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Big Takeover #81 Fall 2017

Michael Toland

Michael Toland began scribbling about music in 1988 for the photocopied ‘zine FHT Music Notes. He’s since written for various print and online publications, including Pop Culture Press (for whom he was reviews editor for several years), Texas Music (of which he was a founding editor), Trouser Press, Sleazegrinder, Sonic Ruin, Amplifier, Goldmine, Austin Citysearch the Austin American Statesman, Blurt and the Austin Chronicle. He was also the creator and grand poobah of the music-obsessive web site High Bias (2001-2006). He lives in Austin, Texas and works for public television.

George Usher and Lisa Burns, The Last Day Of Winter

George Usher and Lisa Burns, The Last Day of Winter (Self-Released)

26 August 2015

The pair’s close harmonies and highly crafted writing set the foundation for a work of gentle resonance and surpassing beauty.

Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist

Steve Lowenthal - Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist (Chicago Review Press, 2014)

6 August 2014

“Being one of the greatest guitarists in the world simply is not very important to me,” John Fahey states near the end of the biography Dance of Death. “Oh, but if you took it away somehow I would be very unhappy.” Self-serving? Contradictory? You bet.

Edward Rogers Kaye

Edward Rogers - Kaye (Zip)

8 July 2014

As he adds more paint to his palette, Rogers continues his evolution into one of the more interesting and distinctive singer/songwriters out there.

Stoneburner Life Drawing

Stoneburner - Life Drawing (Neurot)

30 June 2014

Stoneburner recasts psychedelic sludge in its own image on its second slab Life Drawing.

Castle Under Siege

Castle - Under Siege (Prosthetic)

27 June 2014

Thank Lucifer classic heavy never goes out of style.

Bloody Hammers Under Satan's Sun

Bloody Hammers - Under Satan’s Sun (Napalm)

26 June 2014

Under Satan’s Sun, songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Anders Manga‘s third LP as Bloody Hammers, keeps dark faith with the first two, but more so.

Dream the Electric Sleep Heretics

Dream the Electric Sleep - Heretics (self-released)

10 June 2014

As a core of nerds know, twenty-first century prog rock takes inspiration from more than just Rush, Yes and Dream Theater.

Joe Henry Invisible Hour

Joe Henry - Invisible Hour (Work Song)

3 June 2014
For his thirteenth record, the busy producer cranks the late night vibe, calling to mind the sonic settings of his early 90s work while still retaining the jazz influences of his ‘aughties LPs.
John Wesley Disconnect

John Wesley - Disconnect (InsideOut)

27 May 2014

Disconnect marries the two sides of his session personality, as the record comes with a progressive rock soul but a mainstream rock-friendly outlook.

Greenleaf Trails and Passes

Greenleaf - Trails and Passes (Small Stone)

26 May 2014

Greenleaf started out as a side project for various Swedish stoner and hard rock musicians – a busman’s holiday for members of Dozer, Lowrider, Truckfighters and Demon Cleaner. At this point, however, the band has outlasted many of its seedpods, and gotten better with every record as well.

The Whigs Modern Creation

The Whigs - Modern Creation (New West)

22 May 2014

For its fifth album, the Athens-born/Nashville-bred trio decided to eschew extraneous effluvia and do things the old-fashioned way: write some good songs and record ‘em live from the floor.

Buffalo Killers Heavy Reverie

Buffalo Killers - Heavy Reverie (Sun Pedal)

21 May 2014

Every time a band releases a new album, it proclaims the new work its best so far. For Buffalo Killers, that claim is absolutely right.

The Blue Angel Lounge A Sea of Trees

The Blue Angel Lounge - A Sea of Trees (8MM Musik/A)

19 May 2014

The Blue Angel Lounge continues to move further away from its psychedelic roots on A Sea of Trees.

The Howlin' Brothers Trouble

The Howlin’ Brothers - Trouble (Readymade/Thirty Tigers)

12 May 2014

Trouble finds them casting ever further afield from the string band tradition, as well as folding in such previously untested elements as electric guitar and drums.

