The Album Leaf: 'In a Safe Place'

Jul 18, 2004

The Album Leaf: "In a Safe Place"

Jimmy LaValle’s classical training helped define his old outfit, Tristeza, whose intricate post-rock pastorals could have been jarring or cluttered without a subtle, steady hand. As the Album Leaf, his present incarnation, the San Diego guitarist’s strings recede into more barren terrain. Lush acoustic ...

Kenji Jammer: 'Hula Hula Dance 4'

Jul 4, 2004

Kenji Jammer: "Hula Hula Dance 4"

Japanese guitarist Kenji Jammer’s eclectic dossier includes studio work with everyone from U2 to Bill Laswell to Simply Red. His “Hula Hula Dance” CD series, however, has focused on a reinterpretation of Hawaiian-style steel guitar, sauntering past the luau for the sleek sofas of ...

Nothing like vintage tech

Jun 27, 2004

Nothing like vintage tech

It’s been said that the musical style now referred to as “electro” wriggled to life in the early ’80s, when the heavy thump of funk collided with burgeoning synthesizer technology. Jittery, bass-heavy and bombastic, electro lurked on the half-courts and back-alley clubs of New ...

De La Soul: 'Live at Tramps, 1996,' 'De La Mix Tape'

Jun 20, 2004

De La Soul: "Live at Tramps, 1996," "De La Mix Tape"

Few hip-hop fans argue the relevance of golden-age innovators De La Soul, but two recent releases from the Rhino label may cause debate. The first, “Live at Tramps, NYC, 1996,” catches the trio performing for a hyped home crowd near their creative peak — ...

RJD2: 'Since We Last Spoke'

Jun 6, 2004

RJD2: "Since We Last Spoke"

Any DJ worth his wax knows there’s more to hip-hop than beats, bravado and samples extracted from R&B vinyl. On “Since We Last Spoke,” the Def Jux label’s star spinner, RJD2, strays further from the medium’s usual rap/soul axis and delves into arena rock, ...

May 16, 2004

The Beta Band: "Heroes to Zeros"

On “Heroes to Zeros,” their third and considerably less-goofy LP, Edinburgh’s puckish loners The Beta Band deliver more eclectic, off-kilter pop, but from a point much closer to the center than kaleidoscopic EPs of yore. Where past output spun around a double-helix of acoustic ...

Sufjan Stevens: 'Seven Swans'

Apr 11, 2004

Sufjan Stevens: "Seven Swans"

In a recent interview, Sufjan Stevens confessed vocal inadequacies: his range is limited; his falsetto is strained; he lacks Patti Smith’s attitude and Willie Nelson’s cliches. However, narrative, he says, saves the music from these weaknesses. He sells himself short, but Stevens has a ...

Junior Senior

Mar 21, 2004

Junior Senior

Danish duo Junior Senior may be difficult to describe, but their message is unmistakably clear: Get on the freaking dance floor. Their debut, “D-D-Don’t Don’t Stop the Beat,” was last year’s best party album, brimming with tracks that read like cheerleading chants: “Move Your ...

Lightning Bolt emerge from tightly knit scene

Feb 29, 2004

Lightning Bolt emerge from tightly knit scene

Avant-garde hardcore duo Lightning Bolt may be the heaviest thing ever to come out of Rhode Island. Technically precise, unwaveringly experimental and deafeningly loud, their shows are known for blowing the minds (and eardrums) of headbangers and jazzbos alike. Drummer Brian Chippendale speaks via ...

Harper pushing himself to a higher plane

Feb 15, 2004

Harper pushing himself to a higher plane

Ben Harper just had a great week. First, the singer/songwriter and master of the acoustic slide guitar spoke with Andre 3000 of hip-hop heroes OutKast about going into the studio together. A few days later, guitar legend Ry Cooder called about collaborating. Then blues ...