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Archive for January, 2011

CD Review – Street Sweeper Social Club (Tom Morello’s best band yet)

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Ghetto Blaster EP

Take the funky Boots Riley and the guitar genius of Tom Morello and the sum is so exponentially better than it’s parts, that you’d have to wonder how they ever made it on their own. On the second release from their “side project,” Riley’s politically charged lyrics sound like a new and reinvigorated Zack de la Rocha, especially when he raps that “every cop is a corrupt one” and “every banker’s a f—in’ theif” before they break into a snare drum lead chorus that is a direct knockoff of  “Bulls on Parade.”

The two surprises, however are the two covers. The lead single “Paper Planes” takes M.I.A.’s ubiquitous hit and essentially sends it through the Morello machine that is his guitar. The chorus is filled with guitar noises that only Tom Morello could make sound like they are supposed to be in the song. But Tom is just beginning. LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” starts off with Boots, who is every bit as intense as LL Cool J spitting rhymes that are so hard, you’ll need a raincoat. Then Morello’s fingers dance on the guitar so fast that you’d think he has four hands. It is simply amazing. Street Sweeper Social Club is one of the best groups of 2010, hands down. The Boots Riley/Tom Morello combo is one of the most potent in rock music today. I think Boots said it best at the end of “Mama Said Knock You Out” when he said “You’ve just been rocked by the Street Sweeper Social Club. We’re not a band. We’re a motherf—in’ social club.”

The next great singer/songwriter is from western Nebraska?!

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Wanna impress your music junkie friends? Take a listen to “She is Summer” by newcomer Joe Salazar. Hailing from Scottsbluff, NE (and Denver, CO) Salazar sounds is like a combination of a young (yet understandable) Tom Waits with a hint of hip-hop. His raspy voice and acoustic guitar are wrapped in a syncopated beat that makes for a truly unique musical experience. Take a listen and be on the lookout for Joe Salazar. He is primed to be the next big singer-songwriter.

CD Review – Glasser

Monday, January 24th, 2011


True Panther Sounds

Like a less bizarre Bjork, Glasser (aka Cameron Mesirow) will blow you away with her quirky electro-pop especially on the opener “Apply” when she throws a couple of “Wops” in the middle of the song. It’s like she was trying to emulate ESPN football analyst Chris Berman and the sound he makes when someone slips a tackle. (If you don’t know what that sounds like, it sounds like this.) Her etherial voice can sometimes camoflauge much darker lyrics. “Clouds of dust, raining on us/ There was a phantom of me in a bed of love” from “Home” immediately sticks out. There are tribal beats (“Apply”) and what sounds like a sitar on “Glad” that make this album sound like a worldly (and much better) Sarah McLachlan album. Glasser’s debut LP is definitely refreshing and fans of McLachlan, Bjork, etc. will have stumbled upon another iPod favorite.

CD Review – Keegan DeWitt

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Two Hearts/Reluctance 7” single

Theory 8 Records

For someone who went to the Atlantic Theater Company Acting Conservatory in New York and studied under Academy Award-winning actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and director David Mamet, music isn’t the first thing you would think of when you think of Keegan DeWitt. Listening to this three track EP should change your mind, however. The dance-pop of “Two Hearts” is infectious and instantly gets in your head, a lot like Joe Salazar’s “She is Summer.” DeWitt also enlists the gorgeous vocals of Isaaca Byrd on “Reluctance” making this duet all but perfect. This two song teaser does exactly what it is supposed to; it makes you want to hear more. DeWitt is a singer/songwriter who should be blowing up the radio soon.

CD Review – Haroula Rose (Folk album of 2011)

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

These Open Roads


Picture yourself in the middle of a field with nothing around for miles. Just then you hear some mid-tempo finger-pickin’ and a whispy voice barely heard over her guitar. This would be Haroula Rose and the song would be the opening track on her debut album These Open Roads. The rest of this 12-song album is a folk-lover’s dream. Guest spots by fellow folkies Orenda Fink (of Azure Ray) and Sad Brad Smith add some indie cred to an artist that is deserving of her own. Haroula’s sound puts you at ease and her voice is like audio Vicodin. It will take all your pain away and leave you refreshed. Once you are finished with this album, not only will you feel better about yourself, but you will also understand exactly why Haroula Rose is a singer/songwriter that will blow you away with barely a whisper.

CD Review – Mini Mansions (QOTSA fans rejoice!)

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Mini Mansions

Rekords Rekords 

On hiatus from Queens of the Stone Age, bassist Michael Shuman grabbed a couple of friends and formed this psych-rock group that is a little trippy even by QOTSA standards. “The Room Outside” is like The Beatles on a whole lot more coke then they were during the “Sgt. Pepper” days. There is definitely a heavy QOTSA influence, but you can hear other ghosts, like Elliott Smith on “Crime of the Season.” The lead single “Monk” is a strange brew of chamber pop, pulsating rock and trippy dance party. “Thriller Escapade” closes out the album with an unsettling cabaret feel that sounds like a melding of The Dresden Dolls and Frank Bango. The debut self-titled album from Mini Mansions will please any fan of the slightly-off-kilter.

CD Review – Belle and Sebastian

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Write About Love

Matador Records

If you are into pop music in it’s purest form, then look no further than the new album from Belle and Sebastian. After a five-year hiatus, Stuart Murdoch and company are back with sunny pop music that proves the band hasn’t lost a step. “I Want the World to Stop” has Stuart repeating the title as if he thinks that can happen if he says it enough. Norah Jones stops by and adds her sultry vocals to “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John” while Carey Mulligan sings the opening verse of the album on the track “I Didn’t See it Coming.” The combination of pure pop, orchestral arrangements, Murdoch’s Van Morrison-esque vocals (especially on the title track) and the generally good feeling of the album, makes this one of the best albums to kick back to on a weekend afternoon.

CD Review – Orla Fallon (Celtic Woman Christmas Album)

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Celtic Christmas

Elevation Records

I love Irish music, both contemporary and traditional and Orla Fallon is one of the best at both. The former Celtic Woman – now solo chanteuse has given one of the best Christmas gifts of 2010: Celtic Christmas. This album takes some of the best traditional Christmas tunes and gives them a contemporary Irish feel, complete with guests! She brings in fellow Celtic Woman Meav for “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and Anuna lends some beautiful harmonies on “Away in a Manger.” A couple of the more surprising guests take away a little of the Irish feel of the record, but they are still decent (especially her duet with Vince Gill on “Little Drummer Boy.”) Orla proves, however that she doesn’t need any help as her angelic voice transcends “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear/The First Noel” and makes “Emmanuel” one of the best renditions I have ever heard. If you like Christmas music and Irish music, then this is a must have.