Micro Reviews of All My CDs
(in alphabetic order)

Each day I listen to several CDs at work. I decided to play them all in alphabetic order and note what I liked about them.

Notes on Pedantry: Reviews which appear chronologically out of order are typically for albums I purchased while the project was in progress or which were originally filed alphabetically by title or genre instead of artist. Cover albums are generally listed after albums by the original band. Various Artists compilations are listed as if the band name was the album name. Quirks of capitalization in album names are generally intentional attempts at following the band's intention. When I review more than a couple albums by a band, I typically list them in chronologic order of release dates with older albums listed first. The word "the" is ignored when alphabetizing. Solo musicians and bands named after a person are listed by last name. Song titles are all quoted, album titles are not.

Note that an album's absence from this list doesn't mean I don't listen to it. I have over 75 days worth of material on iTunes which I do not wish to review at this time. In many cases, I downloaded or borrowed a popular album from a band and was then inspired to buy their other CDs. (Are you listening, music industry?)


A Band of Bees - Octopus - 6/30/2008
A pretty bouncy set of songs with some funky undertones. The lyrics are fun, though a bit hard to read given the CD insert layout.
AFI - Decemberunderground - 1/12/2009
Melodic punk with gothy lyrics. Just listening, I didn't notice how morose the lyrics were because the voices sounded uncharacteristically melodic (for punk) and the guitar work was active but not grating.
Afro Celt Sound System - Pod - 5/13/2008
Remix album of the great Irish/African/electronica fusion group. The first few and last few tracks feel like heavy-handed mixes and distract from the original quality of the songs. The tracks in the middle (especially #7) are quite good and put me in a good working groove.
Afrocelts - Seed - 5/13/2008
The group's fourth album feels both produced and natural with a consistent flow. Good for zoning in on work.
Alice in Chains - Facelift - 5/13/2008
Fairly standard grunge faire. AiC have some songs which veer from their own mold, but they aren't on this album. The lyrics on Facelift are good to growl along to, though.
Alien Sex Fiend - Too Much Acid? - 1/20/2010
Drumkit and mildly-organized noise and screaming somehow manages to be enjoyable. I'm impressed this was all recorded live.
Altan - The First Ten Years 1986 / 1995 - 1/30/2009
Lots of lovely, mostly instrumental, Irish tunes. None stood out as totally awesome, but they were all enjoyable.
Altan - The Blue Idol - 1/8/2010
A good mix of songs and tunes, helpfully labeled for those who can't tell a reel from a jig. "Daily Growing" (also known as "The Trees They Do Grow High") is particularly lovely.
Anam - Riptide - 5/13/2008
Like any good traditional Irish album, it's a mix of dancy tunes and songs which examine the soul of the Emerald Isle. The album doesn't stand out against the sea of Irish music, but it's a good listen.
Laurie Anderson - Big Science - 5/13/2008
Laurie Anderson's known for making unusual music, and some of the songs on this album are rather abstract. But the rest are downright groovy, particularly "From the Air," "Big Science," "O Superman," and "Let X = X."
Laurie Anderson - Home of the Brave: A Film By Laurie Anderson - 1/27/2010
This has some odd songs and some abstract-yet-catchy songs like "Language is a Virus" and "Smoke Rings." I'm curious what this film looks like, with all the random references to things like using the phone.
Anti-Flag - Underground Network - 5/13/2008
Strongly left-wing punk. Sometimes the message gets lost in the noise, but "Underground Network" and "Watch the Right" have catchy, insightful lyrics that shine through.
Anti-Flag - A Benefit for Victims of Violent Crime - 6/30/2008
Five studio songs, five live songs, and two short political interludes make less than 28 minutes. They take aim at the Bush administration and corporations with sometimes-clear lyrics.
Anti-Flag - The Terror State - 1/28/2010
You have to pay attention to hear the lyrics, but they're clear and catchy, though not especially insightful. Good for getting revved up against recent American policy.
Apocalyptica - Cult (Special Edition) - 5/14/2008
Cello-metal band's first album focusing on their own compositions. This is a good move, as heavy metal composed for the cello sounds better (especially on repeated listenings) than simple covers of Metallica songs. "Romance" and "Beyond Time" are especially moving. Second disc contains two tracks with vocal versions plus three live tracks. Probably not worth paying too much extra for.
Apocalyptica - Reflections - 5/14/2008
A recent album of heavy metal composed for cello. This album features a significant amount of percussion which fits in pretty well. "Faraway" is a great track and the album includes a version with vocals.
Apocalyptica - Worlds Collide - 2/2/2009
Cellos and drums strike with a heavy hand on this album. The title track is lovely and powerful while "Helden" is an interesting cover in German of David Bowie's song ""Heroes"" but the other vocal tracks aren't that great nor do the other instrumentals reach the highs set by Cult.
The Atari Star - Prayer + Prayed - 5/14/2008
Several years ago I downloaded two of their albums and enjoyed their singer's voice. Their sound is fairly standard indie (as amusing as that phrase sounds), but they're fun to listen to once in a while. I like the songs "The Assimilationist" and "Silver Montgomery."
Austin Lounge Lizards - Small Minds - 2/2/2009
Poking fun at country music, Texans, conservative politicians, and NPR in a way only those immersed in the subject can. "Gingrich The Newt" isn't particularly great ten years after the subject left power, but "Half A Man" is still a great song lampooning those who voted for his crew.
Austin Lounge Lizards - Employee of the Month - 2/2/2009
This album of satirical country music is worth it for Beach Boys send-up "Hey, Little Minivan" by itself. While familiarity with country music aids the enjoyment of this album, most of the songs cover subjects of general interest.
Average White Band - Face to Face Live - 5/14/2008
Six groovy songs and a few slow numbers. I had more fun at the show I attended than I do listening to this live album, but it's sufficient for bouncing around. The band was originally active in the 1970s, but this 1999 album (and the concert a year or two later) show they're still fun.
Average White Band - Pickin' Up the Pieces: The Best of Average White Band - 5/14/2008
I'm a little surprised these guys aren't better known; they're fun to listen to. I'm particularly a fan of their songs that really boogie, so I find this Best Of to be a little on the slow love song side.

The B-52's - Good Stuff - 5/15/2008
Listening to the B-52's is all about having fun, and this album is pretty fun. The refrains are easy to sing along to and the meolodies are basic enough to hum to yourself after the music stops playing.
The B-52's - Nude On The Moon: The B-52's Anthology - 5/15/2008
The first disc of this comilation has a beach-party dance feel to it; the second disc has more of a dance-club dance feel to it. A few tracks are live (including one which starts "This next number is also a song") and remixes, but they thankfully don't repeat other tracks in the set.
Various Artists - Back to Mine: Groove Armada - 7/22/2008
The concept of this series is essentially professionally created mixed CDs. Groove Armada did a great job selecting a mix of hip hop and R&B songs to create a very groovy listening experience. Al Green's cover of "Light My Fire" is very amusing.
Bad Religion - The Empire Strikes First - 5/15/2008
Well over a decade since they hit the scene, Bad Religion is perhaps the best-sounding contemporary punk band. In 2004 it would've been easy to make an album entirely against George W. Bush, but they keep their sights broad, challenging the whole system from war profiteers to Christian theology to Orwellian sympathizers.
Bad Religion - New Maps of Hell - 5/15/2008
16 songs cleverly playing on Christian themes and cliches. There isn't any guitar work that stands out, but they don't interfere with enunciation which is more than can be said for many punk bands trying to get out a message.
Bad Religion - No Control - 5/15/2008
"I Want to Conquer the World" is perhaps their best known song, and it's the easiest to sing along with, but the rest carry a similar message of punk discontent with the status quo. You can hear strain in Greg Graffin's voice; it's amazing that he still sounds as clear nearly twenty years later.
Bad Religion - The New America - 2/2/2009
They cover several social issues in interesting ways while maintaining a good head-bopping punk style. "A Streetkid Named Desire," "Whisper In Time," and "I Love My Computer" are all great.
Bad Religion - The Process of Belief - 4/1/2009
This album seems about 40% faster than their others, but the words are still markedly clear. "Materialist" and "The Defense" are good songs.
Joan Baez - Greatest Hits - 5/15/2008
Perhaps my favorite singing voice, certainly among women. There are Baez songs I like which are not on this compilation and the song order is suboptimal, but the songs are all good.
Joan Baez - Speaking of Dreams - 5/15/2008
Released in 1989, the production on several of the songs sounds wrong with post-80s ears. A few good compositions, but it's far from my favorite Baez album.
Joan Baez - Very Early Joan - 12/3/2008
22 lovely songs sung in the early '60s. Some are a lovely take of familiar folk numbers like "Man of Constant Sorrow" and "Freight Train." Others I've never heard before, so they're both beautiful and novel. When I think of Joan's voice, this beautiful tone is what I have in mind.
Bakra Batá - Steel Drums, Percussion and Flute: The Afro/Carribbean Rhythms of Bakra Batá - 5/16/2008
I enjoy listening to steel drums, but I rarely seek the pleasure of such, so I don't listen to this album often.. The music has a tendency to blend together from one tune to the next; it makes good background music.
Banco de Gaia - Maya - 5/16/2008
Electronic music kept interesting with a host of natural sounds, laughter, and detached phrases. The whole album flows nicely and is good for working.
Banco de Gaia - You Are Here - 5/16/2008
A lot more lyrical than their previous work, the album gives me a sense of a world in progress, a world moving, but not with the mechanistic sense many electronic music albums give. This is the antipole of Kraftwerk.
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds - 1/12/2009
A lot of people think this album is a master work of production and arrangement. I agree that, as a pop album full of somewhat sappy love songs, it's hard to beat. But for all the musical and vocal quality, their older songs about cars and surfing were more fun to bop along to.
The Beatles - Live at the BBC - 5/16/2008
A collection of live performances (during their early yeras) on the BBC with a few humorous introductions mixed in. It's got big early hits, covers (particularly of Chuck Berry), and some Beatles songs that don't get a lot of play. They were a fun pop band back then.
Various Artists - A Reggae Tribute to the Beatles - 5/27/2008
Covers of late Beatles songs by 16 reggae artists, most of which I have not otherwise encountered. The songs work as reggae numbers, fitting into a ska kind of mood, while maintaining lyrical integrity from Lennon/McCartney. Nicky Thomas's "Isn't it a Pity," The Israelites's "Come Together," and Phyllis Dillon's "Something" are all great. A rule of thumb for finding a quality cover album: if it's got obscure songs by the original artists, it's probably not just a sales gimick.
The Grass Series - Beatle Grass - 5/27/2008
Instrumental bluegrassish covers of 12 Beatles songs from the early side of their catalog. This album is neither astounding bluegrass nor astounding Beatles, but it's a pleasant toe-tapping musical interlude, reasonably good to work to.
Maziplay Pops - Beatles Greatest Hits - 5/27/2008
I imagine this is what nursing homes will put on when the baby boomers are drooling in wheel chairs in the activity room. With four tracks of uninspired piano and 12 tracks of straight orchestral arrangements of Beatles songs, this album should be relegated to background shock. The prominent placement of "Over 61 minutes of music" should have warned me that this album treats music as a commodity, not a message.
David Palmer and The Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra - Orchestral Sgt. Pepper's - 5/27/2008
I know now that orchestral cover albums are rarely a good buy, especially if many tunes feature an electric guitar. If you're considering buying this album, you presumably already know how Sgt. Pepper's goes and this treatment doesn't try anything new and inventive. I can't think of a situation in which I would rather listen to this than the original album.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - Save My Soul - 5/27/2008
This album is from the tail of the 1990s swing revival. BBVD has a very New Orleans feel. I don't like this album as much as some of the other swing revival offerings, but it's still fun.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - This Beautiful Life - 1/15/2010
Equal parts swing and big band revival, this album feels like it's better for listening than dancing, but it's a good feel. The lounge-style "Ol' MacDonald" is pretty fun.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - How Big Can You Get? The Music of Cab Calloway - 1/26/2010
BBVD does a good job of creating a big band feel worthy of Calloway without trying to duplicate Cab's famous voice or other minute details. All of the songs are fun and danceable.
Björk - Volta - 2/3/2009
Both personal and avant garde, this album rewards tolerance to cacophanous electronic accompaniment with beautiful lyrics well sung. "Earth Intruders," "Wanderlust," "Vertebrae By Vertebrae," and "Declare Independence" are all lovely. One of the collaborators (Timbaland?) sounds like a male Nina Simone.
Bleecker St. - Tumblin' Down - 5/27/2008
Boulder's best blues band Bleecker St. bring both upbeat washboard jazzy songs and slow harmonical blues ones. I often get songs from this album stuck in my head for days at a time.
The Five Blind Boys of Alabama featuring Clarence Fountain - Deep River - 5/28/2008
I don't consider myself a Christian, but I love good gospel music and the Blind Boys of Alabama rarely disappoint. This album doesn't have as many awesome performances as their releases in the last decade, but "Brother Moses" is great and the whole album is good.
The Blind Boys of Alabana - Higher Ground - 5/28/2008
A rockin' collection of gospel songs by the elder statesmen of sightless song. "Freedom Road," "People Get Ready," and "Spirit in the Dark" are particularly good and there's a nice cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground."
The Blind Boys of Alabama - Atom Bomb - 5/28/2008
While some of the songs on this album don't stand out among other gospel numbers, the great songs are really great. A piano baseline gives a lot of power to "Old Blind Barnabas," "Demons" is a surprisingly good mix of gospel and rap, and "(Jesus Hits Like the) Atom Bomb" is a great gospel rendition of a somewhat weakly sung country song that would've been lost in the landscape of half a century ago.
The Bobs - 20 Songs 20 Years: The Best of The Bobs - 5/27/2008
A varied collection of funny original songs and unusual acapella covers. A few tracks include some of the audience interaction that makes a Bobs show so fun. If you've never heard of The Bobs, pick this up and enjoy.
Booker T. & the M.G.'s - Green Onions - 5/28/2008
The title track is one of the great instrumentals of all time. A lot of the rest of the tracks are covers of early soul songs. Aside from "Comin' Home Baby," most didn't stand out, but they're all solid.
Booker T. & the M.G.'s - Soul Dressing - 5/28/2008
Their naming scheme seems to have been "Put the best tune first and name the album after it." The other songs are great too; I think these guys are the ultimate driving and working music.
Booker T. & the M.G.'s - Hip Hug-Her - 5/28/2008
At least a third of the songs on this album are outstanding, but they're subtle enough that they aren't the first ones which come to mind when I think of a random song by the group. This is the smoothest album of their '60s work.
Booker T. & The M.G.'s - The Booker T. Set - 8/21/2008
Eleven covers of popular rock and pop songs from the late 1960s, some are immediately recognizeable ("Mrs. Robinson" and "Michelle") while others sneak in without lyrics ("Light My Fire").
Booker T. & the M.G.'s - Melting Pot - 5/28/2008
Released in the early 1970s, this album has a slower, smoother feel than their 1960s material. The title track is phenominal and the others are great to groove to.
Booker T. & the M.G.'s - that's the way it should be - 5/29/2008
Over 30 years after their first album, these guys could still groove. In addition to several upbeat original songs, they cover songs by Bob Dylan and U2, among others. This album feels more jumpy and less smooth than their earlier work with more prominance given to snare drums and guitar notes plus a few rare tracks with vocals. It's still a fun album to listen to, it just doesn't provide the same cool smooth feeling.
Booker T. & the M.G.'s - Play the "Hip Hits" - 5/29/2008
25 covers from Ray Charles to Howlin' Woolf to The Beatles and other songs I don't recognize. A lot of these don't feel as "Uniquely Booker T" as covers on their main albums, but few feel like an overstretched cover.
Booker T. & the M.G.'s and The Mar-Keys - Stax Instrumentals - 5/29/2008
An album which alternates between groups every third track sounds like a recepie for confusion, but since both were house bands for Stax (and have some members in common), it's not at all jarring, though the listener can detect changes in organ style and the presence or absence of a sax. "Good Groove" is the best tune on the album.
Boom Boom Satellites - OUT LOUD - 5/29/2008
"On The Painted Desert" is one of my favorite electronica tracks ever and the reason I bought this album. The rest is good too, providing a high-energy but largely non-caustic aural experience, though without the full grandeur of OTPD.
Brother - ... pipe dreams - 5/29/2008
A so-so bagpipe rock album. "Romp and Circumstance" is a great all-instruments-blazing tune and some of the other instrumentals are pretty rockin', but their vocal harmonies don't really grab me. "All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws (minimum penalty - a good spanking)" reads the small print.
Brother - Black Stone Tramp - 5/29/2008
Much better than "pipe dreams," Brother learned a better balance of voice to instrument and bagpipe to guitar to drum. "Granny & Rory MacLeod" is a rocking bagpiperydo number and "Carry me" feels like better harmony than their previous album offered. "All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws. (and is potentially spankworthy or worse)." reads the fine print.
BT - 10 Years In The Life - 12/1/2008
Though it's more dancy and a little less heady than the electronica I usually listen to, BT has created some great stuff. The early synthy stuff isn't too hot, but tracks like "Remember" and "The Promethean Groove" are superb. The second disc flows like a single mix, good for focus. And I applaud filling almost every possible second on two discs. Certainly worth the money.
Buenos Aires Connection - Tango Argentina - 5/30/2008
Fairly standard tango music. I haven't been exposed to enough tango to know how to spot a good album, so I haven't bought much tango. It's a cycle.
The Bulgarian Voices – Angelite & Huun-Huur-Tu - Fly, Fly My Sadness - 1/19/2010
The Bulgarian choral voice mixes very well with both dual-toned Tuvan throat singing and the central Asian strings. The combination of diverse styles is sandwich-like in quality. The songs are long enough to get a meditative drone effect, but the tracks are varied so the album doesn't turn into a drag.
Butthole Surfers - Electriclarryland - 5/30/2008
Without knowing anything about the album, one could be forgiven for expecting it to be self-indulgent noise. There's some of that, but many of the songs are surprisingly calm and catchy, including "Pepper," "Jingle Of A Dog's Collar," and "The Lord Is A Monkey." And the loud raucous songs are also fun to sing/scream along to.
David Byrne - uh-oh - 5/30/2008
Twelve fun upbeat songs. They're individually not as immediately catchy as many Talking Heads and other Byrne songs are, but after I listen a few more times I'll probably add one or two to my random song head-stuck repertoire.

