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47 items by Mike Powell

  • Lost in the Dream

    Lost in the Dream | ALBUM REVIEW

    The War on Drugs make archetypal road-trip music: shimmering, steady, gritty as pavement and open as the sky. Longer on instrumental texture than songwriting, their third album recasts the blue-collar fantasias of Tom Petty and...

    March 20, 2014 1:05 PM ET
  • Young Money: Rise of an Empire

    Young Money: Rise of an Empire | ALBUM REVIEW

    The first compilation from this hip-hop powerhouse – 2009's We Are Young Money – featured rising stars Drake and Nicki Minaj. This time out, we're introduced to a charming talkrapper named Euro and...

    March 20, 2014 1:00 PM ET
  • The Last Mardi Gras

    The Last Mardi Gras | ALBUM REVIEW

    This two-night 1978 set is an excellent entree to an artist whose live dates were often more vital than his studio ones. The storied New Orleans pianist leads his band through 18 songs that codify blues,...

    March 4, 2014 12:05 AM ET
  • Burn Your Fire for No Witness

    Burn Your Fire for No Witness | ALBUM REVIEW

    The Missouri singer-songwriter's second full-length expands the dim folk of her 2012 debut into compact, passionate indie rock with shades of country and psychedelia – wringing maximal yearning out of minimal arrangements in three minutes or less,...

    February 18, 2014 12:00 AM ET
  • Benji

    Benji | ALBUM REVIEW

    Folk singer Mark Kozelek's remarkable sixth album as Sun Kil Moon feels less like a collection of songs than a series of eulogies delivered in real time. "Carissa was 35/You don't just raise two kids and take...

    February 11, 2014 12:00 AM ET
  • 7 Days of Funk'

    7 Days of Funk' | ALBUM REVIEW

    The former Snoop Dogg (here calling himself "Snoop­zilla") joins L.A. producer Dam-Funk, whose rubbery tracks are marked by an off-kilter grace more intimate, cooled-out and Californian than his ancestors in Parliament or Zapp. And while Snoop's...

    December 10, 2013 12:00 AM ET
  • Word of Mouth

    Word of Mouth | ALBUM REVIEW

    The Wanted are a boy band with a man's disposition: They drink, they get into arguments, and they tend to see women as passive creatures waiting around in heels to be redeemed or get their hearts broken....

    November 18, 2013 12:25 PM ET
  • "Banga! Banga!"

    "Banga! Banga!" | SONG REVIEW

    The YouTube pinup is every hypothetical American girl's dream: a cherub in a backward hat, sweet with the slightest hint of edge. "Banga! Banga!" is his best single so far – a primary-color pop rap pinned to...

    November 15, 2013 5:40 PM ET
  • What Alive People Do

    What Alive People Do | ALBUM REVIEW

    Jamie Kilstein comes from a line of comedians who are as bent on making people think as making them laugh. A sober vegan with hard-left politics and an endless appetite for sarcasm, he reserves his most cutting...

    November 15, 2013 2:55 PM ET
  • The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas

    The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas | ALBUM REVIEW

    Courtney Barnett makes jangly, rumpled indie-rock in the vein of Pavement or early Dylan: Wordy, wry, and anchored by the kind of poetic clarity you can only get from looking at the world askew. Peas...

    November 12, 2013 10:25 AM ET
  • The Second Album

    The Second Album | ALBUM REVIEW

    Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker's first collaboration as Latyrx came out 16 years ago – an eternity for trend-conscious rappers but the blink of an eye for two guys from the East Bay underground who always...

    November 5, 2013 12:00 AM ET
  • Moon Landing

    Moon Landing | ALBUM REVIEW

    James Blunt's ballads have always sounded emotionally lopsided, like inspirational speeches in search of a hard time. Compared to his past three albums, Moon Landing feels loose, almost rugged, though he still seems to bank on the...

    November 1, 2013 4:05 PM ET
  • Cupid's Head

    Cupid's Head | ALBUM REVIEW

    Swedish producer Axel Willner's combination of house beats and heavenly ambience always had a way of slipping into the background – a sound pulsing enough to dance to but sometimes more effective as a study aid. His...

    November 1, 2013 4:00 PM ET
  • Shirley

    Shirley | ALBUM REVIEW

    Matt White's blandly reassuring soul pop has been featured throughout Hollywood movies and network TV, most recently on The Bachelorette. No surprise: His pose is wholesome (with a dash of danger), his storylines familiar and his problems...

    November 1, 2013 3:45 PM ET
  • "Good Time"

    "Good Time" | SONG REVIEW

    No needless disrespect to Hilton, who has put out listenable and even enjoyable music in the past, but rave-by-numbers tracks like this are often the reason pop music gets a bad rap to begin with. Worst off,...

    October 23, 2013 3:05 PM ET
  • Burials

    Burials | ALBUM REVIEW

    AFI enter their too-big-to-fail phase with the kind of glum alt-rock tailor-made for the end credits of action movies. "17 Crimes" and "Greater Than 84" survive with the band's flair for camp still intact. Others drown in...

    October 22, 2013 12:10 AM ET
  • Double Cup

    Double Cup | ALBUM REVIEW

    Chicago producer Rashad Harden's instrumentals feel like cars hydroplaning toward brick walls – somehow both weightless and brutally powerful. Blending a local style of dance music called footwork with contemporary trap-rap, Double Cup is a dense, dizzying...

    October 22, 2013 12:05 AM ET
  • Speak a Little Louder

    Speak a Little Louder | ALBUM REVIEW

    Diane Birch's second album trades up the rootsy comfort food of her debut for something more sophisticated and atmospheric – think early Kate Bush, or maybe Carly Simon put on dry ice. What Birch's voice...

    October 18, 2013 12:30 PM ET
  • Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song

    Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song | ALBUM REVIEW

    Amos Lee's rustic Americana is no more authentic than the slick pop he's marketed against. If anything, it's often less distinctive, stitched together from melodies so sweet and clichés so noncontroversial that his ramblin'-man protests – times...

    October 8, 2013 12:05 AM ET
  • Old

    Old | ALBUM REVIEW

    Danny Brown raps with the intensity of someone not just on the edge but dangling dangerously over it. His third LP is less focused than 2011's XXX but has a wider range of moods: For every Friday...

    October 7, 2013 5:40 PM ET
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