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Editor's rating: 
 4.5
 
Tuesday, 01 January 2008 |  Written by Charles Andrews  | 
Ryan Shaw - This is Ryan Shaw You’re going to either love or dismiss this album, turn all your friends on to it or never give it another thought. Dismiss it because it’s nothing but a rip, of classic soul artists from the classy era. So Ryan Shaw’s a good imitator. He can evoke the greats, and this sounds like some late night TV offering of The Greatest Sounds of Stax/Volt/Motown as Sung by Ryan Shaw, but adds nothing that tells us, really, who Shaw is, or what he has to contribute as an artist, today. Good voice, knows his history, his licks are in line, but so what? Why not just listen to the originals? Me, I’m passionately on the love-it! side, thank you, and the very first time I threw on This is Ryan Shaw I was blown away, by the first song, by the first ...
Editor's rating: 
 3.5
 
Tuesday, 01 January 2008 |  Written by Matt Fink  | 
Portugal. The Man - Church Mouth Over 150 years ago, famed British musicologist Cecil Sharp lamented the spread of the railroad system because increased transportation and mixing of regional populations would wipe out the distinctive flavors of folk music that belonged to each community. Of course, Sharp was absolutely correct, as by the middle of the 20th Century British folk music had become the sole providence of song collectors and ethnomusicologists, and the further spread of radio, home stereos and television wiped out whatever folk music variants remained in industrialized countries. In the United States, only those isolated communities – many of them in Appalachian Mountains and in the rural south – retained their unique musical languages. And while Alaska certainly isn’t free of the forms of media that eradicated the folk tradition, it’s far enough off the beaten path that a group of young musicians ...
Editor's rating: 
 4.5
 
Tuesday, 01 January 2008 |  Written by Matt Fink  | 
Nirvana - Unplugged in New York Sad but true, one of the best career moves for any would-be musical legend is to die young. Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson, Janis Joplin, Tupac Shakur -- not only are they forever frozen in a snapshot when they were young, attractive and near the height of their creative powers, they also never had to reach the point where they’d gotten ugly, desperate and uninspired. More than anything, though, death casts a completely different light over an artist’s body of work, clearing away any lingering doubt of the artist’s greatness and casting in a different light his or her most exceptional personality traits. Take Nick Drake, a distinctively insular and exceptionally evocative songwriter whose music languished in obscurity for over 25 years until one of his songs turned up in a car commercial, and a new generation of listeners wanted to ...
Editor's rating: 
 3.0
 
Tuesday, 01 January 2008 |  Written by Matt Fink  | 
Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog Though Bob Dylan’s legacy hangs over modern songwriting in complex and incalculable ways, it’s possible that his most lasting contribution is the dichotomy his music established between the “serious” world of folk music and the comparably “frivolous” world of pop music. Of course, Dylan had little to do with this himself. He was an admittedly eager consumer of Little Richard and Chuck Berry records in the ‘50s, and he didn’t shy away from befriending the Beatles when they were the symbol of all that was anathema to the folk community. Still, the seriousness of his artistry and the sagacity of his writing soon made it very clear that his music wasn’t for screaming 14-year-old girls and teenybopper radio, and he brought into the mainstream a challenge to every self-respecting tunesmith who deemed themselves worthy of picking up a guitar and ...
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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