PROFILE: High Plains (2017)

For those who haven’t been paying attention, Cinderland — the debut LP from Scott Morgan and Mark Bridges, the duo known as High Plains — is a serious early contender for year-end Top Ten lists. It is elegiac and nuanced stuff, at once dreamy and funereal; the record just ebbs and flows from your turntable…

PROFILE: Kelley Deal (2017)

She’s finding herself in the now again. Kelley Deal has topped charts with The Breeders but her latest outing, R. Ring’s Ignite The Rest, is perhaps the most nuanced and writerly of her career. It is, at once, immediate, gutsy, clattering and beautiful, and, make no mistake about it, Deal and Ampline’s Mike Montgomery, who…

Louisville-Born, Brooklyn-Based — PROFILE: David Grubbs (2006)

The classroom is empty, the students more than an hour away, but David Grubbs sits behind a console in an unassuming Brooklyn College radio laboratory, tinkering with faders and talking about the aesthetics of sound art as if one of his classes already was in session. In this performance space without an audience, he’s dressed…

PROFILE: Rachel Grimes

Rachel Grimes knew how to play the piano before she learned to walk. “My dad and grandmother played, so I was always sitting beside them following along, watching and listening in wonder at how they could make that magic,” the composer/pianist told me recently from the home she and her husband, educator Alec Johnson, share…

Concert Review: Daniel Johnston – Nov. 22, 2008

Daniel Johnston Nov. 22, 2008 Good Folk Fest – Louisville, KY What can you write after you’ve seen a legend? You wouldn’t know very much about Daniel Johnston — underground icon, father of the lo-fi singer-songwriter movement, and outsider artist — by the way he shuffled onto the small stage recently at Louisville’s Mellwood Arts…

Concert Review: Sam Phillips – Sept. 12, 2008

Sam Phillips Club Café – Pittsburgh, PA Sept. 12, 2008 And now, 150 words on Sam Phillips’ first performance in Pittsburgh in 15 years: Spellbinding. Opening song on electric guitar, solitary at first, distortion filtered through a cloud of gauze. An evening of shuffling acoustics and plaintive ballads, odes to sadness, tear it all down….

Reviewer Spotlight: Calexico – Spoke

Originally published in Punk Planet May/June 2007 Knowing that this Tucson ensemble’s loyal following tend to break into fits of breathless poetry about desert horizons or sand-choked nights could lead the uninitiated to believe Joey Burns and John Convertino stepped fully formed out of some Arizona mirage one summer afternoon. Spoke, released before the incredible…

Reviewer Spotlight: The Melvins – Gluey Porch Treatments

Originally published in Punk Planet March/April 2007 I was, admittedly, in grade school in 1986 when Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover and Matt Lukin drove from Washington to California to record their first full-length record. By the time I did hear it, some five or six years later, the group was being courted by the majors…

Top 10 Records I Reviewed (Or Should Have Reviewed) In 2006

Originally published in Punk Planet January/February 2007 1. Clogs – Lantern An almost sublime offering from a quartet that blurs the line between classical composition and post-rock experimentalism without cranking out songs that feel over-cooked or over-analyzed. The hushed silences from the audience that watched them open up for Rachel’s in New York City in…

Reviewer Spotlight: The Jesus Lizard – Liar

Originally published in Punk Planet September/October 2006 The Jesus Lizard’s third full-length, released some 14 years ago, simply is without rival. A pummeling, explosive record, it’s one of those rare discs that connects those who’ve discovered it. We all remember the blood-curdling thrill of being ripped out of our seats by the jackhammer rumble of…

Reviewer Spotlight: Don Caballero – Don Caballero 2

Originally published in Punk Planet July/August 2006 Don Caballero – Don Caballero 2 Some musicians may stumble upon moments of inspiration — even flashes of genuine brilliance — during faux-improvisations in studio cocoons but few bands have mastered the art of making their most groundbreaking and choreographed songs sound as instinctive and downright effortless as…

Reviewer Spotlight: Cheer-Accident – Enduring The American Dream

Originally published in Punk Planet May/June 2006 Cheer-Accident – Enduring The American Dream If America ever needs a soundtrack to serve as its death knell, I vote for this obscure 1997 gem from Chicago’s ruling experimental collective. Funeral dirges collide with angular post-punk pressure-cookers. Noisy Minimalist drones wed somber piano ballads. Experimental prog refrains bleed…