dream (Secretly Canadian) Read more »

Song of the Day: Robert Plant - "Rainbow"

And speaking of the Led Zeppelin reissues... Former front man Robert Plant (and the Sensational Space Shifters) just released his brand new single "Rainbow" from his forthcoming album lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar. Tchad Blake's production adds an intoxicating percussive element to this simmering rocker. His new album will drop on September 9th on Nonesuch/Warner.

Album of the Weekend: David Starfire - Awakening

I'm not much of a DJ music freak, but when I do feel the urge I turn to my friend David Starfire. One of the smartest cats I've ever heard, his collisions of hypnotic worldbeat soundtracks and clever samples are second to none. (You Burners know what I'm talking about!) For a limited time he's offering his latest Psydub album -- Awakening -- for free. and it features collaborators Ganga Giri, Jamie Janover, Rik Shiva, Casey Forest Riley, and a remix by Kaya Project. Just put 0 when prompted on the download instructions. That's insane, but I know he'll make it back tenfold on his next live DJing gig. 'Til then, let this kick off your Saturday night party. Boo ya!

Song of the Weekend: The High Learys - "Two To Match"

They're back! My favorite new retro pop-rockers The High Learys have just released the official video for "Two To Match"-- a wonderful cartoon homage to the Fab Four's 60's TV show. It's from their debut album Here Come The High Learys; available on iTunes via Soundflat Records!

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