Cab Calloway - The Fabulous Mr. Calloway - 5/30/2008
A best-of album with such fun music. "Everybody Eats When They Come To My House" may be my favorite jazz song ever. I need to get more Cab.
Francisco Canaro y su orquestra típica - Desde el Alma - 5/30/2008
Piano tango with vocals that makes me do a little dance in my chair. It feels very much like the 1940s or so.
Capercaillie - To The Moon - 5/30/2008
The synth effects (I think that's where that sound is coming from) on this Irish album are generally used for good rather than evil. I rather like the singer's voice, especially on "Claire in Heaven" and "The Price of Fire."
Capital Steps - I'm Not Listening - 1/5/2010
Oops! This isn't The Capitol Steps, the celebrated political satire group, but an electronic artist since renamed to Square Wail. The music is simultaneously groovy and annoying, turning what would be a fun GameBoy-created album into a noisy distraction.
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica - 6/2/2008
Perhaps the Captain's least-accessible album, there's plenty of dissonance to go around. It's not a good album to put on in the background and focus on work; when the band is playing two different melodies with squeaking lyrics the listener's focus is drawn to the chaos. The folks who don't like really weird music might enjoy "Dachau Blues" and "China Pig," but they would have trouble sitting through the whole album.
Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band - Ice Cream for Crow - 6/2/2008
This album varies from the pleasant and catch "Ice Cream for Crow" and "The Past Sure is Tense" to the unusual "The Host The Ghost The Most Holy-O" and "Ink Mathematics" to the surreal semi-poetry of "Semi-Multicoloured Caucasian" and "The Thousandth and Tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole." It's all interesting, but I need a palate-cleanser between songs.
Captain Beefheart - Captain Beefheart At His Best - 6/2/2008
Fans who like the opaque melodies that would bug most people would probably disagree with the claim that these twelve songs are his best. The collection is, however, full of good bluesy-rock (or perhaps rocky-blues) which pushes the envelope rather than replacing the envelope with a Rubik's cube. A good starting point for folks who aren't yet ready for everything the Captain has to offer.
Captain Beefheart - A Carrot is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond - 6/2/2008
A collection of prevoiusly-released songs with occasional short quips between tracks, this album features slow love songs ("Observatory Crest" and "Blue Jeans and Moonbeams") and several odd songs ("Run Paint Run Run" and "Sherriff of Hong Kong"), resulting in a sampling which is neither random nor focused.
Various Artists - Steel Drums of the Caribbean - 6/2/2008
I love the sound of steel drums, but for some reason I don't get into the music for ore than a few minutes. "Pedro" is the best tune on the album; most of the rest aren't very exciting.
International Music Series - Carnival in Trinidad - 6/2/2008
Most of the songs don't seem to be about the festival preceding Lent, but they've all got a party mood. Even though the songs are by a dozen artists, they have a very similar sound, a close cousin of reggae. I didn't get really into any of the songs, but they're fun and authentic.
Johnny Cash - The Essential Johnny Cash - 6/3/2008
A two-CD set of Cash's big hits from Ring of Fire on down. The second disc has a lot of well-known live performances and duets. There's a lot to Johnny Cash that's not on this collection, but all of the songs on it are worth having.
Manu Chao - ...proxima estacion... Esperanza - 6/3/2008
In typical Latin style, this album mixes a lot of elements with precision to create a complex but smooth aural experience. While successive songs are significantly different in instrumentation, tone, and even language the whole album feels almost like it's one long tune with different words playing on an evolving rhythmic theme. When the CD finishes playing, I usually want to start it again.
Ray Charles - The Best of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years - 6/3/2008
The music of Ray Charles spans several genres and styles, but I like his early R&B, of which this album is full, the best. There's not a lot of production, so the sad songs sound like he's playing and singing by himself, just what you'd expect from someone disappointed in love.
Ray Charles - The Birth of Soul - 2/3/2009
Ray Charles visited several genres over his career, but his music that I most reliably enjoy is his work in the 1950s for Atlantic. Most of the songs on this collection are slow love songs with arrangements that work very well. It's punctuated too with some of his big swinging hits. I just wish the store'd had Volume 2 to match 1 and 3.
Ray Charles - Georgia On My Mind (Double Pleasure) - 6/3/2008
A two-CD compilation that's less exciting than it could be. Almost all of the songs are slow, and in several cases they're of a song which sounds much better in the original quick style. Some of the tracks sound like they have inferior recording quality, too. Overall, it feels somewhat ponderous with a few breaks of excitement.
The Chemical Brothers - Push The Button - 6/4/2008
A hard-hitting, groovy electronic album with lots of rap vocals ("Galvanize" and "Left Right" are quite good). My main complaint is that the album ends somewhat abruptly: "Surface to Air" makes me feel like something should follow.
The Chemical Brothers - We Are The Night - 6/4/2008
A rather dancy album with fairly meolodic vocals (aside from the incongrous but amusing "The Salmon Dance" in the middle). "Das Spiegel" and "Burst Generator" are quite groovy and "The Pills Won't Help You Now" is a great song.
Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Zoot Suit Riot - 6/4/2008
Probably the most successful swing revival album of the 1990s, this is full of good songs. The lyrics are often quite amusing, too.
Cherry Poppin' Daddies - Kids On The Street - 6/4/2008
Though they achieved fame for their swing music, CPD touched on many genres without as much success. Most of this album is so-so rock, but near the end the swing experimentation starts and things get fun.
Chevelle - point #1 - 6/4/2008
Three brothers play heavy metal that sounds a little like a simpler Tool. The album opens fabulously with "open" and "point #1." The rest can't really hold up to that level of awesome, but "blank earth" and "peer" are pretty good.
The Chieftains - A Chieftains Celebration - 9/29/2008
A solid album of traditional-style Celtic tunes. A number of folks collaborate, including a didgeridoo on ""The Strayaway Child" and Van Morrison, but it retains a very distinctively Chieftains feel.
The Chieftains - Down the Old Plank Road / The Nashville Sessions - 6/4/2008
The Chieftains play with a top-notch set of Nashville groups and musicians. Unfortunately, much of the album sounds more like Nashville than The Chieftains. There's nothing wrong with a Nashville sound, but it's not what I want when I grab a Chieftains CD from the shelf. "Molly Bán" (with Alison Krauss) and "Give the Fiddler a Dram" (a medly with several folks) have a good Irish feel, though.
The Chieftains - Santiago - 1/14/2010
A great collection of tunes with collaboration from Galacian and other Latin musicians. The Galacian bagpipe works really well with the Chieftains sound and the diversity of styles on the album work well together. On many tracks, it sounds like the old Chieftains but with an international flavor.
Choralschola Der Wiener Hofburgkapelle - Gregorian Chant - 7/21/2008
The acoustic quality is quite good, capturing a sense of distance from the singers.
Chumbawamba - Tubthumper - 6/10/2008
Made quite popular by "Tubthumping," this album is a well-crafted work of strong pop/rock with well-placed sampled songs. Chumbawamba is able to create music which is both commercially accessible (suitable for ambiance while having a drink in a pub) and social commentary, though the latter is not always immediately clear when listening at the surface level.
Chumbawamba - WYSIWYG - 6/10/2008
A fun album which pokes at telecomuting, the Internet, gated communities, Charlton Heston, Jerry Springer, and others. The songs are all great for singing along.
Chumbawamba - A Singsong and a Scrap - 6/10/2008
This minimalistic acoustic album is a big change from the band's earlier highly-produced work. Some songs, including "Walking Into Battle with the Lord" are rather a capella; others like "The Land of Do What You're Told" have a simple guitar and string accompanyment. The lyrics are still thoughtful, but are a little more opaque than their older material. It feels like a calm folk album.
The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem - Irish Drinking Songs Come Fill Your Glass With Us - 6/10/2008
Great traditional Irish music and songs. I particularly like "Rosin' The Bow" and "Johnny McEldoo."
Clannad - Fuaim - 9/29/2008
A fine batch of songs and tunes in the traditional Irish style. Enya's keyboard experimentation on "Buaireadh An Phósta" and elsewhere are subtle and interesting without being overpowering the way the rest of their 1980s synth could be.
Clannad - Magical Ring - 12/4/2008
Ten pleasant songs. "Theme from Harry's Game" and "Coinleach Glas An Fhómhair" are great; many of the rest aren't as exciting.
Clannad - Legend - 12/4/2008
As the 80s grew, so did Clannad's use of the synthesizer. This album features lots of swells and "oohs" and sounds for a foggy day on the heath. As a TV soundtrack it's pretty good; I especially liked "Battles." As Irish music, it's a bit weak.
Clannad - An Díolaim - 6/11/2008
A compilation of mostly Gaelic songs. I love all of the vocals on this album; the quiet instrumentation supports it nicely.
Clannad - Sirius - 6/11/2008
The lyrics on this album are decent, but it succumbed to the oversynthizization of the 1980s and it's hard to get past the artificial sounds. A few songs, especially "White Fool," are worth listening to.
Clannad - Landmarks - 6/11/2008
Though electric keyboards are still present, Clannad had abandoned the synthesizer overindulgence by the 1990s, resulting in a pleasant, though not particularly remarkable, album. I particularly liked "A MihuirnínÓ."
Clannad - Crann Ull - 4/1/2009
A lovely batch of traditional songs in Irish. Harp, fair-voiced ladies, light drum and guitar... just the Ireland we've romanticized.
Clannad - Lore - 1/14/2010
Soft and new-agey songs in English and Irish. Synthesizers are minimal and the album is quite relaxing, but also somewhat boring.
Márire Brennan - - 1/6/2010
A Clannad "solo" album, this doesn't sound much different than the full band's synthesizer and airy vocals phase. I didn't get excited about any of the songs.
The Clash - London Calling - 2/2/2009
Known as one of the best punk rock albums in history, this album is a lot more dynamic than what has become the typical punk sound, due in large part to Stummer's rhythm guitar work. Most of the songs are great fun and socially meaningful, so I'm not sure why I didn't like this album the first time I listened to it a decade ago.
The Clash - London Calling - 3/31/2009
Featuring the band's quintessential sound, this album is fun, though not as iconic as some of their later songs. I liked "Tommy Gun" and "Julie's Been Working for the Drug Squad."
Various Artists - Classic Rock superhits - 6/11/2008
Many of the ten songs are good rock, but there's not much reason to listen to this particular set of ten songs together. This sort of thing is superceded by downloading singles.
Les Claypool - Of Whales and Woe - 9/29/2008
An exploratory studio album with Les, his family, and friends. Some of the songs get pretty weird as Claypool takes on guitar, percussion, and effects. If you think Les Claypool is a little too weird, stay away from this album. Otherwise, dive right in.
Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains - The Big Eyeball in the Sky - 6/11/2008
This irreverant collaboration between Les Claypool, Buckethead, Bernie Worrell, and Brain has some social commentary on George W. Bush and the media as well as some songs meant mostly for fun. The musician's mix of styles works quite well.
Colonel Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade - Live Frogs Set 1 - 6/12/2008
Listening to this CD, I feel like dancing around with a bunch of fun folks. The live format really works for this set of songs, they lend themselves well to long jams.
Colonel Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade - Live Frogs Set 2 - 6/12/2008
I find it amusing that they released a live performance of the entirety of Pink Floyd's album "Animals." I like the original better, but some of the instrumental segments are pretty sweet.
Jim Cohn - Unspoken Words - 6/12/2008
A collection of songs and accompanied poems by a local poet/musician. I only have this album because my dad recorded the tag-team performance of Allen Ginsberg's "Lay Down Yr Mountain," which is great. A few of the other songs are good too, but it takes a little more focus than I have while working on other stuff.
Colcannon - Trad. - 6/13/2008
This album of all traditional songs and tunes is very pleasant. Unlike many of their earlier albums, it doesn't have any silly or really sad (English-language) songs so it doesn't break the listener out of mood or focus.
The Progressive Sounds Of Combustible Edison - Schizophonic! - 6/13/2008
This is one of the grooviest albums I own. The vibes, guitars, and vocals mix together really well and create a great ambiance.
Jesse Cook - Tempest - 6/13/2008
Breeze from Saintes Maries was one of the first MP3s I ever downloaded and it's so fantastic I bought the album when I found it. Other great songs are "Tempest" and "Jumpstart," but the whole album is happy up-tempo flamenco and rhumba.
Jesse Cook - Montréal - 6/13/2008
There's a lot of energy in this live recording. The crowd is into it, the players are hot, and the drums are more prominent than in some of his other albums. There's more vocals too -- the album opens with "Beloved," with some Arabic-style chanting and closes with "Fall At Your Feet," a lovely song.
Jesse Cook - Frontiers - 7/31/2008
With fast percussion-heavy rhumba, slow flamenco, and two songs, the flow of the track order is important to this album's quality. Apparently "Café Mocha" has charted as far away as Japan, but I think some of the other tunes are even more fun.
Jesse Cook - Vertigo - 1/26/2010
Alternating slow and fast tunes flow really well. "That's Right!" brilliantly adds accordion to flamenco guitar, a good Canadian mix. Percussion is used well throughout, including the six-and-a-half minute hidden track which is some of the most fun flamenco I've heard, with excellent palmas clapping.
Coverdale • Page - Coverdale • Page - 6/16/2008
Jimmy Page made an album with David Coverdale, who can wail somewhat like Robert Plant. This album is, unsurprisingly, more full-on electric guitar than many Led Zeppelin albums, blending into a long series of vocal and guitar wailing without the blues roots or clear lyrics that make Page and Plant worth listening to.
The Cranberries - Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can't We? - 6/16/2008
The Cranberries first full-length album is full of sweet songs about lost and unrequited love. The guitars weren't as heavy as some of their later work and the lyrics hadn't yet branched out to the other Cranberries themes of premature death and new beginnings. For anyone who dislikes their later works, this album could remain enjoyable.
The Cranberries - No Need To Argue - 6/16/2008
This is perhaps the best Cranberries album for singing along, offering some opportunities for aggression ("Zombie"), high notes ("Empty"), mournful ("Daffodil Lament"), and pensive ("No Need To Argue").
The Cranberries - To The Faithful Departed - 6/16/2008
An album of songs about death, war, and drugs could be really depressing. This one's strong enough to be mournful without being overbearing... at least most of the time.
The Cranberries - Bury The Hatchet - 6/16/2008
In a bit of a departure, this album has some songs in which the protagonist is happy. It's balanced, of course, by a song about child molestation. But if other Cranberries albums get you down, give this one a try, possibly skipping "Fee Fi Fo."
The Cranberries - Wake Up And Smell The Coffee - 6/16/2008
This album feels like the singer is wishing the listener well, that life will be good, despite all the previous Cranberries songs. Some sound happy, like "Analyze," while others sound bittersweet like "Chocolate Brown." Just like a cranberry, I suppose.
The Crystal Method - Vegas - 6/17/2008
A solid album of medium-heavy electronica with enough variation to be interesting. I particularly like "High Roller" which samples (or creates) some verbal communications between a space center and astronauts. This is a good album for focusing on work.
Cusco - The Best of Cusco - 6/17/2008
I had a few Cusco tapes as a kid in the 1980s. I remembered some of the tunes as pretty good, so I got a used Best Of CD when I found it. While some of the songs are rather lame '80s string synth, "Montezuma," "Didgeridoo," and "Quetzal's Feather" are actually pretty enjoyable; you could almost overlook the synthy sound.
Cut Chemist - The Audience's Listening - 12/21/2008
Great beats (many from real drums) and interesting DJ work make for a fun, upbeat album. "The Garden" works excellently with a capoiera song and "What's The Altitude" is a fun hip-hop number.

Gino D'Auri - Flamenco Mystico - 6/27/2008
Most of the tunes on this album are long, slow, and quiet. They feel a bit like lullabies, a relaxing sojourn through a guitar. I prefer the faster side of flamenco, though.
Days of the New - Days of the New (yellow) - 6/18/2008
Back in the early days of automated Internet radio, I heard "Shelf in the Room" and thought it was awesome. The whole album holds up, with heavy acoustics and insightful lyrics about struggles and success in life. I heard them described as "post-grunge," with the simplicity and intensity of Seattle in the early 90s, but without the feedback loops and in-your-face push.
Days of the New - Days of the New (green) - 6/18/2008
This features the same songwriting skill and raw acoustic power of the first album. It adds some fun elements like a barnyard chorus and some well-placed synthetic sounds on songs like "Enemy." This album is good for focus, for contemplation, and for singing along.
Days of the New - Days of the New (red) - 6/18/2008
Between the switch to electric guitars and the symphonic interludes between some songs, this album feels like Travis Meeks got lost somewhere between writing songs and creating records. "Die Born" is well written and performed and "Dancing with the Wind" makes reasonable use of symphonic elements, but the rest of the album is too big and therefore underwhelming.
Dead Can Dance - Dead Can Dance - 6/18/2008
This album sounds kind of like an unusual ethnic festival happening at the other end of the tunnel. That's not meant in a negative way, and may be what they were going for. The group's later work often does a better job of grabbing the listener, but their eponymous album does a fine job of setting a spooky mood. The CD ends with the EP "Garden of the Arcane Delights," which has emerged from the tunnel and sounds more familiar, but maintains the spooky feeling.
Dead Can Dance - The Serpent's Egg - 6/18/2008
This album is particularly suited to rocking back and forth and humming along. The meaning is wrapped in alternating layers of gossamer and wool, a casual listen doesn't unwrap much that is there. "The Host of Seraphim" is one of the best album openers I've heard.
Dead Can Dance - Spiritchaser - 6/18/2008
This album gives me a sense of traveling down a river. With both Brandon and Lisa singing in non-English, it sounds quite foreign, far from the odd British countryside feel some albums give.
Paco De Lucia, Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin - The Guitar Trio - 6/19/2008
I got this album because I heard their awesome Live in San Francisco recording. This album doesn't have the vibrant energy that the live one brings forth, but it's full of good Spanish guitar nonetheless.
DeVotchKa - SuperMelodrama - 11/3/2008
The group's first album sounds a bit like a drunken waltz party. It's very lively and the music is all right on, melded with Nick Urata's wailed and muddy lyrics. I noticed the tuba's absence; I think it's key to the band's later sound.
DeVotchKa - Una Volta - 11/3/2008
This album is less chaotic than their first, and their concerts for that matter. A few songs are slow, but the energy isn't dropped. "Deathy by Blonde" and "One Last Vow" have some fantastic instrumentation.
DeVotchKa - How it ends - 7/2/2008
I love the feel of this album, its confluence of Mexican and gypsy. I love the tuba riffs on "twenty-six temptations" and the wild abandon on "we're leaving." I hate the fact that I never get around to seeing them live.
DeVotchKa - A Mad & Faithful Telling - 6/30/2008
This album has less jump-up-and-dance energy than other DeVotchKa music I'm familiar with. In isolation, the lyrics of ucontemporary isolation sound miserable, but set to music they induce a swaying social catharsis, suggesting perhaps a gypsy wake.
Didgeridoos - Sounds of the Aborigine - 6/19/2008
I used to be really into didgeridoos, fascinated by the droning vibrations. While I still think the sound is cool, I don't really get into listening to a didg with light percussion and nature sounds for three quarters of an hour. It might be good for meditating, but I'm not in the habit of putting on music and closing my eyes.
DJ Krush & Toshinori Kondo - Ki-Oku - 12/2/2008
Trumpet and spun beats and bass create a very groovy jazz album. DJ Krush makes the turntable an instrument rather than a production tool. This album is good for focus; tracks are similar enough to keep a groove but different enough to avoid repetitivity despite loops.
DJ Logic - presents Project Logic - 6/19/2008
It's hard to tell how much of a track's quality is due to the turntablist compared to the original artists, but there's a lot of good music on this album. "Abyss," "Eyes Open (but Dead)," and "Spider Dance" are all great. The source material is all jazzy, but it shifts significantly from track to track making listening to the whole album a little jarring.
DJ Shadow - The Outsider - 12/4/2008
Shadow collaborates with about a dozen singers and rappers on some interesting songs. At a concert he said "I'll put on a rap song to piss off the indie rockers and then I'll play a folk song to make the hip hop kids go huh?" The album feels mostly hip hop, but there's a lot of instrumental interludes and sweet-voiced singers like Chris James and Christina Carter ("What Have I Done"). "Backstage Girl" (Phonte Coleman) is a pretty entertaining rap.
Donna The Buffalo - Positive Friction - 1/13/2010
It's got twang, but it's got enough rock that people who "don't like country" can enjoy it. "Movin' On," "Riddle of the Universe," and "Family Picture" are all particularly good.
The Doors - Greatest Hits - 6/19/2008
The Doors have released more compilation albums than they released studio albums. There is no shortage of ways to get songs like "Light My Fire" and "Riders on the Storm." This album provides "Ghost Song" and an Apocalypse Now version of "The End" as well as an "enhanced CD" portion with a Ghost Song video and some extras that don't run on a contemporary operating system.
Jim Morrison, music by The Doors - An American Prayer - 6/19/2008
An album of poetry mixed with musical segments from The Doors's history. Many of the poems have the ethereal sense that Morrison is famous for and the musical presentation is quite carefully constructed. One can listen to this as an album of songs, letting the sounds of the words and general sense of meaning percolate through the conscious mind. This is not true of many collections of spoken poetry.
Rob Dougan - Furious Angels - 6/20/2008
"Clubbed To Death" (featured in "The Matrix") is one of the grooviest songs I have. Most of this album sounds like it belongs in film soundtracks: sweeping symphonics, non-invasive electro beats, and progressive (as in building, not as in political) lyrics. The songs don't necessarily fit together, so this album might be best when shuffled with other trip hop. The second disc contains instrumental versions of most of the first disc. These are quite enjoyable and, since an hour passed since the vocal version, sound familiar but not redundant.
Dr. Didg - Serotonality - 6/20/2008
I listened to this album a few times and somehow got the impression that it was pretty lame, so I didn't listen to it again for years. It's actually not bad, with a good mix of didgeridoo, guitars, and electronic elements which flow well with the didgy drone.
Dr. Didg - Dust Devils - 12/1/2008
A very groovy mix of elements. "T'Boli" and "Sub-Aqua" are both awesome and feature a keyed didg. "Harry's Multimix" is well-done and "Arrhythmia" is quite chill.
Dropkick Murphys - The Warrior's Code - 4/1/2009
High volume bagpipes, electric guitars, and guys shouting. This is ideal music for a party with lots of beer or scotch, some old and new friends, and at least one or two guys with Scottish ancestry. While more enjoyable than a lot of punk, Flogging Molly's Irish version sounds better to my ears.
Marty Durlin - Cosmic Polka and other songs from the body of life - 6/20/2008
I've got this album because my dad recorded it and Marty's an old friend. "Just Off the Oval Office" (about the Clinton/Lewinski scandal with the great line "What I thought was love / You said wasn't even sex"), "Cosmic Polka," and "Dear Jane Fonda" are all quality songs. Some of the others are expressions of the artist, collected over time. It's not something with wide commercial appeal, but that's not what Marty's about, anyway.

