Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Brown Bird just released an album, and...

Here's our article in the Newport Mercury. Right here.
Many thanks to MorganEve for her taking the time to answer our questions. Enjoy!

Monday, April 27, 2015

What can you buy for a buck?

An orange.
A disposable pen.
A busted James Taylor vinyl.

A.. a... a dollar bill... (this is tough)...

Or this (digitally):
On sale at Amazon for the next couple weeks. One dollar. Like, right here. (We're still working on the next volume.)

Other news: Brown Bird's final album is coming out. Tomorrow. We'll give a (timely) update on it on Wednesday.
You'll be surprised, shocked, combobulated. Again, on Wed.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Calexico Keeps Blazing on "Sun"

Calexico - Edge of the Sun
Anti / City Slang
-out April 14
4 / 5

It's a return to everything we love about Calexico: swirling sand dunes, flamenco beats, mariachi swagger. The Tuscon, AZ sextet to their ninth studio album in a nearly twenty-year lifespan. How many things last twenty years? A good car? A stable marriage? If a band is in part a marriage of musicians, then we'd have assumed Calexico's marriage to have grown quite stale and predictable by now. And on Edge of the Sun, band co-founders Joey Burns (vocals, guitar) and John Convertino (percussion) show that Calexico's spark is alive and well. To say "spark" might even be an understatement in terms of fire (refer to album cover above). While staying within the stylistic bounds established by 2003's Feast of Wire and 2008's Carried to Dust, Edge is another worthy, if not entirely surprising album by the desert-noir group.

Tracks like "Falling From the Sky" break like rain on desert ground: electric keyboard hook, regal trumpets, and, of course Burns' soaring vocals. "Miles from the Sea" is another favorite on here, with a calmer, mature vibe to it. The collection of a generally excellent dozen is punctuated by a couple less memorable tracks, "Tapping on the Line," a bare-bones quiet song included for variety's sake, and the instrumental. There is also a small army of guests on Edge, including Sam Beam from Iron and Wine and the ever-scintillating Neko Case, but there's no mistake that Calexico takes center stage on this effort. Right from the opener, they promise, and deliver on that promise.

A solid, though not wholly divergent delivery by the band that keeps going. Recommended.

Listen to the opener on Soundcloud.

Friday, April 10, 2015

"Our Personality Is as Awful as Our Writing"

Morning fellow readers!
We have had a bit of a rollercoaster this past week. We apologize for any panic we may have induced amongst you, as well as for having rescheduled our reviews, etc. this week.

Last night, we'd gotten word from aforementioned PR firm ( that sounded like they were going to drop, or at least scale back the legal language they were using against us. They also seemed to have dropped any reference to not using their name/website/twitter handle on here. We're assuming the threat of litigation has passed (when in doubt, lawyer up). As our heart clamors for justice, or at the very least an apology, a personal friend who is deeply aware of our situation put it this way: "What a douche. Not worth your time or dignity."
Not enough of the former, not worth pissing away the latter. (Apparently we were worth theirs.)
This (hopefully) past episode has taught us - more like "reinforced" for us - a few things:

- Take the high road. Always. The air's less polluted.
- Turn the other cheek. If they insist on smacking that one, too, so be it. They'll find like company soon enough.
- Injustice loves social media.
- And yes, most people are generally good people. Less than 2% of them are truly miserable specimens. If you find it to be more than 2%, you should study how you treat them.

While we have decided not to stir this particular pot and advise the artist in question to drop his harrowing PR firm, we will leave up his twitter handle (@lukerathborne) and Facebook page (here) for those of you more vocally inclined to express your support or displeasure, as you see fit. Simply put, we personally will not work with True Believer PR in future endeavors. We want to thank personal friends for giving excellent advice and sympathy, and readers for reading and passing along.
Love, support, and more than a few buckets of sweat,

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Threat of litigation.

Just as it sounds. Business libel. No papers yet.
We're anticipating on needing to rely on you, dear beautiful readers, in case we need to provide a retainer (for the lawyer) + aspirin expenses + rocketship fuel. To go to a planet where this kind of stuff doesn't happen. (Perhaps Saturn? Stevie Wonder seems to recommend it.)

We'll keep you abreast of any new updates. And apologies to Calexico! We were going to throw up a review of Edge of the Sun but that has apparently been derailed. One line review: if you're a fan of Calexico, definitely buy it. We'll have to put up the full review later... sigh...
Thank you for your support,

EDIT: For clarification, we were lately being requested to remove all mention of and website to True Believer PR. Here is their Twitter handle: @TrueBelieverPR.
Obviously, we're not complying.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

We Apologize to you, Dear Readers

Dear Readers,
As we write this, we know we've failed you. If you were here with us earlier this week, you would've noticed a couple posts covering a local concert. Yesterday, the PR firm True Believer ( contacted us to remove the photo of one of their clients from our site. We have taken down the posts relating to the concert entirely. Here are the facts: we had a photo pass as per headliner; the photo of the artist was not compromising and was, quite frankly, mediocre (at best); and the review of the musician (the opener, not the headliner) was negative. After repeated requests to remove the musician's photo, we have decided to comply with this request instead of waste valuable time and resources fighting this particular battle. Our sincerest apologies extend to Miss Aly Spaltro as well, who is in small part a victim of our decision.

