Author: Matthew Barlow

Black Thought : Streams of Thought, Vol. I

Black Thought Streams of Thought, Vol. I Human Re Sources Black Thought is better known as the frontman of The Roots, the legendary and long-standing Philly rap band that is perhaps better known to people today as Jimmy Fallon’s house band.  And as Jimmy Fallon’s house band, I have never seen much for Black Thought to do as his bandmates play music for the show.  This is a shame, because Black Thought may be the greatest rapper of all-time.  Or at least he’s close to it.  He has a smooth, velvety delivery, despite the gravel in his voice. It’s...

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The Return of The The

I read the most bizarre article in The Guardian last week.  It was about Matt Johnson and his band, The The.  The headline had me vexed from the getgo: ‘With his band The The, Matt Johnson lit up the 80s. Now pop’s bright light is shining again.’  I had this total WTF? moment.  The The were around in the 80s, yeah. And they had some hits in their native UK.  And some underground hits here on this side of the Atlantic (meaning the US and Canada).  The 1980s trilogy of albums, Soul Mining, Infected, and Mind Bomb bordered on brilliant. They were...

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Wooden Shjips — V.

Wooden Shjips V. Thrill Jockey   The mighty Wooden Shjips have returned to port, with their fifth full-length, appropriately entitled V.  Wooden Shjips are a stoner-rock band from San Francisco and have consistently turned out brilliantly droning albums since 2007.  If you don’t like the stoner-rock label (which I don’t), I can dig into my Music Critic Bag of Tricks™ and provide the other, alternative labels: psychadaelic rock; drone rock; experimental rock; minimalist rock.  In other words, labels are kinda bullshit.  But we already  know this. V. is more of the same from Wooden Shjips (in case you’re wondering, that’s...

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Ray Lamontagne — Part of the Light

Ray Lamontagne Part of the Light RCA Records Ray Lamontagne is a kind of surprising rock star.  He comes from a folkie background, but sometime around his brilliant 2014 album, Supernova, he abandoned his folk singer ways (to be fair, this was coming on his 2010 album, God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise) and delved into psychadaelia, rock’n’roll, and, well, to borrow from the NME in England, God-Like Genius.  Lamontagne not only writes a wicked hook, he’s got this world-weary dusty voice, and his music sounds like it comes from this dream-world, where, I have to say, life is better.  Lamontagne is...

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Baby Bush — Dude, It’s Rude

Baby Bush Dude, It’s Rude Independent Baby Bush are a punk band from Philly, made up of a bunch of university students.  Dude, It’s Rude is their introduction to the wider world, their manifesto, if you will.  And that manifesto is made up of some angry feminist music.  It’s soothing to the soul to hear the kids pissed off and insistent on changing the world.  Hell, this is what punk is SUPPOSED to be: angry, biting, and fast.  And Baby Bush are all three. Frontwoman (as an aside, my MacBook is telling me that that is not a word, whereas frontman, well, that’s fine) Eliana von Krusenstiern is of the Kathleen Hanna School of Punk Vocalry.  She chants, screams, and yells her words.  I am particularly fond of her work on ‘Strange Girl,’ which is auto-biograpgical, as it would seem.  As any woman will tell you, it’s exhausting to be objectified, cat-called and otherwise harassed on her way through her day.  It’s not just on this track, the entire 5-song ep repeats the same message. Musically, guitarist Emily Dombrovskaya lays down some minimalist riffs, her guitar never really getting in the way; she prefers the understated method.  Meanwhile, rhythm section, bassist Sophia Abraham-Reveson and drummer Steve Campos-Seligman, lay down a pretty classic punk groove.  Abraham-Reveson’s bass is prominent in the mix, keeping a live a long punk tradition. The joy...

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