Earth, Wind & Fire - Last Days and Time - 6/23/2008
This album doesn't contain the EWF hits one is likely to encounter. It is a calm and groovy album with some smooth guitar melodies and soothing vocals. It's not for a dance club, but I'm not trying to dance right now.
Earth, Wind & Fire - All 'N All - 6/23/2008
The first two songs are pretty rockin', but most of the album consists of slow love songs. It's quite a relaxing listening opportunity.
Earth, Wind & Fire - I Am - 6/23/2008
This album is full of good songs to sing along to, from "In The Stone" to "After The Love Has Gone" to "Boogie Wonderland." The horn section is pretty strong, too.
Earth, Wind & Fire - Faces - 6/23/2008
At times this album is too full, guitars, horns, and others competing for the listener's focus. I suppose this is symptomatic of its 1980s release. Also in that reflection, the melody of some tracks feels a bit like disco. It's a good album to play while other things are going on.
Earth, Wind & Fire - Millennium - 6/23/2008
This album veers quite away into synthy sappy love songs, but the kalimba keeps it a level above much other R&B of that sort.
Earth, Wind & Fire - The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire - 6/23/2008
"Fantasy," "Shining Star," and "September" are all awesome and the other 7 songs are pretty fun too. The two "Megamix" bonus tracks (one a radio edit) are somewhat lame, but at least they include portions of songs not on this disc. EWF albums are consistently good enough that Best Of albums are good but insufficient.
Duane Eddy - Twangy Guitar / Water Skiing - 6/23/2008
Twangy Guitar, the first of the two reproduced records, is full of excessive string section flourishes which drown Eddy's signature guitar in a sea of lame. Water Skiing, on the other hand, is a fine lot of early instrumental rock & roll that would lead into a wave of surf bands in the 1960s.
International Music Series - English Folk Collection - 6/24/2008
I got this album because it was $2 and I don't think it's worth any more than that. "Manchester Rambler," by Ewan MacColl/Peggy Seeger, "Doctor Calls" by June Tabor, and "Wired to the Moon" by Promises are pretty good. On the other hand, "Ancient Beatbox" sounds like almost like Depeche Mode trying to play folk. Pentangle-quality it's not.
Esquivel - Cabaret Mañana - 2/3/2009
Latin-influenced lounge music from another dimension. These tunes are groovy and interesting, worthy of intense study or music at a party. "Mucha Muchacha" is pretty funny. I'll keep an eye out for more music by Esquivel & His Orchestra.
Esteban - Enter the Heart - 6/24/2008
A nice mix of dancey flamenco (including a few tracks with a nice horn section) and some of a softer, sweeter variety. "Blue Lotus" is an interesting mix of flamenco and raga, Spanish guitar and Indian sitar.
The Everly Brothers - Walk Right Back: The Everly Brothers on Warner Bros. 1960 to 1969 - 6/24/2008
A two disc set with 50 songs in all the rockabilly, fraternal-harmony, simple-early-rock-n-roll they're justifiably famous for. There's not a bad song on this compilation.
Cesaria Evora - Cabo Verde - 6/25/2008
Evora's beautiful voice and the strumming and shaking behind it transport the listener to the swirling mists of the idealization of her native country.
Cesaria Evora - Miss Perfumado - 9/29/2008
There's a ritualistic simplicity to Cape Verdean music that draws the listener in for enrapturement of one of the world's best singing voices. "Sodade" is a song every human should hear.
Cesaria Evora - Café Atlantico - 6/25/2008
This album feels a bit like a party is going on with dancing, drinking, and socializing. A lot of the songs feel more upbeat, with the feeling of sodade kept for a time in the back of the revelers minds.
Cesaria Evora - Voz D'Amor - 6/25/2008
These songs linger, moving somberly from one to another. It's the slow procession of one in love; sometimes walking with the beloved, sometimes walking alone. In the former, the lover doesn't want the moment to end. In the latter, the lover knows the moment won't pass faster, but may pass more beautifully.
Explosions in the Sky - How Strange, Innocence - 6/25/2008
Though the band consists of drums, three guitars, and a block of amplifiers, this album is rather peaceful. Unlike "The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place," I don't have refrains echoing through my mind after listening to this album. It's more like I've just returned from a pleasant walk, mind meditatively clear.

Faith No More - The Real Thing - 6/25/2008
The basis is heavy metal, but the songs rise well above that standard. "Zombie Eaters," "The Real Thing," "Underwater Love," and "Edge of the World" are sweet, if somewhat morbidly so. The rest are pretty fun.
Faith No More - Angel Dust - 6/25/2008
Many of the songs on this album sound juvenile and noisy, but there are a few good tracks. "MidLife Crisis" is the most fun song about menstruation I've ever heard. I like "Everything's Ruined" and "A Small Victory" while "Midnight Cowboy" is a great album-ending instrumental which doesn't fit in with the rambunctiousness of the rest of the album.
Faith No More - Album of the Year - 6/26/2008
I rather like the songs on this album, though it's hard to articulate why. The lyrics are clear, for one. And the electric guitars are used a bit like some groups use string sections in rock. But it works much better when guitars do the swelling.
Fanna-fi-Allah - Annihilation into the Infinite - 1/7/2008
A Qawwali party maximizes the amount of music on a CD. I don't know this music well enough to compare the quality of performances, but this album did a good job of trancing me into what I was working on.
Fatboy Slim - Better Living Through Chemistry - 6/26/2008
Despite some odd samples and weird directions, this is a surprisingly groovy album of interesting electronic music. "The Weekend Starts Here" is a great chill-out number and I rather like "Santa Cruz," "The Sound of Milwaukee," and "Next to Nothing."
Fatboy Slim - You've Come a Long Way, Baby - 6/26/2008
Most of the tracks on this album are very repetitive. They start out annoying, but after a minute or I can get into them and bounce around. "Right Here, Right Now" opens the album in a less-annoying vein. It and "Praise You," would be worth listening to with some frequency.
Fatboy Slim - Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars - 6/30/2008
This feels a bit like Fatboy's answer to Moby's album "Play" with extensive samples of gospel, blues, and speeches from black community leaders (and also Jim Morrison, just to keep things complex). But while the focus of "Play" seems to be dance, this album is more contemplative, offering the user space to think about the sampled words.
Fatboy Slim - Palookaville - 9/30/2008
A wide array of samples and sound varieties leads to a bunch of interesting songs, but doesn't give much cohesion to the album. "The Journey" is a neat little ditty, the cover of "The Joker" is amusing.
Perry Farrell - Song Yet To Be Sung - 6/26/2008
Best known as the singer for grunge/alt-rock pioneers Jane's Addiction, Farrell's solo album is instrumented primarily by drum machines and other manufactured sounds. There's nothing spectacular about the album, but the vocals and instrumentals mix well enough to be enjoyable. "Happy Birthday Jubilee" + "Song Yet To Be Sung" and "To Me" are my favorite songs on the CD.
Firesign Theatre - Give Me Immortality Or Give Me Death - 6/26/2008
The Firesign Theatre were pioneers of comedy albums with sly references in a generation before mine. This album is set up as a radio news crew just before the millenium. In addition to commercial media and apocalypse nuts, they take shots at Princess Diana and the events around her death, the OJ Simpson chase, and advertisers. There's some pretty funny bits and the whole thing runs together nicely.
The Flaming Lips - Transmissions From The Satellite Heart - 6/26/2008
The songs on this album are pretty weird, back in their "punish the fans" mode before they realized they could have fun making music that's not hard to listen to. ""She Don't Use Jelly" is a lot of fun and "Turn It On" and "Slow Nerve Action" are interesting, but the album as a whole is a small challenge.
Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - 6/27/2008
The first offering by the groundbreaking banjo-led jazz group doesn't seem so astounding eighteen years later. The picking is supurb from Fleck and the other players and it works well as active but calming jazz.
Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - UFO TOFU - 6/27/2008
This album has several musical themes it returns to periodically, but in between it takes some rather impressive detours. I particularly like "Nemo's Dream," "UFO TOFU," and "The Yee-haw Factor."
Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - Three Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - 6/27/2008
There's not a lot that distinguishes one early Flecktones album from another. This can be a good thing for mixed CDs or listening to all the albums in order; you don't have to worry about breaking mood. "A Celtic Medly" and "The Longing" are both quite good.
Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - Live Art - 6/27/2008
I was disappointed to discover one of the first CDs I owned developed a scratch recently. Fortunately iTunes was able to import it so I can listen to two discs of banjo, bass, and synth-axe drummitar without interruption. A lot of the tunes have great energy, in part thanks to various musicians who sit in with the band, particularly on strings. "New South Africa, "Bigfoot," and "The Message" are quite good. I'm not sure if I really like the rest because they're fantastic or because I've heard them so often that they have worn a groove in my musical memory, but there's certainly not a bad performance on this album.
Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - Outbound - 6/30/2008
The first part of this album is spacier than their 1990s material. I particularly like the other-placeness of "Hall Of Mirrors." The second half is a little more down to Earth, but still groovy.
Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - The Hidden Land - 6/30/2008
This album has more prominent banjo, or perhaps just more subdued other instruments, than many other Flecktones works. "Who's Got Three?" and "Subterfuge" stood out as really cool.
Flogging Molly - Float - 7/2/2008
It's hard not to bounce in your seat while listening to this album. Their use of traditional Irish instrumentation and styling is extensive and well-mixed with the punk energy. "(No More) Paddy's Lament" is one of many excellent songs.
Fluke - Risotto - 7/2/2008
The first two tracks ("Absurd" and "Atom Bomb") are great throbbing vocal singles only loosely connected with the progressive ambience of the rest of the album. "Bermuda" and "Amp" are both great and the whole CD is good for focusing on the task at hand.
The Flying Burrito Brothers - Sin City - 7/2/2008
This seems like an odd conert to publish since the band sounds a bit off. I'm not sure if they normally sing not-quite-together, but it's not particularly enjoyable listening. The four encores (two labeled #1) are better, though.
Various Artists - best of FOLK ROCK - 7/2/2008
Ten hits from the late sixties include some that are political ("Eve of Destruction") and some that are just poppy ("You Were On My Mind"). The songs are good, but they needn't be played all at once.
Smithsonian Folkways - A Vision Revisited: The Original Performances of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly - 7/2/2008
All three performers have more than enough material on their own, but the cyclic songs on this album are a good introduction to the listener unfamiliar with their works. The songs are all great and the performances vibrant.
Michael Franti & Spearhead - Stay Human - 7/2/2008
This album's setup with scripted radio segments about an impending execution makes listens beyond the first a little tedious. The lyrics are good and the songs and dialogs flow well enough that the music remains enjoyable.
Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand - 7/3/2008
In an age of remixes and production, it's good to see there are still young Brits who can rock out. Every song is fun and high energy, my favorite is "the dark of the matinée," but they all occasionally get stuck in my head. The five songs on the bonus disc aren't too derivative, but not worth paying a lot extra for.
Franz Ferdinand - you could have it so much better - 7/3/2008
While the songs don't feel quite as iconic as the ones on their eponymous debut, they've got the same driving drum beat, energetic guitars, and sweet harmonic vocals. While I listen to this album, each song in turn is my favorite. None are better and none are worse.
Robert Fripp, The League of Gentlemen - God Save the King - 7/3/2008
This album is essentially 44 minutes of semi-frenetic electric guitar picking. It's an impressive display of skill and not a bad listen, but it doesn't really grab me.
Various Artists - Funk: The Language of New Orleans Volume 8 - 7/3/2008
My mental prototype of funk comes from the 1970s; this compilation sounds half-way between those bros with fros and New Orleans jazz. Rhudabega's "Joseph" is probably the only funk song I've heard featuring a banjo and Cyril Neville's "Fonkaliscious" sets out a righteous groove.
The Future Sound of London - Dead Cities - 7/7/2008
FSOL creates very lush soundscapes. This album in particular is an odd but workable balance between calm and spacey music and bursts of noise and chaos.
Various Artists - Future Soundtrack for America - 7/7/2008
Profits from this album went to "non-profit progressive organizations working to involve more Americans in our political process..." As one might expect from a diverse compilation focused on message, the selections don't all fit together well. Several individual songs are good, particularly Mike Doughty's "Move On," will.i.am's "Money," and Fountains of Wayne's "Everything's Ruined." Several well-known artists make an appearance with live or remixed versions, and while enjoyable they're placed a bit haphazardly.

Garbage - beautifulgarbage - 7/7/2008
This electropop album has several good songs, but I don't really get into it. The lyrics are good and it flows decently, but the guitars add crackers to the smoothie, which isn't as nice as it could be.
Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band - Almost Acoustic - 7/7/2008
This live album sounds a bit like a jam session. It's got traditional folk songs and a few Dead regulars that work well in a pickin' style. "Deep Elem Blues" sounds great, but most of the rest isn't overly exciting.
Djivan Gasparyan & Michael Brook - Black Rock - 1/15/2010
Most of this collabration with the great Armenian woodwind musician is quite slow, meditative, and plodding. "Take My Heart" and "Freedom" have good energy and the whole album has a good sound, but I wish it was up a notch.
Gilberto Gil - Quanta - 12/2/2008
A lovely long collection of energetic and soft songs. The album art indicates mathematical and Chinese symbolism, leading me to desire an exploration of the lyrics.
Gilberto Gil - O Sol de Oslo - 12/3/2008
These songs are medium on the lively scale with a quick tempo but staid instrumentals. Few are super awesome, but none are bad.
David Gilmour - David Gilmour - 7/7/2008
Though Gilmour's best-known works from the late 1970s featured massive sound, his solo debut is markedly quiet and pensive. The album displays little range in guitar style or vocals. Thematically, one gets the sense he's singing to someone who's not quite there, perhaps the same person he's grasping for in A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
David Gilmour - On An Island - 7/7/2008
Gilmour's solo style seems to be bluesy in nature with guitar notes set out to sea to float for the listener's consideration. I like this best of his three albums, but it's a far cry from the power of Pink Floyd. I suspect he likes it that way, riding a small vessel to a solitary island instead of a cargo ship to a major port.
Philip Glass - Koyaanisqatsi - 8/5/2008
The dialog-free movie Koyaanisqatsi had a major impact on me when I first watched its sped-up and slowed-down scenes of city life, natural processes, and destructive events. Glass's score is tightly woven with the film and I can almost picture scenes based on the pacing of the orchestra. This album is good for focusing but also good for spacing out.
Various Artists - Global Meditation - 7/8/2008
This compilation of "authentic music from meditative traditions of the world" starts with some chants that I don't find very meditative. Other tracks from elsewhere in the world are peaceful, but I'd think trying to meditate when the ambiance changes every five minutes would be rather distracting. It'd be much better to focus on one style for an hour.
Godsmack - Awake - 7/8/2008
There's nothing innovative about Godsmack's music, but they're good at being loud and raw, so when that's called for, this is a good album to listen to. "Sick of Life," "Awake," and "Vampires" are all good songs.
Grateful Dead - Go To Heaven - 7/8/2008
Grateful Dead studio albums often lack the energy that transports the listener to a s reality somewhere between their seat and a dance floor that live recordings often impart. "Althea," "Feel Like a Stranger," and "Lost Sailor" give a nice calm groove, but a lot of the other songs, though good on their own, don't fit together super well.
Grateful Dead - Live at the Cow Palace, New Year's Eve, 1976 - 7/8/2008
The first disc features "Promised Land" and "They Love Each Other," which I'd never heard before, both are great. Good long jams finish the first disc ("Playing in the Band"), span the second ("Eyes of the World" -> "Wharf Rat" and others), and cover the middle of the third ("Splipknot!" -> drums, "Not Fade Away," and "Morning Dew.") The packaging is lovely, too.
Grateful Dead - So Many Roads (1965-1996) 5 CD Box Set Sampler - 7/9/2008
The bulk of this preview disc is from the late 70s and early 80s with great jams of "Estimated Prophet," "The Music Never Stopped," and "Shakedown Street." It starts with "Cream Puff War" and "You Don't Have To Ask," giving listeners a glimpse at their less well-known early psychedellic side. What's missing is something from the early 70s, perhaps their most definitive period.
Grateful Dead - Infrared Roses - 7/9/2008
Bab Bralove used plunderphonic techniques to construct an entire album of Dead jams. Mixing together pieces of space jams spread across the Grateful Dead catalog, each piece is a new sandwitch constructed with subtly different flavors of jam.
Grateful Dead - Grayfolded - 7/9/2008
John Oswald took dozens of live performances of Dark Star and stitched them together into a two-hour plunderphonic extravaganza. Sometimes several performances tumble by in a pile, particularly with vocals. Other stretches feature a few minutes from one show on its own, ever-so-perceptibly supplanted by another stretch from elsewhere and elsewhen. The whole experience is spacy and a bit spooky, a fascinating exploration of an iconic musical segment.
The Other Ones - The Strange Remain - 7/10/2008
This is a very well-selected two disc set of great jam songs. The band lineup is great, and Bruce Hornsby's "White-Wheeled Limousine" inspired me to buy several of his albums. "Sugaree" and "Corrina" are great long jams and the infrequently-heard "Banyan Tree," "Mountains of the Moon," and "Baba Jingo" are groovily fresh.
Various Artists - The Music Never Stopped: Roots of the Grateful Dead - 7/10/2008
This compilation features an impressive array of original artists performing songs that were a staple of the Dead's live shows. Without the Dead connection, this collection of songs wouldn't really go together, but I've been glad to have it on hand a few times. Several of the songs aren't easy to find on their own.
Wake the Dead - Wake the Dead - 7/10/2008
This group playing in the traditional Irish style demonstrates the flexibility of the Grateful Dead songbook, mixing Garcia/Hunter with O'Carolan and traditional Irish jigs and reels. The group's voices are significantly sweeter than the Dead's and their selections are very well suited to the style.
Wake of the Dead - Buckdancer's Choice - 7/10/2008
This album is generally as good as the group's first. The song selection is a little more on the psychedelic side than the folk side, but they all work well with the Irish instrumentation.
Jazz Is Dead - Blue Light Rain - 7/11/2008
Seven Grateful Dead covers with a jazz bent. Much of the enjoyment in listening to this album is the sense of recognition of various Dead grooves. And while it's a fine instrumental performance of the Blues For Allah suite and some others, listening to actual Dead performances would probably be more fun.
Jazz Is Dead - Great Sky River - 7/11/2008
The tune selection is better than on Blue Light Rain, providing a better base for jazz jamming. "Terrapin Station" and "St. Stephen/The Eleven" work really well.
Various Artists - Fire on the Mountain - Reggae Celebrates The Grateful Dead - 7/11/2008
The range of reggae represented on this compilation is somewhat limited, but Robert Hunter's lyrics work well with a reggae groove. "Uncle John's Band" (Joe Higgs) and "Wharf Rat" (Michael Rose) are pretty good.
Great Big Sea - Something Beautiful* - 7/11/2008
A Scottish rock group on the lighter side of the spectrum. "Beat the Drum," "Helmethead," and "John Barbour" have a good Scottish feel to them, but several of the other songs sound almost like a different band (Bob Schneider, perhaps), giving a disunified feeling from the album.
Gritos de Guerra - Los Flamencos No Comen - 7/21/2008
Decent nuevo flamenco. Some tracks use drums quite effectively.
Groove Armada - Lovebox - 7/22/2008
Most of the songs on this album feature party-themed lyrics and bouncy hip-hoppy grooves. They're done fairly well, but I don't especially care for most of them. "Hands of Time" and "Tuning In (rewritten)" are much calmer trip-hop and quite enjoyable.
Groove Armada - Soundboy Rock - 12/3/2008
Most tracks are in a dance/party style, but each feels significantly different. Several are quite fun ("Paris," ""Lightsonic," and "Drop That Thing" particularly), but the album doesn't really go together as a unit. Dropping individual tracks into a playlist would work, though.
gusgus - Attention - 3/30/2009
Electronic music that feels mellow while having a strong beat. Great to work to; I was zoned out with occasional awareness of the groovy tunes.
gusgus - (This is Normal - 1/6/2010
Calm with an undertone of energetic, independent and remixable, interesting and ambient. "Ladyshave," "Starlovers," and "Love vs Hate" are great examples of what trip-hop should sound like.
Various Artists - Gypsy Passion: new flamenco - 7/22/2008
This Narada collection is full of great tunes by Lara & Reyes, Ottmar Liebert, and Willie and Lobo among others. I need to remember the artists involved so I can keep an eye out for full albums by them.
Various Artists - Gypsy Soul: new flamenco - 7/22/2008
This Narada collection is full of great tunes by Jesse Cook, Slash, Chuscales, and Bozzio Levin Stevens among others. Mostly it's upbeat, but some tunes have a slow sensual element, sometimes at the same time as the rapid string playing.

