Brian Palmer



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Album reviews: Noah Gundersen, Halie Loren, Turnpike Troubadours

Noah Gundersen Carry the Ghost/Dualtone Records Carry the Ghost is an apt title for Noah Gundersen’s latest collection of songs: Some would give up the ghost, but he’d rather figure out why it’s there in the first place. And while this does not make for an overly pleasant record, there is beauty in the darkness. […]

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Album reviews: Briana Marela, The Delta Saints, Poema

Briana Marela All Around Us/ Jagjaguwar This is a beauty of a record. Abstract, ambient and guided by a first-rate vocalist and songwriter who makes All Around Us a stunner. Deliciously paradoxical, the album manages to sound explosive and subtle all at once, its exploration of relationships in their myriad forms is universal, while lyrically […]

Album reviews: Jon Foreman, Allen Stone, Best Coast

Album reviews: Jon Foreman, Allen Stone, Best Coast

Jon Foreman The Wonderlands: Sunlight EP/Word Entertainment Foreman’s songs, whether for Switchfoot, Fiction Family or solo, are always insightful, engaging looks at the complicated nature of humanity in all its awesome beauty and staggering disarray. Sunlight, the first in a four-EP series that features one song for each hour of the day, is no different. […]

Album reviews: Kopecky, SOAK and love+war

Album reviews: Kopecky, SOAK and love+war

Kopecky Drug for the Modern Age/ATO Records A “family band” no more, Kopecky is back with a slightly new name and a slightly new sound, but its penchant for making fun music hasn’t changed a bit. Drug for the Modern Age will be a sonic surprise to some longtime fans, but it’s worth checking out. […]

Album reviews: Hanna Rae, Delta Rae, Jesse Baylin

Album reviews: Hanna Rae, Delta Rae, Jesse Baylin

Hanna Rae Rookie in the Ring EP/self-released There is an easiness to Hanna Rae’s music that makes it easy to like. Her molasses-thick vocals are a treat, particularly on the dreamy, stripped-down opener “Man in the Moon,” and fans of Brooke Annibale will likely smile at “Jar of Wine,” which plays like an Americana version […]

Album reviews: Ivan & Alyosha, Josh Garrels, Danny Schmidt

Album reviews: Ivan & Alyosha, Josh Garrels, Danny Schmidt

Ivan & Alyosha It’s All Just Pretend/Dualtone Records “If freedom is where we are standing/Something is desperately wrong.” This line from the opener “Something Is Wrong” sets the tone for the dynamic sophomore release from the Seattle quintet in more ways than one. Much of the album explores the tension between what makes us free […]

Album reviews: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Joe Pug, Ships Have Sailed

Album reviews: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Joe Pug, Ships Have Sailed

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Chasing Yesterday/Sour Mash Noel Gallagher’s stellar second solo effort, Chasing Yesterday, furthers the notion that Noel was the creative thrust behind Oasis (compared with the failure of Liam ’s band Beady Eye). Riff-heavy hook fests like “Lock all The Doors” demonstrate that Gallagher’s flair for rock ‘n’ roll dramatics hasn’t dwindled […]

Album reviews: Emily Hearn, JD McPherson, Brandi Carlile

Album reviews: Emily Hearn, JD McPherson, Brandi Carlile

Emily Hearn Hourglass/Old Prince Records Be warned: Emily Hearn will be your new favorite singer-songwriter. On her sophomore effort Hearn grows artistically by leaps and bounds with a rich, understated vocal prowess, a sonic palette beyond the country and folk stylings of earlier albums, and lyrics that are simultaneously clever, profound and catchy. This relationship-focused […]

Album reviews: Nathan Angelo, The Dodos, Milo Greene

Album reviews: Nathan Angelo, The Dodos, Milo Greene

Nathan Angelo Carolina EP/self-released On Angelo’s latest record, the singer-songwriter’s penchant for soulful melodies and lyrics is as prominent as ever. These six tracks contain classic, ’70s-era pop (“Carolina Save Me”), groovy piano pop (“Find My Way”), soul (“Never Alone”) and even hints of R&B (“Fools in Love” will put you in the mood before […]

