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.
Unlike larger, more prodigiously-attended Real Estate shows, this more intimate setting allowed one to focus attentively on Courtney’s exquisite singing and guitar playing, and to better appreciate his delectable songwriting flair.
While this follow-up resembles its predecessor Dark Americana: Stories and Songs in mood and style, it feels more ambitious and expansive, with intricate arrangements that conjure Ennio Morricone’s spacious, evocative spaghetti western soundtracks.
This New York City-raised singer/songwriter’s new single is more in the vein of the hushed, Nick Drake-like folk displayed on her 2021 Not Yet EP, but with a rustic, down home alt-country/Americana feel.
Like his first three “Black Cat Trilogy” LPs, Missoula, MT-based Henderson K. Shatner’s fourth album as Catnyp is wildly unpredictable and varied, so much so that no two songs sound alike.
Though Kansas City foursome Knife Crime has been together a decade, Lovely is only their first LP. But founding brothers Byron and Brad Huhmann, Jeremiah James Gonzales, and Jake Cardwell have honed their skills in 16 bands between them.
On album #2, Lawrence, KS trio Chess Club sharpens their songwriting and attack – and ditches the sporadic lapses into screamo – over 2018’s haphazard Hit the Ball.
Knoxville, TN singer, guitarist, bassist, and keyboardist Jared Colinger began The Enigmatic Foe with 2005’s self-recorded The Titular Project; having since expanded to a full band, this 14-song double LP is their fifth album.
With only three solo LPs since 2001, this June 12, 2021 Record Store Day EP from Winston-Salem, NC singer/guitarist Foster (ex-Right Profile/Carneys/Pinetops) is welcome.
I dug Portland, OR noise-pop foursome The Honus Huffhines’ 2014 second LP Feel Safe, Be Safe; named for a put-down line from The Office UK, The Swindon Lot is their singer/multi-instrumentalist Andy Giegerich’s solo project.
Throughout Zombification, Nashville-based, Minneapolis-raised singer/songwriter Oliver flails and massages his contorted, misshapen acoustic, while his distressed, rasping vocals sound like he’s having a hallucinogenic acid trip.
Not an actual person, Philip Goth is the moniker for the new project of Josh Rawson, former bassist of folk-rockers The Felice Brothers; this debut was recorded by him in Philmont, NY over three years.
Formerly the drummer in The Comas, and currently in indie rock quintet North Elementary and improvisational guitar/electronic duo Tacoma Park, Carrboro, NC’s John Harrison also makes solo albums as Jphono1.
On his first solo LP, Seattle’s Brisbois abandons the blasting guitars of his ‘90s roots-rock outfit 4 Ft. Ramona (he’s also been in The Buckets, Acme Band, and Lava), for something drastically more hushed.
Having recorded 2018’s Sixer EP as a trio, these Brooklyn shoegazers are pared down to their core duo of Ian Carpenter (vocals/guitars) and Rachel Fischer (drums) for this debut full-length.
It’s been nine years since Boston-raised, now St. Petersburg, FL-based singer/pianist Sheveloff released his 2012 solo debut Exhibitionist. But this sublime second studio LP more than justifies the long wait.
Following up 2018’s Proper EP, this Philadelphia foursome (whose moniker was the original name of Ardmore, the Philly suburb where they first rehearsed) sound even more inspired and imposing on this debut LP.
It’s been five years since this eccentric outfit released their fifth LP The Final Photograph, yet their former strangeness hasn’t waned.
Prolific Minneapolis singer/guitarist Israel’s 16th LP since 1998 dispenses with some of the previous album’s diverse, uncharacteristic stylistic progressions in favor of a more consistent, unwavering approach.
Like their similarly discordant label and city mates Sass, Partition is another cogent and youthful Minneapolis band, whose first album’s pummeling, convulsive queercore mines a different side of the noisy rock coin.
Originally released as a limited edition cassette in May 2019 by Heavy Meadow Records, the debut full-length by this youthful Minneapolis noise-rock quintet gets a welcome vinyl issue from MPLS Ltd.
Singer/guitarist Caflisch (AKA Matt Young) was previously in Eau Claire, WI’s Venison, Minneapolis’s ÜberScenester and J.U.L.P., and L.A.’s Hard Luck Country Club; his sincere, affable folk-pop is enlivened by his vivid words.
Those unfamiliar with NYC-based Root’s seven albums with his bossa nova/Brazilian pop bands A.M. Sixty (or AM-60) and The Mosquitos might be taken aback by his whimsical, guileless lyrics on his first solo LP.
Rogers & Butler is Birmingham, UK-born, NYC-based Edward Rogers, who has released seven top-notch solo albums, and Stephen Butler, frontman for New Jersey power-pop bands Smash Palace and Quincy.
Based in Oklahoma City and Seattle, former college buddies Wil Norton and Danny Davis crafted this second LP (following 2015’s Golden Year) remotely, in between their attorney and software engineer day jobs.
On his third LP, Boston-based singer/drummer Baldrachi moves away from the power-pop that dominated 2012’s Back to the Start – first released in 2011 as Tomorrow Never Knows – and 2006’s Solid Ground.
Those familiar with this Queens/Brooklyn post-punk trio’s 2018 debut No Banter will instantly notice the tenfold upgrade in their attack’s tightness, speed, and muscle on this sophomore effort.