Bill Haley & His Comets - Rock the Joint! The Original ESSEX Recordings 1951-1954 - 7/28/2008
Bill Haley immmediately associates to early rock & roll in my mind, but I discovered that I was unfamiliar with almost all of these songs. Their rockabilly sounds, particularly the swing-like use of the snare drum, are absent from most rock today, giving the songs a spare sound which feels even older than it is. "Rockin' Chair on the Moon" and "Chattanooga Choo Choo" are pretty good.
Mickey Hart - Rolling Thunder - 7/23/2008
Hart's solo work is best known for world percussion collaborations, but this early '70s project is a mostly rock collaboration with appearances from Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia, Grace Slick, Steven Stills, and others. Some of the songs are pretty good, particularly "Hangin' On," but it's not an album to choose when in a "Mickey Hart mood."
Mickey Hart - Planet Drum - 7/23/2008
This groundbreaking world percussion collaboration provides a sense that the listener is moving through a jungle, stumbling upon new groups of drummers joined by the sounds of nature. Most of the songs are quite calm, so this is only a corner of the drum planet, but it's a beautiful region.
Mickey Hart - mickey hart's mystery box - 7/23/2008
A fabulous album of songs by Robert Hunter, vocals by Mint Juleps, and percussion arranged by Hart. Everything is great, particularly "Down The Road," "Only The Strange Remain," and "The Last Song."
Mickey Hart, Planet Drum - Supralingua - 7/23/2008
This album has a lot of fun elements in it, including a didj, group calls, and wood blocks. Some of the numbers are upbeat, some slowly paced. The bonus remix disc is largely repetitive and boring.
Mickey Hart - Spirit into Sound - 7/24/2008
Less busy and more serene than some of Harts other collaborations, this album has a lot of cool elements like bamboo tubes and jew's harp on "Cloud Moss" and pan flute and water drop on "Elephant Walk." I find myself swaying in my seat as if walking down a road.
Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju, Giovanni Hidalgo - Global Drum Project - 7/24/2008
This album features four world-class drummers having fun with a bunch of different sounds. I love "Dances With Wood" (played on an old-growth grapevine and an old-growth redwood stump) and "Funky Zena" has justifiably gotten plenty of airplay, but they're all excellent.
Isaac Hayes - The Best of the Polydor Years - 7/28/2008
Though Hayes is most famous for funk like Shaft, I think he's best at slow soul ballads. The songs on this compilation aren't as fantastic as those on Hot Buttered Soul, but they still provide that smoothe seductive sound.
Isaac Hayes - Movement: Raw & Refined - 7/28/2008
A very groovy set of instrumentals. The best are in the middle of the album, "The Night Before," "Memphis Trax," and "Soul Fiddle," the first makes me feel like I'm travelling somewhere with maximum possible smoothness. "The 405" sounds like the artistic quality that hold music only wishes it could reach.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland - 7/24/2008
The Experience had hit its stride, shifting from short hits and into long somewhat spacey and bluesy numbers ("Voodoo Chile", "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn To Be)"). The album still features some hits that receive regular airplay today.
Jimi Hendrix - The Ultimate Experience - 7/24/2008
This "best of" album contains the Hendrix songs a person should know, from "Purple Haze" to "Little Wing" to "Star Spangled Banner", for basic rock cultural knowledge. It's got some less-heard songs as well, including "Castles Made of Sand." It's not the ultimate Hendrix, though, as it's all published material from the Jimi Hendrix Experience era with no contributions from Band of Gypsys or other archives that have been scoured for the last four decades.
Hendrix - Band of Gypsys live at the fillmore east - 7/25/2008
This two-disc set contains songs from four performances on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, 1969/1970. Jimi notes at the end of one, "We're still working on some of these songs," but they're quite good, representing much of the Band of Gypsys repertoire including "Stepping Stone" and two good versions of "Machine Gun."
Jimi Hendrix - First Rays of the New Rising Sun - 7/25/2008
Even though this is a collection of songs Hendrix was working on before he died, they fit together quite well as an album. It's got intense rocking songs like "Izabella," soft bluesy songs like "Drifting," and guitar brilliance mixed with sweet imaginitive lyrics on "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)." I think I like this album more than any released during Hendrix's life.
Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Soup - 7/25/2008
Most of the songs on this album are available on other posthumous albums and compilations, making assembling the minimal complete Hendrix collection a significant challenge. The strongest songs on this album are instrumentals, the opening "The New Rising Sun," "Midnigt," "Pali Gap," and "Peace In Mississippi."
Jimi Hendrix - Best Of The Authentic PPX Studio Recordings - 7/25/2008
This is a two-CD set containing choice picks from six albums of material recorded in the year or two before Hendrix became famous. Curtis Knight sang most of the vocals and Hendrix overdubbed guitar and bass on the studio tracks. The first disc has some quality rhythm & blues, especially "How Would You Feel." The second disc is largely live and more bluesy; not bad but not super.
Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks - Beatin' The Heat - 6/30/2008
The 15 "songs to cool off by" are swingin' and fun, but I don't think my body temperature changed. Maybe I should've been dancing. Their cover of "The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)" sans the mumbling of Tom Waits (who appears on the album elsewhere) is nicely incongruous.
Chris Hinze - T'ai Chi In Balance - 10/3/2008
A mix of traditional Chinese song with synthesized drums, guitars, and other elements. Many tracks sound pretty good, including some with African vocals and synthetic grooves ala Afrocelt Soundsystem. I don't think I'd want to use this as a soundtrack for doing T'ai Chi, though, as the emphasized percussion would disrupt my natural flow.
Billie Holiday - the classic decade 1935-1945 - 7/28/2008
The quality of this compilation rests entirely on Holiday's voice. While it's sweet and elusive, 70 minutes through 1930s recording technology can start to drag. Perhaps this music is best in a radio context, an ethereal but friendly voice emerging between two more burly jazz selections.
Buddy Holly - From The Original Master Tapes - 7/28/2008
Buddy Holly is a fixture of the American imagination of the 1950s. He's playing on the radio at the drive-in hamburger joint while kids in leather jackets drink a milkshake while they talk about their cars and who'll they'll invite to the high school dance. Holly's music fits this image well; even the songs about lost love are upbeat.
David Holmes - this films crap lets slash the seats - 7/28/2008
"No Mans Land" is a phenomenal opening track, creating a sense of alienation with the everyday world. The next three tracks are repetitive to the point of annoyance, but then the album calms down into lush soundscapes. The bonus disc is mostly remixes of "Gone," the second-best track on the main disc.
David Holmes - Bow Down to the Exit Sign - 7/1/2008
I got interested in David Holmes because of his appearance on the Π soundtrack with a very lush electronic track. This album is a significantly different sort, feeling more like a rock band playing with electronic elements than the other way around. Several tracks would fit in with Garbage.
John Lee Hooker - The Best of John Lee Hooker - 7/29/2008
John Lee Hooker has a very quintessential modern blues sound. His voice is just right, his guitar is just right, his rhythm is just right, his songs have the right elements.
Bruce Hornsby and The Range - The Way It Is - 7/29/2008
I can almost visualise music videos with these songs providing background for a camera sweeping across western mountain vistas. There's a very 1980s feel to the instrumentation that detracts in many cases from the songs.
Bruce Hornsby and The Range - A Night On The Town - 7/29/2008
The piano and guitars blend well together for some good songs. The title track and "Another Day" are both good, most of the rest don't especially stand out.
Bruce Hornsby - Hot House - 7/29/2008
Every song on this album is great with sing-alongable lyrics. "White Wheeled Limousine" is my favorite, but I can't help but bounce around listening to any of them.
Bruce Hornsby - Spirit Trail - 7/29/2008
This double album has a lot of rockin' songs including drums very well suited to Hornsby's piano playing. I like "Sneaking Up on Boo Radley;" "Shadow Hand" has some bouzouki riffs that sound almost like an autoharp. "Sunflower Cat (Some Dour Cat) (Down With That)" is an interesting concept, but the repeated rhythm sample from "China Cat Sunflower" is a little heavy-handed.
Bruce Hornsby - Big Swing Face - 7/29/2008
This album sounds a bit like Hornsby trying out hip-hop, though without the heavy bass and manufactured sounds. In the end, it sounds a lot like his other work in the last ten years without particularly standing out. Coupled with the fact that my "promotional use only" copy has hacked track listings to prevent play by computers, I don't desire to listen to this one very often.
Bruce Hornsby - Halcyon Days - 7/29/2008
This album has a faint sense of artificial, but just enough to keep things interesting. "Gonna Be Some Changes Made" is a great song while "Hooray For Tom" and "Mirror On The Wall" have some neat elements.
Bruce Hornsby - Harbor Lights - 2/13/2009
Hornsby's first "solo" album is very groovy with good bass lines, well-paced drums, and swingin' piano and vocals. None of the songs stand out above the others, but it's a fun listen all the way through.
Hot Tuna - The Phosphorescent Rat - 7/29/2008
This album is quite a departure from the duo's earlier work inspired by Rev. Gary Davis. There's still a hint of blues, but it's a tint on a much more psychedelic sound. "Corners Without Exits" is one of many fabulous songs.
Hot Tuna - Burgers - 2/13/2009
The sonic gulf between electric and acoustic Hot Tuna is wide, and both are enjoyable in their own way. This album features some swell rock guitar work and good lyrics, though I'm not a big fan of the electric fiddle's role. "Sea Child" and "Water Song" are interesting examples of their early melodies dancing with new electric partners.
Son House - Delta Blues - 7/30/2008
Lots of music evokes thoughts of a particular place, but no music evokes such a specific sense of both time and place as delta blues. It's as if the listener has stepped through a time warp and landed on a hot porch in Mississippi while House plays familiar-yet-distant songs like "The Jinx Blues," "Am I Right or Wrong," and "Shetland Pony Blues."
Howlin' Wolf - His Best - 7/30/2008
This compilation from the CHess 50th Anniversary Collection has all the Howlin' Wolf songs any music lover must have in his collection. The recording quality is good, bringing the wolf's spooky howls and simple electric guitar rhythms to your living floor.
Mississippi John Hurt - The Best of Mississippi John Hurt - 7/30/2008
Hurt's voice doesn't have the stereotypical gravel or spook quality of the old blues guys and his guitar playing doesn't match the newer style, yet his renditions of traditional and original songs have the clarity and essential feel of "difinitive versions." The cover says it's two albums in one; the first half feels studio and the other half is clearly live. But it provide any details of the source albums. Note that there may be other "Best of" albums.
Mississippi John Hurt - Last Sessions - 1/30/2009
I love the beauty of Hurt's folk blues. The subtleties in his voice and the squeak of guitar strings transports the listener to a place with no distractions, just a mild man singing great songs. "You've Got To Die" and "Goodnight Irene" make a poignant end.
Mississippi John Hurt - Today! - 2/13/2009
Contrary to prototypical blues, Hurt's songs feel like simple stories from everyday country life. Some things are good, others bad, but nothing is melodramatic. "Talking Casey Jones" and others sound almost like Hurt is playing two guitars at once. "Coffee Blues" is a great song even for coffee-haters.
Gentle Persuasion - Sonds and Songs of the Humpback Whales - 7/30/2008
I can't tell if this is the same whale sound repeated for 59 minutes or several similar whale sounds strung together. It might be useful as background sound to aid in falling asleep, but not particularly interesting to listen to for its own sake. I wonder if the next logical step is Humpback Whales (Techno Remix).

Industrial Monk - Prophecies - 7/31/2008
This is almost the ultimate gothic album: bass and soprano singers giving spacy voice to Latin prayers and keyboards, electric guitars, and drum machines providing a dark ambiance. The album works pretty well, and while it doesn't add much to the world of melodies, it sets a mood beautifully.
Iron and Wine - The Shepherd's Dog - 1/30/2009
Production tricks and odd vocal ranges are used very well in an album that is both calming and intriguing. I really dug both "White Tooth Man" and "Boy With A Coin."
Gregory Isaacs - More Gregory - 7/21/2008
One of my three favorite reggae artists, Isaacs has a voice that's both oddly high and calmingly sweet. The backbeats are simple, the love songs are so cute it seems hard to believe he doesn't get the girl.

James - Laid - 7/31/2008
The band creates a lot of soft and sweet melodies, but the strength lies in singer Tim Booth's sparkling vocals. "Laid," "One of the Three," and "Out to Get You" have particularly good lyrics and the whole album is consistently tasty like honey. The album cover with everyone in a dress eating a banana is pretty tasty too.
James - Gold Mother - 7/31/2008
The CD I own is actually self-titled and says "This Compilation © 1991 Phonogram Ltd.," but it has all the same songs in approximately the same order as the re-release of Gold Mother. Strong guitar work drives lyrics with a political flavor, but often without a clear political point. Most of the songs are good for singing along.
Jane's Addiction - Strays - 8/1/2008
Although some of the band's edginess is missing from their first album after neraly a decade, it's still a fun listen. Their current sound has definitely been influenced by the intervening time and they don't stray far from the tone they set out, but it works well with Farrell's vocals.
Robert Johnson - The Complete Recordings - 8/1/2008
In the story of modern music, it's hard to find a figure with a higher legend to catalog size than Robert Johnson. The hour and three quarters in this compilation contains everything Johnson recorded, including alternate takes of many songs. These come after the released versions and can get a little tedious, though they often seem like another verse. True to their 78 roots, listening to these songs may be best in a radio format, mixed other music. The blues legend has a distinct and unusual flavor which is best savored a little at a time.
Janis Joplin - Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits - 8/1/2008
Ten tracks highlighting one of the most soulful voices of the 60s. This LP-length compilation was first released in 1973, so there are probably more extensive "best of" releases, but all of the songs on here are good, including a live "Ball And Chain" in which Janis talks for a few minutes about love and effort.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn & Party - The Last Prophet - 8/4/2008
It can be hard for a listener accustomed to European and American music to dive in to Indian and Pakistani music. To the new initiate, this sounds like an hour of wailing with a tabla beat and accordion-like sounds. To the listener with a little experience it sounds like really good wailing.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn & Michael Brook - Night Song - 3/30/2009
A fantastic mix of traditional qawwali singing and contemporary instrumentation from east and west. The musicians do a great job of creating the right undercurrents to take enjoyment of Nusrat's voice to a new level. Of his music I've heard, this is definitely the one to start with.
Kan'Nal - Kan'Nal - 8/4/2008
Kan'Nal's first album has a very soft spiritual sound. The electric guitar makes only occasionaly appearances and several of the tracks are more meditative than rockin' (particularly the 13-minute "Palenque Rain Song" which is rainfall with occasional meditation bowl strikes). I particularly like "Kodoish" and "Spacechild" and can be found chanting some of the refrains and noises from several parts of the album. Half of the songs on the album also appear on later Kan'Nal albums with different instrumentation.
Kan'Nal - Dreamwalker - 8/4/2008
The group's second album contains several repeat songs from the first, but with augmented instrumentation with electrics and a stronger drum emphasis. "Desert Flower," "Sun and Moon," and others give this album a very primal feeling. Over a third of the album is live tracks, demonstrating that the group is most comfortable on stage with a full production.
Kan'Nal - Myth Magic - 8/4/2008
This album is very well done, with excellent guitar work, strong drumming, thoughtful lyrics, and good pacing. "Rain Gods" and "Mama's Babies" show several of these qualities and the poem at the end of "Dragonfly" is groovy.
B.B. King - Why I Sing The Blues - 8/4/2008
Most of the songs on here are supurb mixes of guitar, voice, and lyric. You can just slide into King's blues and feel good about feeling bad. This is one of the first CDs I owned, but for some reason I haven't acquired any more B.B. King albums. Maybe there'll be a good boxed set at some point.
KiTTiE - SPiT - 8/5/2008
Four Canadian high school girls who play heavy metal. What's not to like? Well, the heavy metal part, I suppose -- it's pretty thick. "BRaCKiSH" has some interesting metal vocal technique while "PaPeRDoLL" has good lyrics and a less distorted sound. Apparently the band is still together, but I'm not surprised that each album has sold fewer copies than the previous. The "Is that four teenage girls playing death metal?" novelty isn't a factor any more.
The Klezmatics - Rhythm and Jews - 3/31/2009
Good traditional Jewish music. From the title I was hoping for something a little more ironic, but I'm glad to have some straight klezmer in my collection. The tunes alternate between fast and slow, which isn't ideal for dancing around but could be very effective in a mix CD.
Leo Kottke - A Shout Toward Noon - 8/5/2008
This album is a bit uneven. I really liked "Little Beaver" and "A Trout Toward Noon" at the beginning and "Air Proofing Two," but tunes like "Three Quarter North" have really distracting synthesizer and others are not great with just guitar.
Kraftwerk - Radio-Activity - 8/5/2008
This album is more spacey and a little more focused than most of the group's other albums. The title track is phenomenal, "Antenna" is pretty groovy. This album feels like it's a lot longer than 38 minutes.
Kraftwerk - Minimum-Maximum - 8/5/2008
Three decades after some dorky Germans synthesized a new form of music, their live performance shows some of the sensibilities of their progeny. More advanced audio technology provide a smoother ride through some expansive versions of old songs while still keeping the great dorky flavor.
Various Artists - 8-Bit operators - 8/5/2008
I can think of no better cover album concept than the music of Kraftwerk played on hacked 8-bit video game systems. Covers by Bacalao, Glomag, David E. Sugar, 8-Bit Weapon, and gwEm and Counter Reset are all pretty sweet. Some of the others are rather fuzzy in an Aphex Twin sort of way which isn't really my thing.
Kutandara - Who Will I Dance With? - 10/22/2008
This marimba band sounds prototypically south African. Perhaps I get that sense because they're local so probably get a fair amount of play on KGNU. Even though many of the songs sound like each other, it's a good fun sound.