Album reviews: Punch Brothers, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, The Vespers

Album reviews: Punch Brothers, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, The Vespers

Punch Brothers The Phosphorescent Blues/Nonesuch Records This is some glorious music. If you aren’t wholly mesmerized by the end of the epic 10-minute opener “Familiarity”—complete with three movements, spellbinding mandolin work and the group’s stunning ability to harmonize—then you are likely dead inside. The sweetly rapturous chamber folk of “My Oh My” has a goosebump-inducing […]

Album reviews: Caitlin Canty, Justin Townes Earle, Guster

Album reviews: Caitlin Canty, Justin Townes Earle, Guster

Caitlin Canty Reckless Skyline/Self-released Caitlin Canty is one of the most beguiling singer-songwriters around, and Reckless Skyline is the latest evidence that she is a cut above the rest. Her songs run the gamut from hard luck tales of life going sideways (“Enough About Hard Times”) to looking for love in the arms of a […]

Album reviews: Oceaán, Gemma Hayes, She & Him

Album reviews: Oceaán, Gemma Hayes, She & Him

Oceaán The Grip EP/B3SCI Records Genre labels are inherently shortsighted, but if you absolutely have to use one for Oliver Cean a.k.a. Oceaán’s, second EP, The Grip, then try dubhoptronica. Angelic synths and hip-hop beats marry together seamlessly on the closing track, “At Your Feet,” while “Veritas” combines wobbly rhythms with beats and what appear […]

Album reviews: Foo Fighters, Larkin Poe, Project 86

Album reviews: Foo Fighters, Larkin Poe, Project 86

Foo Fighters Sonic Highways/RCA Records At this point in its storied career the Foo Fighters have carte blanche to do whatever the hell they want, and Sonic Highways is the proof. It’s a concept record—each of the album’s eight songs is inspired by and recorded in a different American city—that doesn’t feel self-serving because it […]

Album reviews: Over the Rhine, One Friend, Digital Daggers

Album reviews: Over the Rhine, One Friend, Digital Daggers

Over the Rhine Blood Oranges in the Snow/Great Speckled Dog Records Folk duo Over the Rhine likes to do things differently. Blood Oranges in the Snow—the third holiday-themed release of their career—isn’t your typical feel-good collection of familiar hymns or classic songs; it’s more of a treatise on how to weather difficult times during what […]

Album reviews: The Rural Alberta Advantage, Boy + Kite, Bill Frisell

Album reviews: The Rural Alberta Advantage, Boy + Kite, Bill Frisell

The Rural Alberta Advantage Mended with Gold/Saddle Creek The Rural Alberta Advantage’s newest project will make you sweat. Between the perpetually chugging drum beats, driving guitars, and lead singer-songwriter Nils Edenloff’s singing, there’s no aspect of this album that doesn’t scream, “Dance, dance, dance!” Oddly enough, however, this is not a happy record, and much […]

Album reviews: U2, Cory Bishop, Kyler England

Album reviews: U2, Cory Bishop, Kyler England

U2 Songs of Innocence/Interscope Records Bono’s voice is cracking, The Edge’s riffs aren’t exactly scraping against the stars anymore, and even drummer Larry Mullens, Jr.’s beats have slowed down a tick, but despite all of this, U2 finds another gear on Songs of Innocence. Most of the energy is in the second half, where tracks […]

Album reviews: GRMLN, The Hill and Wood, Sons of Bill

Album reviews: GRMLN, The Hill and Wood, Sons of Bill

GRMLN Soon Away/Carpark Records Bay Area-based Yoodoo Park a.k.a. GRMLN, has undergone quite a metamorphosis in his several years as an artist. Originally something of an ambient singer-songwriter with a penchant for beautiful, mellow melodies, he’s gone full-on rock and roll on Soon Away replete with driving rhythms, engaging choruses and guitars, guitars, guitars. “Jaded” […]

