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Big Takeover Issue #83

Michael Toland

Michael Toland began scribbling about music in 1988 for the photocopied ‘zine FHT Music Notes. He’s since written for various print and online publications, including Pop Culture Press (for whom he was reviews editor for several years), Texas Music (of which he was a founding editor), Trouser Press, Sleazegrinder, Sonic Ruin, Amplifier, Goldmine, Austin Citysearch the Austin American Statesman, Blurt and the Austin Chronicle. He was also the creator and grand poobah of the music-obsessive web site High Bias (2001-2006). He lives in Austin, Texas and works for public television.

Michael Chapman - True North (Paradise of Bachelors)

8 February 2019
At 78, Chapman, in fact, has proven himself as influential as his better-known contemporaries, enjoying a recent reissue campaign and leaving a mark on recent folk rockers like Steve Gunn, Cian Nugent and Ryley Walker.

Ralph Alessi - Imaginary Friends (ECM)

6 February 2019

The brassman pulls off a neat trick on this record: being faithful to jazz tradition whilst not falling to the traditionalist trap.

Various Artists - Goosebumps: 25 Years of Marina Records (Marina)

5 February 2019

If it’s folky, vaguely R&Bish, prefers jangle to distortion and vibraphones to reverbed snare, mixes heart-on-sleeve sincerity and arch cleverness, and, above all, remains intensely melodic, it can find a home on Marina.

Jamie Saft/Steve Swallow/Bobby Previte - You Don’t Know the Life (RareNoise)

4 February 2019

Dedicated to improvisation, the keyboardist’s omnivorous tastes and punk rock attitude keep at least one foot outside the tradition at all times.

Joe Lovano - Trio Tapestry (ECM)

1 February 2019
For Trio Tapestry, his debut for the venerable label ECM, Lovano enlists pianist Marilyn Crispell and drummer Carmen Castaldi for a more meditative program than we’re used to hearing from him.

Divine Weeks - We’re All We Have (self-released)

14 January 2019

Remember when U2 and the Alarm wrote unabashedly uplifting anthems, with simple, catchy guitar hooks, lighter-waving arrangements and lyrics that unironically championed love and joy over hate and gloom? Divine Weeks remembers.

Hamell On Trial - The Night Guy at the Apocalypse Profiles of a Rushing Midnight (Saustex)

14 December 2018

Recording everything live on his phone with little more than his guitar and his collection of New Yawk accents, Hamell eschews slick production – or any production at all – in order to put his stories right in your ear, where they’ll slither into the lizard part of your brain and leave stains.

Medeski Martin & Wood with Alarm Will Sound - Omnisphere (Indirecto)

13 December 2018

Having proven themselves the most experimental groove combo on the circuit, MM&W take another step forward with Omnisphere, a concert collaboration with postmodern orchestral ensemble Alarm Will Sound.

Western Star - Any Way How (Saustex)

12 December 2018

Like a broken-hearted romantic with a shelf full of Larry Brown books and a bottle by his side, Max Jeffers writes songs as if every record in his collection comes from either Texas or Minneapolis.

Richard Lloyd - The Countdown (Plowboy)

11 December 2018

Though it may be only for certain rock cognoscenti, the arrival of a new album from guitarist Richard Lloyd is always something of an event.

Tropical Fuck Storm - A Laughing Death in Meatspace (Joyful Noise)

10 December 2018

The hiatus of Australia’s amazing Drones was a shock coming after its upward creative arc, but all is not lost for fans of their distinctive arty psychedelic postpunk roots rock. Singer/songwriter Gareth Liddiard and bassist Fiona Kitschin keep the vision flowing with drummer Lauren Hammel and guitarist/keyboardist Erica Dunn in Tropical Fuck Storm.

Soul Asylum - Say What You Will...Everything Can Happen/Made to Be Broken (Omnivore)

7 December 2018

Soul Asylum would go on to make records with more acclaim and success, but its first two lay out the qualities that would get them there, making them as essential as anything in the band’s catalog.

Jack Drag - 2018 (Burger)

6 December 2018

With his now-signature blend of twinkly new wave and melancholic power pop, Dragonetti knocks out one sweetly melodic gem after another here, putting adult uncertainty and confusion to a catchy soundtrack.

Mark Turner/Ethan Iverson - Temporary Kings (ECM)

5 December 2018

Duet records can be a challenge, especially if neither musician is part of the usual rhythm section. But acclaimed saxophonist Mark Turner and former Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson make it seem easy.