Lamb - between Darkness and Wonder - 8/11/2008
A woman sings softly and sweetly with a variety of electronic and acoustic backing. While the instrumentation is carefully matched to Lou's vocals, sometimes it feels a little busy and overproduced. Tracks "stronger" and "sun" sound great.
Morten Gunnar Larsen - Charleston Rag - 8/11/2008
This CD contains the first two LPs created by Larsen, the contemporary Norwegian master of early ragtime and jazz. Composers Scott Joplin, James Scott, Jelly Roll Morton, and Eubie Blake make multiple appearances. Though I've listened to a lot of ragtime, I don't have a great ear for evaluating its quality, but everything sounds good. I particularly liked "Caprice Rag," "Solace - A Mexican Serenade," "Don't You Leave Me Here," and "Charleston Rag."
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II - 8/11/2008
A lot of songs on this album don't seem to be in perennial rotation on dormitory stereos and commercial radio. They still had a bit of a blues feel and hadn't yet launched into wailing epic mode; the album fits into the solid classic rock mode without standing out exceptionally far.
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV - 8/11/2008
This is the quintessential Zeppelin album. In addition to the epic "Stairway to Heaven," it's got fantasy references, a sweet lost-love song, and hard-driving rock.
Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy - 8/11/2008
"No Quarter" is one of my favorite Zeppelin songs and it fits well with the other introspective songs on the album.
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin Disc Two (from a boxed set) - 8/12/2008
This CD was in the used bin without its brethren, so I can't speak to the overall quality of the set, but this disc is well-ordered. "Tangerine" followed by "Going To California" is a is a great pairing of sweet.
Jimmy Page & Robert Plant - No Quarter: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Unledded - 8/11/2008
If I had to pick just one Led Zeppelin album to own, it would be this one. Page uses guitars with a significantly different sound than the tracks classic rock radio plays all day and several songs have additional players to add a Middle Eastern flavor. "Kashmir" is a fantastic version of the song.
The Lillingtons - Death by Television - 8/12/2008
I bought this album because of the cover which is reminiscent of a 1950s sci-fi/horror movie cover. I lucked out, because it's a CD of great punk songs about geeky teenage subjects like Superman, robots, and aliens. There's not much variance in the music, but it's high energy.
Little Richard - Essential Little Richard - 1/12/2009
I don't know if the kids these days know about Little Richard, but few performers in the last fifty years have matched his intensity and booty-shake inducing style. From an era of singles and a single difinitive style, this compilation doesn't suffer any odd transitions and contains well-known hits and songs I hadn't heard before.
Various Artists - Love is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970 - 10/22/2008
Four CDs and a gorgeous 120-page book document an impressive number of bands from the height of the San Francisco music scene. Only a few tracks are easy to encounter, and Rhino chose less-widespread versions of many of them. I'd nevery heard of any of the bands on the "Suburbia" disc, and probably for good reason. But this was put together by master compilers and is both fun and educational to listen to and read.
Luminescent Orchestrii - Too Hot to Sleep - 8/1/2008
This fiesty group stirs up an eastern European, klezmer, and odd original mix with three violins, a guitarron, a resophonic guitar, and some other quirks. Their percussive string style is quite interesting. "She's a Brick" and the title track answer the question "What would happen if a string band dabbled in hip-hop?" "Tea" is a song that's meant to be shared.

The Mamas & The Papas - 16 Of Their Greatest Hits - 8/12/2008
This album has quintessential San Francisco hippie songs like "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'." It's also got some songs I'm familiar with from other artists and others I haven't heard before. The group's vocal harmony is very pretty.
Maria de Barros - Nha Mundo: Music of Cabo Verde - 1/12/2010
With a beautiful voice and a mix of pensive and danceable songs, this is what I expected from a Cape Verdean album. It's an enjoyable, though not large, step from Cesaria Evora.
Bob Marley and The Wailers - The Best of The Early Years - 8/12/2008
This is a sparer reggae than the one in popular consciousness which accompanies a marijuana-themed Marley poster in a dorm room. I'd encountered some of these songs elsewhere like "Soul Shakedown Party" and "Mr. Brown," but others like "Dreamland" are novel and wonderful.
Bob Marley and The Wailers - Rasta Revolution - 8/12/2008
This early compilation by a British label starts with a spooky "Mr. Brown" and contains 12 other simple songs. It's good to hear the old grooves shining through.
Bob Marley and The Wailers - Exodus - 8/12/2008
This album is perhaps the gold standard of roots reggae. "Exodus," "Jamming," "Natural Mystic," and others are classics of lyric and groove.
Bob Marley and The Wailers - Trenchtown Rock (Anthology '59 - '78) - 2/2/2009
Though the years for this anthology span some of Marley's best-known reggae hits, only a few tracks on Disc 2 will be familiar to folks whose knowledge goes as far as Legend and radio play. The mix austerity for many of these songs greatly aids their soulful character. I commend those in charge of Wailers compilations for covering different territory with each release.
Massive Attack - Blue Lines - 8/12/2008
The first album by the seminal trip-hop collective is full of groovy songs with great lyrics. The music is somewhat minimal -- their later work features a lot of great instrumental sections -- but that lets the power of the words and voice do their work.
MC 900 Ft Jesus with DJ Zero - Hell With The Lid Off - 8/13/2008
A lot of the tracks get very repetitive with sampled drum beats and other sounds. Some of the songs are pretty good, including "Truth is Out of Style" and some of the repetitive grooves are worthwhile.
MC 900 Ft Jesus - One Step Ahead of the Spider - 8/13/2008
A lot of the music on this album is cool and spacey, particularly "Buried at Sea." The song "If I Only Had a Brain" and the narrative on "New Year's Eve" are kind of annoying, though.
Loreena McKennitt - Elemental - 8/13/2008
Famed for incorporating a lot of cosmopolitan elements into her celtic-themed music, McKennitt's first album is distinctly spare, featuring primarily her voice and harp. This does a great job of evoking images of a fair lass on the heath singing into the wind, but it also has an air of old-fashioned unsyncopated stuffiness.
Loreena McKennitt - To Drive the Cold Winter Away - 8/13/2008
Melodious harp, breathy voice, and refrains from Christmas carols bring a sense of late December. To my mind, music from warm climes would do a better job of putting snow out of mind, but this is a pleasant album to play while drinking hot cider and chatting with friends.
Loreena McKennitt - The Mask and Mirror - 8/13/2008
McKennitt wonderfully combines music and themes from Celtic and Middle Eastern traditions, weaving a mystic journey from Marakesh to a deserted island. While many of the songs stay in the Western European musical mode, they're fuller than her earlier works, engulfing the listener in the mood.
Loreena McKennitt - The Book of Secrets - 8/14/2008
This album is pure beauty. Loreena's melodious vocals, string sections, strummed string instruments, drones, doumbeks and tablas all swirl together for a fantastic passage through the lands visited by the Celts, recreated by the artist.
Bobby McFerrin - Spontaneous Inventions - 8/14/2008
Eleven songs featuring the mostly-solo master of simultaneous lead and percussion. The duet with Robin Williams doing a gospel style improvisation about shopping in "Beverly Hills Blues" is hillarious. Other songs are familiar (including "Another Night in Tunesia" and "From Me To You"), but with a very unique sound.
Bobby McFerrin - Circlesongs - 8/14/2008
An acapella album with no words, this is one of my favorite works of music. McFerrin and friends form multi-part harmonies with syllables which are not words but are so good I like to sing along; I've sung the baseline to the first song solo.. This album is a mood enhancer: when I'm in the mood to work, it keeps me working. When I'm in the mood to relax, it keeps me blissed out.
Bobby McFerrin - Beyond Words - 8/14/2008
16 songs without words, accompanied by piano and other soft instruments. I like wordless song, but none of these particularly stood out. They aren't nearly as energetic as Circlesongs.
Meat Beat Manifesto - R U O K - 9/30/2008
An interesting mix of chill-out background and sharp foreground, combining both natural and artificial sounds. The album does a reasonable job helping the listener find a zone. The included miniature single "free piece suite" is rather artificial and blippy.
Meat Beat Manifesto - Actual Sounds + Voices - 12/3/2008
A rich soundscape with elements as the title suggests. While the tracks are fairly intellectual electronica, most are quite listenable. Favorites include "The Tweek," "Acid Again," and "Hail to the Bopp."
Meat Beat Manifesto - 99% - 1/12/2010
Glitchy while still groovy, with screaming that's not imposing. This early electronica album is surprisingly still quite enjoyable.
John Medeski, Billy Martin & Chris Wood - Notes From The Underground - 8/14/2008
I got into MMW because I liked the groovy electric organ style. Their first album is all acoustic and in a more traditional experimental jazz mode than what I usually listen to, but it's still quite groovy. "Querencia" is thirteen minutes of boppin' enjoyment.
Medeski Martin and Wood - Shack-man - 8/15/2008
I don't think it's possible to not enjoy "Bubblehouse," the totally rockin' funky organ spectacular. "Think" and "Lifeblood" are also great for grooving in your seat and the closer "Kenny" is a nice slow piece.
Medeski Martin & Wood - Combustication - 8/15/2008
John Medeski matches squeaky organ playing to guest DJ Logic's squeaky turntable spinning. There's plenty of cowbell and bass grooves to go around. "Whatever Happened to Gus" is a fun story and several other tracks would serve well as bases for spoken word pieces. The secret track on "Hypnotized" is a bit of a crashing improvisatoin that straightens out in interesting ways.
Medeski Martin & Wood - Combustication Remix EP - 8/15/2008
I bought this in a different CD case and listened to it a few times before I realized it was a remix of songs on Combustication. It's worth listeneing to on its own or after the parent album. The grooves are strong, but different enough to avoid boring.
Medeski Martin & Wood - Tonic - 8/15/2008
A live acoustic album with lots of experimental jazz. This doesn't have the groovy electric organ I love from MMW and sometimes it gets a little far out (e.g., "Rise Up"), but it's got some fun sections too ("Buster Rides Again").
Medeski Martin and Wood - The Dropper - 12/2/2008
Definitely on the experimental side, this album is also very listenable, though not particularly danceable. Elements like cuícu, spacy notes, and odd key sequences give the album a lot of neat layers. "Big Time" and "Note Bleu" are pretty accessible.
Medeski Martin and Wood - Farmer's Reserve - 2/13/2009
A very experimental album with all sorts of fun percussion instruments, a toy piano, and noises worthy of a 1950s sci-fi movie. It's not a danceable album, but I enjoyed it a lot more than a lot of other free jazz I've heard.
Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood - Out Louder - 7/1/2008
John Scofield's guitars are a sometimes subtle sometimes obvious addition to the perennial trio. This album didn't have any tracks that stood out as being totally awesome (the way "Bubblehouse" and others do), but "Down the Tube" is a long groovy number.
John Scofield - A Go Go - 4/1/2009
Though technically a solo album, Scofield works with Medeski, Martin, and Wood on all the tracks. Though it's a guitar-focused album, MMW add their magic in big doses. "Chank" is my favorite number.
The Meters - The Very Best of the Meters - 8/15/2008
This album is such a funky New Orleans sound. "Cissy Strut" has the quintessential funk groove. "Tippi-Toes" sounds like Les Claypool jamming with a keyboardist. "Hey Pocky A-Way," "Fire on the Bayou," and "They All Ask'd for You" are great classic songs.
Steve Miller Band - Living in the 20th Century - 8/18/2008
This album is a bit more subdued than the band's stadium rock heights of the 1970s. "Maelstrom" is an awesome instrumental and the second side is covers of songs by Jimmy Reed and others.
Steve Miller Band - the BEST of 1968-1973 - 8/18/2008
This compilation has a lot of great songs from sing-alongs like "My Dark Hour" and "Quicksilver Girl" to introspective tunes like "Song For Our Ancestors," this is a fun disc to have.
Steve Miller Band - Greatest Hits 1974-78 - 8/18/2008
This was a span of time for rocking out. Even though the guitars seem so simple, the music is so much fun. I've brought up the chorus of many songs on this compilation in amusing social moments.
Moby - Everything Is Wrong - 8/18/2008
Moby can change sound and even genre at the drop of a hat, but this album stays mostly consistent. It's a spacy chill sound from "Hymn" to "Into the Blue" to "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters." Relax and listen.
Moby - Rare: The Collected B-Sides 1989-1993 - 8/18/2008
There are some good tracks here like "Time's Up [Dust Mix]," but also some repetitive stuff that's not very interesting to listen to. Apparently "Thousand" set a record as world's fastest recorded song; it's very annoying. The bonus disc "Go: The Collected Mixes" is essentially the same set of beats and vocal bits for over an hour, but it's actually not bad. It's got a very subdued thump-thump sound and enough variation in remixes to keep things new.
Les moines d'Hautecombe chantent - Notre Dame - 7/21/2008
This Gregorian chant album features a few organ interludes, which adds to the being-in-a-cathedral feeling. The singing doesn't grab me as much as my other Gregorian recordings, though.
Momus - The Ultraconformist - 8/19/2008
Ten amusing songs with soft accompaniment. "The Mother-In-Law" is particularly fun among the silly selections.
Momus - the philosophy of momus - 8/19/2008
The album starts with a bad bluesy song "toothbrushead" and then an amusing dub song "the madness of lee scratch perry." The rest of the album is mostly Momus softly singing odd, ironic, or amusing lyrics set to drum sequences and keyboards. "girlish boy," "virtual valerie," and others are good.
The Monks of St. Francis D'Assisi - The Gregorian Chants Gold Collection - 7/21/2008
The songs are all consistent in tone, providing a good metitative soundscape.
Monty Python - The final rip off - 8/19/2008
Monty Python have very verbal humor, so many of their sketches are just as hillarious without visuals as they are on the screen (though I think "Cocktail Bar" doesn't make it well). The casual fan can experience many of their most famous sketches in a short listen. Several bits play on the assumption the album is on a record player, but the sudden scratch noises are abstractly amusing for CD listeners.
The Motet - Instrumental Dissent - 8/19/2008
This is a very groovy album, with tight coordination between all the musicians. The only words are samples of noted left-wing speakers on the title track and "Music is the Weapon" which incorporate them well. Even if one doesn't espouse the views of the speaker, the album is still worth a listen.
Moxy Früvous - Thornhill - 8/19/2008
The band's last unified album is less silly than their notable early songs. The vocals work very well on several of the folky songs including "Splatter Splatter," "Independence Day, "and "My Poor Generation."
Mucis - Music - 8/20/2008
This is a vibrant album of funky jazz. It's a shame the band's no longer together, as I'd love to see a live show. "Sunflower Girl," "Sometime Yesterday," and "As It Turns Out" are all great groovy songs.
Various Artists - Music for the Mozart Effect - 8/20/2008
I have a general rule to be suspicious of any book which puts "Dr." before the author's name. This rule should extend to CDs which say "Studies have shown Mozart can raise IQ by focusing attention, enhance creativity by activating the "right brain..."" The study they refer to involves listening to a segment of Mozart prior to taking a standard psychology test. I use music to focus and activate brain powers by listening to it while I work and notice a stronger focus result from the "Alice in Chains effect." Even if Mozart specifically is productive listening material, I'd recommend getting an album organized around musical principles (e.g., a particular performance group), as I don't believe this CD was built by exhaustively testing the effect of Mozart's life work and selecting the most effective pieces.
Various Artists - Music, Man & Nature: Wind's 10th Anniversary - 8/20/2008
This compilation comes in sections "Wind's Contemporary Collections," "Chinese New Age Music," "Traditional Chinese (Instrumental) Music," "Chinese Health Music," "Chinese Religious Music," and "Ethnic Music." It's not particularly easy, nor perhaps important, to tell them apart. Some of it sounds nice, but not very special. This would probably work well as background music.
Muslimgauze - Arab Quarter - 1/21/2010
An interesting mix of folks speaking, singing, and yelling in Arabic with Arabian percussion and electronic elements. The remix disc, "Eleven Minarets" is very repetitive, has fewer organic sounds, and is much less soothing.
μ-ziq - royal astronomy - 8/20/2008
This album maintains a light-weight experimental electronic feel while being quite accessible to a casual listener. The opening track "scaling" is such a catchy electronic string number that a local NPR station uses it as regular transition music. The melody continues into the funky "the hwicci song" and elements persist through "carpet muncher" and several other great trakcs.
μ-ziq - Bluff Limbo - 8/20/2008
Two discs of sometimes-spacy sometimes-experimental electronica. Individual tracks aren't as striking as some of the later work, but it's good for semi-attention. "Organic Tomato Yoghurt" does a good job with what I always thought would be interesting: intentional CD skipping sounds.
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges - 3/30/2009
The band stays in one zone for most of the album. It's a zone of fairly heavy guitar, which starts to get old after 10 tracks or so, but then it ends with a very groovy and calmer "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream pt.2" that lets the listener in for a serene landing.

Negativland - Dispepsi - 8/21/2008
They're not allowed to print the correct name of the album, so it also appears as Ipsdesip, PISDIESP, etc. The album mixes together snippets of Pepsi ads, people talking about Pepsi ads and Coke/Pepsi marketing, music, and other elements for a fair use look at a slice of American consumerism. It's blended well so that it's pleasant to listen to while still provoking thought. "All She Called About" goes beyond soda and "Bite Back" is good music abstracted from the subject at hand. It's not an album to listen to every week, but it's worth hearing once or twice.
Aaron Neville - Warm Your Heart - 8/21/2008
13 sad and warming soul songs. Aaron Neville has a beautiful voice that sweeps the listener into empathy in "Louisiana 1927," "That's the Way She Loves," "Angola Bound," and "I Bid You Goodnight."
Neville Brothers - Gold - 8/21/2008
The first disc is mostly from Neville solo acts and bans containing some Nevilles like The Meters and The Wild Tchoupitoulas. These are mostly fun danceable numbers. The second disc has a lot of socially conscious and beautiful songs like "Sister Rosa," "With God On Our Side" and "Let My People Go/Get Up Stand Up."
New Riders of the Purple Sage - The Best of New Riders of the Purple Sage - 12/2/2008
Country music at rock speed, this album is fantastic. Half an hour of early '70s New Riders is packed with great lyrics and danceable music. This would be a great album to give to people who claim they like "All genres except country."
Nóirín Ní Riain - Gregorian Chant Experience - 8/21/2008
Ní Riain's eerie voice is well suited to the Gregorian mode. Since the chants are typically all-male, the lone female solo gives an extra special feeling of otherworldlyness.
Nirvana - In Utero - 8/21/2008
Nirvana had an impressive ability to alternate between catchy tunes with great lyrics and explosions of senseless static and screaming. While collecting the greats together offers more fun, it doesn't quite capture the insanity that is Kurt Cobain.
NOFX - 45 or 46 sONgS that weren't GOOd eNougH TO go On oUR oTHeR ReCORds - 8/22/2008
Technically, it's 46 or 47, if you count the secret track. The title ought to be enough warning: a lot of these songs are really lame. The music is pretty much the same and the lyrics usually aren't much better than the song "I gotta PEE." "PIMPS and HOokERS," "Zyclone B Bathouse," and "Pods and Gods" are at least okay.
Gary Numan - Warriors - 8/22/2008
Bass lines, sax interludes, goth keyboards, and sometimes-clear lyrics make for a rather groovy album. In true pop style, there's nothing particularly insightful or enlightening, but it's still lots of fun. The title track and "The Iceman Comes" are probably my favorites.

