Brian Palmer



Album reviews: William Fitzsimmons, Angel Olsen, Greg Laswell

Album reviews: William Fitzsimmons, Angel Olsen, Greg Laswell

William Fitzsimmons Lions/Nettwerk Records Lions is a towering achievement. A deeply personal record loaded with gravitas, the album feels like Fitzsimmons’ confessional or at the very least a reflection on life, love, death, moving on, and his relationships. From the opening strains of the gorgeous acoustic track “Well Enough,” where Fitzsimmons wonders about the mark […]

Album reviews: Switchfoot, Josh Matthews, Billie Joe + Norah,

Album reviews: Switchfoot, Josh Matthews, Billie Joe + Norah,

Switchfoot Fading West/Atlantic Records Switchfoot has long been known as a maverick of modern Christian rock because of its thoughtful writing as well as its faith-inspired content. After the gritty, soul-searching 2011 album Vice Verses, Fading West feels like a deep exhale. The latest release is a slight, though pleasant, curveball, both sonically and lyrically. […]

Album reviews: Stoney, Jess Novak, States

Album reviews: Stoney, Jess Novak, States

Stoney More Than Animals/Self-released More Than Animals is an eclectic, largely engaging album. If you like your British singer-songwriters with a little bit of swagger, then Stoney’s your guy. “Sweet Release” is a raucous piece of pop rock, and driving numbers like “The Score” crank up the energy. “Devil on My Back” is a groovy […]

A double album that is almost entirely instrumental, and plays like an epic film score, Nightmare Ending stood out in 2013.

Album review: Outstanding releases from 2013

10.Travis Where You Stand/Red Telephone Box After a five-year hiatus, the Brit rockers came back with a beautiful vengeance. Where You Stand possesses an almost magical quality throughout due to Fran Healy’s cracking falsetto, the pleasing combination of dreamy rock and piano pop, and thought-provoking lyrics 9.Trixie Whitley Fourth Corner/Strong Blood Records Newcomer Trixie Whitley’s […]

Album reviews: Sam Bush and Kathryn Caine, Ed Kowalczyk, Mason Jennings

Album reviews: Sam Bush and Kathryn Caine, Ed Kowalczyk, Mason Jennings

Sam Bush and Kathryn Caine Love and Mercy/Self-released Love and Mercy will stoke the embers of even the most jaded cynic’s heart during the cold holiday season. This collection of covers succeeds in inspiring listeners to hope, even in the darkest times. Employing an engaging folk rock sound, Bush and Caine wind their way through spine-tingling […]

Album reviews: Anna Gilbert, Cage the Elephant, The Devil Makes Three

Album reviews: Anna Gilbert, Cage the Elephant, The Devil Makes Three

Anna Gilbert The Able Heart/Self-released As far as under the radar releases go, singer-songwriter Anna Gilbert’s is one of 2013’s best. The Able Heart is full of delightfully organic songs guided by Gilbert’s rich vocals telling a series of engaging tales. The minimalist opener “O, Freedom” sets the narrative tone for the album with a […]

Darlingside has gained attention with its pitch-perfect four-part harmonies and impassioned acoustic chops.

ARTS Pick: Darlingside

What does a string band composed of indie rock, bluegrass, barbershop, and classical sensibilities sound like?  Massachusetts quartet Darlingside wants you to know. In addition to combining virtuoso mandolin, cello and bass guitar performances with percussion and the more traditional guitar and bass, the band adds a whole other layer to its songs by including pitch-perfect […]

Album reviews: The Head and the Heart, Moby, The Avett Brothers

Album reviews: The Head and the Heart, Moby, The Avett Brothers

The Head and the Heart Let’s Be Still/Sub Pop The latest record from this folk/pop/rock band is a beauty. Thought-provoking, well- crafted with great melodies and variety, Let’s Be Still is easy to enjoy. “Another Story” is pleasing piano rock given greater power in lines like “tell you one thing/ain’t gonna change much/the sun still […]

Lee Koch's Whole Heart is the second album from The Voice contestant.