Album reviews: Shovels and Rope, Sleep Cycles, Justin Townes Earle

Album reviews: Shovels and Rope, Sleep Cycles, Justin Townes Earle

Shovels and Rope Swimmin’ Time/Dualtone On Swimmin’ Time, their third album, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent are in top form. Whether they amble through Americana numbers like “The Devil Is All Around,” or stomp out ominous rockers like “Evil,” the duo demonstrates they have a firm handle on a variety of genres (plus the […]

Album reviews: The Morning Birds, Anberlin, Dom Flemons

Album reviews: The Morning Birds, Anberlin, Dom Flemons

The Morning Birds Bloom/Funky Island House Releases based around a song, a theme, or a tribute are generally boring, or feel schizophrenic because it is almost impossible to shape the creative instincts of various artists into a cohesive musical narrative. Bloom is a rare exception because it successfully weaves a seasonal theme throughout its six […]

Album reviews: Begin Again, Dog Society, Red Wanting Blue

Album reviews: Begin Again, Dog Society, Red Wanting Blue

Begin Again  Music from and Inspired by the Original Motion Picture/222 Records John Carney, who gave us the classic music-focused film Once, returns with another music-based film, Begin Again, and the soundtrack is predictably loaded with fun moments that will appeal to a variety of listeners. If you like soul music with a sense of […]

Album reviews: Old Crow Medicine Show, Ships Have Sailed, Cosmic Punch

Album reviews: Old Crow Medicine Show, Ships Have Sailed, Cosmic Punch

Old Crow Medicine Show Remedy/ATO Records Remedy is the latest proof that Old Crow Medicine show is incapable of doing anything poorly. Whether it’s a raucous, hoedown-style piece of country like “8 Dogs, 8 Banjos,” or whether it’s the old time bluegrass feel and R-rated sensibility of a track like “Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer,” you […]

Album reviews: Linkin Park, Grandpa Egg, Umphrey’s McGee

Album reviews: Linkin Park, Grandpa Egg, Umphrey’s McGee

Linkin Park The Hunting Party/Warner Bros. Somewhere along the way, the band Linkin Park became viewed as a formulaic one-trick pony. Pair up Chester Bennington’s throat- scraping screeches with raucous guitars and drums, occasional scratches and raps from Mike Shinoda, repeat, and call it good. And while this might have been true at the start, […]

Album reviews: Wetwood Smokes, Jason Burke, The Falling Birds

Album reviews: Wetwood Smokes, Jason Burke, The Falling Birds

Wetwood Smokes Earth Tones & Red/Self-released This Southern California-based rock trio has released a gem of a debut. Mixing rock and pop together with the precision and skill of a veteran act, Wetwood Smokes makes quite a statement with this release. The swelling piano pop of “I Am the One” is college radio perfect, while […]

Album reviews:  Carrie Elkin & Danny Schmidt, Eli Cook, Coldplay

Album reviews: Carrie Elkin & Danny Schmidt, Eli Cook, Coldplay

Carrie Elkin & Danny Schmidt For Keeps/Red House Records Whether performing individually or as a duo, Carrie Elkin and Danny Schmidt have proven themselves to be two of Austin’s most engaging singer-songwriters in recent years. For Keeps only furthers this opinion. Whether marrying dusty vocals on the charming “If I Need to Know,” or singing about […]

Album reviews: Needtobreathe, Nick Pollock, Lindsey Stirling

Album reviews: Needtobreathe, Nick Pollock, Lindsey Stirling

Needtobreathe Rivers in the Wasteland/Atlantic Records This Southern rock trio has made an album filled with hope and energy—seemingly with the intention of easing the weight of life’s challenges. Rock and soul numbers like “State I’m In” and “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” corner the market on encouragement, while the swelling folk pop track “Rise […]

Album reviews: Sam Cregger, The Currys, Katie Herzig

Album reviews: Sam Cregger, The Currys, Katie Herzig

Sam Cregger Tell Me Something Different/Self-released The sophomore full-length album from local artist Sam Cregger is a real treat. Tracks like “Still Love” pit unending love against a backdrop of ambling Americana music that features some languid accordion to set the mood, while the simple, brief folk track “Discovering Roads” casts a wide-eyed look at […]