Ojos de Brujo - Barí - 4/1/2009
Flamenco with aggressive but not aggravating female vocals, this is hot and danceable. "Zambra" is probably my favorite track. The album ends with a percussion explosion on "Acción Reacció Repercusió" and an interesting track "Rememorix" that mixes flamenco with a little Kraftwerk and other bits.
Om Trio - Live - 8/22/2008
Groovy jammy jazz from several live appearances, not compiled in order. About half of the tracks are part of a large improvisational piece "Tuscon Is Burning" (performed during riots in Tuscon, AZ) interspersed between the rest of the album and serving as an interesting baseline sound. Many of the other tracks are 10+ minute jams and a lot of fun. I'll definitely see these guys live if they come through town.
The Orb - u.f.orb - 8/22/2008
The 1992 album art looks dated these days, but the groundbreaking electronic music still sounds fresh. There's a lot more layers and interesting sounds on this album than in much contemporary electronica.
The Orb - Pomme Fritz - 8/22/2008
This album repeats a lot, but is not generally repetitive. All sorts of noises keep things interesting. "We're Pastie To Be Grill You" has some odd voices indeed.
The Orb - Orbvs Terrarvm - 8/22/2008
The cover art and track names imply a sense of historic geographic contemplation. While the music has a certain baroque feel, it felt more static than my sense of geographic music. "Slvg Dvb" samples extensively from English countryside childrens' books, but listening to it I find myself imagining reading Beatrix Potter, not visiting the British countryside. Intentions and personal geographic musical associations aside, this is fairly calming music.
The Orb - Orblivion - 9/2/2008
This album features both bouncy beats and ambient atmosphere. "Ubiquity" and "Toxygene" are great tracks while the sampled Revelations interpretations in "S.A.L.T." are somewhat amusing.
The Orb - Toxygene single - 9/2/2008
This single contains album and remix versions of "Toxygene" and "Asylum" and a bass beat remix of "Little Fluffy Clouds." I like the originals better than the mixes; a listener would do better with the Orblivion album and a copy of the original "Little Fluffy Clouds."
Roy Orbison - The Sun Years - 9/9/2008
Any used CD store probably has multiple Orbison greatest hits albums that all have the same mega hits like "Only The Lonely" and "Oh, Pretty Woman." This compilation is from the beginning of Orbison's career when Rock & Roll was a new thing, so many of the songs are a lot more rockabilly than crooner. Well-known hits like "Ooby Dooby" and "Domino" are present, but also great lesser-known songs like "You're My Baby."
Orbital - Orbital + Peel Sessions - 9/9/2008
(The first disc is also known as Orbital 2 and The Brown Album.) Orbital starts with a fun looped sample of a discussion of time before getting into fun bouncy soundscape tracks that are good for focus. "Halcyon + On + On" doesn't fit with the rest of the album, but it's a good enough track that I can't think of a situation in which I'd be disappointed to hear it. The Peel Sessions disc has remixes of the first disc which would flow better if halcyon were skipped.
Orbital - Blue Album - 9/9/2008
The duo's last studio album feels similar to their early work, with ambient melodies and a dancy beat. I really like "Lost" as an example of this style. "Acid Pants" is mildly amusing, but they do better when words are not involved.
William Orbit - Water From A Vine Leaf - 9/9/2008
I'm not sure if this 33 minute compilation qualifies as a single, but it starts with three mixes of the title track. They aren't too disjoint, though, so it feels like a nice long ambient tune. "Fire And Mercy" is very dance-poppy, a little out of place but fun nonetheless.
William Orbit - Strange Cargo III - 1/20/2010
A dozen mellow tracks. It starts strong with "Water from a Vine Leaf" and the next two tracks, then much of the album fades to ambience (which can be a good thing).
Dolores O'Riordan - Are You Listening? - 1/21/2010
Unsurprisingly, this feels like a Cranberries album in a lot of ways, though some songs are less-rocky and more produced. There also isn't a focal angsty song on the album, so singing along isn't as automatic.
Our Lady Peace - Happiness... Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch - 9/2/2008
This album lands somewhere between commercial and challenging, flopping in an odd land. They sound to me a lot like Radiohead without the distinctive vocals or some of the interesting riffs. "Happiness & The Fish," "Is Anybody Home?" and "Stealing Babies" are decent songs.
Our Lady Peace - Spiritual Machines - 12/10/2008
Interspersed with snippets from Ray Kurzweil's book The Age of Spiritual Machines, this again is almost interesting. It may get better if I study the lyrics a bit.

Pele Juju - Live! - 9/2/2008
This all-woman band plays some rockin' jazzy funk. "Anikewa" sounds very west African while "Happy To Be Alive" sounds positively New Orleanean. There are some great long grooves on this album.
Pentangle - So Early In the Spring - 9/2/2008
I'm not keen on the instrumentation on some songs and this album isn't the group's best work. However, "Eminstra," "Lucky Black Cat," and "Bramble Briar" are all good songs.
Pentangle - Light Flight: The Anthology - 9/2/2008
This two-disc set has over two hours of great music by the fantastic English folk band. If there's a Pentangle song one's fond of, it's probably on this anthology. Their playing and singing are a tough act to match.
Phish - Junta - 9/3/2008
Some great songs stand out on this album ("Fee" and "Golgi Apparatus" among them") but the bulk is in long meandering jams. Some of the jams are lots of fun like "David Bowie," but the bonus tracks starting with "Union Federal" are a bit like listening to someone ramble on with little sleep.
Phish - Lawn Boy - 1/12/2009
This album features some interesting experiments with tempo changes and out of phase vocals. The songs aren't as catchy as many of the other albums, but it's a phun listen.
Phish - A Picture of Nectar - 9/3/2008
Every song on this album is fun and bouncy. The lyrics are irreverent and amusing. This is probably my favorite Phish album.
Phish - Hoist - 9/3/2008
This album flows really well among songs with different tempo and style. Meanwhile, several songs are great on their own including "Sample in a Jar" and "Wolfman's Brother."
Phish - The Story of the Ghost - 9/3/2008
This is a very calming album with interesting interplays between background and foreground. It showcases the four guys' harmony quite well.
Phish - Farmhouse - 9/3/2008
A lot of songs stand well on their own. I particularly like the nonsense "Gotta Jibboo," but others are quality as well. This album doesn't give a unified feel, though.
Phish - Round Room - 9/3/2008
I like singing along to these songs, even though several ("Mong Song" and "Walls of the Cave," for instance) feature multiple singers that are intentionally not aligned with each other. Most songs on the album aren't single style, but I often find myself wanting to listen to a particular one.
Phish - Undermind - 9/4/2008
This almost sounds like a different band than the guys who made the albums full of bouncy silly songs in the 1990s. There's a lot of emphasis on harmonies and love songs (with a nontraditional bent). I really like "Access Me" and "Scents and Subtle Sounds."
Astor Piazzolla - Vuelvo al Sur - 9/4/2008
Seven live performances and a song from a film line this album by the most reknowned tango composer. There are lots of sharp moments in these tunes, focusing the listener's attention during otherwise calm seas. I'm not sure if that would be distracting while dancing, but it makes good listening.
Wilson Pickett - A Man And A Half - 9/4/2008
This 2-disc greatest hits compilation has 44 songs including a few duplicates in live form. A lot of great songs in this collection live in the collective culture of the U.S., but I hadn't associated them to Pickett until listening to this. Given Pickett's reputation for intensity, many songs feel a little subdued, possibly due to recording technology.
Pink Floyd - The Piper At the Gates of Dawn - 9/4/2008
Far removed from the epic and narrative Pink Floyd albums of later years, Syd Barrett's quirky lyrics and psychedelic musical tastes is lots of fun. I often sing "Bike," "Chapter 24," and "Astronomy Domine" in random situations.
Pink Floyd - A Saucerful of Secrets - 9/4/2008
"Spooky" might best describe the music on this album. Spacy explorations and whispered lyrics give that ephemeral sense, but some songs keep hold of the anchor, a foot in everyday life.
Pink Floyd - Ummagumma - 9/4/2008
The live disc has fairly conventional versions of "Astronomy Domine" and "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" and long and spacy versions of "Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun" and "A Saucerful of Secrets." The second disc has experimental pieces composed by each of the four band members. This stuff is on another planet from the rock spectaculars of the late 1970s, but it's a planet with very interesting landscapes.
Pink Floyd - Obscured By Clouds - 9/5/2008
The film The Valley: Obscured By Clouds isn't great and Pink Floyd's soundtrack isn't very prominent in it. The album version of the soundtrack, however, has several great songs. "Childhood's End" and "Free Four" are upbeat songs about aging and death. "When You're In" and "The Gold It's In The..." have fun simple music. This is probably Pink Floyd's most overlooked album.
Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother - 9/5/2008
The title opus is a phenomenal work of sweeping music with symphonic sensibilities but without the trainwreck of "symphonic rock." The middle three tracks are pleasant in or out of the album's context. "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" is long and weird, worth listening to a few times but not durable like the title track.
Pink Floyd - Meddle - 9/5/2008
Meddle is the bridge between Pink Floyd's early work of long spacey pieces mixed with simple songs and their years of studio precision and signature rock songs. "One Of These Days" does an excellent job of ramping up energy and "Echoes" is 23 minutes of beautiful. "San Tropez" and "Seamus" feel out of place, the echoes of 1960s Floyd.
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon - 9/5/2008
I listened to this album on repeat almost every night for about a year. When I play it now, I still love every note. I love the stereo effects on "Running," I love the chord progression on "Any Colour You Like," I love the lyrics on "Time." This changed my outlook.
Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here - 9/5/2008
Shine On You Crazy Diamond is a wonderful exploratory homage. The three normal-length songs are all great. This is a cagey concept album.
Pink Floyd - Animals - 9/8/2008
"Dogs," "Pigs (Three Different Ones)," and "Sheep" have some of Floyd's best rock basslines and riffs in radio-format-busting length. The imagery in the lyrics (and its interplay with the famous flying pig) is worth exploring in the light of an image I saw declaring the album about types of people.
Pink Floyd - The Wall - 9/8/2008
In my mind, this is the best rock opera. The album is both a set of good songs and a single long song. Its power comes from being personal, a much more direct Pink Floyd than their spacey songs and subtle metaphors.
Pink Floyd - The Final Cut - 9/8/2008
With some of Waters's most direct lyrics, this album takes world leaders of the early 1980s to task for a warlike mindset. The best parts are the songs from the point of view of individuals affected by war: "The Gunners Dream," "Paranoid Eyes," and "The Final Cut."
Pink Floyd - A Momentary Lapse of Reason - 9/8/2008
For all Roger Waters's songwriting prowess, I connect most personally with the Pink Floyd albums David Gilmour did. Maybe it's because I'm not from a military family or maybe it's because I bought this album when its lyrics and mood well matched my emotions, but this is my favorite Floyd album to contemplate.
Pink Floyd - The Division Bell - 9/8/2008
It's a long way from the Piper to the Bell, but it's an interesting evolution to hear. The Division Bell focuses on communication while maintaining classic Floyd elusiveness; the Publius Enigma is still unsolved. Were it any other band, "Keep Talking" would probably be my favorite song in their catalog, but for Pink Floyd I have to award the distinction based on mood.
Pink Floyd - Works - 9/8/2008
On the surface, Pink Floyd's early singles and "Grooving With A Pict" are an odd complement to songs from Meddle, Dark Side of the Moon, and Saucerful of Secrets. But aside from "Arnold Layne" between two tracks from Meddle, the album flows pretty well. The starts and ends of some songs differ from their original album, but not enough to justify the purchase of this album. "Free Four" and "Embryo" are two great tunes that many casual Floyd fans don't have.
David Palmer and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Music of Pink Floyd Orchestral Maneuvers - 9/9/2008
Electric guitar and drum kit are present in most of these maneuvers, making them a lame hybrid of rock and symphony. Had Pink Floyd felt The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon would be improved by more horns and strings, I'm sure they would have added them, accompanied by better guitar playing than this album. "Hey You" is the least lame selection.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Peter Scholes - Us and Them: Symphonic Pink Floyd - 9/9/2008
This is probably the only album of symphonic rock covers I own with any redeeming musical value. There's no guitar, no snare drum, and no slavish devotion to precise recreation. The tracks (all taken from Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall) are all recognizeable, but if you don't focus on matching lyrics to string swells, they're just music. Themes well-suited for an orchestra are repeated, making several tracks longer than the original song. The album starts with "Time" and ends with "Time (The Old Tree With Winding Roots Behind The Lake Of Dreams Mix)," but the intervening hour has been so relaxing that it feels like a return to a theme rather than a repitition to fill space.
Robert Plant - Fate of Nations - 9/10/2008
Plant's voice is as clear and intriguing as ever, but the music isn't very exciting. The general message is one of concern for the world, but I'd want to listem more if the guitars were toned down.
The Platters - Greatest Hits - 9/10/2008
I've encountered "The Great Pretender" and "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" several times elsewhere, but the other tracks are new to me; they sound more or less like the well known two. They're probably better mixed with other music of similar vintage than all on their own.
Pop Will Eat Itself - Now For A Feast - 9/10/2008
I bought this album because I loved their later album Dos Dedos Mis Amigos. This album, however, doesn't have the varied influences of their later work. It has a very working class British rock sound with added distortion. The lyrics seem kind of catchy, but they don't come through clear enough.
Pop Will Eat Itself - The Pop Will Eat Itself Cure for Sanity - 3/30/2009
A great mix of electronic and rock from the early 1990s. Both versions of "X Y & Zee" are great fun. Some songs have good lyrics, though not generally as good as Dos Dedos Mis Amigos. They've all got a great sound with power and substance.
Primus - Pork Soda - 9/10/2008
These songs are varied, weird and fun. "Mr. Krinkle" sounds like Les Claypool is playing a pig with a bow. The album has a redneck feel but is easy for a city boy to like.
Primus - Animals Should Not Try To Act Like People - 9/10/2008
Packaged with a DVD of all their music videos (which any rock fan should watch), the CD contains five new Primus songs; some are long, leading to 28 minutes of total music with insightful lyrics. I was particularly amused by "Mary the Ice Cube."
Prince and the New Power Generation - Love Symbol - 9/10/2008
(Technically, the album's title is Prince's notorious unpronounceable symbol.) My main complaint with this album is its failure to indicate "Sexy M.F." is edited to replace "fucker" with a high-pitched wail which doesn't match the envelope of the song. Where's the sticker saying "Adult Warning: Censored Lyrics?" The album's got some good songs, including "7" and the over-the-top "3 Chains O' Gold," but a lot of them feel derivative.
Prince - Planet Earth - 1/20/2010
The rockesque songs are pretty fun, particularly "Chelsea Rodgers." The R&Besque songs fail to be particularly sexy or interesting. The CD presentation is pretty cool, though.
Procol Harum - The First Four - 7/1/2008
A 2-disc collection of the band's first four albums, "Procol Harum," "Shine On Brightly," "A Salty Dog," and "Home." Though I hadn't heard any of their music before buying this album (at Douglas Adams's recommendation), it sounds strikingly familiar. I don't know how much of their sound is a reflection of the ambient sound of the late 1960s and how much of the ambient sound of the late 1960s is a reflection of Procol Harum. They also activate strains from later work like Jethro Tull and early King Crimson. Their instruments can all be heard distinctly, but they are masterfully blended, particularly the play between piano and organ.
Various Artists - Punk-O-Rama Vol-2 - 9/11/2008
Punk-O-Rama is a series of compilations of songs from a bunch of punk bands for low price. On this volume, most songs are from mid-90s albums. It doesn't have too many standouts, but "Code Blue" by T.S.O.L and "Whatever Didi Wants" by NOFX are amusing. The best part of the compilation format is it doesn't drag down into one band's repetitive sound.
Various Artists - Punk-O-Rama 4: Straight Outta The Pit - 9/11/2008
25 more decent punk songs on the fourth Epitaph compilation. "Hopeless Romantic" by The Bouncing Souls is my favorite punk song on the album. I'm not sure who decided "Big In Japan" by Tom Waits counted as punk, but it's an amusing addition.
Various Artists - Punk-O-Rama 5 - 9/11/2008
More than usual, this compilation seems to have a similar sound across most of the bands. My favorite tracks stand far away from that sound, with groovy guitar and bass riffs from The (International) Noise Conspiracy ("Smash It Up") and Refused ("Refused Are Fucking Dead (EP version)"). It's also got the great celtpunk "Good Rats" by Dropkick Murphys.
Various Artists - Punk-O-Rama 6: 2001 - 9/11/2008
This is my favorite Punk-O-Rama compilation. It's got great songs by Guttermouth, Deviates, The Bouncing Souls, Bad Religion, The Business, and others. The album art references to the movie 2001 makes me remember how few people showed the film or made references to it when we hit the actual year.
Various Artists - Punk-O-Rama 7 - 9/11/2008
This compilation features good songs by the usual suspects including The (International) Noise Conspiracy, NOFX, and Bad Religion. I liked tracks by bands I hadn't noticed before: Division Of Laura Lee ("Black City") and 98 Mute ("M.A.D").
Various Artists - Punk-O-Rama 8 - 9/12/2008
The compilation is up to two discs now with only one artist appearing twice. The genre boundaries are relaxed a little with a few songs which feel a little more hard rock or heavy metal than punk. Two hip-hop songs also share the space, but Sage Francis's "Makeshift Patriot" is a message punk fans can love. Thanks to Punk-O-Rama, I'm going to keep my eye out for Division of Laura Lee and The (International) Noise Conspiracy; this edition also has good songs by Bad Religion, Matchbook Romance, and Pulley.
Various Artists - Punk The Clock Vol. 2 - 12/10/2008
Aparently mildly distorted guitars with high-volume emotional singing now counts as punk. This punk-pop isn't particularly interesting, but it's okay as background energy music.
Putumayo Presents - Cairo to Casablanca: An Arabic Musical Odyssey - 9/30/2008
A lot of Arabic music I have includes elecronic elements, producing a modern world beat sound. This compilation sounds modern in style but traditional in content. Hand percussion and strummed strings are a great combination. Despite the title, most of the artists are Algerian, but I suspect there's a lot of cultural flow in the desert.
Putamayo Presents - Gypsy Groove - 9/12/2008
A collection of Roma music mixed with electrobeats and hip hop style from Europe and beyond. These are mixed very well, with synthetic elements sliding seamlessly with traditional gypsy style. "Sadagora Hot Dub (Shantel Remix)" by Amsterdam Klezmer Band and "Vino Iubirea Mea (!DelaDap Remix)" by Eastenders are just two of the good songs to sample.
Putamayo Presents - Arabic Groove - 9/12/2008
It's a shame a lot of Americans have associated "Arabic" with violence and guys who want to outlaw fun, because contemporary Arabic music is full of good times. The traditional Arabic singing style can overlay a lot of different grooves, allowing for expansive collaboration opportunities. I liked the tracks by Amr Diab, Hisham Abbas, and Fadela & Sahraoui particularly.
Putamayo Presents - Brazillian Groove - 9/12/2008
A lot of the songs on this compilation use samba or bossa nova as elements in a synthetic work rather than the other way around. Zuco 103's "Outro Lado" and Carlinhos Brown's "Lagoinha" and others sound good, but in the end the drum machines win over the classic style vocals.
Putamayo Presents - Zydeco - 3/30/2009
Accordions pumping, Zydeco is high-energy cultural music. The core rhythms are similar through most songs, so it's not obvious to the casual listener that this is a compilation.
Putamayo Presents - Rumba Flamenco - 3/30/2009
A compilation of one of my favorite genres. I was dancing in my seat to the whole album, so no particular track stood out, but it's all fun.

