Library Journal: The Class of 2011

Still not fired? How can this be? If you thought 2010 was a good year for music, then, baby, you’re going to love 2011. To the relief of major label rec­ord execs stressing over their bottom line, heavy hitters like Lil’ Wayne, Lady Gaga, U2, R.E.M., and The Cars all have new releases slated for [...]

Library Journal: Best Music of 2010

Am I fired? I have to be fired…. Everyone from The Roots to MGMT released great records in 2010, so I rightfully expect a torrent of abuse and/or head-scratching in response to my selections of the year’s top albums. That said, and of course taking into account the unique needs and preferences of your user [...]

Music for the Masses: “Cue the Music! Soundtracks”

From the November issue of Library Journal. Though some claim the era of the classic soundtrack is dead, the past decade has seen a number of worthy soundtrack releases. Many of them, libraries already do—or, should—own, e.g., O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Amélie, Dreamgirls, Once, The Dark Knight, Slumdog Millionaire, and Pixar’s Wall*E and Up. [...]

Sweet, Sweet Spirit

{Please note how smoothly I slipped Spiritualized in there.) The heavenly harmonies and raw passion of classic gospel artists like Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Soul Stirrers have inspired musicians as diverse as Elvis, Dylan, Little Richard, and Spacemen 3. Librarians collecting gospel music might be tempted to fall back on old-time favorites—understandable, given the [...]

Lost Gem: This Mortal Coil’s Blood

In compiling a list of recommended albums for my recent Gothic-themed music column (LJ 2/1/10, “Unknown Pleasures: Gothic Rock“), one of my personal favorite albums of all time ended up on the cutting-room floor. And what’s this blog good for if not redressing grievances? So it is my pleasure to present to you one of the lost [...]

Has Autotune Killed The Radio Diva?

In a review of Mary J. Blige’s latest album, Stronger with Each Tear (Matriarch/Geffen, Dec. 2009), Rolling Stone‘s Rob Sheffield wonders, “Is there room for great soul singers in a post-vocal world?” Or, he goes on to write, has Auto-Tune and studio trickery conditioned us to prefer a tiny robotic trill (Britney, Rihanna, Kei$ha, et al.) to an earthy belt? [...]

RIP Willie Mitchell and Jay Reatard

Music for the Masses bids a belated farewell to Willie Mitchell and Jay Reatard —perhaps the first and last time these two musicians/music producers will be mentioned in the same sentence. Mitchell was best known for his collaboration with Al Green on Green’s seminal ’70s albums, including Let’s Stay Together and I’m Still in Love With You—together, they redefined [...]


Dolly Parton Dolly Sony Legacy For such an unquestioned titan of country music, Dolly Parton has been ill-served by major labels. Only a handful of her classic early albums are in print, she’s been the victim of far too many substandard greatest-hits grab bags, and most of her 80s and 90s work is unavailable. Is it any wonder that she’s [...]

You Weren’t There

You Weren’t There: A History of Chicago Punk 1977-1984 Punk in America was a much more geographically and sonically diffuse affair than in little London town. You Weren’t There follows the growth of a small, tight-knight scene nestled in the hard-rockin’ Midwest that gave us influential acts like Naked Raygun, BIG BLACK, Articles of Faith, [...]

Girls Girls Girls

Girls Album True Panther Sounds Rarely does music this full-throated and joyous cross my desk and not immediately turn my stomach. It’s in the way that the second verse of “Lust for Life” (NOT the Iggy Pop song) explodes to full technicolor life with humming organ, handclaps, harmonica, and doo-do-do-doos like the Jam’s cover of [...]