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by Thomas Britt

14 Dec 2011



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Liturgy

Aesthethica

(Thrill Jockey)
US: 10 May 2011
UK: 11 Apr 2011

Review [12.May.2011]

Liturgy
Aesthethica


There is no music award for getting under listeners’ skin. However, if that honor existed, it would certainly go to Liturgy for Aesthetica, the band’s follow-up to 2009’s Renihilation. Band leader Hunter Hunt-Hendrix catches endless Internet commenter grief for the lofty language he uses to describe the black metal group’s “transcendental” aims. His manifesto posits redemption and affirmation as philosophical and musical foundations within a nihilistic subgenre that rarely lets any light in. Yet Aesthetica‘s power lies not only in its ability to reveal the insecurities of listeners who would rather remain earthbound and hopeless; this is an album that completely supports the claims that preceded it. There is illimitable energy and life in these riffs and in the truly astonishing work of drummer Greg Fox, who recently left the band. Aesthetica houses some of the most uncanny sonic experimentation I’ve heard in years—at once, both virtuosic in its traditional metal musicianship and uplifting as poignant compositions of sacred minimalism. 2011 has been a good year for the genre of American Black Metal, and Liturgy’s Aesthetica is by far its crowning achievement.

by Will Layman

14 Dec 2011



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Tedeschi Trucks Band

Revelator

(Sony Masterworks)
US: 7 Jun 2011
UK: 8 Jun 2011

Review [15.Jun.2011]

Tedeschi Trucks Band
Revelator


Revelator is a joy. A perfect blend of songcraft and crack band playing, it makes you wonder why this wife/husband team took so long to come together as one. Singer Susan Tedeschi’s six-album career has been terrific, but just one star away from stellar. And the Derek Trucks Band had a tendency, perhaps, to feel too much like the Allman Brothers or too much like a “Man, you’ve gotta hear ‘em live” band. This true collaboration brings it all together as a nuanced gumbo that includes dashes of tasty organ, funked-out horn parts, gospel-driven background vocals, and always a burbling soul groove. Tedeschi sells each song with both warmth and open-throated wailing, while Trucks’s slide guitar playing carefully establishes the atmosphere and cries in solo features. A few tracks—“Midnight in Harlem”, “Bound for Glory” and “Until You Remember”—ache to draw your ears again and again.

by Chris Conaton

14 Dec 2011



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Fountains of Wayne

Sky Full of Holes

(Yep Roc)
US: 2 Aug 2011
UK: 1 Aug 2011

Review [8.Aug.2011]

Fountains of Wayne
Sky Full of Holes


It’s hard to deny the songwriting ability of Fountains of Wayne co-founders Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood at this point. They’ve been putting out mostly-impeccable power-pop for the past 15 years, and Sky Full of Holes proves that they’ve still got it. Collingwood’s affable, conversational lead vocals always sound just right for the band, regardless of whether he’s singing one of Schlesinger’s detail-specific tracks (“Richie and Ruben”, “A Road Song”) or one of his own, more emotion-focused songs (the title track). Regardless of who does the writing, though, the big sing-along hooks are impossible to resist. From the aching chorus and “Whoa oh oh"s of “Someone’s Gonna Break Your Heart” to the delicious three-part harmonies on “A Dip in the Ocean” to the unnecessary but totally fun horns in “Radio Bar”, Sky Full of Holes is Fountains of Wayne doing what they do best.

by Adrien Begrand

13 Dec 2011



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Opeth

Heritage

(Roadrunner)
US: 20 Sep 2011
UK: 19 Sep 2011

Review [29.Sep.2011]

Opeth
Heritage


Interestingly, Opeth’s boldest album since its 1996 debut Orchid was also the most natural next step for the Swedish band. Although firmly rooted in extreme metal, Opeth’s music, all written by singer/guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt, has always been influenced by classic 1970s progressive rock, and as the years have gone by that prog element has been creeping into the band’s music more and more. What’s so remarkable about Heritage is not only how deeply Åkerfeldt immerses himself in prog—there’s nary a death growl to be heard—but how it still feels like an Opeth record. Influences can be heard throughout the album, from Rainbow, to Camel, to the Moody Blues, but Heritage‘s impeccable blend of jazz, rock, and folk make it wholly original. Åkerfeldt won’t rule out returning to the band’s heavier side, but he’s also said this is the first time he’s made a record that sounds like the music he’s an actual fan of. That passion can be heard on Heritage, and is why it feels like a career-defining album.

by Evan Sawdey

13 Dec 2011



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Shelby Lynne

Revelation Road

(Everso)
US: 18 Oct 2011

Review [19.Oct.2011]

Shelby Lynne
Revelation Road


Since branching out on her own Everso label, Shelby Lynne has released three self-produced albums, one of which was a stripped-down holiday disc. Revelation Road immediately stands out as the best she’s put out so far not only because of its rich, meaty production, but also because her songwriting has only gotten better. The gorgeous country burner “Even Angels”, the damn-near-funky title track, and the tender tragedy of “Toss It All Aside” all wind up creating this one of her strongest discs ever. If you haven’t jumped on board the Lynne bandwagon yet, there is no better starting place than here.

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20 Questions: Rachael Yamagata

// Sound Affects

"After a four year break since her last album, Rachael Yamagata reveals a love of spreadsheets, a love for Streisand, and why it's totally OK to suck at playing guitar.

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