Ramones - Greatest Hits - 1/30/2009
Credited with founding punk rock music, their peppy repetitive chords still reverberate through punk a quarter century later, but their songs make me think more of the Beach Boys. This album is in roughly chronological order and the songs work well as singles. That the previous owner spilled soda on the case and insert makes the album feel more authentic.
The Red Army Choir - The Best Of The Red Army Choir: The Definitive Collection - 9/12/2008
The Soviet Union's army engaged in many activities detrimental to humanity, but organizing a choir was not one of them. They sing with an interesting mix of classical European and Russian folk sound. Not knowing Russian, propaganda songs like "The Red Army Is The Strongest" don't have an effect on my ideas, but still sound good.
Soviet Army Chorus & Band - Soviet Army Chorus & Band conducted by Colonel Boris Alexandrov - 9/15/2008
This collection is full of pomp and strangeness. I'm not sure how much of my enjoyment of "Tipperary" was from the quality of the performance versus the amusement of a few dozen soviet army men singing an old English song. "Along Peter's Street," "Kalinka," and "Bandura" are also good.
Various Artists - Red Hot + Rio - 9/15/2008
Part of a series of AIDS-awareness compilations, this one features remixes of and tributes to the music of Brazil's Antonio Carlos Jobim. The 1960s Verve feel pervades the album with good performances by Crystal Waters ("The Boy From Ipanema"), David Byrne + Marisa Monte ("Waters of March"), and Gilberto Gil ("Refazenda").
Lou Reed - Growing Up In Public - 9/15/2008
This autobiographical album has a lot of great songwriting. "How Do You Speak to an Angel" speaks to an experience shared by schoolboys everywhere, "Love Is Here To Stay" could be about any number of liberal couples while "The Power of Positive Drinking" is an amusing stroll of poetics.
Lou Reed - New York - 9/15/2008
This album has a very difinitive time and place: New York in the late 1980s. "Sick of You," "Hold On," and others have a very direct correspondence to specific people and issus. I didn't realize the AIDS theme of the beautiful of "Halloween Parade" until I read the liner notes and I'm not sure just who "Last Great American Whale" is about. I guess I missed out on some subtleties of the '80s.
Lou Reed - Magic and Loss - 9/15/2008
This album has a lot of imagery, but I tend to lose it in the rather boring guitar. "What's Good" and "Power and Glory" at the beginning and "Magic and Loss" at the end are god, as are "Sword of Damocles" and "Gassed and Stroked."
Lou Reed - Ecstacy - 9/15/2008
The guitars are a good mix between rhythm and buzz. The songs explore drugs, dangerous sex, and other familiar Reed subjects. The 18-minute "Like a Possum" stays just out of the jaws of dragging on. I also liked "Modern Dance" and "Rock Minuet."
Lou Reed - Legendary Lou Reed - 9/16/2008
Three CDs of material from Reed's RCA catalog. Though the liner notes mention Reed's lyrical focus on subcultures, most of the songs on the album are rather safe. "Walk On The Wild Side" might be unnerving for middle america, but they didn't include anything as extreme as "Heroin." That said, all the songs on this compilation are worthy of inclusion. Many are quite uplifting, all are beautiful.
Various Artists - RORX: The Tenth Annual Reggae On The Rocks - 9/16/2008
Even though I've lived in Colorado my whole life, I've never made it to Red Rocks in late August for the big reggae festival. This compilation features just Burning Spear, Israel Vibration, Black Uhuru, and The Skatalites, so it's not necessarily representational of the event, but it's a decent mix of roots. And given reggae's repetitive nature, it might be a better choice than owning individual records with all these songs on them.
R.E.M. - Murmur - 9/29/2008
Coming to the group's debut album after listening to most of their other offerings, it doesn't seem like a first effort. The sound is seamless with other work in the '80s with solid guitar rhythms and mossy lyrics. Listening is fun and it sounds like playing was as well.
R.E.M. - Lifes Rich Pageant - 9/17/2008
This album has a very bop around feeling. It's easy to let the creative lyrics pass by and just sing the repeating word choruses, but it can also be deconstructed with deliberation. Note: The back cover misleads about the track order.
R.E.M. - Document - 9/17/2008
The slightly distorted guitars on this album sound very standard, but I don't know how much of that impression is due to R.E.M.'s influence in the last 20 years. "King of Birds" is a neat almost experimental song. I think "It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)" works so well in part because the lyrics are often out of sync with the guitars, but perfectly in sync with the drums.
R.E.M. - Green - 9/17/2008
Every song on this album is fun to sing along with (and not just the chorus). There's not a lot to be said about the instrumentation other than it fits nicely around Stipe's voice.
R.E.M. - Monster - 9/17/2008
A lot of songs have a very heavy guitar sound. It's enjoyable, but I'm glad it's not a sound they used on many other albums. At the end of the album, I feel ready to float away.
R.E.M. - Reveal - 1/6/2010
Full of string sections and production value, songs alternate between catchy and overly schmaltzy. "Imitation of Life," "The Lifting," and "Disappear" are all in the former category.
R.E.M. - Around the Sun - 9/17/2008
These songs have a gentile feel to them, but they aren't lightweight. Keyboard parts blend in well and Michael Stipe sounds as if he's conversing with the listener.
R.E.M. - Accelerate - 12/1/2008
This album definitely has an accelerated pace, finishing in less than 35 minutes. I liked "Supernatural Superserious" and "Until the Day is Done," but the hurried pace detracted from enjoying much of the music. Monster was a better rendition of loud and distorted.
David Thomas Roberts - American Landscapes - 9/17/2008
I know David, and he definitely has a direct intellectual and emotional connection between these compositions and the places and people they are inspired by. And while I also love to stare at maps and explore terrain, but I don't have a strong connection between my ear and the geographic part of my brain. So pieces like "The Girl who Moved Away," "Through the Bottomlands," and "Roberto Clemente" please me purely through sound, not through any associations.
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - 18 Greatest Hits - 9/24/2008
Motown doesn't get any sweeter than Smokey Robinson. Beautiful voices and great session players combine for songs both upbeat and calming.
Various Artists - Rock Against Bush Vol. 1 - 9/18/2008
It's not about "Let's be punk rock and hate the government"; it's about "Let's be punk rock and change the government" reads the liner notes. 26 songs by well- and lesser-known punk bands feature some that are explicitly against Bush policies (The Offspring's "Baghdad" and Ministry's "No W" for instance) and others with a broader social view (the accelerating reggae song "Overcome (The Recapitulation)" by RX Bandits is an interesting addition to the mix).
Judy Roderick & the Forbears - When Im Gone - 1/30/2009
Lovely blues with a country flavor. Judy had a great voice and a lot of emotion comes out in timbre.
Various Artists - The Rough Guide to Merengue & Bachata - 9/18/2008
Simple production fills this compilation with traditional Dominican sounds. There's a very metallic sound not found in a lot of other Latin music, giving a feeling of something both old and new. Nelson Roig's "El Dueño De La Noche" is my favorite song on the disc.
Various Artists - The Rough Guide to the Music of Egypt - 9/18/2008
A good mix of male and female vocalists with the standard drum and string accompaniment. A few songs like Mohamed Mounir's "Sala Fi Serri We Gahri" and Angham's "Leih Sebtaha" use some modern techniques, but most of the album has a good timeless feel to it. Smudging unfortunately makes my copy unreliable.
Various Artists - The Rough Guide to Yodel - 9/18/2008
This wide-ranging compilation features sources you'd expect (Alpine Europe and American cowboys), yodel techniques from other cultures, and some modern songs with some yodel thrown in. The latter category includes the Bollywood song "Main Hoon Jhoom Jhoom Jhumroo" by Kishore Kumar and "Pygmy Divorce" by Francis Bebey, a very humorous 1970s African song. The three-part arrangement of "Inuit Wedding" is very intriguing.
Various Artists - The Rough Guide to the Music of Thailand - 9/30/2008
This compilation presents significant variety in sound. Based on this sample, Thai pop music seems to feature a lot more ethnic music elements than other East Asian pop music I've heard. On some songs, the voices sound traditional on top of modern instruments, on others the relationship is reversed. This follows the trends of modern Thailand quite well.
Various Artists - The Rough Guide to Tango Nuevo - 9/30/2008
A lot of artists have done a lot of different things with tango as a base. This compilation features songs with tango violin as a base, instrumentals with a taste of tango, and electronic constructions with tango mixed in. This might not be the best album to put on to dance with your partner around the room, but individual songs could be a great addition to a dance.
Ruben Romero & Lydia Torea - Flamenco Fantasía: Tradition meets Nouveau - 1/20/2010
A mix of modern rumba and other flamenco nuevo and some slower trad tunes. Despite the change in tempo, the album flows well and most of it is danceable.
Various Artists - Run Lola Run original motion picture soundtrack - 9/18/2008
I think this was the first electronic music I bought and it's still great. The sometimes hard, sometimes ambient music is an integral part of the film and helps maintain focus on its own. The seven remix tracks don't feel repetitive; I'm usually glad the music isn't over when they arrive.
Rush - Rush - 7/1/2008
There's nothing particularly striking about the quintessential Canadian power trio's debut album. It's eight solid tracks, a good foundation for three decades of rocking out.
Rush - Fly By Night - 9/19/2008
Simple music executed perfectly. Between "Rivendell," "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" (about Lee and Lifeson) and "Best I Can," this feels like a high school album. It's just getting warmed up for something complex and exciting.
Rush - Caress of Steel - 7/1/2008
Rush hit their stride with this album. Both long ballads ("The Necromancer" and "The Fountain of Lamneth") are strong, though neither reach the power of "2112." They also demonstrated their ability for awesome songs of single length with "Lakeside Park" and "Bastille Day."
Rush - 2112 - 9/19/2008
The title track, a 20 minute epic in seven parts in which an electric guitar starts a revolution in a dystopic future, is a high point of 1970s rock. The other six songs further demonstrate rock instrument mastery and lyricial skill.
Rush - A Farewell To Kings - 1/12/2009
Fantasy rock featuring the epic tour de force "Xanadu." The other epic, "Cygnus X-1" is a little heavy for space flight. The four short songs are all pretty good.
Rush - Hemispheres - 9/19/2008
"The Trees" is the closest thing Rush has to a folk song (a la "One Tin Soldier") and it balances the mythic "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres." The latter isn't engaging as many of their other epics.
Rush - Moving Pictures - 9/19/2008
Each song is great, but the sum of the parts is no less than the whole. "Red barchetta" is one of rock's best songs about being a teenager while "Witch hunt" is a groovy reminder of the darkness of censorship. The hit singles are good too.
Rush - Exit... Stage Left - 9/19/2008
Aside from "Broon's Bane" leading into "The Trees" and the crowd singing along with "Closer to the Heart," Rush live isn't very different than Rush in the studio, so this isn't a great addition to a full collection. However, the material comes from five different albums and melds well together, so it's a good choice for a casual fan.
Rush - Signals - 9/19/2008
25 years later, "Subdivisions" still feels contemporary in all its synthy presence. The whole album does a good job of capturing a social moment and making it resonate for decades.
Rush - Grace Under Pressure - 9/22/2008
The keyboard-based four-to-six minute song Rush is quite different than the 1970s guitar Epic Rush, but both are good. This album is able to consider the subject of nuclear war between Soviets and Americans while still remaining fun and upbeat. "Afterimage" and "The Body Electric" are great.
Rush - Hold Your Fire - 9/22/2008
On the whole, a fairly lackluster offering by the group. "Turn The Page" sounds groovy and "Tai Shan" is a beautiful song, but the rest sounds like average 1980s rock.
Rush - Presto - 9/22/2008
Presto's songs sound fairly homogenous and much like Hold Your Fire. There are some good parts including "The Pass," "Anagram (for Mongo)", and "Red Tide," but the late '80s were not Rush's best period.
Rush - Roll The Bones - 9/22/2008
After meandering through the late '80s, Rush picked out the elements that worked and put them to use in service of some great lyrics. There's a lot of play between instruments and between lead and backing vocals. "Heresy" is a great example of Peart's songwriting about current affairs.
Rush - Counterparts - 9/22/2008
I think this is some of Rush's best work since the mid-70s. "Leave That Thing Alone" is their best instrumental (portions of epics aside), lyrics are consistently insightful, music is spot on, and the album art is fun.
Rush - Test For Echo - 9/22/2008
Though the album features scads of great lyrics, the music feels like little more than a platform for them. Focusing on a segment of music reveals skillful playing, but the overall sound isn't fantastic.

Earl Scruggs - The Essential Earl Scruggs - 9/23/2008
40 tracks on span the first forty years in the 60+ year career of the world's most influential banjo player. The first disc is three songs with Bill Monroe and 17 with Lester Flatt featuring tunes everyone should hear like "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "Old Salty Dog Blues." The second disc has a mix of selections from the sixties through the eighties including some neat collaborations.
Seven Nations - Seven Nations - 9/23/2008
I associate Seven Nations with loud bagpipe rock because of my concert experience, but this album is fairly calm with a lot of great fiddle, acoustic guitar, and non-overpowering bagpipes. "O'er the Moor and Among the Heather," "Twelve," "Scream," and "Seeds of Life" are all great.
Seven Nations - and now it's come to this - 9/23/2008
This album has some good bouncy rocking songs, but the fiddle is minor in many of them, making them not as neat as some of the band's other work. "jump_START ☮" is an exceptional instrumental with fiddle and talking drum front and center.
Sha-Na-Na - Greatest Hits - 9/23/2008
This is actually the greatest hits from a bunch of other bands in the 1950s. Sha Na Na are (were?) a long-running 1950s rock & roll cover group and a major source of 1950s nostalgia. Of the songs I'd heard before, none are anywhere near as good as the originals. A few I hadn't heard sound alright ("Witch Doctor"), but there's got to be a quality cross-group compilation that would be better than this.
Ravi Shankar - Bridges: the best of Ravi Shankar - 9/23/2008
A full CD of beautiful music by the sitar player best known in the west (George Harrison doesn't count). The collection contains both medium-length and short pieces, fast numbers and slow tunes. I should start putting "Chase" on some mixed CDs. The tunes are all rich with many (often well-known) colaborators.
Sharon Shannon - Each little thing - 9/23/2008
The great thing about accordions is they adapt to divergent ethnic genres. Irish accordion sounds different than Cajun, Latin, German, or Russian accordion. And Sharon Shannon plays a mighty fine Irish accordion. She even stretches out a bit for "Libertango."
Sherefe - Opium - 9/23/2008
Seven beautiful songs and instrumentals from the Middle East and southeast Europe. The players work very well together and create beautiful melodies that develop slowly. "Yianni Mou To" and "Alf Leyla Wa Leyla" are my favorites.
Nina Simone - Legendary Concert Recordings - 9/24/2008
Nina's voice is beautiful and distinctive, flying between blues and jazz, and she has good rapport with the crowd. A lot of these songs suceed in the quintessential blues quality: feeling so good about feeling so bad.
Die Singphoniker/Godehard Joppich - Passio Domini: Gregorian Chant from St. Gall II - 7/21/2008
This two-CD album has some great stereo effects. It also features several beautiful solos.
Sly & The Family Stone - There's A Riot Goin' On - 9/24/2008
A lot of the songs on this album find a groove and stay in it for quite a while. It's also got some more focused songs, including my favorite Sly number "Family Affair."
Sly & The Family Stone - Remember who you are - 9/24/2008
There are a surprising number of Sly compilations with disjoint track selections. This one has a lot of groovy songs I encounter less frequently, probably because they're from the end of the group's career.
Sly & The Family Stone - Star Power - 9/24/2008
This compilation from "Direct Source Special Products Inc." doesn't have any liner notes and doesn't appear in Wikipedia's discography. It's got a lot of old material with a pre-James Brown R&B feel. It sounds good, but not like typical Sly.
Sly & The Family Stone - The Essential Sly & The Family Stone - 9/25/2008
Two discs of groovy funk from Sly's 10 albums with Epic. The group's music carries strong social messages, but is also a lot of fun (which is itself a message). This compilation is probably the best single-album choice for folks who want some funk in their lives.
Smashing Pumpkins - gish - 9/25/2008
The group's first album demonstrated their two primary modes, intense and bittersweet. None of the songs are awesome, but they're all decent.
Smashing Pumpkins - pisces iscariot - 9/25/2008
Most of the songs are slow, touching, and spare including the great acoustic cover of "Landslide." I don't like the periodic aggressive distorted interruptions, though.
The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness - 9/26/2008
I don't know what is special about the performances on this album, but every lyric, every note, every chord, and every bit of amplifier noise works together to create perfect moments. It appeals to multiple moods and multiple sensibilities.
Soul Hooligan - Music Like Dirt - 9/26/2008
Hip-hop vocals sung clearly with live instruments leads to a much better sound than drum machines and samples. "Algebra" is phenomenal and the rest of the songs are great. I'm quite disappointed the group didn't continue after this great release.
Soul Kitchen - Soul Kitchen - 9/26/2008
I bought this album because of the band's name, not knowing the concept of "hair metal." Though the genre is associated with the 1980s, these Californians were still trying to sound like Skynyrd it in the early '90s. Theirs isn't any better or worse than any other hair metal I've heard, which says something about the genre. This might make a good white elephant.
Various Artists - soundings1 :: music from visualsoundings 2002-2003 - 9/26/2008
A compilation of experimental music performed at Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. A lot of this sounds pretty good. Much of it is minimalistic and creates a good background (though if these are the sorts of artists who decry background music, it didn't do a good job). I particularly liked "Draft Number Eleven" by devslashnull and "Funeral Hymn" by The Experimental Playground Ensemble.
Sound Tribe Sector 9 - Offered Schematics Suggesting Peace - 1/28/2010
The album starts with natural sounds and ambient electronica sounds, then moves into medium-quality rock jam, ending with two good long tracks.
Squirrel Nut Zippers - Perennial Favorites - 9/26/2008
I think this beats out Zoot Suit Riot for the Best Swing Revival Album. "Ghost of Stephen Foster" is one of my favorite songs of the 1990s and it's joined by several other fantastic ones. The retro flower catalog CD booklet is neat too.
U. Srinivas & Michael Brook - Dream - 1/15/2010
Indian-style mandolin and experimental electric guitar work quite well together. It feels like there's more emphasis on the latter sonically, but it's an equal partnership stylistically.
John St. John - Flight of the Eagle - 7/2/2008
Pleasant New Age synthesizer inspired by (if the cover is any indication) eagles flying over computer-generated bodies of water. It's not as lame as I remember it, but it's not spectacular either.
Staind - Disfunction - 9/26/2008
Heavy metal music whose message is generally "Woe is me!" "Just Go" and "Mudshovel" are decent songs as is the acoustic secret track at the end, but most of the album sounds like a grown man with a loud guitar whining like a goth teenager.
Frank Steiner, Jr. - I Ching Symphony - 7/31/2008
I'd mentally filed this under "lame new age music" and only played it once or twice, but it's actually not bad. Aside from the wave sound effects for "K'an (water)," little evokes my sense of each trigram, but the music is still enjoyable. The soft synthesizer is much less overpowering than in typical Chinese pop songs and actually carries the listener through a pleasurable listening experience. This might be the best new age album I have for working productively, though that may be damning with faint praise.
Stereolab - Mars Audiac Quintet - 9/29/2008
Stereolab's songs are a lot of fun and I tend to sing along to myself, even though most of the words are in French, which I don't speak. The music is somewhat repetitive, but in a way that lets the listener groove out and which provides a good base for the vocals. The album ends with some chill instrumentals.
Stereolab - Margerine Eclipse - 9/29/2008
Though the group has experimented in a lot of different directions, their core sound is very resilient. This is a good album to work to; I particularly liked "Dear Marge."
Steve Stevens - Flamenco.A.Go.Go - 6/27/2008
Fairly up-tempo flamenco, in some cases mixed with nontradtitional elements. It sounds like there's some electric guitar on a few of the early tracks. "Feminova" starts with the clichéd guy talking about a stereo system. The playing is pretty good, but doesn't really stand out.
Various Artists - The Stomper Time Records Story - 10/1/2008
From back when rock and country sat at the same Thanksgiving table, this compilation of "Memphis rockabillies, hillbillies & honky tonkers" has a lot of typical music of the time and sveral great songs. Compilations are great when their source material dispenses with its subject in about two minutes, leaving room for 36 tracks.
Jayme Stone - The Utmost - 10/1/2008
Jayme has great expressiveness with the banjo and the compositions do a beautiful job of weaving its phrases with the complementary sounds of guitar, fiddle, and other string instruments. These eleven instrumentals would be a great offering to someone who thinks all banjo music sounds twangy.
Straylight - (?) - 10/2/2008
When I was an RA, one of my residents gave me his band's CD. It's a spacy mildly-distorted rock with vocals which sound as if they're coming through a window in the next room. I think it sounds pretty good, good for working or mid-energy relaxing.
Strunz & Farah - Live - 1/22/2010
Lots of hot flamenco playing. The audience isn't prominent and there's no noticeable segways, so it's essentially a studio album with one take per tune.
Sugarcubes - Stick Around For Joy - 10/2/2008
Björk's first band has fairly simple songs that sound like they're played at a party. Not too deep, but reasonably fun.
Sugarcubes - Life's Too Good - 12/10/2008
Björk's high and perky vocals are balanced by Einar Örn's more stable words. I particularly liked "Deus," "F***ing in Rhythm & Sorrow," "Coldsweat," and "Cat" (in Icelandic).
Sweet Honey In The Rock - Selections 1976-1988 - 10/2/2008
34 songs from the first eight albums by the celebrated black women's socially-minded a capella group. A lot of the songs are beautifully sung with poignant lyrics, but listening to over two hours straight drags me down. This would be a good album to have on MP3 so the honey is dispensed a little at a time.

