Archive for the ‘CD Reviews’ Category

The Capital Land Crate Digger: “The Monkey’s Head in the Corner of the Room” (1982)

Monday, July 14th, 2014

The NeatsReview and photograph by Ross Marvin

The Capital Land Crate Digger brings you reviews of vinyl obscurities found for $10 or under at Capital District record stores, thrift shops, garage sales, and junk emporiums. The vinyl archeologist behind this column is Ross Marvin, an English teacher and music enthusiast who lives in Saratoga County. Ross has over 1,000 pieces of vinyl, is running out of shelf room, and can be found getting his fingers dirty in a box of records near you.

ALBUM: The Monkey’s Head in the Corner of the Room EP
ARTIST: The Neats
LABEL: Ace of Hearts
YEAR: 1982
PURCHASED: Feeding Tube Records, Northampton
PRICE: $8.95
DATE: July 3, 2014

One of the greatest ironies about Feeding Tube Records on King Street in Northampton is its location next to a Subway restaurant. The indescribably hip record store is financially backed by former Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore and run by rock scribe and scenester extraordinaire Byron Coley. Thus, it feels more like the kind of shop that would be located adjacent to a subway stop in Lower Manhattan than a place where you can get a $5 foot-long.



New Release Rack: Gordon St’s “The Electric City”

Friday, June 20th, 2014

The Electric CityGordon St is gearing up for this weekend’s release of their sophomore EP, The Electric City, and the rockers are celebrating with a free concert at Freedom Park in Scotia at 7pm on Saturday (June 21).

Titled for the band’s Schenectady base of operations, The Electric City is a diverse collection of three original songs – “Motion of the Ocean,” “Such a Fool” and “Ripcord” – that showcase Gordon St’s talent at blending multiple rock genres, all underscored with a danceable beat.

“The songs are a bit more grown-up, but they don’t sacrifice the underlying aspect of fun that has always summed up what we’re going for,” explains singer-bassist Dan Noonan. In addition to Noonan, the band features guitarist Ritch Harrigan, drummer Dennis Fatato and keyboardist Mark Bertini.

The Electric City – the band’s follow-up to their 2012 debut, Telenovella – was recorded with engineer John Chiara at Albany Audio.

And if you can’t make it to Freedom Park on Saturday for the band’s CD release party, you’ll have another chance to catch Gordon St in action at 6:30pm on Friday, June 27 at Cafe NOLA in Schenectady.

The Capital Land Crate Digger: “Duck and Cover” (1990)

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Duck and CoverReview by Ross Marvin

This is the first installment from the Capital Land Crate Digger, who brings you reviews of vinyl obscurities found for $10 or under at Nippertown record stores, thrift shops, garage sales and junk emporiums. The vinyl archaeologist behind this column is Ross Marvin, an English teacher and music enthusiast who lives in Saratoga County. Ross has collected more than 1,000 pieces of vinyl and is running out of shelf room. But he can still be found getting his fingers dirty in a box of records near you…

ALBUM: Duck and Cover
ARTIST: Various
YEAR: 1990
PURCHASED: The River Street Beat Shop, Troy
PRICE: $10
DATE: April 19, 2014 (Record Store Day)

By 7:30am on Record Store Day, I was the tenth digger in the queue outside of Jack’s Rhythms in New Paltz. The assembled masses were not pretty people, and all of us were wiping sleepers out of our eyes and salivating for the limited-release vinyl that awaited us inside. People drove down Main Street and thought something was wrong. Why were these troll-looking folks lining up before breakfast outside of that detritus store? Had it finally filed for bankruptcy and decided to give everything away?

To the contrary, Jack’s was ready to do steady American commerce. People had long want-lists that ranged from Joy Division to Sunny Day Real Estate. I had only one request — a modest one — the Cure/Dinosaur Jr. “Just Like Heaven” 7-inch split on white wax. After waiting an hour and a half in the elements and being forced to make small talk about UK pressings and 180 gram reissues with some record nerds, I was bummed to learn that the little 45 of my dreams had been snatched up by the time I got in the door at 9am.


CD Review: Wussy’s “Attica!” Holds Beauty Amid the Tension

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Wussy: Attica!

Review by Ross Marvin

At the end of March, mere weeks before Paul McCartney sold out the entire Times Union Center in 10 minutes, Cincinnati rockers Wussy played for about 40 people at the Low Beat. Bassist Mark Messerly actually took a picture of the crowd from the NO PEPPER stage as though the modest turnout was a triumph by band standards. With today’s (Tuesday, May 6) release of their fifth album Attica! (Shake It Records), I can’t help but wonder how much longer the group will remain a well-kept secret among music critics, underground rock snobs and record collectors.

But, I do understand why critics like Robert Christgau fawn over these guys. They have a cool backstory: Veteran indie rock guy Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker start a band. The band is critically acclaimed, and Walker and Cleaver become a couple. Walker and Cleaver breakup, but keep the band keeps going. It’s an unlikely trajectory, but with music this good, you can understand the desire to stick around. Attica! is filled with one earworm after another, clever lyrics that border on the aphoristic, and the best kinds of rock and roll tensions — the ones that come from a relationship within the band.


