Mark Suppanz has been a passionate music fan since the 1970s, when he would persuade his Mom to take him to the local mall to buy him 7” singles that he heard on Casey Kasem’s Top 40. His music tastes took a turn for the better in 1986 when his college roommate Lon turned him onto R.E.M., The Cure, The Smiths, and Joy Division, and upon graduation he frequented New Brunswick, NJ’s much-missed music club, The Melody. He discovered The Big Takeover in 1994 after happening upon issue #35 in a Tower Records in Mountain View, CA. He began transcribing interviews for the magazine in 1997, became moderator of its online discussion list in 1999, and began writing record and live reviews in 2000. Since that time, he has managed to see over 700 concerts while balancing a successful career in market research. He currently lives in Montclair, NJ, and in addition to attending shows, enjoys reading books and magazines, browsing record stores, watching movies, running, and traveling.
I’m not sure what prompted former United States of Existence/The Jigsaw Seen drummer Schwartz to reissue this upbeat, Supertramp/Hall & Oates-like 2014 digital single as a 7”. But I still “really like” it.
Despite drummer/founder Joseph Joseph’s replacing of departed keyboardist Molly Pamela with bassist Nicholas Gunzburg as this Cleveland experimental duo’s “other half” in 2015, Junk is as spastic and strident as their previous releases.
Shoulder and hand injuries have shelved Atlanta guitarist Richard Coker’s punk and folk career, but his instrumental synth LPs keep coming – Fey is his eighth since 2012.
I described this 20-year-old Columbus collective’s 2009 second LP More Fiend as “ominous, trance-inducing space-rock, with hints of metal, psychedelic, and Eastern influences.” That could similarly sum up this new six-song, 43-minute fourth.
For those still tentative about diving into this atypical, atmospheric Bristol, PA trio’s 2016 fourth LP This Gilded Age, this double A-side 7” of two of its tunes is a tempting toe-dip.
Birmingham, AL’s Remy Zero released three major label LPs during their original 14-year run, before disbanding in 2003. This new trio comprises two original RZ members, along with their touring guitarist/drummer, and preserves RZ’s penchant for brawny alterna-rock.
Texas-born-and-bred Bell again avoids modern country clichés on her fifth LP, and first since 2010’s Perfectly Legal: Songs of Sex, Love and Murder.
On this hard-hitting new single, about serial killer Aileen Wuornos, London’s provocative, powerfully-piped Distras breaks free from stringent punk structures. It blends a ‘60s British Invasion/Merseybeat and girl-group sound with more contemporary, crunchy power pop.
I swooned over this fetching Chicago foursome’s “buoyant, shimmery” 2014 second LP Restless Hearts, which followed up their heftier 2010 debut The Spell of Youth. But Beneath manages to best them both.
On their 2015 first LP, I heard “Sonics/Shakers-inspired garage rock, Shellac-styled industrial/post-punk, and SLF Inflammable Material-era punk” in this college-aged Nashville band’s sound. That’s still accurate, as Teal contains many of the same characteristics as the full-length.
St. Paul, MN-based Bonar’s follow-up to her 2014 sixth LP Last War is even better, featuring more focused and finely-honed playing. As well, its arrangements are alternately aggressive and atmospheric, thanks to Bonar’s brawny and buoyant backing band.
This New York duo’s dreamy covers of these two familiar classic-rock staples are so assiduously crafted, and Eleanor Kleiner’s singing so stupendous, it’s like you’re hearing each song for the first time.
You might question the wisdom of a Helsinki band securing U.S. distribution for a debut LP sung entirely in Finnish. But one listen to this distinctive, charismatic two-year-old quintet, whose name translates in English to “Copper Castle,” and you’ll be captivated by their countless charms.
France’s forceful foursome Heming Wave have now morphed into this trio. However, the brash and bracing U.K. Britpop influences that Heming Wave invoked have been sidelined in favor of a more strident, stentorian style.
The echoed, East River Pipe-evoking bedroom recordings on Eric Bates’s one-man Turnsole’s self-titled, early 2016 debut are more defiantly delivered on this way different follow-up, an “abstract look” at the life of France’s tragic teen Joan of Arc.
The Firehouse 12’s pin-drop, church-quiet ambience and an attentive, breath-holding audience allows Sheveloff’s twinkling, deep-toned piano trilling and romantic, robust voice to register more prominently than on his previous platters.
Given that this sophomore LP from this Houston foursome deviates in so many directions from their 2014 “Some Change” two-song 7” single, it’s not a stretch to surmise the band’s status as hard-to-pin-down chameleons.
Every song on Minneapolis singer/guitarist Israel’s 13th LP Dan delves into the details leading up to or resulting from his divorce, while generally touching on the trivial but telling warning signs that can sour romances.
At nearly an hour in length, Hobbitozz is an ambitious rock opera/fairy tale, which this San Francisco prog-rock quartet claim is the “first in a multi-part series of psychedelic sci-fi/fantasy rock albums.”
Unlike NYC roots-rocker Mark’s previous seven with longtime backing mates The Van Dorens, Stowaways veers from the group’s signature barroom blues and country-rock style.
Named for a 1972 Isaac Asimov novel, this Seattle trio’s second album dabbles in plenty of that decade’s music styles – most notably its soul/R&B, funk, and disco – even more than on their 2014 self-titled debut.
With the exception of singer Dan Greene’s drowsy, deliberate drawl, this New Haven, CT foursome’s fifth full-length sounds almost unrecognizable from 2010 double LP Apple Mountain’s spooky, lo-fi campfire folk.
