Nick Rubin



Album reviews: Xylouris White, Inara George, Carmen Villain and Khruangbin

Album reviews: Xylouris White, Inara George, Carmen Villain and Khruangbin

Xylouris White Mother (Bella Union) “Goats are mothers, Zeus was raised on Amaltheia’s milk, Black Peak is Mother Earth. …Mother Earth is the mother of everything.” Giorgos Xylouris thus explains his duo’s third album, the first two being Goat and Black Peak. It’s inscrutable and suitable. Cretan lutenist Xylouris and heavy-duty drummer Jim White (of […]

Album reviews: Camila Cabello, BØRNS, Reptaliens and Shopping

Album reviews: Camila Cabello, BØRNS, Reptaliens and Shopping

Camila Cabello Camila (Sony) I don’t exactly follow Fifth Harmony, and I missed the controversy surrounding Camila Cabello’s split with the group. Hope I’m not supposed to hate her because this is just great pop—glossy but not oversaturated—“All These Years” and “Real Friends” are even borderline minimal. And Cabello is a compelling, versatile performer worth […]

Album reviews: Girlpool, Say Sue Me, Novella and Sloan Peterson

Album reviews: Girlpool, Say Sue Me, Novella and Sloan Peterson

Girlpool Powerplant (Anti-) Philadelphia-by-way-of-California duo Girlpool released Powerplant in May, and it was probably a great summer heartbreak album, all intertwining guitars and fragile voices. Opener “123” comes in like a lamb and revs up to lion level at the chorus—but it’s a sweet, sad lion. The soft/loud ratio remains pretty constant throughout Powerplant, and […]

Album reviews: Mavis Staples, Sharon Jones, America and R.E.M.

Album reviews: Mavis Staples, Sharon Jones, America and R.E.M.

Mavis Staples If All I Was Was Black (Anti-Records) I haven’t been checking out the Jeff Tweedy- Mavis Staples collaborations of the last few years—apparently, I have been a fool. If All I Was Was Black is a nearly-miraculous alchemy of Staples’ gospel-soul and everything Tweedy throws at her. The swampy opener “Little Bit” includes […]

Album reviews: Jackie Shane, Tough Age, King Khan and Luna

Album reviews: Jackie Shane, Tough Age, King Khan and Luna

Jackie Shane Any Other Way (Numero Group) Any Other Way is an incredible soundtrack with a riveting story. Jackie Shane was assigned male at birth in 1940 Nashville, identified as female as a teenager, blew minds as a singer/stand-up drummer in various bands, moved to Toronto at the turn of the ’60s, sparked the city’s […]

Album reviews: Gyða Valtýsdottir, Omni, Deerhoof and The Babe Rainbow

Album reviews: Gyða Valtýsdottir, Omni, Deerhoof and The Babe Rainbow

Gyða Valtýsdottir  Epicycle (figureight) A veteran of Iceland’s experimental Múm as well as the St. Petersburg Conservatory, multi-instrumentalist Gyða Valtýsdottir delivers an absorbing hybrid of those two worlds on Epicycle. The instrumentation hews to the traditional, but the sensibility and choice of material are adventurous, as Valtýsdottir interprets Crumb, Partch and Messiaen alongside Prokofiev, Schubert and […]

Album reviews: James Elkington, TOPS, Rips, Beach Fossils, The Strypes

Album reviews: James Elkington, TOPS, Rips, Beach Fossils, The Strypes

James Elkington Wintres Woma (Paradise of Bachelors) When bashful guitar hero Steve Gunn played the Tea Bazaar in fall 2014, a lot of the crowd ended up buzzing about sous guitarist James Elkington, whose electric and lap steel provided endlessly dazzling settings and accents. On Wintres Woma, his solo debut, Elkington sticks to acoustic guitar […]

