Downtown 81

Nostalgia is rife right now for obvious reasons. Who wouldn’t want to retreat to a more peaceful time?But that said, I’m a New Yorker, and part of me quite enjoys the drama. My idea of escape is to return to the gritty eighties of downtown Manhattan where an artistic and musical explosion was happening after …

Steely Dan

The more I listen to Steely Dan, the better they become. Unlike other groups who tended to stick to the same tried and trusted bandmates, the Dan brought in the cream of US seventies session musicians to join them on their quest from Chuck Rainey to Larry Carlton.This band brought in jazz legend Wayner Shorter …

Rage On

Sometimes a band defines a moment and right now that band is ‘Run the Jewels.’ Their latest effort encapsulates the rage over the George Floyd murder and reaches beyond rap out into the general musical world ‘Just’ is particularly good with it’s punchy lyrical refrain “Look at all these slave masters posing on your dollars”

The Sound I Saw

Roy DeCarava documented the great days of jazz. His book ‘The Sound I Saw’ has some of the most iconic images of the medium. Perhaps even more famous for his collaboration with Langston Hughes, ‘The Sweet Flypaper of Life,’ DeCarava is now enjoying something of a revival thanks to ‘Light Break’ a retrospective of his …

Shortly After Takeoff

My favorite album of the first half of this weird year is the very strange and wonderful ‘Shortly After Takeoff’ by BC Camplight, the stage name of multi-instrumentalist Brian Christinzio from Philadelphia.Christinizio relocated to Manchester, England, a few years ago, and has created an album full of references to things like Oldham chip shops and …

Quickies

Stephen Merritt is not a man for the 5-minute guitar solo. Some of his songs are less than a minute long, and many albums have 40 tracks or more.He’s taken this to a natural conclusion on his new album ‘Quickies.’ The theme of his songs is love but love Brooklyn style. Full of wit and, …

Night Moves

A simple spoken word sound as if he was so laidback, he couldn’t be bothered to sing, Baxter Dury has one of the most distinctive and literate styles in modern pop music.The characters that populate his songs are seedy, often semi-criminal, lounge lizards who are strangely unaware of themselves. They speak to us in a …

Kiwanuka

Michael Kiwanuka’s new self titled album is probably my favorite release of the year. It’s production has a slightly early seventies feeling and is packed with hooks and choruses that would be effective in any era. In short, it’s the sort of album you can put on and leave on

Hope Downs

Released last year the Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever album ‘Hope Downs’ has an upbeat but raggedy feel, which I hope to be repeated when I see them at the end of the month Coming in at around 37 minutes it’s also short and sharp and eschews the current trend to create albums that last several …