90.1 FM

University of Richmond Radio






Album Reviews

Music Worth  Hearing


Grand Pianoramix: The Biggest Piano in Town (Obliqsound) – Swiss keyboardist Leo Tardin masterminded Grand Pianoramax as a live keyboards/drums duo to be augmented by occasional  freestyle spoken word improv/rap vocal guests.  Teamed with NYC drummer Deantoni Parks (The Mars Volta, Meshell Ndegeocello), and vocalists Mike Ladd, Invincible, French rapper Spleen & poet Celena Glenn, plus Marko Djordjevic; they take unspent fuel from 1970s Herbie Hancock and blast off into a new orbit of jazzed-up future funk.  Radio: Check the 2 stripped alternates and 5 sonically  tailored remixes of “The Hook”.  Highly Recommended. 

The Walkmen: You and Me (Gigantic) - The 5th LP album by NYC ensemble The Walkmen is arguably their best.  From their maturing perspective, they look at a city dweller’s lost love and life; and see something in themselves.  You and Me echoes of relationships: people, places, perspective.  The robust arrangements are very Walkmen, whereby only a close listen reveals the complex layers lurking within the murky low-end.  Highly Recommended. 

Ra Ra Riot: The Rhumb Line (Barsuk) - Shortly after releasing their inaugural EP, Ra Ra Riot’s drummer drowned in the ocean after a Massachusetts show. This incident weighs heavily on their LP debut.  While there’s lots of death and water imagery throughout, there is also a triumphant, life-affirming, moving on resolve in the music.  The Rhumb Line is catchy indie pop with rich cello and violin backing.  Recommended. 

31Knots: Worried Well (Polyvinyl) - Portland trio 31Knots reconcile the theatric and jagged / math sides of their sound for an unpredictable journey well worth taking.  Human theatrics of handclaps and stomping occasionally accentuate the impassioned vocals which thread the sonic tapestry of sharp guitar riffs, sparing bass, piano lines, synthed organ pulses and insistent percussion   Recommended. 

sBACH: sBACH (Suicide Squeeze) - sBACH is Spencer Seim (Hella, The Advantage).  As one might expect, this solo project combines the heavy spazz-math of Hella and with the 8 bit Nintendo arcade meltdown of The Advantage.  Truthfully some concepts remain underdeveloped or fatedly flawed, however above the ashes rise some engaging, electrified flames of aural overload to keep the game-over sequence at bay.  Crazy stuff.  Recommended

Laura Marling: Alas I Cannot Swim (Astralwerks) – British coffeehouse folk artist 18 year old singer/songwriter Laura Marling has an alluringly husky voice and expressive phrasing style.  She considers her primary influence to be Bonnie "Prince" Billy.  With the aid of producer Charlie Fink (Noah And The Whale), the music ranges from sparse statements of her graceful acoustic guitar and subtle background textures to tasteful swells of full ensemble, horns, and strings.  Overall, it’s an enjoyable folk-tinged AAA pop record that reveals its beauty on repeated listens.  Recommended. 

The Moondoggies: Don't Be A Stranger (Hardly Art) - The debut LP from Seattle quartet The Moondoggies certainly is no stranger to the Californian Laurel Canyon sound of the early 70s.  Rhodes organs, whiskey soaked guitar twang, mid tempo jammy rhythms, reedy lead vocals and well executed three and four part harmonies provide the ingredients for their hazy, countrified rock.  It’s a rollicking soundtrack for late summer with a few stops at the revival tent.  Good. 

Civet: Hell Hath No Fury (Hellcat) - Hell Hath No Fury is the Hellcat debut from all-woman quartet Civet.  Hailing from Long Beach, California, these gals combine confidence and dirty-sexy appeal with roots informed punk and hardcore.  Propulsive rhythms, overdriven guitar, screamed vocals and chant-along choruses give you what you ask for.  Good. 

Caesars: Strawberry Weed (Astralwerks) - It seems Swedish garage rockers Caesars have been smoking some Strawberry Weed.  Their 6th LP takes the sweet and smooth psych pop of the 60s and combines it with modern indie rock sensibilities.  Distorted vocals glide atop crisp bass, synth organ, playful percussion and varied guitar styles.  Playful fun awaits.  Recommended. 

Kristoffer Ragnstam: Wrong Size of the Room (Bluhammock) - The sophomore LP from Swedish singer-songwriter Kristoffer Ragnstam packs quite a punch.  While lyrical tales of tortured characters struggle to cope, exceptionally seductive pop entwines the unsuspecting listener.  Fuzzy guitars, effervescent rhythms, layered voices and restrained keys have a familiar yet refreshing sound.  A recommended shot of quality indie pop.