Chris Lightcap - Superette (Royal Potato Family)

4 December 2018

Bassist/composer Chris Lightcap has an impressive resumé in the jazz field. But he also harbors a love for psychedelic and instrumental rock from the sixties, and that’s what provides the inspiration for Superette.

Wolfgang Muthspiel - Where the River Goes (ECM)

3 December 2018

Though he’s been slinging strings for a couple of decades, Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel is hardly a household name, even in the jazz world. But it’s a mark of the respect for which his peers have for him that he can attract the kind of talent that makes up his band on his latest release.

Dead Can Dance - Dionysus ([PIAS])

30 November 2018

It’s been five long years since we last heard from worldbeat iconoclasts Dead Can Dance. Fortunately, the hiatus ends with the release of Dionysus, a brand-new DCD album that’s both familiar and not quite like anything the group has done before.

Barre Phillips - End to End (ECM)

29 November 2018

Solo bass recordings often seem off-putting at first, more of a showcase for technique than anything else. But that’s only in the hands of a bassist who’s not interested in the music first. Phillips definitely is – here he comes across more as a composer whose primary instrument happens to be the double bass.

Jakob Bro - Bay of Rainbows (ECM)

27 November 2018

The second album in 2018 from Jakob Bro, Bay of Rainbows is a return to the Danish guitarist’s working trio with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Joey Baron.

Bird Streets - s/t (Omnivore)

26 November 2018

This is pop of a kind rarely heard anymore: informed by the sixties but matured in the eighties and nineties, guitar-based but not overwhelmed, high on craft but never aloof, heart on sleeve but rarely overwrought.

Andrew Cyrille/Wadada Leo Smith/Bill Frisell - Lebroba (ECM)

23 November 2018

A triumph of experimentation with jazz sounds, Andrew Cyrille’s previous album The Declaration of Musical Independence_reasserted the AACM-associated drummer’s place in the top tier of the jazz pantheon. _Lebroba, its even-better follow-up, consolidates that position.

Permanent Green Light - Hallucinations (Omnivore)

21 November 2018

An excellent combo that fell through the cracks of a confused early nineties music industry, Permanent Green Light deserves this second look more than just about anyone else from the time period.

Steve Tibbetts - Life Of (ECM)

21 November 2018

Saying an artist is one of a kind is such a cliché that it’s hard to take seriously. But how else to describe guitarist and composer Steve Tibbetts?

George Usher and Lisa Burns, The Last Day Of Winter

George Usher and Lisa Burns, The Last Day of Winter (Self-Released)

26 August 2015

The pair’s close harmonies and highly crafted writing set the foundation for a work of gentle resonance and surpassing beauty.

Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist

Steve Lowenthal - Dance of Death: The Life of John Fahey, American Guitarist (Chicago Review Press, 2014)

6 August 2014

“Being one of the greatest guitarists in the world simply is not very important to me,” John Fahey states near the end of the biography Dance of Death. “Oh, but if you took it away somehow I would be very unhappy.” Self-serving? Contradictory? You bet.

Edward Rogers Kaye

Edward Rogers - Kaye (Zip)

8 July 2014

As he adds more paint to his palette, Rogers continues his evolution into one of the more interesting and distinctive singer/songwriters out there.

Stoneburner Life Drawing

Stoneburner - Life Drawing (Neurot)

30 June 2014

Stoneburner recasts psychedelic sludge in its own image on its second slab Life Drawing.

Castle Under Siege

Castle - Under Siege (Prosthetic)

27 June 2014

Thank Lucifer classic heavy never goes out of style.

Bloody Hammers Under Satan's Sun

Bloody Hammers - Under Satan’s Sun (Napalm)

26 June 2014

Under Satan’s Sun, songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Anders Manga‘s third LP as Bloody Hammers, keeps dark faith with the first two, but more so.

Dream the Electric Sleep Heretics

Dream the Electric Sleep - Heretics (self-released)

10 June 2014

As a core of nerds know, twenty-first century prog rock takes inspiration from more than just Rush, Yes and Dream Theater.

Joe Henry Invisible Hour

Joe Henry - Invisible Hour (Work Song)

3 June 2014
For his thirteenth record, the busy producer cranks the late night vibe, calling to mind the sonic settings of his early 90s work while still retaining the jazz influences of his ‘aughties LPs.
John Wesley Disconnect

John Wesley - Disconnect (InsideOut)

27 May 2014

Disconnect marries the two sides of his session personality, as the record comes with a progressive rock soul but a mainstream rock-friendly outlook.

