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by Evan Sawdey

6 Jan 2016


Someone find Zachary Cale’s birthday candles, please.

No, it’s not for the fact that the Louisiana-bred, New York-based singer-songwriter is about to celebrate his 37th birthday here soon. It’s to commemorate a full decade since Outlander Sessions first arrived in the world, that scrappy little debut album that Zachary Cale famously recorded on a simple four-track with a guitar that actually wasn’t his. As great an origin story as it is, that 10-song wonder proved only to be a sign of things to come, as over the years, Cale’s own guitar mastery continued to grow, soon opening his albums up to more elaborate, flourishing productions, at one point even forming a full-band rock outfit called Illuminations just to take his songwriting to a different place.

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

18 Dec 2015


Klinger: So I forget why exactly, but awhile back I was looking over the Great List’s breakdown of the most acclaimed albums of 1985. (was I reliving my high school days? researching Tears for Fears? pretending I was working? Theories abound.) Anywho, I noticed something fascinating. One of the most acclaimed albums from that year was a 22-year-old live recording from Sam Cooke, Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963. Digging a little deeper, I was suddenly reading reviews that suggest this album was actually superior to James Brown’s Live at the Apollo  which is a strong statement to say the least. My world suddenly seemed topsy turvy. Old timey records were on the Pazz & Jop Poll. Critics were besmirching the Godfather of Soul himself. Dogs and cats were cohabitating. My intriguedness grew. I needed to lie down.

Before I did, I pulled the CD off the shelf. I hadn’t really sat down and listened to Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963 in years, but Mrs. Klinger has informed on several occasions that if she ever had access to a time machine, her first order of business would be to prevent Sam Cooke’s murder. Sometimes her love for Sam Cooke makes me uncomfortable. Regardless, after one listen I immediately understood why this album resonated so much with critics in 1985. I’m prepared to go on at length about it here 30 years later. After this week of intensive listening, I’m sure you’re ready to go on as well. So let’s compare notes. Go on, Mendelsohn.

by Evan Sawdey

8 Dec 2015


Casual fans refer to Widespread Panic as one of the last truly great jam bands, but in saying so, reveal why they are only casual fans. Only the devout know just how much farther Widespread’s musical grasp stretches.

As influenced as they were by gritty Southern rock music as they were with the more embryonic stylings of the Grateful Dead and The Band, this Athens, GA combo are going to celebrate a full three decades of existence next year, which is an accomplishment for any act, much less one like Widespread Panic, who’ve never had a radio hit to speak of, which, in many ways, is just the way they like it. Much like their ill-compared contemporaries like Umphrey’s McGee, the Panic built up their audience through touring, touring, and more touring, making each show an event in their own right, which is part of the reason that they have nearly as many live albums as they do studio recordings.

by Jason Mendelsohn and Eric Klinger

4 Dec 2015


Mendelsohn: I still have a little bit of a new music addiction, Klinger. There is nothing like getting a new record and being blown away by something I have never heard before. In reality, though, nothing sounds new anymore. After nearly a decade of Counterbalance, half of which we spent wandering the wilderness of the Great List, my brain has been trained to see through the wall of sound and start to dissect the influence behind each and every note. Some days I find the experience to be enlightening. Some days it can be crushing as it sucks the joy out of the simple experience of hearing new music. But then, that is the yin and yang of music, nay, of life itself. Pardon me for waxing philosophic, but I’ve been listening to Tame Impala’s newest record Currents and the psychedelic pop licks are starting to melt my brain.

by Evan Sawdey

23 Nov 2015


!!!‘s biography runs like this: since releasing their first album in 2001, they’ve rocked and partied hard. End of story.

After coming into prominence with 2003’s instantly-iconic groove-jam “Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)”, lead singer Nic Offer and his merry band of like-minded cohorts have moved away from their hardcore roots to become the de-facto dance-rock of the new millennium. Their songs groove, twist, and surprise, and even with a rotating group of regular members (to say nothing of the tragic passing of drummer Jerry Fuchs), they have slowly amassed an intensely devout cult following of the past decade and a half. Even with the success of “Giuliani”, the band has been touring and recording at a pretty consistent clip, often releasing one new album every three years, often shying away from the showboating controversies that so quickly sink other bands of the dance-rock contingent (whatever happened to, say, Black Kids?).

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