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The Big Ears Festival Introduces Goers to New Concepts and New Paradigms

While some festivals introduce you to new bands, Big Ears introduces participants to new concepts, to new paradigms. And in a world where the ills seem greater than the remedies, Big Ears is a potent and welcome elixir.

Books

A Good Talk: The Story and Skill of Conversation by Daniel Menaker

Too many of these 220 pages feel like a one-sided conversation with a sly but talkative cocktail hour chum.

Music

Roman Candle: Oh Tall Tree in the Ear

Here are 11 refreshingly earnest and brazenly straightforward anthems that both rattle your floor and stick in your head. To this reviewer's ears, Roman Candle happily play non-hyphenated, non-adjective-ized Rock and Roll.

SAVE / IGNORE: Labels

Carnival Recording Company

Music

Cyro Baptista: Banquet of the Spirits

Far-reaching, yet efficiently crafted, Banquet of the Spirits reigns in "world" music to refine and define its own distinctive world.

Music

Stanton Moore Trio: Emphasis (on parenthesis)

This album glimmers and glows, sputters and stirs. If this music were a mood, it would be movin'.

Music

Various Artists: Assemblage 1998-2008

Cryptogramophone's triumphant 2-CD retrospective is highly listenable, accessible, and immensely engaging. What is the opposite of under the radar? Cryptogramophone is headed there.

Music

Various Artists: Phantom Guitars

Though it seems these songs could all have been recorded with the same tremolo-heavy guitar rig, each group manages to present their own thematic variation of the "same" sound.

Music

Steve Reid Ensemble: Daxaar

The Steve Reid Ensemble has taken a geographic and sonic trip to make Daxaar.

Music

Tony Scherr: Twist in the Wind

When seeking insight into what an in-demand sideman's solo album sounds like, the sensbile first step is to survey the liner notes to see which sidemen said sideman enlists to help with his project.

Books

House of Stone by Christina Lamb

This succeeds not as a narrative tour de force, but in the way it uses a simple story to illuminate the complexity and paradoxes of present-day Zimbabwe.

Mark W. Adams
Music

Susanna: Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos

The landscape created by these 48 minutes is not a wholly distinctive or sonically-varied vista, but it is one of serene and delicate beauty.

Music

Wrinkle Neck Mules: The Wicks Have Met

Richmond, Virginia's Wrinkle Neck Mules have returned with their third album, The Wicks Have Met -- thirteen songs that meld bluegrass and rock n' roll in country anthems and twangy, slow-burn ballads.

Music

The Red Stick Ramblers: Made in the Shade

Here's to a foot-tappin', energetic standout. The Red Stick Ramblers offer you a drink and tug you onto the dance floor.

Music

Twinemen: Twinetime

It's impossible not to reminisce about Morphine while listening to Twinetime, Twinemen's third album.

Music

Golden Arm Trio: The Tick Tock Club

These 12 captivating pieces practically project themselves from your speakers. Every listen conjures up a new 37-minute flick in your head.

Music

Club dElf: Perhapsody: Live 10.12.06

This evening of recorded music offers a welcome mix of dissonance and harmony, abstract subtraction, and wonderfully skilled improvisation.

Music

The Hackensaw Boys: Look Out

Admire the Crooked Jades or Old Crow Medicine Show? The Hackensaw Boys are akin to a rough-hewn former and less-ambitious, but equally irreverent, latter. Look Out won't disappoint you, or any fan of spirited oldtime music.

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Kenny Roby [Raleigh, NC]

It would be easy to assume that every decent-sized town has their own version of Raleigh, North Carolina's Kenny Roby -- a hard-working singer-songwriter and an engaging performer. But Roby is the cut above.

Music

Chick Corea and Bèla Fleck: The Enchantment

This ain't simply bluegrass banjo, and it's certainly more than "just" jazz piano.

Music

Maserati: Inventions for the New Season

Throughout Inventions for the New Season, Maserati builds a decently admirable wall of sound, but ultimately, they hang very little on it.

Music

Nathaniel Mayer: Why Don't You Give It to Me?

By the end of these 40 minutes you can almost smell the cigarette smoke, cheap scotch, cologne and sweat emanating from Mayer's powder-blue polyester suit.

Music

Earthless: Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky

One can't help but describe Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky without adjectives of lofty and extraterrestrial magnitude. The good news is that the music is worthy of such celestial praise.


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