Along with RBM, Johanna’s House of Glamour, and Neurotic Cage, Underwater Kites is another of Boston-based experimentalist Bruce MacLeod’s guises, with one prior LP and six EPs going back to 1999.
Along with gruff, Glenn Danzig/Dave Vanian-evoking bellower Evil Heim, and anchored by formidable 65’s guitarist/bassist Joe Pugsley and Ryan Struck (who play bass and drums here), it’s no surprise this New Jersey horror-punk quintet sound like a Misfits and Damned lovechild.
Fans of this three-year-old Chapel Hill, NC quartet’s 2018 debut mini-album Giant will immediately notice the silkier, more incandescent stylistic shift on this follow-up four-song EP’s first two tracks.
The second LP by Pittsburgh’s Full Counts – formed by 1990-94 Gumball bassist/singer Eric Vermillion and Cynics drummer Mike Quinlan, who were both also in FOOD – is even better than their otherwise superb 2017 debut, First Out.
As he did on his 2019 debut LP Couch, Seattle’s one-man EDM virtuoso Paul Furio rotates between Depeche Mode/OMD/New Order synth-pop/new wave and tougher, Front 242/Nitzer Ebb techno/industrial on this follow-up five-songer.
Having backed Slim Dunlap, and opened for Tommy Stinson, it’s no wonder High on Stress evoke the rootsier side of hometown legends The Replacements; frontman Nick Leet’s emphatic, twangy drawl even conjures Paul Westerberg.
This three-songer blasts even harder than their 2017 “Wolves and Men” 7”, enhanced by the addition of second guitarist Ed Roessler to an already intimidating lineup of Joe Pugsley, Ryan Struck, and John Steele.
Behind her impassioned, one-of-a-kind voice and idiosyncratic songs, Helsinki, Finland singer/guitarist Jokelin’s solo debut Kaamos has a distinctive ambience that is enticing and transcendent.
This Queens, NY quintet’s fifth album dispenses with the too-conventional, leisurely-paced country/roots-rock that dominated their last LP, 2015’s 3 Shots, in favor of more buoyant, vivacious playing and arrangements.
Mastered by Frank Arkwright at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London, this Escondido, CA-based foursome’s seventh album sounds more robust, expansive, and sonorous than their previous six.
Aided by 16 guest musicians, this Chicago troubadour’s third solo album adds plenty of new stylistic wrinkles to the homespun, Wilco-esque alt-country of his 2014 II and 2011 Archive + Spiral.
Aside from his familiar trill, the hushed, homespun folk Helsinki’s pleasantly-voiced Palonen fashions on TP is far removed from his previous outfit Kuparilinna’s punchier, ‘60s-inspired indie pop, surf, and psych-rock.
It’s been five years since New Jersey native Rose’s last album, 2013’s sumptuous Stars, Stripes, and Milestones. But boasting livelier and more luxurious production and arrangements, this self-titled sixth LP outshines it.
This follow-up to 2014 second LP Need to Feed finds this Providence, RI art-rock trio – fronted by likable, lovely-voiced lead singer and keyboardist Roz Raskin – still pursuing an unconventional approach.
Philadelphia-based Harvey makes mellower music than most of punk label Chunksaah’s strident, speedier-playing signees. But his moderately tempoed folk-rock is plenty resonant and robust.
This esoteric New Haven, CT art-rock duo consists of guitarist/keyboardist Paul Belbusti, also of prolific psych-folk outfit Mercy Choir, and drummer Michael Kiefer, of weighty sludge-rockers Myty Konkeror. However, Rivener sounds nothing like their other bands.
Listening to this New Haven, CT piano-fronted trio’s debut album, it’s hard to fathom that their powerful-piped lead singer Laini Marenick had never sung in front of anyone until her wedding three years ago.
Like a tape-recorded diary set to surreal, spooky sound collages, Berkeley, CA avant-garde artist Dominic Francisco’s second LP makes us feel like we’re prying into someone’s most private, painful emotions.
Born in Oxford, England, this tender-voiced troubadour expands upon the theme of his last three covers-speckled albums by re-imagining 14 love songs from his “early hero” Bob Dylan’s copious catalogue.
Compared to the more robust rock crunch of this New Haven, CT Americana/folk-pop collective’s 2014 Farther Out Beyond Today, the production and playing on Dreams is lighter and lither.
A couple of years after this Buffalo, NY outfit’s 2011 debut LP 4am, dazzling lead singer Mary Ognibene left the band. DM’s new vocalist Maria Sebastian is as breathtaking as her predecessor, and this EP’s three distinctive tunes showcase her multifarious skills.
Dubuque, Iowa’s sensual and soulful chanteuse Gloeckner doesn’t make many albums; this is only her third LP going back to 2004’s Miles Apart, and first since 2010’s Mouth of Mars. Yet Vine is worth the seven-year wait.
Blending breezy reggae with brassier jazz/bebop, Ontario’s two-time Juno Award-nominated pianist/singer Wilson’s sixth album is a polished, ear-pleasing pastiche.
Throughout veteran L.A.-based violinist Murphy’s Red Mountain Blues, fiddle, banjo, and mandolin frolic so euphorically, you’d expect an impromptu line dance to break out any minute.