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Editor's rating: 
 4.8
Saturday, 01 March 2008 ,  Written by Matt Fink
Beck - Odelay (Deluxe Edition)
Of all the no-trick ponies and gimmick acts, no artist ever seemed more destined for one-hit wonder status than Beck. Though he had been kicking around the indie rock and anti-folk scenes for a half decade before 1994’s “Loser” became his entry into the pop culture lexicon, even an optimist wouldn’t have expected the shaggy kid with the clumsy rapping and generation X angst to amount to much more than a footnote for the grunge era. To be fair, there were those at the time who recognized Mellow Gold – the hastily assembled album that was rushed to capitalize on the unexpected success of “Loser” – as the ingenious mixing pot of creaky folk music and noise-damaged hip-hop that it was. But despite his innovative streak, Beck was just so strange – so obsessed with bugs and food and death ...
Editor's rating: 
 4.0
Friday, 08 August 2008 ,  Written by Jonathan Easley
Boris - Smile
If Boris seems to bristle at the success of their cool-rock, straight metal albums, it’s not necessarily a reactionary recoil to the prospects of commercial prosperity.  If that were the case, it’s doubtful that the band would have been available for profile to a print medium as trend-trailing as the New York Times.  And besides, there’s a language barrier that probably makes their words come across a little rougher and more direct than intended.  Boris is a Japanese trio (two skinny, long-haired dudes and one skinny, long-haired chick, all well into their 30s) who’ve been exploring the fringes of psych-metal since the mid-‘90s.  They didn’t gain large-scale exposure with the stateside indie crowd (where they are infinitely more popular than in their homeland) until their well-received 2006 album Pink was released on Southern Lord records.  Southern Lord is fast becoming ...
Editor's rating: 
 3.8
Thursday, 01 June 2006 ,  Written by John Sutton-Smith
Bruce Springsteen - We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
Springsteen has always tapped into the wellspring of the American songline – and for all his rock and roll roots and tendencies, as a practitioner of the people’s music, Bruce is really a folkie at heart. As powerful and inspiring as his rock persona is, the populist side of Bruce lends an abiding gravity and conviction to his acoustic side. Looking at his work as a whole, it seems his Woody Guthrie influences now stand side by side with his Elvis ones. We Shall Overcome, Bruce’s fourteenth album, works on a couple of levels: while clearly a tribute to Pete Seeger as one of the true godfathers of American folk and protest music, it is also in a sense part of a trilogy in the aftermath of 9/11. It is almost a natural progression from the very human reaction on ...
Editor's rating: 
 3.0
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 ,  Written by Matt FInk
Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
The last time I interviewed Ben Gibbard, he seemed somewhat ashamed to admit that he was a bit stung by all the lukewarm reviews that greeted Death Cab for Cutie’s 2005 breakthrough, Plans. Of course, you’d expect as much for an artist who is obviously a sensitive soul, a man who finds romantic implications in every act, no matter how seemingly mundane. Not that such a backlash was in any way surprising, as the previously prototypical indie rock band was certain to receive such a backlash when they jumped to a major label and found themselves near the top of the Billboard Top 200. But Gibbard seemed so disarmingly hurt by it all; it was as if he never considered it could happen. For those who want to read between the lines, Narrow Stairs, Death Cab’s first album since the ...
Editor's rating: 
 4.5
Tuesday, 01 January 2008 ,  Written by K L Poore
Dweezil Zappa - Zappa Plays Zappa
No matter how masterfully I write about Zappa Plays Zappa (the stunning two-DVD set available through www.zappa.com), this review will turn out to be the ugly biscuit on the tray. You know what the ugly biscuit is ... 11 of them are perfectly round buns of buttery joy but old number 12 has a little nipple stretching off the end. Or it’s oblong, lopsided and nether-worldly. And it’s burnt. It’s ugly. Why? Because it’s a daunting task to write about music so maddening, exquisite, complex, perplexing, vexing, ludicrous, ridiculous, expansive and filled with, as Thelonious Monk would put it, “Ugly Beauty.” I’m willing to give it a go because it’s absolutely nowhere near as difficult as learning to play it, something I actually attempted. When my “Inca Roads” crashed and laid scattered around me like the Hindenburg I sat my guitar on ...
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