Doug Gillard Parade On

Doug Gillard - Parade On (Nine Mile)

7 April 2014
Gillard’s normal MO for his own LPs is to dial back the six-string firepower and crank up the tunesmithery, and he does that in spades here.

Little Victories Along the Way: A Conversation With Steve Wynn

1 April 2014

“ I’m never happier than when I’m onstage – I just love playing music. I love the chance to exist in the moment. You reinvent it every night – you either do something great or you fall on your face, and you get another chance the next day to do it again.”

Lionize - Jetpack Soundtrack (Weathermaker)

24 March 2014

“It’s time to evolve, man!” asserts Lionize on its fifth album, and takes its own advice.

Hawkwind Spacehawks

Hawkwind - Spacehawks (4 Worlds Media)

21 March 2014

Despite being an odd hodgepodge of remakes, stray tracks from side projects and new tunes, Spacehawks keeps the train on the track.

The Strypes Snapshot

The Strypes - Snapshot (Photo Finish/Island)

18 March 2014

The Strypes, Ireland’s successor to the Undertones in the teenage rock & roll sweepstakes, finally drop their full-length debut Snapshot in America.

The War On Drugs - Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian)

17 March 2014

It sounds glib to say so, but Lost in the Dream, the third LP from The War On Drugs, is just like its breakthrough album Slave Ambient, only more so.

Truckfighters - Universe (Fuzzorama)

11 March 2014

Like a darker, heavier Queens of the Stone Age or a meaner Wolfmother, Truckfighters updates classic rock for the 21st century.

The Strypes Blue Collar Jane

The Strypes - Blue Collar Jane (Photo Finish)

31 January 2014

The myth of teenagers being only interested in American Idol, Disney princesses, etc. gets further dispelled by the arrival on the international scene of this cracking young Irish quartet.

Alcest Shelter

Alcest - Shelter (Prophecy)

24 January 2014

Alcest is one of the original progenitors of metalgaze, that conceptually curious but practically successful hybrid of heavy metal and dreampop.

Leo Welch Sabougla Voices

Leo Welch - Sabougla Voices (Big Legal Mess)

14 January 2014

Who’s going to pick up the mantle of contemporary Mississippi blues? If Sabougla Voices is any indication, it’s Leo Welch.

TV Ghost Disconnect

TV Ghost - Disconnect (In the Red)

21 November 2013

On its third LP, TV Ghost puts a Midwestern spin on British gothic postpunk.

The Bottle Rockets-The Brooklyn Side

The Bottle Rockets - The Bottle Rockets/The Brooklyn Side (Bloodshot)

19 November 2013

Back during the Great Alt.country Scare of the 1990s, the Bottle Rockets were stars.

Bipolaroid Twin Language

Bipolaroid - Twin Language (Get Hip)

13 November 2013

Spiritually, however, the band comes straight out of the psychedelic 60s, especially the British variety.

Tides From Nebula Eternal Movement

Tides From Nebula - Eternal Movement (Longbranch/SPV)

5 November 2013

The Polish quartet swells to the heavens, creating great waves of uplifting melody and letting them crash on a beach of bright, glistening texture.

Donovan Woods Don't Get Too Grand

Donovan Woods - Don’t Get Too Grand (Aporia)

4 November 2013

Singer/songwriters are a penny a hundred these days, and it’s difficult to parse the marvelous from the mediocre. Donovan Woods is a good example of the former.

Matthew Edwards & the Unfortunates 45

Matthew Edwards & the Unfortunates - “Minotaur” b/w “Bad Blood” (Metal Postcard)

1 November 2013

Former Music Lover Matthew Edwards and his band the Unfortunates follow up their brilliant debut LP The Fates with this equally marvelous 45.

Empty Flowers Five

Empty Flowers - Five (The Path Less Traveled/Atomic Action)

31 October 2013

The Flowers put one foot in jangle and the other in jagged for a lesson in tuneful postpunk.

The Vim Dicta Von Tango EP

The Vim Dicta - Von Tango EP (PsychoGroove)

30 October 2013

More proof that good old-fashioned guitar rock never goes out of style.

