S. Victor Aaron’s Best of 2017 (Part 3 of 4, Avant Garde + Experimental): Sexmob, Mary Halvorson, Brandon Seabrook

S. Victor Aaron’s Best of 2017 (Part 3 of 4, Avant Garde + Experimental): Sexmob, Mary Halvorson, Brandon Seabrook

January 16, 2018

Here’s the part of the annual “Best Of” lists that’s the most fun to pull together. “Avant Garde and Experimental” means “anything goes” to me, and that’s where much of the really unpredictable, alien and creative music happens. Some of that music is

Mark Anthony K on Projekt Gemineye’s ‘A Brand New Day’: ‘A Little More Guitar Heavy’

Mark Anthony K on Projekt Gemineye’s ‘A Brand New Day’: ‘A Little More Guitar Heavy’

January 7, 2018

Mark Anthony K joins Preston Frazier to discuss Projekt Gemineye’s ‘A Brand New Day,’ the second installment of a song cycle that began with 2017’s ‘An Ordinary Day.’

Jackson 5 – Christmas Album (1970): On Second Thought

Jackson 5 – Christmas Album (1970): On Second Thought

December 9, 2017

‘Christmas Album’ finds the Jackson 5 interpreting smartly selected material with an emotional maturity and sincerity far beyond their young ages.

S. Victor Aaron’s Best of 2017  (Part 2 of 4, Modern and Mainstream Jazz): Chris Potter, Vijay Iyer, Linda May Han Oh

S. Victor Aaron’s Best of 2017 (Part 2 of 4, Modern and Mainstream Jazz): Chris Potter, Vijay Iyer, Linda May Han Oh

January 14, 2018

It was easy to find jazz records that deserved a year-end salute; maybe ‘too’ easy. The heavy lifting came from figuring out which stood above the rest for this Best of 2017 list.

Lara Bello, Nick Finzer, Chris Greene + Others: Preston Frazier’s Best Jazz of 2017

Lara Bello, Nick Finzer, Chris Greene + Others: Preston Frazier’s Best Jazz of 2017

December 27, 2017

Preston Frazier’s Best Jazz of 2017 list touches on Lara Bello, Nick Finzer and Chris Greene, as well as other favorites from Joe Jackson sideman Vinnie Zummo and Lucas Pino.

S. Victor Aaron’s Best of 2017 (Part 3 of 4, Avant Garde + Experimental): Sexmob, Mary Halvorson, Brandon Seabrook

S. Victor Aaron’s Best of 2017 (Part 3 of 4, Avant Garde + Experimental): Sexmob, Mary Halvorson, Brandon Seabrook

January 16, 2018

Here’s the part of the annual “Best Of” lists that’s the most fun to pull together. “Avant Garde and Experimental” means “anything goes” to me, and that’s where much of the really unpredictable, alien and creative music happens. Some of that music is

S. Victor Aaron’s Best of 2017  (Part 1 of 4, Non-Jazz): Taj Mahal/Keb’ Mo’, Blackfield, Arto Lindsay

S. Victor Aaron’s Best of 2017 (Part 1 of 4, Non-Jazz): Taj Mahal/Keb’ Mo’, Blackfield, Arto Lindsay

January 11, 2018

Even in my jazz-centric world, I can come upon enough standout non-jazz records to put together a decent-sized Best of 2017 list.

Moody Blues’ Ray Thomas (1941-2018): An Appreciation

Moody Blues’ Ray Thomas (1941-2018): An Appreciation

January 16, 2018

The Moody Blues have an unusual hold over fans, with many believing the group has mystical, otherworldly powers. And maybe they do.

Motorhead, February 16, 2011: Shows I’ll Never Forget

Motorhead, February 16, 2011: Shows I’ll Never Forget

January 12, 2018

I saw body surfing up close at this Motorhead show, almost became an unwilling member in a mosh pit, and escaped unscathed. Who could ask for more?

Living Colour, Steve Hackett, David Crosby, Michael McDonald + Others: Preston Frazier’s Best Rock and Pop of 2017

Living Colour, Steve Hackett, David Crosby, Michael McDonald + Others: Preston Frazier’s Best Rock and Pop of 2017

January 3, 2018

Preston Frazier’s Best Rock and Pop of 2017 list touches on projects from established legends, as well as up-and-coming and criminally under-appreciated acts.

S. Victor Aaron’s Best of 2017  (Part 1 of 4, Non-Jazz): Taj Mahal/Keb’ Mo’, Blackfield, Arto Lindsay

S. Victor Aaron’s Best of 2017 (Part 1 of 4, Non-Jazz): Taj Mahal/Keb’ Mo’, Blackfield, Arto Lindsay

January 11, 2018

Even in my jazz-centric world, I can come upon enough standout non-jazz records to put together a decent-sized Best of 2017 list.

Marcus Randolph and My Peeples Peeple – Transplant (2017)

Marcus Randolph and My Peeples Peeple – Transplant (2017)

November 6, 2017

Marcus Randolph’s debut album ‘Transplant’ is heartfelt but also very loose, and it’s both of those qualities together make it a fun listen.

Chairmen of the Board – Greatest Hits (1973): Forgotten Series

Chairmen of the Board – Greatest Hits (1973): Forgotten Series

December 6, 2017

Featuring spirited harmonizing and red-hot grooves, Chairmen of the Board’s ‘Greatest Hits’ asserts the heartfelt sounds of a group primed for rediscovery.

