Music

My Year In Vinyl, 2016

Happy New Year! It's been a tumultuous year for me and for many of us of a certain age. I lost a brother. The world lost a slew of pop culture -- Carrie Fisher, Alan Richman, Craig Sager, John Glenn -- and music icons -- Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, et al. One comfort for me was music and my rediscovery of vinyl. The warm, comforting sound of analog became my daily meditative fix. Quite literarily. Seeking out vinyl "nuggets" became a quest to help me deal with my own pain and depression. Chasing down albums that I owned thirty years, abadonded at the advent of those shiny new things called compact discs. Restorative analog power reigned o'er me. One of my chief caveats: I would not purchase anything on vinyl that I already owned on compact disc. Well, that rule didn't last long as I found comfort in such ancient vinyl relics as The Who's Quadrophenia, Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsies, Neil Young's After the Goldrush, Joni Mitchell's Hissing of Summer Lawns, The Beatles' Yesterday and Today, and plenty more. Read more »

Steve's Review Roundup for October

Aphex Twin: Syro (Warp)

Though the length of Richard D. James's absence from the electronic scene has been overstated by people who neglect his less famous aliases, it HAS been almost a decade since we got new music from him, and yes, the release of Syro is a welcome surprise. It is less abrasive (by my tastes, at least) than the aggressive beats found on his previous Aphex Twin album, Drukqs (I'm thinking of the blast-beat assault of 'drill-n-bass' tracks such as "Omgyiya Switch 7"); like Drukqs, Syro offers a wide variety of styles, but the whiplash factor is absent; there are no juxtapositions of frenetic computerized beats and beatless ambient piano pieces here.  Read more »

Artist of the Week: Spottiswoode - "Dreamer Boy"

Some things take longer to reach critical mass. I've wondered why the UK-born, NYC-based artist Jonathan Spottiswoode has yet to reach the mass acceptance he so deserves. Perhaps his deliciously seductive and sophisticated pop-rock music is too smart for mainstream audiences. Hopefully his wonderfully-engaging new sixth album English Dream will continue to give rise to his career. Get on the bandwagon. Catch him and his band -- His Enemies -- in action. Share his music. You know you want to...

1974 in Progressive Rock

As we rightfully celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' rockin'-vasion of America, it is also worth noting the 40th anniversaries of progressive rock albums released in 1974 -- a banner year for the genre.

In alphabetical rather than chronological order, here is just a short list, along with links to a representative composition from each album.

Enjoy!

Apostrophe (Frank Zappa)

Although Zappa had been "at it" since 1966 -- as one of the earliest progenitors of progressive rock -- and although he had already put out over a dozen important albums, Apostrophe (and the immediately prior album, Over-Nite Sensation) arguably brought him to the masses through his cross-over "hit," "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow," which, despite its length, received regular airplay on FM stations. It didn't hurt that the album also included two of his funniest, most fun songs, "Cozmik Debris" and "Stinkfoot." Read more »

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