Given this kind of turmoil, we feel it is time to give our particular code to you, our readers.

What is our purpose here? Personally, my purpose is to have a "living resume" to send out to music magazines. A resume that shows current interest in music. That is why this is a free blog: it is not, by any means, a source of income. The free music is secondary, though also a consideration. I hunt out music that I feel has a good chance of pleasing me. That is my personal angle here.

What is the purpose of media in reviewing music? This part is simple: it is to educate you, the consumer, on what we (music critics) feel are good investments of your expendable portion of your budget. We are here solely to help you find music you will enjoy, and appreciate, and steer you away from the releases that are maybe flashy and hollow, or under-polished, or just generally not worth your time and money. We are here solely for you.

What is our relation to musicians and their Public Relations? This is much trickier. Some reviewers and magazines feel it is their purpose to promote music. Good music, or otherwise. Or to promote album sales. Honestly, here is the truth: we have none. We admit we love some PR people, adore some funny, humble musicians personally, but professionally, we cannot have those same ties binding us in our profession. Those three groups, musicians, PR, and reviewers, are all separate professionals. It is a musician's job to make music; PR's to promote it to get "coverage" (that is, to get it in as many media and magazines and as positively as possible); and a reviewer's job simply to look out for the consumer. For you. That is all.

And now the tricky part. What about the negative review?

Again, we do not anticipate a musician to particularly care about our reviews. We highly encourage musicians to ignore them, as I am, personally, a writer as well, and understand the distinction between the artist and the critic. The artist does not create for the critic. But the critic creates for the consumer: that is all.
A negative review is just that: we advise you skip past this release. Why does the musician care about these reviews? Firstly, any press is good press. This is true, insofar as one realizes no press at all means you do not exist to a potential consumer. Something, anything, even negative, means that you are in consideration for a consumer's hard-earned dollars.
Secondly: the press must remain separate, and must remain honest. Here the musician may not immediately recognize the value of this, but when you have said something well, and it deserves to be heard, then it is a critic's job to recognize that and advise their readership that, yes, this is something worth investing time into. To say everything is good all the time is not our purpose, and dulls our message; that is "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," but in reverse. But herein, we have failed our readers and our honesty by censoring those last two posts. Again, if we had world enough and time (and money) we would pursue the matter further. But suffice it to say, the world is an imperfect place, and we can do no more on the matter.

We hope you, our dear readers (and musical consumers) feel we have dealt justly and honestly with you throughout these past six years, and we beg your forgiveness for our weakness. Apologies, justice, and much, much love,

Monday, April 6, 2015



Thursday, April 2, 2015



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sufjan Stevens' Carrie & Lowell Stunning and Insightful

Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell
Asthmatic Kitty Records
-out now
4.5 / 5

Stylistically, Sufjan Stevens' seventh studio full-length falls somewhere between Michigan and Illinois: it takes Michigan's somber mood, a quieter, more introverted desperation than that album's more externalized search. It takes not Illinois' lush orchestration, but its polish, its perfectionism and completion. Add acoustic guitar, piano, and Stevens' soft vocals, and the result is an achingly beautiful album about life and loss, death and ghosts. Yes, we gave high marks to his previous "Age of Adz," but quite frankly, if we could take that back and give them all here, we would do that in a(n aching) heartbeat.

If we had to pick a "single" off of Carrie & Lowell, and we have to use the quotes there; this is an album of quietness, an album of self-exploration and not 3-minute radio hollering bits; that song would be "All of Me Wants All of You." Keep in mind, insofar as its melody is easy to pick into, it's almost toe-tapping, if a song about the shadow of a lover should groove oneself. But on Carrie, we have to ignore the desire for a single, for an easy completion, for a straightforward answer. And that's why this album is brilliant: it's an album that carries us through pleasantly, then seduces with sincere melodies, then has us pondering about it, about ourselves. It's an album executed by one man, one vision; the kind of album we hadn't expected from Stevens right now, given his penchant for boisterous orchestra; it's the kind of album we'd expect from Sam Beam via The Creek Drank the Cradle. One man, one guitar, and the search. It is, quite simply, beautiful.

There isn't much  more to say other than it comes highly recommended. Stream it here.