Stephen Stills & Judy Collins – Everybody Knows (2017)

Stephen Stills & Judy Collins – Everybody Knows (2017)

January 7, 2018

Stephen Stills finds the fountain of youth by going back to one of his original muses, Judy Collins, who co-headlines on ‘Everybody Knows.’

Yes, “Holy Lamb” from Big Generator (1987): YESterdays

Yes, “Holy Lamb” from Big Generator (1987): YESterdays

January 9, 2018

Perhaps with different sonic sensibilities, Yes’ “Holy Lamb (Song for Harmonic Convergence)” could have been great.

Steely Dan Sunday: Katy Lied turns 40 this month

Steely Dan Sunday: Katy Lied turns 40 this month

March 8, 2015

This month, Steely Dan’s ‘Katy Lied’ turned 40 years old. Here are some reasons why it’s good enough to overcome an infamous mixing fiasco.

The Beatles, “Anna (Go to Him)” from Please Please Me (1963): Deep Beatles

The Beatles, “Anna (Go to Him)” from Please Please Me (1963): Deep Beatles

January 14, 2018

“Anna (Go to Him)” impacted the Beatles’ songwriting, and Arthur Alexander’s heartfelt vocal style influenced John Lennon’s intensely personal performances.

Bruce Springsteen – The River (1980): Gimme Five

Bruce Springsteen – The River (1980): Gimme Five

October 18, 2015

When Bruce Springsteen issued ‘The River’ in October of 1980, I didn’t like it very much. Time has changed that – and here’s why.

Levon and the Hawks, “He Don’t Love You” (1965): Across the Great Divide

Levon and the Hawks, “He Don’t Love You” (1965): Across the Great Divide

October 22, 2015

The Band, then known as Levon and the Hawks, released a few forgotten songs before heading to that basement with Bob Dylan. Here’s one of the best.

Toto, “How Many Times” from Kingdom of Desire (1992): Toto Tuesdays

Toto, “How Many Times” from Kingdom of Desire (1992): Toto Tuesdays

January 16, 2018

The band-written “How Many Times” might have been only O.K. in lesser hands. Instead, this standout ‘Kingdom of Desire’ track confirms the magic that was and still is Toto.

(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny, “Offramp” (1981)

(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny, “Offramp” (1981)

June 7, 2014

Some think Metheny is joking around, that he couldn’t possibly like “all of this noise.”

Chicago, “Long Time No See” from Chicago VIII (1975): Saturdays in the Park

Chicago, “Long Time No See” from Chicago VIII (1975): Saturdays in the Park

January 13, 2018

Not traditionally Chicago in any way, “Long Time No See” proves that Robert Lamm could still come up with something unique when he was motivated.

Alan Simon, “You Are the Sunshine” from Excalibur IV (2017): One Track Mind

Alan Simon, “You Are the Sunshine” from Excalibur IV (2017): One Track Mind

December 3, 2017

This has been a great year for progressive rock releases, but overlooking Alan Simon’s ‘Excalibur IV: The Dark Age of the Dragon’ verges on criminal.

Motorhead, February 16, 2011: Shows I’ll Never Forget

Motorhead, February 16, 2011: Shows I’ll Never Forget

January 12, 2018

I saw body surfing up close at this Motorhead show, almost became an unwilling member in a mosh pit, and escaped unscathed. Who could ask for more?

The Left Banke – Walk Away Renee / Pretty Ballerina (1967): Forgotten Series

The Left Banke – Walk Away Renee / Pretty Ballerina (1967): Forgotten Series

January 10, 2018

The groundbreaking Left Banke boldly expanded on the classical rock concept, paving the way for bands like Procol Harum and the Moody Blues.

Rock and Roll Music, by the Beatles, Stones, Oasis, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Odd Couples

Rock and Roll Music, by the Beatles, Stones, Oasis, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Odd Couples

June 25, 2017

For us, rock and roll was a term applied to music of the 1950s such as Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry – and was strictly to be avoided.

Savatage – Fight for the Rock (1986): Metal Meltdowns

Savatage – Fight for the Rock (1986): Metal Meltdowns

April 19, 2017

‘Fight for the Rock’ almost put Savatage’s career in a coffin before we got their best work.

Foghat – Boogie Motel (1979): Shadows in Stereo

Foghat – Boogie Motel (1979): Shadows in Stereo

January 14, 2018

The short story is that Foghat had two platinum-selling albums back in the ’70s, of which ‘Boogie Motel’ was not one of them.

All That’s Jazz, by Sammy Stein (2017): Books

All That’s Jazz, by Sammy Stein (2017): Books

December 11, 2017

Having long offered informed jazz content for a variety of publications, including this one, a book on the subject seems all too logical for Sammy Stein.

Kit O’Toole’s Top Beatles Albums, Books, Collectibles and Movies for 2017

Kit O’Toole’s Top Beatles Albums, Books, Collectibles and Movies for 2017

December 2, 2017

An expanded gift guide highlighting notable new Beatles-related items, with items that appeal to both the most-casual and hard-core enthusiasts.

Moody Blues’ Ray Thomas (1941-2018): An Appreciation

Moody Blues’ Ray Thomas (1941-2018): An Appreciation

January 16, 2018

The Moody Blues have an unusual hold over fans, with many believing the group has mystical, otherworldly powers. And maybe they do.

Joan Baez, Queen of Folk Songwriting: Gimme Five

Joan Baez, Queen of Folk Songwriting: Gimme Five

December 1, 2017

Few seem to know that Joan Baez is a gifted songwriter in her own right, composing many powerful and poetic tracks over the course of the decades.