Various Artists | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, May 28th, 2024  



Reviews

May 10, 2024

It’s rare that covers albums live up to their billing. Typically, they are either boilerplate or staid and boring. Love, LA is not your typical covers album. More

May 01, 2024

For Record Store Day, select record stores curated a single LP compilation of tracks from the late ‘60s/early ‘70s Detroit record label that is infamous for launching the careers of both Funkadelic and Ohio Players. More

Aug 21, 2023

It’s a brave artist that attempts to cover a Nick Drake song. To do them any justice, you really have to inhabit the psyche of a troubled soul and that is a lot to ask of anyone. More

Jun 14, 2023

Volume 2 of Org Music’s Jesus People Music series provides eight more piece of audio proof that these “Jesus people” could also make some kick-ass rock and roll. More

Jun 13, 2023

Hey Gen X-er! Remember all that stuff you used to listen to when you were pretending to study for your final exams? Well, here it is, neatly compiled and bizarrely, almost fashionable. More

Apr 18, 2023

The latest installment in Craft Recordings’ vaunted Jazz Dispensary series puts a special focus on ’70s jazz-funk. More

Apr 04, 2023

The latest compilation from Cherry Red is an essential purchase for anyone interested in dream pop, shoegaze, or ethereal music. More

Jul 11, 2022

The love of a fan has led to a 50th anniversary release for Musicasión 4 ½, providing this rare beauty of a record the opportunity to find an audience beyond Uruguay. More

Jul 07, 2022

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve not seen a Minion on the big screen since their Despicable Me debut, but I do have a passing level of knowledge of the day-glo ’70s cover songs that grace the grooves of the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack. More

Apr 18, 2022

In the early 1970s, magic was made when a Memphis studio brought out the best in a gospel sound that wove threads connecting to soul and early rock and roll into something special. The D-Vine Records motto stated “D-Vine is Gospel.” Recorded between 1972-1986, the two volumes of Sacred Soul: The D-Vine Records Story (two separate releases) do indeed offer something divine. More

Mar 04, 2022

Satisfaction Guaranteed brings the second volume of The Sound of Philadelphia Records, the ongoing reissue series from the gold-standard label of Philly soul. As with last year’s first volume, Get On Board the Soul Train, this edition provides a real bounty from producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. More

C91

Jan 27, 2022

The latest in Cherry Red’s excellent “C” series of compilations celebrates all things 1991. More

Dec 21, 2021

Every so often, a long-hidden artifact is unearthed from the fathomless annals of popular culture to be carried forth and presented anew as a fresh revelation. Nippon Columbia and DJ Notoya’s own revelation transports listeners to a fabled place in an intriguing era: Tokyo in the mid-1970s and ’80s. Featuring 18 solid tracks selected by Notoya from Nippon Columbia’s expansive vaults, comprehensive double LP Tokyo Glow showcases the lesser-known gems of the bustling metropolis’s stellar city pop movement—an eclectic category of R&B/soul, funk, boogie, and jazz fusion-influenced J-pop, often associated with a romantic, tech-centric vision of the future. More

Dec 16, 2021

With Apple, Spotify, Tidal, and Amazon all vying to tempt the big stars into recording a festive cover or indeed conjuring a Christmas original, contemporary festive music has never been easier to find. The Nettwerk Music Group was well ahead of the curve in this respect and has been releasing seasonal music for many years. More

Oct 28, 2021

Organized by Brooklyn-based independent soul and funk label Daptone, and recorded over the course of three luminous nights at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater in December 2014, The Daptone Super Soul Revue featured performances from its distinguished artists. More

Oct 20, 2021

With the understanding that its featured tracks are reinterpretations as opposed to covers, I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to The Velvet Underground & Nico is two or three genuinely commendable efforts from being drab, discordant, and ultimately disappointing. More

Sep 09, 2021

“Every time the bus is pulling away as Led Zeppelin’s ‘Tangerine’ plays as the end…it kind of crushes me a little bit,” notes Jason Lee, who played Stillwater singer Jeff Bebe in the movie Almost Famous. More

Aug 05, 2021

With soul classics such as The O’Jays’ “Back Stabbers” and Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones” having been staples of oldies radio for decades, the box set Get on Board the Soul Train: The Sound of Philadelphia International Records Volume 1 provides a public service in bringing together on CD the first eight albums issued by the Philadelphia International Records label. More

Apr 14, 2021

Shake the Foundations focuses on the post-punk era and how it became influenced by the dancefloor and infused with elements of funk, disco, electronica, dub, and pop. More

Apr 06, 2021

As the latest in Light in the Attic’s extraordinary Japanese Archival Series, Somewhere Between has some big reputations on its shoulder. More

