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.
The pair’s close harmonies and highly crafted writing set the foundation for a work of gentle resonance and surpassing beauty.
“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.
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 recasts psychedelic sludge in its own image on its second slab Life Drawing.
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.
As a core of nerds know, twenty-first century prog rock takes inspiration from more than just Rush, Yes and Dream Theater.
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 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.
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.
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 continues to move further away from its psychedelic roots on A Sea of Trees.
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.
“ 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.”
“It’s time to evolve, man!” asserts Lionize on its fifth album, and takes its own advice.
Despite being an odd hodgepodge of remakes, stray tracks from side projects and new tunes, Spacehawks keeps the train on the track.
The Strypes, Ireland’s successor to the Undertones in the teenage rock & roll sweepstakes, finally drop their full-length debut Snapshot in America.
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.
Like a darker, heavier Queens of the Stone Age or a meaner Wolfmother, Truckfighters updates classic rock for the 21st century.
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 is one of the original progenitors of metalgaze, that conceptually curious but practically successful hybrid of heavy metal and dreampop.
Who’s going to pick up the mantle of contemporary Mississippi blues? If Sabougla Voices is any indication, it’s Leo Welch.
On its third LP, TV Ghost puts a Midwestern spin on British gothic postpunk.
Back during the Great Alt.country Scare of the 1990s, the Bottle Rockets were stars.
Spiritually, however, the band comes straight out of the psychedelic 60s, especially the British variety.
The Polish quartet swells to the heavens, creating great waves of uplifting melody and letting them crash on a beach of bright, glistening texture.
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.
Former Music Lover Matthew Edwards and his band the Unfortunates follow up their brilliant debut LP The Fates with this equally marvelous 45.
The Flowers put one foot in jangle and the other in jagged for a lesson in tuneful postpunk.
More proof that good old-fashioned guitar rock never goes out of style.
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.
With its second LP Razed to the Ground, Fort Worth’s Pinkish Black continues forging its distinctive alloy for synthesizer-based rock.
The NYC power trio finds new interstellar paths to explore – paths that traverse only one light year, instead of a dozen.
Kilfoyle doesn’t so much pay tribute to the failing upper class as simply make observations, letting the listener draw his/her own conclusions.
Straight outta Beaumont, Texas, comes Purple, with a lopsided grin, brass knuckles on fists and a cool debut LP called (409).
Nearly 30 years after its last record, new wave/new romantic pioneer Visage returns to the racks with a brand-new album.
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.
In Between Tears is back, and it’s a shining gem of 70s soul.
Nothing Can Hurt Me serves as a best-of or, better yet, a great introduction for the Big Star newcomer.
What’s In Between is a smart, vibrant rock & roll record that perfect balances loose (not sloppy) performances with highly-crafted writing. .
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.
It’s as much Talk Talk as Leonard Cohen, with a side of Scott Walker.
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.
Hydra, the debut record from Sweden’s Deville, starts like a good hard rock record should – with a turbocharged rush of riffs and muscle.
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.