On the Record

Heaven & Earth, by Yes

“Wimps,” Robert Christgau sneered, comparing them to Talking Heads — who were wimps, he proclaimed, without “vagueness or cheap romanticism.” But that was ’77; the Heads (whom I love) left us; and four Englishmen, fronted ...

Stevie Nicks's 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault

The too-expensive deluxe version, which this isn’t, adds two of the most righteous songs, including one about a rendezvous with God; neither version omits the weakest cut, “Cathouse Blues,” an arched cat back before the ...

Black Star Elephant, by Nico & Vinz

Nico & Vinz have crafted a pure, primal debut album that rejoices in the band’s chosen path while applauding others’ individuality. The reach of this singer/songwriter duo from Oslo, Norway, had touched several continents with ...

Lucinda Williams's Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone

Singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams is an acquired taste. If you have it, Christmas came early this year with the release of her new double-disc Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. The set collects 19 new ...

Redeemer of Souls, by Judas Priest

A wonderful friend of mine, gay, wants to know what the new Judas Priest album is all about (lyrically). I tell him that (lyrically) it’s about blood, glory, bloody glory, steel blades, fighting and dying ...

We Are Nots, by Nots

Slow songs are overrated

Any band that says they’re punk but then tries to sneak in a slow song — imposters. If you’re looking for authentic, brazen punk, the four women in Nots have it. There’s a bold intensity ...

Johnny Marr's Playland

Since the demise of the Smiths, Johnny Marr has worked on collaborations with feverish intensity, so it was no surprise that it took so long for his debut solo record to happen, but it is ...

Ariana Grande's My Everything

Pop singer Ariana Grande used her theater-kid talent to prove herself competent in her debut Yours Truly. Though her vocal chops were well represented, the singer played it too safe to impress. A year later, ...

Bite the Hand, by Three Minute Tease

Anton Barbeau’s second album with his Three Minute Tease (no hyphen) comes dedicated to his great friend and all-around under-hyped genius, Scott Miller (late of Game Theory, late of the Loud Family, late of the ...

Cheek to Cheek, by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

Cool crooner and shock popper an unlikely, entertaining pair

In a smoky, darkened nightclub, the stage is bare save for two figures singing in the gloom. A woman sits playfully at a piano as her partner sips a scotch on the rocks and smiles ...

Paperback Ghosts, by Comet Gain

Another engaging chapter by the British indie folkies

With Comet Gain's seventh album, Paperback Ghosts, the British indie-pop band stays true to its soaring folk and soul melodies with honest, straightforward lyrics. The album was inspired by the changes of autumn — specifically, ...

Erasure's Violet Flame

Vince Clarke promises us a disco extravaganza on this tour, and truth to advertising, this new set’s got plenty of shake. The slip-sliding slightly less-than-booming bass beat, a legacy from the new EDM and the ...

Prince's Plectrumelectrum

His royal badness is back and rockin' yo ass

Songwriter, producer, guitarist, and one of the hardest-working men in modern music, Prince, this week released two powerhouse albums, the solo Art Official Age (reviewed in a companion piece) and Plectrumelectrum, with his band 3RDEYEGIRL. ...

Prince's Art Official Age

Two new Prince records reviewed

The dichotomy of Prince’s sensual, yet electronically futuristic solo album Art Official Age reflects the artist’s inner search for happiness as he tries to adapt to a changing world. The opener, “Art Official Cage,” is ...

Barb Jungr's Hard Rain

Some of the righteous ones, this season, hurt to listen to. Barb Jungr’s been threshing splendor out of Dylan, Cohen, and a few others, many seasons now, and so this one comes acutely calibrated. She ...

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