Brian Palmer



Get the scoop on the latest releases from The Jezabels, Lissie and Lake Street Dive. Photo: File photo

Album reviews: The Jezabels, Lissie, Lake Street Dive

The Jezabels Synthia/Self-released As much an ode to self-acceptance as it is to bearing the standard of feminism, Synthia is equal parts euphoric and cathartic in its exploration. The epic synth-rock opener “Stand and Deliver” finds singer Hayley Mary revisiting her childhood and begging her daddy to prioritize her over his work. “My Love is […]

Get the scoop on the latest releases from Cross Record, Sierra Hull and Trixie Whitley in this week's album reviews. Photo: File photo

Album reviews: Cross Record, Sierra Hull, Trixie Whitley

Signature styles Cross Record Wabi-Sabi/Ba Da Bing Records Emily Cross’ sophomore release is equal parts creepy, beautiful and utterly haunting. From the unusual opener, “The Curtains Part”—with its orchestral flourishes, off-kilter jazz horn, in-and-out ambient acoustic guitar and breathy, airy vocals—to “Wasp in a Jar”—with its plodding, thick-as-molasses bass and distorted electric guitar led by […]

Get the scoop on the latest releases from Lemolo, Mercyland and Daughter in this week's album reviews. Photo: File photo

Album reviews: Lemolo, Mercyland, Daughter

Lemolo Red Right Return/self-released There is an undeniable ghostly beauty to this record from Meagan Grandall. The lush vocals on Red Right Return play off of the swelling, often moody musical aesthetics, resulting in a euphoric experience. Ambient piano ballads such as “White Flag” are beautifully offset by alt-rock flair on tracks such as “One […]

Get the scoop on the latest releases from Cage the Elephant, Arielle LaGuette and GIVERS. Photo: File photo

Album reviews: Cage the Elephant, Arielle LaGuette, GIVERS

Cage the Elephant Tell Me I’m Pretty/RCA Continuing the exodus from the brash alternative rock that typified Cage the Elephant’s first few releases, Tell Me I’m Pretty continues the artistic evolution that started on its last release, Melophobia. Classic rock fills every nook and cranny of this record from the thrumming bass and massive drums […]

May it never be said that an album featuring odes to famous actors and the language of birds can't strike a chord—as with Darlingside's Birds Say.

Album reviews: Looking over our shoulder at the year’s top releases

It’s been an interesting year. Between “Uptown Funk” and “Shake It Off,” the music world has been dancing up a storm, but it’s also seen some head-scratchingly bizarre releases (I’m looking at you, Mutemath) and yawned at familiar material (Muse). So what to make of this year’s so-called best releases? What follows is one man’s […]

Get the scoop on the latest releases from  Foo Fighters, Shovels & Rope and Dead Professional in this week's album reviews. Photo: File photo

Album reviews: Foo Fighters, Shovels & Rope, Dead Professional

Rock steady Foo Fighters Saint Cecilia EP/RCA Records If the Saint Cecilia EP is indeed the Foos’ last recording—and Dave Grohl has hinted it could be—then it’s one final shotgun blast that will leave your ears ringing long after it ends. There is a rawness to these five tracks that’s been missing on the past […]

Get the scoop on the latest releases from Mimi Page, Chain of Flowers and Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown in this week's album reviews. Photo: File Photo

Album reviews: Mimi Page, Chain of Flowers, Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown

Mimi Page The Ethereal Blues/self-released Mimi Page has been carving out a niche for herself in the indie electronic scene for several years, and The Ethereal Blues is her most accomplished work yet. The singer-songwriter’s breathy vocals are as spellbinding as ever on ambient numbers such as “Indigo,” and on the gritty electronic track “All […]

Get the scoop on the latest releases from Wild Child, Jenny & Tyler and Bronze Radio Return in this week's album reviews. Photo: File Photo

Album reviews: Wild Child, Jenny & Tyler, Bronze Radio Return

Wild Child Fools/Dualtone Records Fools is a damn near-perfect album. From the way singers Kelsey Wilson and Alexander Beggins marry their vocals throughout, to the album’s ebullient yet thoughtful tonal scope, the experience can’t be beat. The rock-stomper “Meadows” is layered with a slightly unhinged piano that gives the track a delightfully off-kilter vibe; “The […]

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Album reviews: Julienne Dweck, Silversun Pickups, Brooke Annibale

Julienne Dweck Black Licorice/self-released Four-plus years after her delightful debut album, On Paper, Dweck is finally back with a new release, and it was worth the wait. Fans will note that much of what they loved about her relationship-focused songs, occasional bits of whimsy and adventurous musical choices are still here. “If Only” has a […]

Get the scoop on the latest releases from Thunderbitch, Atlas Genius and Foals in this week's album reviews. Photo: File photo

Album reviews: Thunderbitch, Atlas Genius, Foals

Thunderbitch Thunderbitch/self-released If you think Brittany Howard is too confined as the frontwoman of Alabama Shakes, look no further than her new side project, Thunderbitch. To say she is unhinged here—and good God is it glorious—is an understatement. Guttural roars tear out of her lungs like cannon fire on many tracks, with “Closer” being a […]

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Album reviews: Darlingside, JR JR, Barrence Whitfield & The Savages

Darlingside Birds Say/Thirty Tigers Birds Say is one of the rare instances where a band completely avoids the sophomore slump, taking its prodigious talent and somehow magnifying it by 10. The string rock quintet-turned folk is at its best here, whether it’s the dizzying bluegrass—taken up a notch by the clever mandolin licks from Auyon […]

Get the scoop on the latest releases from P.O.D., Joe Satriani and Vintage Trouble. Photo: File photo

Album reviews: P.O.D., Joe Satriani, Vintage Trouble

P.O.D. The Awakening/T-Boy/UMe P.O.D. ended its previous record, Murdered Love, with singer Sonny Sandoval dropping f-bombs and checking off a list of the many forms of baggage that Christians bring to the table. The Awakening takes up the cause by way of a concept record featuring a drug-addicted, alcoholic, home-wrecking, neglected man going through a […]

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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 […]