Album reviews: Lee Koch, Andrew Belle, and KT Tunstall

Lee Koch Whole Heart/Self-released Whole Heart is likable for a variety of reasons. Most of it has a calm folk vibe, and there is something refreshing about the way Koch gives equal weight to relationships with lovers, strangers, and God. The Americana track “Journey to Unfold” is noteworthy for its focus on living life intentionally […]

The Welsh trio strives to live in the moment during a very busy year.

Band on fire: The Joy Formidable

It’s been a busy year for Welsh alternative rock trio The Joy Formidable. In addition to touring North America virtually nonstop, they released their sophomore album Wolf’s Law in January, contributed to Record Store Day in April, and released an EP, Silent Treatment, in July. But they wouldn’t have it any other way. Bassist Rhydian Daffyd took […]

Ethereal and optimistic tunes.

Album reviews: Sarah Neufeld, Christa Wells, American Authors

Sarah Neufeld Hero Brother/Constellation With Hero Brother, Arcade Fire violinist and composer Sarah Neufeld has created a strikingly beautiful release. Ethereal and elegiac, this instrumental masterpiece transports you to another world and conveys its mysterious story in a unique way to each listener. “Breathing Black Ground” is a haunting piece of work that feels like […]

Travis returns with Where You Stand.

Album reviews: The Civil Wars, BT, Travis

The Civil Wars The Civil Wars/Columbia Records After going on hiatus last year due to “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition,” Joy Williams and John Paul White have a new album that begs the question: How could something so beautiful have come from two people who don’t speak to each other anymore? The longing […]

Album reviews: The Mars Patrol, Shannon Curtis, Jenn Bostic

Album reviews: The Mars Patrol, Shannon Curtis, Jenn Bostic

The Mars Patrol Young Lovers/Self-released London-based sextet, The Mars Patrol, has been making undeniably catchy music for almost a decade, and its latest EP Young Lovers is no exception. The band’s trademark upbeat sound shines on the rousing opener “Here We Go,” while “Stop Pushing You Away” and the closing title track feature the driving […]

Album reviews: Slim Loris, Eluvium and Eisley

Album reviews: Slim Loris, Eluvium and Eisley

Slim Loris Future Echoes and Past Replays/Record Union Swedish indie Americana rock group, Slim Loris, has made one of 2013s most surprising albums thus far. Euphoric, humorous and bittersweet, Future Echoes and Past Replays is a success. The band ensnares you with the lively and whimsical “Fear of Flying,” or the subdued and contemplative “While I Breathe,” […]

Album reviews: Daughter, Dido, Xenia Dunford

Album reviews: Daughter, Dido, Xenia Dunford

The first full-length album from London-based band Daughter is a sonic and emotional feast. “Lifeforms” encapsulates the album’s sound, tone and content, with echoing, reverb-heavy guitars, singer Elena Tonra’s husky, lilting vocals, and her metaphorical lyrics about cleaning up after your dead. The ebullient “Human” focuses on recognizing self-worth despite our shortcomings.

The heartfelt tunes of Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors hit the Pavilion stage on May 9. Image: J. Clayton

ARTS Pick: Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors

Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors released Good Light in February and debuted at #84 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart fueled by the popular single, “Tennessee.” The album is drenched in southern sensibility with its easygoing rock and roll sound, and the authenticity the band infuses into their songs is sweet and beautiful.

Album reviews: eels, Quiet Fire and Matt Pond

Album reviews: eels, Quiet Fire and Matt Pond

Wonderful, Glorious attempts to continue this trend, but isn’t quite as successful. “Accident Prone”’s down-tempo guitars and Everett’s sedated, melodic vocals are beautifully unusual, and the way he channels Johnny Cash’s mumbling vocal on the dreamy guitar-driven ballad “On the Ropes,” is nothing short of eerie.