Monday, November 28, 2011


Nothing EP

4AD Records

Nothing is both a follow-up to Zomby’s album Dedication and a bridge to whatever he does next. Dedication was a tribute to a family member who had passed away, a very stark, grief stricken, downcast album. Nothing, by contrast, brims with life, love, and happiness. Even when the music seems sad, what it’s really expressing is love. Yes, dance to it, or use as a tool to spark creativity. And like Dedication, it has great rhythms, melodies and sounds, It’s another triumph from Zomby. []

Andrea Weiss

Monday, November 14, 2011

Keys and Krates

Blackout EP


This Toronto band’s debut EP is seven songs of indie rock/electronica that steps very lively, rocks and rolls. The vocals are processed, no lyrics per se, just voices getting the party started. They are somewhat reminiscent of Fat Boy Slim, but more rocking and danceable than Slim ever got up to. By replacing 70s funk with hip-hop and modern R&B, and replacing classic rock with indie rock, their music puts them in a 2011 context. That’s a reason to rejoice. Maybe the 70s and 80s revival is finally over with, and music that sounds like today is here and that Keys and Krates and bands like them can lead the way. []

Andrea Weiss

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Today's guest reviewer is Jen Grover, author of Second Choices and The Rooks Parliament, and editor of the former Tone and Groove magazine.

Jon Anderson


Open Music, 2011

"Open" begins and ends with a delicate chime, like a formal meditation. What falls between those small tones is exuberant, joyful, and wide. This 20+ minute "single" was released on October 25, 2011, Jon's 67th birthday, as a download only, currently available on both iTunes and

Though structurally and lyrically it resembles long-form, 1970s Yes songs, it's not a rock song, nor would I call it New Age. It's a fully orchestrated sweeping epic, composed on Jon's 19th century guitar with orchestration added by Stefan Podell. The introduction functions as an overture, stating the variety of musical themes that will follow. Dawn-like at the outset, it grows from quiet to bright and sprightly, dominated by horns, until electric guitar and piano come in. Then it falls into quiet melancholy just before the vocals begin, reminiscent of the soundtrack to a grand Hollywood film (think Ben Hur) married with a bit of Ralph Vaughan Williams, accompanied by strummed acoustic guitar.

The lyrics and music suit each other artfully, building, quieting, full and grand in parts, sparser in others, always reflecting the emotions of seeking and encountering the divine and learning to express that in one's life. The themes are typical Jon Anderson: musical segments flow one into another, despite their diversity and dynamic changes. Panentheistic lyrics center on the sun as a symbol and manifestation of God, with messages of affirmation, hope, peace, love, care of the earth, and music as a reflection and celebration of life and wisdom received. A primal, danceable rhythm recurs. I defy you to not sway to it.

Jon is a gentle, persuasive preacher, as webmistress Andrea and I witnessed recently at the Jon Anderson/Rick Wakeman performance in Philadelphia. He is able to make us feel good about who we are, while admonishing us to grow and improve the lives of others as well as our own, through love, peace, respect, recognizing the same light that shines in all of us. As this song states, "Open doors will open hearts/Open hearts will always open doors." In these trying times, a song like this is an oasis of hope and joy, and a motivator for the listener to do his or her part to make things better.

Play it loud. Immerse yourself in it. Recommended listening outdoors on a sunny day. Back-to-backs rather well with Keith Emerson's "Piano Concerto No. 1".


Jen Grover []

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kathryn Calder

Bright and Vivid

File Under: Music

Sometimes dark and/or sad lyrics can be the best lyrics of all, if sung this sweetly, soothingly, and with a steely resolve, determination, and calmness. These types of lyrics can also be a source of comfort. Life will go on, it has to go on, and that whatever pain or loss you are feeling now, will bring you understanding and relief down the line, even if the loss or pain never truly goes away.

Bright and Vivid was recorded after Calder’s mom had passed away from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). The lyrics deal with her learning to cope with the loss. And most of these lyrics aren’t downers. “New Frame of Mind” the album’s best track, points to a better future, even as the line, “how many throats will I cut til I see, what is beyond the breech,” means she is going to have that release and happiness any way she can get it.

The rough folk rock of Calder’s debut Are You My Mother soared in a way very few albums did in 2010, as for example Vampire Weekend’s Contra, and the New Pornographers Together, of which Calder is a member. Bright and Vivid couldn’t be more different musically than her debut, with its very lovely melodic synth and guitar-based rock. And it soars just as high. There are very few albums that come up to its level this year, like St. Vincent’s Strange Mersey and Tune Yard’s Whokill. There are also many wonderful found sounds on it, like water being poured from a pitcher into a glass in ”Five More Years.” In the end, one of the best albums of the year. []

Andrea Weiss

Monday, November 7, 2011


The Vision

4 AD Records

Joker’s roots are in the Bass and Dubstep techno genres, but The Vision is more than beholden to either scene. It includes old-fashioned pop and beats, both good and strong melodies and rhythms, singing that is soulful, lyrics, and raps that are left wing political. “Back in the Days” is a boastful rap. The Vision is a much an album for deep listening on headphones as it is for dancing. All of which make it a wonderful and fun album, and a big reason to cheer on an album so multi dimensional.


Andrea Weiss


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