Every music journalist struggles to find a voice. Years of struggle writing endless music reviews and a writer still may not find it. However, when I read quality music reviews written by a seasoned professional, that voice can project right off the screen and as clear as if they were sitting in front of me, I can hear that voice.
Couple that achievement with actual writing skill and the act of reading a truly well crafted, eloquent review becomes a kind of… salvation.
I have scoured the internet for the clearest, most unique voices of them all and come up with my TOP TEN Most Eloquent Lines from Music Blog Album Reviews 2016.
In the pantheon of great guitarists, there are ones that come easily to mind: Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Jeff Beck, B.B. King. I’d add the Buckaroos’ Don Rich to that list. His style is immediately recognizable, and without his sonic experimentation, Buck Owens’s catalog would lack a certain verve. While Owens was always happy to dip a toe in the rock side, Don Rich’s playing upped the ante. His fuzzed-out guitar work on “Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass?” is as fresh and timely as anything recorded in 1969, and viscerally satisfying. This is pretty remarkable for someone who was hired to play fiddle.
Do you lament the lack of surf/Christmas music on your playlist? Are your instrumental Christmas albums just a little too staid? Did you know the Ventures put out a Christmas album in 1965? Did you know that it was called The Ventures’ Christmas Album and that Real Gone Records is reissuing it on CD? Did you also know that it is enormously, utterly fun?
Real Gone Music is here to save Christmas from oversinging, too-shiny production, and weird warbles with their reissues of classic Christmas albums. One of these? Ray Conniff and the Ray Conniff Singers’ The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings. Collecting best-selling choral albums We Wish You A Merry Christmas (1962) and Here We Come A-Caroling (1965), The Complete Columbia Recordings has all of the classic Christmas songs you could possibly need, done with inspired choral arrangements and a tremendous amount of charm. It’s a retro trip back to the days of silver Christmas trees and really big record player cabinets, and it’s utterly enjoyable.
By Emily Carney
The biography supplied with this reissue of John Cale’s 1992 stripped-down live album, recorded at various venues, states: “Fragments gives us Cale at his most melodic and moving, a mellowed and certainly a soberer man in a Yamamoto jacket and a lopsided haircut running through a selection of his prettiest songs.” While there’s no doubt that Cale was soberer at that time (having cleaned up his act following the birth of his daughter in 1985), this reviewer will disagree slightly with the bio, only in that not all of the songs on this offering are prettier. It’s also possible that Cale has never truly sonically mellowed out.
Once again, Omnivore Recordings gives us the Christmas gift we need: a new Buck Owens and the Buckaroos compilation. The Complete Capitol Singles 1957-1966 covers a particularly creatively fecund phase in Buck Owens’s career: the early days at Capitol, his partnership with the brilliant Don Rich, and a string of hits that defined the influential Bakersfield Sound. The Complete Capitol Singles 1957-1966 is gorgeously remastered and sounds stunningly good. Crisp, even, with that trebly production that Buck favored (so it would sound good on AM radio) sounding better than ever.
By John Lane
In the interest of immediate full disclosure, I have long been a fan (and in recent times, a friend) of Kevin Coral, the mastermind behind the band The Witch Hazel Sound. The 2001 release of the group’s This World, Then the Fireworks awoke me, and others, from what you might call a creative and inspirational torpor. If you felt like you came from Anywheres-ville, USA, as I felt like I did, then it was a beautiful discovery to note that sheer magic could be conjured in Akron, Ohio.
With her latest EP, Tender Warriors Club, the reliably wonderful Lady Lamb (a.k.a. Aly Spaltro), is consciously trying to keep an open heart. Her Tender Warriors Club website reads:
find the courage to be sensitive
be emotionally vulnerable
be comfortable with & embrace solitude
never compromise their integrity
practice self-acceptance & self-love
give an honest effort
As far as manifestos go, that’s a damn fine one. And one that is utterly prescient. And Tender Warriors Club is a welcome addition to Lady Lamb’s catalogue of delicate but fierce music. She wears her emotions on the outside, and causes us to do the same. I can’t count the times that I’ve been moved to tears by her without even realizing I’m crying. Damn.
The Blind Boys Of Alabama won a Dove Award for 2005’s Atom Bomb, but the album isn’t your typical gospel music. The songs are intended to capture the “deep and haunting feel of the Old Testament,” as executive producer Chris Goldsmith says, and they do, but as always, the Blind Boys put their own distinct spin on songs. On Atom Bomb, they are joined by a fantastic band who turn the traditional (and sometimes untraditional) tracks into swampy, bluesy explorations and canvases in which to showcase the Blind Boys luxuriant harmonies, as well as rapper The Gift Of Gab (from Blackalcious), who adds a whole other dimension.
It took until 2003 for The Blind Boys Of Alabama to release a Christmas album, but the wait was worth it. Now, Omnivore is reissuing Go Tell It On The Mountain with bonus material (as they do and do so well) in time for your holiday playlist, and it is a welcome addition.