On the Record

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HITnRUN or HITSnMISSES

Our funky hero Prince stumbles on his latest

As a Prince devotee, I hold the diminutive artist up to colossal standards. While never losing respect for his creativity or willingness to take risks and push boundaries with each new album, I also recognize ...

Emotional Mugger makes for an unsettling, riveting experience

Ty Segall's latest takes you for a ride on the Big Dipper at Belmont Park

Emotional Mugger paints a picture of menacing clowns thrashing about in semi-trucks, a possible musical score to the demolition-derby video game Twisted Metal. Ty Segall inhabits a new persona on each record, and his latest ...

Are you a Belieber?

Pop star Justin Bieber makes his apology record with Purpose

He’s the bad boy you love to hate. Well, when Chris Brown isn’t around, anyway. And most of the time Justin Bieber easily earns that reputation. With Purpose, his fourth album, he wants to change ...

Bowie's Blackstar closes the curtain

An entrancing final act for the constant chameleon

Ever so strange and always unique is David Bowie. After 26 genre-jumping albums spanning over nearly 50 years, the constant chameleon released his 27th and final album, Blackstar, which landed on his birthday, January 10, ...

Open Mike Eagle and Serengeti join forces as Cavanaugh

...and press the right buttons on conceptual debut Time and Materials

For two artists who met back in the early '00s at Southern Illinois University and have undeniable chemistry as indie rappers with a penchant for exploring human sadness with wit and humor, it's surprising that ...

Crushing it with Octagrape

Locals drop a 19-song rock bomb with Aura Obelisk

The new Octagrape album is like a long run on a breezy day, twisting and turning around corners, through alleyways, main roads, and side streets. Despite shortness of breath and sore muscles, you feel cleansed ...

Tim Flannery gets Americosmic on Three Ring Circus

Former baseballer swings for the fences with his genre-defying latest

Three-time World Series champion Tim Flannery’s newest album, Three Ring Circus, is his best. His all-star band the Lunatic Fringe, featuring Douglas Pettibone, Dennis Caplinger, and Dean Smith, helps Flannery come into his own on ...

Music Complete a slow obsession

New Order still hooks without Peter Hook

They’re missing Peter Hook. Without his bass leading the charge or waiting to, everyone lays back. Cool lapsing into cold. Heatless — but seamless — groove slipping between disco, disco with electronica synth touches, razor-chop ...

And After That, We Didn't Talk

Hip-hop anomaly Goldlink's latest is a dancer

Goldlink was establishing himself as a thoroughbred in the Tumblr generation when he became a 2015 XXL Freshmen. With one previous release under his belt, the 22-year-old dance-rap artist has made a name for himself ...

Not just Beirut, but Gibraltar and Holland

Zach Condon's latest, No No No, travels the world in 29 minutes

A disclaimer: heightened anticipation gave this album, upon first listen, the sonic equivalent of rose-colored glasses. So what’s with the eagerness for Beirut’s first record in four years? Perhaps it’s tied to the first single, ...

Montage of Heck: The unnecessary recordings

Home recordings bring the larger-than-life Kurt Cobain back down to Earth

The documentary Montage of Heck does a great job of making Cobain look crazier than he seems to be in every interview on YouTube. So, only once one gets over the fact that this “album” ...

Silversun Pickups' electronic album

Better Nature smashing the wrong pumpkins

It’s been nine years since Silversun Pickups gained popularity with their guitar-layered single “Lazy Eye,” off of their debut record Carnavas. The band has drawn comparison to the Smashing Pumpkins, which is noticeable in their ...

Cold Beat strikes hot

...just a year after the SanFran band's strong debut, Cold Beat's back with Into the Air

After a strong showing with their debut LP Over Me last year, punk/electro-pop band Cold Beat is back with Into the Air. Already, the band seems in sync, a feat that could take more than ...

The allure of Joanna Newsom

Divers delivers a deeply woven celebration of life and death

Harpist, singer and composer Joanna Newsom is not everyone’s cup of tea. You may have to pause and look up a word just to glimpse her plane of thought. But that’s just part of Newsom's ...

Talk of claws, casseroles, confinement, and alcohol

Barrence Whitfield's back Under the Savage Sky

Won’t say the guy’s name, but he was a drug dealer with a name fitting that occupation. He held down an all-nighter DJ slot at the campus station, and I sat up with him once ...

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