Talking Heads - Little Creatures - 10/3/2008
While their greatest hits are lots of fun to sing along to, several of the songs on this album are good for reflective listening with neat lyrics sung rather sweetly. I really like the music on "Road to Nowhere."
Talking Heads - "Naked" - 10/3/2008
Compared to their catchy early work, this album is fairly subdued and exploratory. Lots of the songs are still danceable fun like "Mr. Jones," but others are more introspective.
Tangerine Dream - Alpha Centauri - 10/6/2008
Clear and present flute, rumbling drums, and meandering keyboards create a very spacy ambiance on this very influential band. Tangerine Dream's early period did for contemporary music what 2001: A Space Odyssey did for science fiction. The electronic music I really like usually has reflections of Tangerine Dream.
Tangerine Dream - Le Parc - 10/6/2008
My first association with the synthesizer timbre which starts the album is with bad '80s music, but the first three tracks work with it phenomenally, creating music that's both ambient and energetic. The tracks are all named for famous public parks. Yellowstone's the only one I've been to and I didn't get a strong resonance between the place and the music. Perhaps it's a better match for the major city parks.
Tangerine Dream - Turn of the Tides - 10/6/2008
Tracks on this album differ significantly in elements added to the synth base, but the album coheres nicely. "Firetongues," ""Death of a nightingale," and "Twilight Brigade" have my favorite sounds on the album.
Tangerine Dream - Ambient Monkeys - 10/6/2008
Originally played before concerts as folks trickled in, this music has a lot of interesting ambient sounds including, yes, a monkey. The album contains two compositions by Bach and Mozart set in a jungle/zoo ambiance, but I'm not too thrilled about them. I really dug other tracks including "Calyx calamander" and "Lemon Vendor Khaly."
Tangerine Dream - 220 Volt Live - 12/2/2008
A quality, if guitar-heavy, performance. I particularly liked the title track and "Backstreet Hero." The cover of "Purple Haze" isn't very interesting.
Various Artists mixed and compiled by DJ Red Buddha - TANGOmotion: neo tango chill 2 - 10/1/2008
I don't know if tango is particularly well suited to electronic mixing or if electronic mixing is particularly well suited to tango. Perhaps it actually takes a lot of skill to do it right, but the dozen artists on this compilation do a marvelous job of creating music which is both interesting tango and interesting mix music. "La Pampa Seca" by Otros Aires is just one very groovy selection.
The Tannahill Weavers - Capernaum - 10/6/2008
A fitting mix of traditional Scottish dance tunes and slow songs in the soothing dialect. The title track and "The Braes o' Balquhidder" are two fine examples of the latter, but the whole album is solid.
The Tannahill Weavers - Live & In Session - 10/6/2008
I like the live half of this album more; it's got more energy to it as in "The Athol Gathering." The studio half featues some lovely vocal harmonies as in "The Cruel Brother."
Thievery Corporation - sounds from the Thievery hi-fi - 10/7/2008
This is a well-constructed chill-out album. Dub reggae is the primary ingredient, but bosa nova is well-blended in for instance "Scene at the Open Air Market" and ambient style is added in "The FOundation" and "The Oscillator."
Thievery Corporation - Abductions and Reconstructions - 10/7/2008
Most of these fifteen remixes of various artists get into very repetitive dub loops of a single fragment of the song. The first track, however, stands out as very dynamic and fun: the remix of David Byrne's "Dance on Vaseline." The remaining hour and change are best left to the background.
Ali Farka Toure - the source - 10/8/2008
With a slow and contemplative pace, Mali's music master lets his unassuming guitar share a simple blues. There's an interesting sounding African instrument on "Goye Kur" and beautiful call-and-response vocals on "Roucky" and others.
Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder - Talking Timbuktu - 10/8/2008
Although I'd heard "Diaraby" before, the first time it came on at the end of this slow and sweet album I had to stop working and cry with the beauty. I could tell it was about love, even though it's in the Bambara language. Many songs are long with few words, a good fit for desert blues and quite distinct from the cramped blues of the Americans.
Ali Farka Toure - Niafunké - 10/9/2008
The tracks are shorter on this album and a little more perky, a little more homey. Njarka violin adds a great sound to "Allah Uya" and "Howkouna." I also love the happy sound of "Cousins."
Various Artists - Trance Planet - 10/9/2008
This is not the thump-thump "trance" electronic music, but songs of awe and devotion from around the world. Several I've encountered before like Zakir Hussain's "Balinese Fantasy" and Cesaria Evora's "Sodade." "Nwahulwana" by Orchestra Marrabenta Star de Mocambique is one of the most beautiful songs of elation I've heard. "Tanola Nomads" by Sainkho is good and it never hurts to have a "Petition to Ram" handy. I don't think this album would be super helpful for entering a trance as the ethnic sounds shift, but it's not terribly jarring.
Transglobal Underground - International Times - 10/9/2008
This group impressively pulled sounds from all over the planet. Natacha Atlas's Arabic vocals are balanced by rap-style. Ethnic percussion and other odd instruments (I think there's a quichu in there) is balanced by keyboards and bass. This album has some great grooves.
Transglobal Underground - Psychic Karaoke - 10/9/2008
This album's balance is more to the remix/dub/dance side of Transglobal than the world music fusion side, but it does a good job with both. I learned something interesting from the sample and title of "Good Luck Mr. Gorsky."
Transglobal Underground - rejoice rejoice - 10/9/2008
Drums are the most striking element of this album, and there's a great mix between drum and synthetic sounds. As the title suggests, this is a fun and very upbeat album.
Various Artists - The Trip Hop Test: Part 3 - 10/10/2008
These tracks tend to use a few phrases as mix elements rather than the acid jazz end of the trip hop spectrum. A lot of them are realliy groovy and they flow together rather well. "Fun For Me" by Moloko, "The Weekend Starts Here" by Fatboy Slim, "Break In" by Cirrus, and "Think" by Strata 3 are favorites.
Tuatha - Invocation - 10/10/2008
Spacey tribal trance rock. With two percussionists and a good bassline, they get into some really good grooves. While the electric violin often bugs me during their concerts, it sounds just right on the album. I can focus well while listening to this album.
Various Artists - Tuva: Voices from the Center of Asia - 10/10/2008
This Smithsonian/Folkways collection is probably responsible for bringing awareness of the throat singing of the Siberian steppes to Western ears. The album is largely documentary in its structure, presenting immitations of animals, demonstrations of techniques, and highlighting certain instruments. So while the tracks are very interesting, the album isn't something to groove to. But due to the awareness this album brought, Tuvans made some great appearances with other artists in the '90s.
Type O Negative - Bloody Kisses - 10/10/2008
Self-consciously over-the-top goth metal. Rather than liking particular songs, I like particular sections of this album such as when "We Hate Everyone" changes from low chug-chugs to undistorted lead guitar.
Type O Negative - Slow, Deep and Hard - 1/30/2009
Long, slow, and ponderous tracks with entertaining titles. Not bad as background black noise.

U2 - Boy - 10/10/2008
It's interesting to reflect how far U2 has come in a quarter of a century. The freshman album was one of the best for many bands that made it big in the '60s and '70s. But the first album by rock bands that grew in the '80s often is not very remarkable in retrospect. Maybe that's why they're "Alternative."
U2 - October - 10/10/2008
This album has some great songs with different tones. "Gloria" is a strong though a bit poppy, love song, "Fire" is a solid rock song with neat interplay, and October is a sweet somber song about fall, perhaps the group's song closest to traditional Irish songs in thematic style.
U2 - War - 10/13/2008
In this album, U2 mastered their rock sound. Driving drums lead simple but powerful rock rhythms with socially-conscious lyrics. Overlaid vocals are a subtle effective production effect. And then it ends with ""40"," a beautiful song with a very different tone from the other 9.
U2 - Live Under A Blood Red Sky - 10/13/2008
Some tracks stay close to the album versions, but several have great energy from the crowd and from the band. This album and its associated music videos also contributed greatly to the image of Red Rocks.
U2 - The Unforgettable Fire - 10/13/2008
U2 explores the American West and the figures of the previous generation. There are so many quietly beautiful songs on this album, a thoughtful departure from the standards of rock.
U2 - The Unforgettable Fire (single) - 10/13/2008
Features the album version of the title track, a live version of "A Sort of Homecoming," "The Three Sunrises," "Love Comes Tumbling," and "Bass Trap." The latter is a rare instrumental for the group, quiet and mellow. This isn't a bad CD, as singles go, but I hardly ever listen to it; I should load it onto my computer instead.
U2 - The Joshua Tree - 10/13/2008
Justifiably considered by many to be U2's best work. Guitars that sound far away give voice to the American West theme; lyrics focus on existential struggles, pursued without end. This is perhaps their most American album (in subject) and their most Irish album (in somber tone).
U2 - Rattle and Hum - 10/13/2008
A mix of live songs from the Joshua Tree tour, new songs, and a few covers and collaborations. The theme which crops up all over the album is love for fellow man. It doesn't have a unified feel like U2's other albums, but most of the songs are good.
U2 - Achtung Baby - 10/13/2008
Song subjects turn to personal relationships and away from the social issues and interaction with the environment that Bono featured in the 1980s. The vibrant guitars were also dulled by muddy feedback perhaps influenced by grunge. Many of the songs with this poppy twist have nice lyrics, but I don't find myself wanting to hear them again and again.
U2 - Zooropa - 10/13/2008
Definitely my favorite U2 album from the '90s. It feels very different from most U2 albums, but it's not an awkward feeling. There's depth and care and worry and reflection.
U2 - Pop - 10/14/2008
The title correctly identifies the genre of this album. The songs are fun enough to listen to, but they wear off quickly. Electro/remix style is not what these guys do best.
U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb - 10/14/2008
The grammy was well-deserved. U2 has reclaimed their mastery of pure rock with intense vocals. I can't help but mouth along with the lyrics and if I'm not attached to a computer I usually dance around the room. The personal love songs are better than most of their previous attempts and far exceed the pop average.
U2 - No Line on the Horizon - 1/21/2010
In many cases, this feels like a pop rock album with songs getting lost to sound. It's hard to tell if "Unknown Caller," catchy as it is, is trying for metaphor and being obtuse or just stringing related phrases together. "Cedars of Lebanon" closes the album with a soulful gentile touch.
Ukulele Loki's Gadabout Orchestra - Ukulele Loki's Gadabout Orchestra - 10/14/2008
A cross between retro-Victorian and East European fusion, their songs range from amusing to highly danceable. Ben Fausch's wide tuba range is one of this band's key elements. I heartily recommend their live shows.
Underground Orchestra - Active Ingredient - 12/10/2008
Groovy electric jam instrumentals. Good to work or boogie to.
Us3 - Hand on the Torch - 10/14/2008
When people say they like "all music except rap," I usually refer them to Us3. Mixing old Blue Note jazz riffs with well-enunciated socially-conscious rap lyrics makes for a great listening experience. "Different Rhythms Different People" and "Just Another Brother" are my favorites, but it's good all the way down.

Vangelis - Oceanic - 10/15/2008
Quality soothing music with wave sounds; much better than a CD of whale songs. '80s synthesizer still sounds a bit silly to me, but these guys know how to use it well. "Islands of the Orient" is my favorite track on the album.
Vangelis - China - 1/19/2010
Lots of calm synth with a few gems. "The Dragon" is fun and upbeat and "The Tao of Love" uses a melody from a song I can't quite recall.
Vangelis - Odyssey: The Definitive Collection - 1/26/2010
Movie themes and other catchy focused pieces make up this best-of collection. A few tracks venture into boring synthesizer land, but as a whole this album is more enjoyable than any other set of Vangelis music I've listened to.
Vermillion Lies - Separated by Birth - 10/15/2008
With found-object percussion, a backwards track followed by its forwards one ("tfird"/"drift"), and a song about a zombie circus, this sister duo could come across as a gimmick act. But the concept songs are interesting and much of the second act has lovely family harmonies.
Vermillion Lies - Scream-A-Long EP - 10/15/2008
"Global Warming" is a fabulous song for kids and grownups, freely available on their website. "Found Myself" is a good summary of their instrumental creativity and harmonic voices.
Vermillion Lies - What's in The Box? - 10/15/2008
A short album with lots of good songs, including the tracks on the Scream-A-Long EP. "The Astronomer" and "Take Off Your Shirt" are neat desire songs and the whole album is fun.
Various Artists - Sounds From the Verve Hi-Fi compiled by Thievery Corporation - 10/8/2008
The Thievery Corporation duo are big fans of classical Brazillian music and came up with this quality selection. Note that it is not a remix album and that "The Girl From Ipanema" does not appear (listeners presumably already have it). It does have great selections by Cal Tjader with Lalo Schifrin ("The Fakir"), Astrud Gilberto ("Light My Fire") and Walter Wanderley ("Batucada") among others.
Violent Femmes - New Times - 10/15/2008
I didn't know the Femmes had an album other than their teenage angst masterpiece eponymous album. This album has some fun songs like "This Island Life," some angst songs like "Breakin' Up" and a very odd closer "Jesus of Rio," but it doesn't make it to the high bar set by their initial release. My CD had trouble playing in my laptop, maybe I should consider letting it go.
Väsen - Whirled - 10/15/2008
Traditional norse string music isn't as catchy as traditional Irish music, but this group makes up for it in interesting timbre. I keep humming core melodies quite a while after the album is done. "Shapons Vindaloo" and "30-års Jiggen" are two good tunes.

War - - 10/16/2008
Peace Sign is a very socially-conscious album. It covers issues from inner city poverty to homeless veterans to hopes for the future. It's also got some funky groovy songs about having fun. In sum: the essence of War.
War - Platinum Jazz - 10/16/2008
War is usually quite funky, but this is a compilation of their smooth and chill numbers. A few have lyrics and the first few are upbeat. I think this album would be a great source for remix material.
War - The Best of War… and More - 10/17/2008
The War songs which still kick around in the popular consciousness are all represented. These are mostly songs about having fun and being cool, which is only half of what's important about funk.
Various Artists - Warped Tour 2005 Compilation - 12/8/2008
50 tracks that are reasonably good. A lot are commercial radio friendly (punk pop?), but a few are political or noisy. I didn't find as many gems as in a typical Punk-O-Rama, but it's not bad music to work to.
Roger Waters - The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking - 10/17/2008
The music takes a back seat to the message, but the message isnt so clear. I catch sections of lyrics and then lose track, so I have to read the lyrics to figure out what's going on. This album sounds like Pink Floyd's The Final Cut, but the latter has better music and a clearer point.
Roger Waters - Radio K.A.O.S. - 10/17/2008
Probably my favorite Waters solo album, it places pointed dialog between songs which reinforce the scene. The songs are good even out of the album's context and the storyline is interesting.
Roger Waters - Amused to Death - 10/17/2008
The concept–a monkey watching television–and some of the messages (e.g. "What God Wants") are interesting, but this album suffers from a lack of energy. The first two thirds or so feel like Waters mumbling into your ears with little bits of music in the background. The final four tracks redeem it somewhat with more normal songs and clear lyric images.
Leo Watson - The Original Scat Man - 10/17/2008
An extensive collection of 1930s and '40s big band and jazz featuring the groovy scat cat. The tracks have that comforting warm big band feeling and it's easy to forget that Watson is the focus of the collection. He's more subtle than my mental image of scat, but it's still lots of fun.
Vince Welnick & Missing Man Formation - Mising Man Formation - 10/17/2008
Though obviously inspired by the loss of Jerry Garcia, this isn't just a tribute and it doesn't dwell on the past. Lots of it are quite upbeat like "Golden Days" and "It's Alive" and some are interesting experiments like "Fabiana." Some other parts aren't as good as they could be, dissipating into time. Appropriate, I think.
Dar Williams - The Honesty Room - 10/20/2008
There's some timidity in this album. The music is accompaniment rather than standing on its own. Many of the songs don't deliver the impact that their lyrics could. "The Babysitter's Here" shows that these hurdles can be overcome.
Dar Williams - Mortal City - 10/20/2008
This album touches on a lot of themes and moods, but it does justice to each. Several songs tell stories perfect for sharing with friends in certain circumstances. Others provide a mosaic in support of confronting cold alienation.
Dar Williams - End of the Summer - 10/20/2008
Instruments beside acoustic guitar are used for good effect on several songs. About half of the album is upbeat, the other half is introspective. The flow is decent.
Dar Williams - The Green World - 10/20/2008
This is a great sing-along album. It features high sustain songs, boppin' metaphorical songs, a political history song, and songs of love for life.
Dar Williams - The Beauty of the Rain - 10/20/2008
I get a feeling of reflecting on things and letting them pass away. It's a very introspective album with more poetic angst than the directed angst of many of her other albums.
Dar Williams - My Better Self - 10/20/2008
The music is more rock than folk, but her voice is still melodiously clear and her songwriting is still insightful poetry. "Teen For God" marvelously paints a picture of both an individual handling issues on her own and a whole culture.
Dar Williams - Promised Land - 1/12/2009
Most of the songs work well as both focus and background, good to dance or work to but also good to contemplate. It's hard not to focus on the words to "Buzzer," an upbeat but critical song about not questioning social norms with the setting of the Milgram experiment. Folk that's insightful and fun!
Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan - Hall of Fame - 10/21/2008
The ultimate name in western swing, when people say they like "All music except country," I recommend they give Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys a chance. This CD groups two records featuring great songs and dance tunes. The band is tight with strong lead snare and great melodies on fiddle and steel guitar.
Reverend Billy C. Wirtz - Deep Fried and Sanctified - 3/31/2009
While his persona is a charismatic preacher, the songs poke fun at life in the south, love, and elderly drivers, too. "Will There Be a Shopping Mall in Heaven?" is great stuff.
Various Artists - WOMAD 1996 - 10/21/2008
13 songs from the WOMAD world music festival in the U.K. This includes a lot of strong performances including those by The Kamkars, Shooglenifty, Savina Yannatou & Primavera en Salonico, Ashkhabad, and Abdel Ali Slimani.
Victor Wooten - Yin-Yang - 1/22/2010
I like the instrumental disc+vocal disc approach. The former (Yin) is smooth but varied, reminiscent of the work Wooten did with The Flecktones. The latter (Yang) is pretty funky, channeling a bit of Prince. The two tracks with his young daughter are iffy.
Richard Wright - Wet Dream - 10/21/2008
Water and Gilmour get most Pink Floyd focused attention, leaving Wright underappreciated. This album from 1978 recalls the Floyd feeling circa 1970. The music is quiet and nuanced, the vocals float through the air. It's a lovely dance in the country, far away from the violence inside the Wall.

Various Artists - The Young Flamencos (Los Jovenes Flamencos) - 10/21/2008
18 jumpin' flamenco tracks. None of them stood out to me as totally awesome, but none were bad either. If I can remember these cats' names, I'll get individual albums when I see them.

Zap Mama - Adventures in Afropea 1 - 1/26/2010
Percussive a capella keeps things fun and dynamic. With more time listening, there are some songs I'd want to sing along with, despite not knowing the words (or even which sounds are words…).
Dweezil Zappa - Confessions - 10/22/2008
Influenced by virtuosic metal guitarists of the 1980s, Dweezil shows good talent. Though he probably only gets attention because he shares his father's last name, Dweezil's rock is less social but still fun.
The Mothers of Invention - Freak Out! - 10/21/2008
Very weird but very listenable. Frank Zappa's first album features several single-worthy songs (particularly "Trouble Every Day"), cheezy love songs, and a record side worth of wanderings through weirdness starring Suzy Creamcheese.
Frank Zappa - Sheik Yerbouti - 10/21/2008
If hip-hop artists today know about Zappa, they probably wish they could match this album's marriage of offensive with catchy. "Flakes," "Broken Hearts are for Assholes," "Bobby Brown Goes Down," and "Jewish Princess" would all make Classic Rock radio more interesting.
Zappa/Beefheart/Mothers - Bongo Fury - 10/22/2008
This album is mostly on the Zappa/Mothers side with Captain Beefheart providing great gravelly vocals. Most of the music is fairly straightforward and the album doesn't get into any stage oddities so it's perhaps not very representative of a Zappa concert, but it's probably the most commercially-accessible album featuring Captain Beefheart.
Frank Zappa - Cheap Thrills - 10/21/2008
An odd compilation including several tracks from the You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore series and some original album versions of various songs. "The Torture Never Stops" with Captain Beefheart was an interesting find and other songs are fun, but I'm not quite sure why they're all together here.
Frank Zappa - Strictly Commercial: The Best of Frank Zappa - 10/22/2008
This is a subset of Zappa's best. It's strictly commercial, so it lacks many great songs about kinky sex and human oddity but it has no shortage of social commentary through the medium of rock music. I don't listen to Zappa as often as I should, perhaps because it's at the end of my CD shelves.