Nick Rubin

"Con Todo el Mundo," the 2018 album by Khruangbin, is one of our Tunes columnist's recommendations for quarantine listening. Publicity photo

Album reviews: Quarantunes

More than ever, we’re treating pop music functionally—we choose and use tunes to get us going in the morning; to set the right vibes for cooking; to get amped for a night out. But creating a functional playlist for others can be perilous. Consider the wedding DJ, who takes responsibility for the entertainment of everyone […]

Local experimental musician corncob has captured the ear of our Tunes columnist with her album "RANDY." Publicity photo

Album reviews: corncob, The Chats, Frank & His Sisters, and more

corncob RANDY (Foil)  From the holy-shit desk: Heather Mease found her way from Philadelphia to Charlottesville via UVA’s Ph.D. program in composition, and as corncob, has just released the riveting tour-de-force RANDY. Mease’s vocal performances—it seems inadequate to just call them vocals–bracingly meld coquettish seduction, dark comedy, fragility, and menace over synth/drum-machine/found-sound backing tracks that […]

Album reviews: MC Yallah X Debmaster, Various Artists

Album reviews: MC Yallah X Debmaster, Various Artists

MC Yallah X Debmaster Kubali (Hakuna Kulala) The most frenetic moment of Kubali comes right at the top, like an intimidating bouncer. Once you get past the brief jabbery pattern of vocables, percussion, synthesizers, and unidentified sonic objects, Kubali just swaggers and bumps. Uganda’s MC Yallah spits in Kiswahili and Luganda, reveling in the stinkface […]

Album reviews: Reissue roundup part 2

Album reviews: Reissue roundup part 2

Here’s another set of worthwhile reissues I missed along the way in 2019. (Not included: The Beatles’ brilliant valedictory Abbey Road and Aretha Franklin’s sublimely beautiful and awesomely powerful Amazing Grace.) Akofa Akoussah Akofa Akoussah (Mr. Bongo) Togolese singer Akofa Akoussah is known to aficionados of vintage African pop, but her lone album has been […]

Album reviews: Reissue roundup part 1

Album reviews: Reissue roundup part 1

Throughout the year, I reviewed some reissues (notably Gene Clark’s magisterial No Other and Prince’s colossal 1999). Here’s a few I missed along the way—more to come next time. James Brown Live at Home With His Bad Self (UMG) James Brown returned to play his hometown of Augusta, GA, in 1969, planning to release the […]

Album reviews: Best-and-rest of 2019

Album reviews: Best-and-rest of 2019

Not sure why, but in 2019 I spent a lot of time with a relatively few new albums, so apologies to the stuff I didn’t listen to enough. Here’s an idiosyncratic best-of, the albums I listened to all year (in more or less chronological order), with a “rest-of”—albums I liked almost as much, or loved […]

Queens rapper Homeboy Sandman. Publicity photo

Album reviews: Miranda Lambert, Andy Aylward, Gene Clark, and Homeboy Sandman

Miranda Lambert Wildcard (Sony) Glowing with sanitized professionalism, performed hot messiness, and branded shout outs from Patron to Tide sticks, Wildcard is textbook pop country. And after “divorce album” The Weight of These Wings, it’s party time, as Jay Joyce’s production insists–Wildcard is engineered for loudness, and even the acoustic passages are compressed to 11. […]

Sleater-Kinney's "The Center Won't Hold" is a bit of a letdown. Publicity image.

Album reviews: Heron & Crane, Vivian Girls, G Flip, Ikebe Shakedown, and Sleater-Kinney

Heron & Crane Firesides (Hibernator Gigs) Denizens of Charlottesville’s indie scene know Dave Gibson from power-pop exponents Borrowed Beams of Light and Weird Mob, plus synth soundscapers Personal Bandana. Here, Gibson and Columbus, Ohio, buddy Travis Kokas split the difference, with sweet results. The mostly instrumental Firesides is a fetching mélange of melody and texture, […]

Sugar Ray's Little Yachty is best served with a fruity cocktail. Publicity image.

Album Reviews: Flying Lotus, Gunter Herbig, The Young Sinclairs, Daughter of Swords, and Sugar Ray

Flying Lotus Flamagra (Warp) One of the most compelling post-Dilla beatmakers, Flying Lotus has collaborated with Kendrick Lamar and Kamasi Washington, among others, as his amorphous funk has spread throughout left-field R&B, hip-hop, and jazz. On Flamagra, FlyLo is abetted by fellow travelers like Thundercat and Robert Glasper, along with why-not guests such as David […]

Dennis Stoner is included on the anthology, Sad About the Times, a collection full of affable, earnest easy riders. Publicity image.

Reissue Roundup: ZZ Top, James & Bobby Purify, Various Artists

Various artists Lullabies for Catatonics (Grapefruit) The U.K. rock scene’s initial response to LSD tended more towards pastoral reverie than paranoid fever dream (not having a Vietnam War helped). But psychic unraveling quickly followed, as chronicled on Lullabies for Catatonics, a transporting crate-dig from excellent reissue label Grapefruit. Covering 1967-1974, this triple-disc set is lovingly […]

There's big buzz about When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? from 17-year-old Billie Eilish. Publicity photo.

Album reviews: Marvin Gaye, Ex Hex, and Billie Eilish

Marvin Gaye You’re the Man (Universal) The follow-up that never was is finally here—and honestly probably sounds better now than it would have in 1972. You’re the Man could hardly have matched the gorgeously sighing melodies, elegant textures, and memorable aphorisms of What’s Going On, and when it tries, it suffers in comparison. Leadoff track […]

Stella Donnelly delivers a series of sucker punches on Beware of the Dogs. Publicity image.

Album reviews: Mary Lattimore & Mac McCaughan, Solange, Stella Donnelly, Flamin’ Groovies, and Various Artists

Mary Lattimore & Mac McCaughan New Rain Duets (Three Lobed) Essentially a 40-minute jam divided into four segments, New Rain Duets brings more exquisite atmosphere from Mary Lattimore, and, in a somewhat surprising role, Mac McCaughan. Best known for cofounding Merge Records and fronting Superchunk, McCaughan supplies not guitar but guitar-like synthesizer textures and samples, […]

Restroy is at The Bridge PAI on Monday. Publicity image.

ARTS Pick: Restroy

Monsters of jazz: Led by former Charlottesville resident and current Chicagoan Christopher Dammann on upright bass, Restroy is a jazz sextet that combines electronic and acoustic resources to create a “traditional experimental” sound that’s endlessly rewarding. Also from the fertile Chicago jazz scene, James Davis supplies most of the melodic material on trumpet, and erstwhile […]