Album reviews: Dan Auerbach, Crescent, St. Etienne and Phoenix

Album reviews: Dan Auerbach, Crescent, St. Etienne and Phoenix

Dan Auerbach Waiting on a Song (Nonesuch) Gotta confess, The Black Keys always felt like a put-on, but Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach is starting to win me over. Last year he produced The Pretenders’ Alone, which was a pleasant surprise, and it’s possible that Auerbach’s other production gigs (Dr. John, Lana Del Rey, Ray LaMontagne) […]

Album reviews: Justin Townes Earle, Lil Yachty, Woods, Kevin Morby and Blondie

Album reviews: Justin Townes Earle, Lil Yachty, Woods, Kevin Morby and Blondie

Justin Townes Earle Kids in the Street (New West) Being Steve Earle’s son and Townes Van Zandt’s namesake unfairly provokes expectations of preternatural songwriting gifts. Happily, on Kids in the Street, oft-troubled Justin Townes Earle lives up to his lineage. It kicks off with the Stones-y stomp of “Champagne Corolla”—the band sounds great, horns nestling […]

Album reviews: Juana Molina, Penguin Café and Kweku Collins

Album reviews: Juana Molina, Penguin Café and Kweku Collins

Juana Molina Halo (Crammed Discs) Starting with her enchanting Segundo album, Juana Molina has cultivated such an indelible style that it might seem confusing if she deviated. Her music comprises repetitive acoustic guitar patterns, wavery keyboard tones, rubbery bass figures and rhythm tracks from homemade sources like hand claps and ticking clocks—and then, there’s Molina’s […]

Album reviews: Kendrick Lamar, Laetitia Sadier and Karriem Riggins

Album reviews: Kendrick Lamar, Laetitia Sadier and Karriem Riggins

Kendrick Lamar DAMN. (Aftermath) After the world-beating To Pimp a Butterfly and the casual but satisfying demo album untitled unmastered., anything Kendrick Lamar put out in 2017 would have drawn scrutiny; signs of falling off would have been magnified—even a sequel to Butterfly could have been slammed as predictable, lazy. DAMN. is neither. Released on […]

Album reviews: Thundercat, Eden Ahbez and Laura Marling

Album reviews: Thundercat, Eden Ahbez and Laura Marling

Thundercat Drunk (Brainfeeder) Thundercat (né Stephen Bruner) is a top-shelf guest artist, having loaned his six-string bass and falsetto to Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi Washington and Flying Lotus. With his solo albums, Thundercat has also carved out and completely inhabited his own patch of land, creating something distinct and stable within pop’s ever-shifting world. The opening […]

Album reviews: Novella, Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau and Chicano Batman

Album reviews: Novella, Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau and Chicano Batman

Novella Change of State (Sinderlyn) Perilous are the genres doggedly loyal to form in some way, like the blues or reggae. Just follow the chord progression, or chunk the guitar in a characteristic rhythm—and voilà: doing it. But what percentage of overall attempts to make reggae music have been horrific? Ninety? Novella courts disaster on […]

Album reviews: Spiral Stairs, Alison Krauss and The xx

Album reviews: Spiral Stairs, Alison Krauss and The xx

Spiral Stairs Doris and the Daggers (Domino) After eight years, Scott Kannberg, aka Spiral Stairs, sounds rested and rejuvenated. Doris and the Daggers kicks off with “Dance (Cry Wolf),” a flashing ’80s glam jam. When Kannberg’s baritone comes in like a countrified Ian Curtis, it’s a little startling, and on the chorus he sounds like […]

Album reviews: Neil Young, Ty Segall and Tift Merritt

Album reviews: Neil Young, Ty Segall and Tift Merritt

Neil Young Peace Trail (Reprise) Despite his 1980s stylistic wanderings, Neil Young is one of rock’s great dependables. His output is perpetual (Peace Trail is his eighth album in 10 years); his voice eternally a thin warble; his grooves bump along like a wagon. When every record carries such strong and specific flavors, it gets […]