New Release Rack: The Matthew Shipp Trio’s “The Root of Things”

Friday, March 14th, 2014

The Matthew Shipp Trio: The Root of Things

Root of Things
(Relative Pitch Records)

Regardless of the format – solo; with such saxmen as Roscoe Mitchell and David S. Ware; or with his trio of drummer Whit Dickey and Michael Bisio – prolific pianist Matthew Shipp conjures up a brainy brand of jazz. But what sets his work apart from the strict proponents of math-jazz is that Shipp and his bandmates pour their hearts into their playing. It’s passionate stuff – adventurous and often angular, but certainly not inaccessible.

And that comes through loud and clear on Root of Things, slated for release on Tuesday (March 18).

There are a half dozen tunes on the disc, each reflecting moments of eloquence, elegance and experimentation. “Jazz It,” for example, is built on a solid foundation of traditional swing, thanks to Bisio’s walking bass. And that makes it all the more exciting when the threesome reach for the stars and take it all stratospheric. “Path” is Bisio’s showcase, as he takes the lead with a five-minutes-plus unaccompanied bowed bass solo that seamlessly segues into rumbling trio ruminations.


New Release Rack: 2Late’s “10 Years 2Late”

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

10 Years 2Late

It’s been a full decade since Vicki Gayle and Mike Short first teamed up as the singer-songwriter duo 2Late, so named because, “We were too late for a major recording contract,” according to Gayle. So it seemed only natural that they would title their new album – the twosome’s fourth – 10 Years 2Late.

The new album reflects a focus that could only come through years of hard work. “It took us a long time to find our sound,” explains Gayle. “We come from different backgrounds. I’m country girl at heart, where Mike’s southern roots are pretty much southern Wisconsin. But when his family got together, they played a lot of old-timey music, bluegrass and gospel tunes. So when he writes for 2Late, you hear the country sound influenced by traditional roots music.”

The new album features 14 of the duo’s original songs, and it’s their best album yet. “We’ve worked hard on our singing and gotten coaching to refine our sound, and it’s really helped,” says Gayle. “We’re better musicians, we practice better, we write better songs, and I think this album reflects that,” adds Short.

2Late will be celebrating the release of “10 Years 2Late” with a performance and party at 7pm tonight (Wednesday, February 26) at Café NOLA in Schenectady. Admission is $15, which also includes appetizers and a copy of the new CD.

Phantogram’s “Voices”: Review Round-up

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Phantogram’s new album Voices was released this week, so we thought we’d give you an idea of what critics all around the country are writing about Sarah Barthel, Josh Carter and their new music:

From Matt Moore at Associated Press: “Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter have found an equilibrium that pulls the very best of each other’s talents to the forefront and blends it for songs that have a stunning heft. This isn’t music for jubilant parties. This is music for listening, parsing for meaning, for introspection and for making bold declarations that, as the song ‘Howling at the Moon’ proclaims: ‘Let the shooting stars, let the crashing cars, let the future pass, wasn’t made to last.’ Phantogram has crafted an epochal album, a generational capstone that will reside in the playlists for a generation to come and returned to in times of heady joy and nostalgic reminiscence, too.”

From Nathan Stevens at PopMatters: “There’s a fairly common trope dominating parts of the indie music world and it goes like this: pixie voice female leads a band surrounded by male orchestrated electronics. Just look at the way Purity Ring and Chvrches have been lauded by critics. There are even mutated versions of this theme: the twisted insanity of Crystal Castles and the one-woman pop machine that is Grimes. But if there’s one outfit ready to flip this trope on its head it would be Phantogram. With their newest album the New York-based duo have turned from a promising indie-rock group into a full-fledged, ass-kicking, genre-mashing superhero team.”

From Stuart Berman at Pitchfork: “[Sarah Barthel's] not afraid to place herself in a vulnerable position in service of a song, and on Voices‘ most immediately arresting tracks — in particular, the back-to-back, arena-rattling R&B bangers ‘Black Out Days’ and ‘Fall in Love’ — she invests her performances with a heightened sense of desperation that feels raw and real. Likewise, her wistful turn on ‘Bill Murray’ serves as the album’s emotional center; though it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the iconic actor, the song’s soft-focus synth washes and hazy-headed romantic longing would be right at home on the ‘Lost in Translation’ soundtrack.”


New Release Rack: Sandy McKnight & the Idea’s “What Did You Expect?”

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Sandy McKnight: What Did You Expect?

CD review by Allison Gregory

A mixture of surf, ’60s rock ‘n’ roll and folk revival, ballads and a hint of smooth jazz, country-rock, and waltzes – what an idea!

Sandy McKnight & the Idea’s album What Did You Expect? (released in late October, 2013) gives the listener a large range of styles over 12 tracks which mesh perfectly together. From the opener “Never Miss a Trick” to the closer “Setting the World on Fire,” you’ll be hooked on this idea. Because of its catchy melody and chorus, “Never Miss a Trick” will get you hooked right at the start of this album. With a surf and pop-inspired sound and four-part harmony by Liv Cummins, Jennifer Bennett, Dave Labrecque and Craig Hazen, you’ll be singing along in no time. With Johnny Easy completing the live line-up, what else would you expect from a cast of experienced musicians like the ones Sandy McKnight brought together?

“Someone.” a catchy and lyrical song, covers up the pain and struggle of the people in the song with a light-hearted sound. By going from a soft, cheerful sound during the verses to a harder rock sound during the chorus and interludes, it accentuates the deeper meaning of the lyrics. Former David Bowie guitarist Earl Slick also makes a cameo on this song playing guitar and the enthralling and gripping fuzz guitar solo.


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