On his ninth album as the one-man DiS, Derrick Stembridge dispenses with the “intricate, pulsating, and ear-tickling beats” that adorned previous LPs. But the absence of percussive elements is in no way a detriment.
Unlike his 2010 debut Neon Lights and its 2011 follow-up EP Acoustic Juju, each co-credited with his (then) band The Manhattan Project, Connecticut crooner Viele gets sole billing on this sophomore full-length.
If you’re in the mood for some muscular, “meat-and-potatoes”-style blues-rock, this Minneapolis quartet’s third LP is akin to seeing a show at an all-you-can-eat ribs and rotgut-shot night at your local roadhouse.
Unfortunately, this aptly-titled fourth LP is their swan song, as the Chicago foursome has announced they’re breaking up after a decade together. Their finale is no going-through-the-motions phone-in, however.
The production on this Copenhagen quintet’s debut full-length is not as crude or clamorous as on their self-titled 2013 EP, allowing you to fixate more attentively on the languid, interlocking guitars of Johannes Nidam and Jan Johansen.
It makes sense for this Bucks County, PA indie-folk outfit to reinvigorate interest in their early 2015 album Shine by spotlighting the LP’s best song for this (ironically) winter-released EP.
On The Best Part, Nashville songstress Elliott backs her silky, sinuous singing with warm electropop, ambient and downtempo music. Meanwhile, “Black Heart” is by far her heftiest, meanest song yet.
For whatever reason, Modena, Italy indie-pop practitioner Marc Ed decided to record this newest album in his native tongue. Despite my not being able to understand a lick of the lyrics, I was hooked like a famished fish on one listen.
This Fort Worth, TX outfit’s third LP finds the band veering off into uncharted, yet stylistically kindred directions, notably in the evocative, unconventional, swampy country/blues-rock that dominates the LP’s first half.
Carpe Sonum does a valuable service by reissuing this mesmerizing 2005 second LP by this Colorado electronic/ambient trio, previously a vinyl-only release on the group’s Obliq label.
On this three-songer, the NJ foursome abandons the softer side displayed on their 2013 I Got You EP, sticking with the punk-fueled style of that EP’s hottest, most hard-hitting number, “Have You Been Saved?”
This Florida roots-rock foursome’s fifth full-length is a “concept” album that focuses on British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s fateful 1914-16 Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition aboard the ship Endurance.
On this second full-length, Sheffield, UK singer/pianist Harker is more personal and soul-searching than on its more whimsical predecessor, 2012’s The Red Room. The result is an album that makes an impact almost immediately.
This third LP places more emphasis on Phil Honey-Jones’s frenzied, feculent guitars, while featuring the six-year-old London band’s most fiery, forceful tunes to date.
If this single’s A-side is any indication, Atlanta-based quartet Love Letter displays more streamlined focus and ferocity than singer Carrie Hodge’s former band, Parade.
As this Portland, OR theatrical troupe’s peerless performance proved, glimpsing a papal motorcade was not the only way for New Yorkers to experience divine intervention on this night.
This Paris quartet’s superb 2014 debut EP Our Romance Ghost summoned the ‘90s U.K. Britpop scene so succinctly, it silenced skeptics. But My Electric surpasses it.
This Milan, Italy trio’s claim that their music “[pursues] a classic punk sound” with “alternative rock’s reminiscences” is spot-on.
With honking horns, squealing sirens, and rowdy revelers creating a headache-inducing clamor just outside the venue on busy Allen Street, the affable, angelic-voiced Rose turned cozy Rockwood Music Hall into a comforting, cathartic refuge.
With ‘90s UK shoegaze scene stalwarts still speechless from seeing Slowdive’s first U.S. shows in 20 years in 2014, Oxford foursome Ride’s announcement of their first U.S. tour in 23 years sent shockwaves spiraling even further.
The 19-year-old Glasgow, Scotland group pulled out all the stops at the historic, 6000-capacity Radio City Music Hall, with practically every song accompanied by some elaborate visual bells and whistles.
Thanks to Union Tranfer’s translucent acoustics, every one of the jagged, sharp-edged riffs bursting from the guitars of frontman Colin Newman and his younger, newer cohort Matthew Simms came through loud and clear.
Accompanied by her multi-instrumentalist husband Kit Hamon, Bombara delivered a 17-song early evening opening set that not only showcased the bulk of her 2015 self-titled third album, but plenty more from 2013’s Raise Your Flag EP and 2010’s Wish I Were You.
Compared with the page-turning novel that Brooklyn one-man wunderkind Tom Curtain’s 2014 debut concept LP/rock opera The Necromancer’s Kids was, the five-song Winter Lite is a superb short story collection.
While this Baltimore indie pop foursome’s attractive 2012 Sundowning EP was a nice appetite whetter, the band finally get around to releasing this proper follow-up entrée to their sterling 2010 debut Break Up, and it’s worth the five-year wait.
Despite the departure of this roaring Chicago foursome’s fervent singer Johnny Pierro in 2013, Saturday Night Loud is electrifying. Crucially, they’ve replaced Pierro with female dynamo Kati Olsen, whose personality, poise, and powerful pipes are invigorating and irresistible.
The folks at NYC Popfest have a reputation for coaxing way-under-the-radar indie pop acts out of the woodwork for their annual shindig. But this criminally unheralded London foursome, playing their first U.S. show, was one of their more unexpected and welcome coups.
The trio of songs this Brooklyn group showcased from their 2014 debut LP Careers all profited from the forceful foursome’s potent punch and Drew Citron’s spirited, sweetly-lilted singing. But I was equally knocked out by the batch of new and/or unfamiliar songs they played.