Greenleaf Trails and Passes

Greenleaf - Trails and Passes (Small Stone)

26 May 2014

Greenleaf started out as a side project for various Swedish stoner and hard rock musicians – a busman’s holiday for members of Dozer, Lowrider, Truckfighters and Demon Cleaner. At this point, however, the band has outlasted many of its seedpods, and gotten better with every record as well.

The Whigs Modern Creation

The Whigs - Modern Creation (New West)

22 May 2014

For its fifth album, the Athens-born/Nashville-bred trio decided to eschew extraneous effluvia and do things the old-fashioned way: write some good songs and record ‘em live from the floor.

Buffalo Killers Heavy Reverie

Buffalo Killers - Heavy Reverie (Sun Pedal)

21 May 2014

Every time a band releases a new album, it proclaims the new work its best so far. For Buffalo Killers, that claim is absolutely right.

The Blue Angel Lounge A Sea of Trees

The Blue Angel Lounge - A Sea of Trees (8MM Musik/A)

19 May 2014

The Blue Angel Lounge continues to move further away from its psychedelic roots on A Sea of Trees.

The Howlin' Brothers Trouble

The Howlin’ Brothers - Trouble (Readymade/Thirty Tigers)

12 May 2014

Trouble finds them casting ever further afield from the string band tradition, as well as folding in such previously untested elements as electric guitar and drums.

Doug Gillard Parade On

Doug Gillard - Parade On (Nine Mile)

7 April 2014
Gillard’s normal MO for his own LPs is to dial back the six-string firepower and crank up the tunesmithery, and he does that in spades here.

Little Victories Along the Way: A Conversation With Steve Wynn

1 April 2014

“ I’m never happier than when I’m onstage – I just love playing music. I love the chance to exist in the moment. You reinvent it every night – you either do something great or you fall on your face, and you get another chance the next day to do it again.”

Lionize - Jetpack Soundtrack (Weathermaker)

24 March 2014

“It’s time to evolve, man!” asserts Lionize on its fifth album, and takes its own advice.

Hawkwind Spacehawks

Hawkwind - Spacehawks (4 Worlds Media)

21 March 2014

Despite being an odd hodgepodge of remakes, stray tracks from side projects and new tunes, Spacehawks keeps the train on the track.

The Strypes Snapshot

The Strypes - Snapshot (Photo Finish/Island)

18 March 2014

The Strypes, Ireland’s successor to the Undertones in the teenage rock & roll sweepstakes, finally drop their full-length debut Snapshot in America.

The War On Drugs - Lost in the Dream (Secretly Canadian)

17 March 2014

It sounds glib to say so, but Lost in the Dream, the third LP from The War On Drugs, is just like its breakthrough album Slave Ambient, only more so.

Truckfighters - Universe (Fuzzorama)

11 March 2014

Like a darker, heavier Queens of the Stone Age or a meaner Wolfmother, Truckfighters updates classic rock for the 21st century.

The Strypes Blue Collar Jane

The Strypes - Blue Collar Jane (Photo Finish)

31 January 2014

The myth of teenagers being only interested in American Idol, Disney princesses, etc. gets further dispelled by the arrival on the international scene of this cracking young Irish quartet.

Alcest Shelter

Alcest - Shelter (Prophecy)

24 January 2014

Alcest is one of the original progenitors of metalgaze, that conceptually curious but practically successful hybrid of heavy metal and dreampop.

Leo Welch Sabougla Voices

Leo Welch - Sabougla Voices (Big Legal Mess)

14 January 2014

Who’s going to pick up the mantle of contemporary Mississippi blues? If Sabougla Voices is any indication, it’s Leo Welch.

TV Ghost Disconnect

TV Ghost - Disconnect (In the Red)

21 November 2013

On its third LP, TV Ghost puts a Midwestern spin on British gothic postpunk.

The Bottle Rockets-The Brooklyn Side

The Bottle Rockets - The Bottle Rockets/The Brooklyn Side (Bloodshot)

19 November 2013

Back during the Great Alt.country Scare of the 1990s, the Bottle Rockets were stars.

Bipolaroid Twin Language

Bipolaroid - Twin Language (Get Hip)

13 November 2013

Spiritually, however, the band comes straight out of the psychedelic 60s, especially the British variety.