Author Archives: Alex V. Cook

Matthew Davidson, Step Up (Magnet Music)

Matthew Davidson is a hell of guitar player. The scrubbed, grinning Shreveport 14-year-old, Ferris Buhler-looker demonstrates on this impeccably produced demo an understanding of tone and pacing, a sense of when to hold back and then to set a song ablaze. Producer and bassist Joe Osborn (of the famed L.A. Wrecking Crew; that’s him on [...]

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Au Ras Au Ras, The Great Nothing (Independent)

Au Ras Au Ras’ second album The Great Nothing has an appropriate amount of white space in its songs, giving Tess Brunet (alumnus of Deadboy & the Elephantmen, Generationals and Twin Tigers) ample room to resonate. Brunet’s come-hither croon against her and Johnny Campos’ deafening guitar work is delicate and spellbinding, like a vine curling [...]

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Johnny Angel, More (Deuce Records)

It’s Johnny Angel’s name on the marquee, but the stars of More are really the backing band, particularly Jeff Greenberg’s impeccability at the ivories and Tom Fischer’s tenor sax lines. And Johnny Angel delivers classics like “All of Me” and “That’s Amore” with showbiz enthusiasm, but not with quite the gusto and resonance that makes [...]

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The Normals, Vacation to Nowhere (Last Laugh Records)

Two extra-musical details: The CD/DVD package for the Normals’ Vacation to Nowhere comes with a set of 3D glasses, and when you pop the disc into iTunes, the genre category says “Religious.” On the surface, neither of these things gives away the sound this New Orleans group captured in a Memphis studio in 1979 as [...]

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Harlan, Night Loop (Independent)

“Sonic wave / You’re favorite noise” croons John Harlan Norris against a massive reverbed twang on “Daffodil,” the first song on Night Loop, the third full-length album for his band Harlan. It sounds like a complete vision for the record, like one of those novelty gel-capsules that turn into a dinosaur or monster when you [...]

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Showarama Hot Trio, Showarama Hot Trio (Independent)

The beauty of gypsy jazz is how immediately likeable it is without sacrificing one iota of sonic complexity. New Orleans practitioners the Showarama Hot Trio (Russell Welch and Alessandro Centolanza on guitar, Joshua Gouzy on acoustic bass) tip their hats to the great Django Reinhardt but maintain their own voice on this set of intimate, [...]

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Dirty Projectors Play House of Blues, August 4, 2012

The one thing I didn’t expect out of Swing Lo Magellan was to find out Dirty Projectors have a classic rock side in the first song “Offspring are Blank.” This banging of heads is but a dalliance, as the group settles into an R&B deconstruction flavored with the Andrew Sisters harmonies of Amber Coffman and [...]

Bass Drum of Death at One Eyed Jacks July 13

I happened to be in Boston with a night to myself a few weeks back when Bass Drum of Death was playing some Boston College dive bar right on the subway line. Their GB City happens to be one of the best records of last year. Things never line up like that, so when it [...]

Beth McKee, Next to Nowhere (Swampgirl Records)

Beth McKee found her audience with 2010’s I’m That Way, a rich, jazz-flecked, soulful album of Bobby Charles tunes—a smart move, given Charles’ deep well of beloved and lesser-known material, With 2012’s Next to Nowhere, Beth McKee found her voice. The percolating accordion and swamp boogie shuffle of the title track speaks to her life [...]

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Xiu Xiu at One Eyed Jacks June 7

Xiu Xiu’s cathartic take on indie rock/electronica is like a freight train constructed of frank self-realizations, hurtling toward a derailment. Stewart’s songs detail loneliness and sex and longing with white-hot accuracy, like his animal longing is wired straight into the mixing board. Levels bleed into the red from too much input. The opening track on [...]