The Grand Opening Don't Look Back Into the Darkness

The Grand Opening - Don’t Look Back Into the Darkness (Tapete)

29 October 2013
Olsson’s reserved pop tunes burst with melody while luxuriating in intimacy.
Richard X. Heyman X

Richard X. Heyman - X (Turn-Up)

25 October 2013

With his latest LP X, singer/songwriter/pop auteur Richard X. Heyman keeps doing what he’s always done: 60s-informed (but not obsessive), guitar-based pop music.

The Bongos Phantom Train

The Bongos - Phantom Train (JEM)

2 October 2013
Phantom Train continues the thread that began weaving on its previous record Beat Hotel, adding touches of now-period production but keeping the Hoboken quartet’s glam/power/jangle pop intact.
Pinkish Black Razed to the Ground

Pinkish Black - Razed to the Ground (Century Media)

23 September 2013

With its second LP Razed to the Ground, Fort Worth’s Pinkish Black continues forging its distinctive alloy for synthesizer-based rock.

White Hills - So You Are...So You'll Be

White Hills - So You Are...So You’ll Be (Thrill Jockey)

24 August 2013

The NYC power trio finds new interstellar paths to explore – paths that traverse only one light year, instead of a dozen.

Minks Tide's End

Minks - Tide’s End (Captured Tracks)

6 August 2013

Kilfoyle doesn’t so much pay tribute to the failing upper class as simply make observations, letting the listener draw his/her own conclusions.

Purple - (409)

Purple - (409) (Beverly Martel)

31 July 2013

Straight outta Beaumont, Texas, comes Purple, with a lopsided grin, brass knuckles on fists and a cool debut LP called (409).

Visage Hearts and Knives

Visage - Hearts and Knives (Pylon)

3 July 2013

Nearly 30 years after its last record, new wave/new romantic pioneer Visage returns to the racks with a brand-new album.

Femi Kuti No Place For My Dream

Femi Kuti - No Place For My Dream (Knitting Factory)

25 June 2013

The sixth studio LP from Femi Kuti, No Place For My Dream shows that not a lot has changed in the world of the most famous son of Fela Kuti – and that’s both good and bad.

Irma Thomas In Between Tears

Irma Thomas - In Between Tears (Alive Naturalsound)

24 June 2013

In Between Tears is back, and it’s a shining gem of 70s soul.

Big Star Nothing Can Hurt Me

Big Star - Nothing Can Hurt Me (Omnivore)

21 June 2013

Nothing Can Hurt Me serves as a best-of or, better yet, a great introduction for the Big Star newcomer.

The Pedaljets What's In Between

The Pedaljets – What’s In Between (Electric Moth)

20 June 2013

What’s In Between is a smart, vibrant rock & roll record that perfect balances loose (not sloppy) performances with highly-crafted writing. .

Steven Kilbey/Martin Kennedy - You Are Everything

Steve Kilbey & Martin Kennedy - You Are Everything (self-released)

27 May 2013

With the Church on hiatus (maybe), Steve Kilbey‘s ongoing work with All India Radio composer/ leader Martin Kennedy has become his most high profile artistic endeavor.

Kenny Roby – Memories & Birds (Little Criminal)

20 May 2013

It’s as much Talk Talk as Leonard Cohen, with a side of Scott Walker.

The Howlin' Brothers Howl

The Howlin’ Brothers - Howl (Readymade)

17 May 2013

New artists within the Americana community tend to hold no interest for me whatsoever. I’m pleased to report, however, that the Howlin’ Brothers are different.

Deville Hydra

Deville - Hydra (Small Stone)

16 May 2013

Hydra, the debut record from Sweden’s Deville, starts like a good hard rock record should – with a turbocharged rush of riffs and muscle.

Michael Rank and Stag - In the Weeds

Michael Rank and Stag – In the Weeds (Louds Hymn)

15 May 2013

The follow-up to the post-breakup catharsis that is Kin, In the Weeds finds the former Snatches of Pink leader settling into life as an Americana musician.

The Del-Lords Elvis Club

The Del-Lords – Elvis Club (GB Music)

14 May 2013
It’s like they never left.