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Delta blues

Nneka brings Nigeria's plight to light
Nneka, who comes to the Middle East next Thursday, sounds a lot different on the phone from what you hear in her songs. She speaks softly, allowing stretches of silence to throw her thoughts into harsh relief. On record, she's all business.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  January 27, 2010


Various Artists | Pop Ambient

Kompakt (2010)
It'd be easy to understand a resistance to "ambient" music — beyond all of its unfortunate Enya and dusty Eno connotations.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  January 27, 2010


The resistible rise of Andrew Fenlon

Idol Threat Dept.
By the time I get Andrew Fenlon on the phone — two days after the airing of his now-notoriously contentious American Idol audition — the world around us has already split into three factions: those who loathe him, those who love him, and those who need a reminder: who is Andrew Fenlon?
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  January 20, 2010


5 for '10

New locals to love right away
I love baby bands, and I hope the ones I mention here don't mind my calling them that.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  January 22, 2010


Beach House | Teen Dream

Sub Pop (2010)
Before I talk about Beach House's third album — the top dreampop album of 2010 until further notice — I should reveal that I had the big gay whirlwind romance of my life under the influence of a steady stream of Beach House Mania at SxSW three years ago.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  January 19, 2010


Makes sense to him

John Ashbery's Planisphere
So understood is John Ashbery's post at the top of the contemporary American poetry heap (a distinction these days with the cultural heft of a Scrabble championship) that the question of just how to read him seems doomed to languish beside the point. Detractors need only a pillow and a trusty alarm clock to approach Ashbery.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  January 12, 2010


Vampire Weekend | Contra

XL (2010)
There are a few words I did not expect to use in describing Vampire Weekend's second album. Paul-Simony-er is one of them.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  January 11, 2010


Bleep the faith

The Boston8Bit collective put their chips on the table
If you were young and had brain space to spare in 1985, those vacant folds were likely soon flooded with the vast audial ephemera of the Nintendo era.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  January 06, 2010


Spring fever

Ten shows you didn't know you'd be going to
As action-packed as the holidays are, they can be a real dead zone when it comes to decent shows.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  December 30, 2009


The future is now

No teleportation, but lots of rad new albums
Even with all the promise of the new year ahead, it's hard not to feel a little stiffed in the Future of Mankind department. Here it is, 2010, and there's nary a flying car to be seen.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  January 04, 2010


Best unsung albums of 2009

The cocky and the cock-blocked
These days, it's not so easy to feel useful as a music critic.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  December 22, 2009


Bring the trauma

Fanfarlo adjust to the road
Even with the new order completely renovating the rock biz, some things have to be done the old-fashioned way. And after having their asses duly kicked by the old-fashioned way this past month, the five-piece London orchestral-pop combo known as Fanfarlo are eager to be done with this, their first US tour (which comes to T.T. the Bear's this Thursday). It's been a doozy.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  December 15, 2009


Graduate studies

The learning curve of Lissy Trullie
I'm not a big fan of the "you are what you eat" theory of musical influence. I've experienced enough defective Radiohead knockoffs in my day to know that a group's favorite bands often have nil to do with how their music will sound. I also think that our systems of influence are a bit more porous and a bit less under our control than any eating metaphor might suggest.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  December 16, 2009


Review: WFNX's Miracle on Tremont Street 2009

Passion Pit, Phoenix, and Spoon, live at the Orpheum Theatre, December 4, 2009
A quick, mildly sycophantic shout-out to the "powers that be" here in Phoenix -Land: This year's Miracle on Tremont Street was nothing short of a wicked pissah powerhouse bill. The grand old Orpheum creaked under the weight of a sold-out audience, and a pronounced feistiness prevailed .
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  December 08, 2009


Treat of Versailles

Phoenix please themselves — and you
It's been a good year: their relentlessly catchy Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (V2) — whisked into the public ear this year atop Cadillacs via ad-ready singles like "1901" and "Lisztomania" — is about to cause some year-end listomania of its own. Since its release, they've been circling the globe playing to a steadily swelling audience.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  December 02, 2009


Julianna Barwick | Florine

Emusic (2009)
When someone describes an album as “hmmm, I dunno, sort of like Enya if she were from Brooklyn” — that person is not setting you up for success with said album.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  December 02, 2009


Sing your life

The Happiness Project speaks volumes
Charles Spearin's Happiness Project — to be performed this Friday at the Middle East Downstairs as part of a trio of Torontonian acts — was originally just that: a project.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  November 24, 2009


A band, a part

Devendra Banhart and the Grogs live at Berklee Performance Center, November 14, 2009
My lingering qualms with Devendra Banhart's new album have very little to do with its substance and more to do with its consistency, a quality that throughout What Will We Be? seems present only in its glaring absence.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  November 24, 2009


Heather Woods Broderick | From the Ground

Preservation (2009)
Let not the minimalist packaging of Heather Woods Broderick’s From the Ground mislead you into assuming it’s some sort of heady ambient work that you’ll get around to next time you’re cleaning — as happened to me.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  November 17, 2009


Do over

The Feelies pick up their legacy
I tried hard to be born earlier, but it didn't work. As a result, I've had to contend with an irritatingly positioned cultural blind spot (roughly 1976–1986) that currently occupies all that open space once filled with childhood memories.
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  November 18, 2009
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