Belated Reviews: The Head and the Heart, Johnny Flynn, Okkervil River, Bob Dylan, the Felice Brothers

Hey everyone. Since I’ve last posted, I’ve graduated from college! Twice! (No, really. Being a double major, I had two commencement ceremonies.) Although I’ve sadly neglected my own blog, I’ve gotten a few things out for The Owl Mag, MXDWN, and For Folk’s Sake. Also, check my Flickr (right sidebar) for some pics. I’ve posted excerpts of my reviews below, but click the links for the full articles. I’ve also been writing a ton of music video reviews for the Owl Mag, so take a look at their main site.

Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit at the Independent, 5/17/2011 (Owl Mag)
“For me, it all started with Johnny Flynn. The first few notes of 2008′s A Larum led to an all-consuming obsession with English folk music (the dubiously labeled “new folk” scene, to be specific) that refuses to let up. I can’t help but be charmed by the Shakespearean lyricism and lively instrumentals; he and his Sussex Wit find just the right spot between eclectic and familiar, old-world and contemporary. With an even blend of songs from A Larum and 2010′s Been Listening, Tuesday’s gig at the Independent showcased everything there is to love about the talented troubadour.” Read more

The Head and the Heart at Bottom of the Hill, 4/27/2011 (Owl Mag)
“It’s the evening of April 27th and San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill is bursting at the seams. I was pressed against the stage by a kid and his parents on one side and a gaggle of hipsters on the other, all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Head and the Heart. “Called Seattle’s next big band” by NPR, the folk-pop sextet has quickly wound its way into the world’s hearts and headphones. They’re defying the odds in an era where bands have to fight harder than ever to be heard above the din.” Read more

Okkervil River, I Am Very Far (MXDWN)
“Okkervil River’s I Am Very Far opens like a slap across the face. The first crisp hits of the snare drum in “The Valley” are a jolt of energy, an invigorating introduction to the band’s sixth studio album. The Austin quintet never abandons the bombast of these initial beats, but instead revels in this theatricality for the album’s duration. Even the slightly haphazard waltz of “Hanging from a Hit” or the dwindling oohs of “The Rise” are imbued with an almost overwhelming dynamism. From powerful start to fading finish, I Am Very Far masters the art of coming undone.” Read more

Bob Dylan, The Complete Mono Recordings (MXDWN)
“One could be skeptical about Columbia’s Complete Mono Recordings. Could this reworking of Bob Dylan’s first eight albums really improve them? Would a shift from stereo sound to mono make that much of a difference? How much more brilliant could they be, anyway?” Read more

The Felice Brothers, Celebration, Florida (For Folk’s Sake)
“When I think of Americana, I think of banjos, harmonica, gritty vocals with a bit of a twang. Frankly, I think of songs like the Felice Brothers’ ‘Frankie’s Gun!!’, with its old-time storyline and humming accordion. The New York band’s latest work, Celebration, Florida, hardly fits this well-established mold: Ian Felice’s Dylan-esque tone is swathed in synthesizers more often than acoustic guitar. Nonetheless, the Catskills quintet has produced a modern portrait of the United States, chock full of contemporary themes and sounds.” Read more

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