Mar 29, 2021

Montreal’s Mothland Records have one of the most exciting rosters in music, as demonstrated on this essential 15-song compilation. More

Dec 23, 2019

Given that for all practical purposes Tom Waits has been gone from the music scene for the last decade, an album of a dozen covers of his songs comes as a welcome gift. Additionally the songs are all performed by a clutch of the most talented women operating in the land today. More

Jul 22, 2019

At the tail end of the previous decade, Glasgow, briefly, reclaimed its throne as a vital hub for music. The Twilight Sad’s Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters (2007) and Frightened Rabbit’s The Midnight Organ Fight (2008) re-established Glasgow as a dominant force for indie-rock on a global stage after a quiet half-decade. More

Jan 02, 2019

Imagine a career as a musician logging countless studio hours in the creation of cool music that the public might hear only in a fleeting moment. Also, not only would that music be unavailable for commercial consumption or purchase, it would be nearly impossible to find outside of its brief exposure. Welcome to the world of “library music.”

Dec 31, 2018

Very few independent record labels make it beyond their initial releases these days thanks to the ever-increasing reliance on streaming services. More

May 03, 2018

The other of two recent compilations of Elton John cover songs, Restoration, finds John and Taupin’s compositions played by country artists both old and new. More

May 03, 2018

One of two recent compilations of Elton John cover songs, Revamp finds current artists taking their turn with mostly well-known Elton John classics. More

Nov 30, 2017

As the sequel to Let’s Go Down and Blow Our Minds: The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1967, Looking at the Pictures in the Sky picks up right where its predecessor left off, with a spectacular collection of British (and Irish) psych-pop from 1968. More

Jan 11, 2017

Let’s Go Down and Blow Our Minds: The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1967 features three CDS, 80 tracks and nearly four hours of some of the best lesser-known British psychedelic music from 1967. More

Dec 21, 2016

I terms of independent music, the cast for Say Yes! is pretty much as close as it gets to all-star: J. Mascis, Waxahatchee, Amanda Palmer, Yuck, and Julien Baker are among those enlisted to tribute one of the most talented songwriters to ever occupy these circles. Sadly, large parts ofSay Yes! feel uninspired and lazy. More

Dec 16, 2016

Polyvinyl Plays Polyvinyl celebrates 20 years of label existence by having a number of its artists run free with covers of their labelmates’ songs. The result is a stylistic cornucopia made doubly pleasing by the obvious joy and care involved in musicians taking liberties with their peers’ creations. More

May 24, 2016

How to pay tribute to the group with perhaps the most obsessive, meticulous, and passionate fans in music history? Not to mention a group with a ludicrously expansive discography: Grateful Dead recorded 22 studio albums between 1967 and 1990, and put out more than 140 in total. More

Dec 15, 2015

Artifact: The Dawn of Creation Records is a comprehensive, five-CD box set which collects the singles, b-sides, radio sessions and live cuts from the iconic label’s earliest era. More

Oct 02, 2014

Perhaps no label has been as sneakily influential on pop culture in the last decade as Hyperdub. The dubstep they helped popularize went mainstream, the clattering melancholy that was their trademark found its way into indie rock and hip-hop, and R&B in 2014 would sound out of place if it didn’t have some dustiness to it. More

Sep 11, 2014

Let it go on record that proceeds from this Duran Duran tribute go to Amnesty International. We applaud the efforts that go into producing a charity album; we only wish we could recommend more of the covers contained on it. More

Jul 31, 2014

More than anything, the soundtrack to Wish I Was Here sounds like an update to the one for Garden State, which came out in 2004. The reason is obvious; Zach Braff directed both films, and Wish I Was Here essentially comes off as a direct sequel, at least as far as the music is concerned. More

Dec 16, 2013

Fela Kuti’s death in 1997, caused by a sarcoma he developed while suffering from AIDS, continues to have an impact on the world in Africa and beyond. The musical inspired by his life, FELA!, has been a Broadway hit, and his back catalogue has been re-released to millions of new fans. More

Dec 05, 2013

Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound looks back to a forgotten generation of Minnesotan musicians-1970s purveyors of R&B, soul, and funk-who fuelled the trajectory, filled the ears and paved the way for a youthful Prince Nelson Rogers. More

Nov 22, 2013

Inside Lleywn Davis, the latest film by the Coen brothers, is set in the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. It has already scooped awards at the Cannes Film Festival and with T-Bone Burnett producing the soundtrack as well as a selection of A-list guests, this record is likely to have a similar impact. More

Jun 26, 2013

Way back in 2007, Italians Do It Betterthe dance label curated by Mike Simonetti and Johnny Jewelreleased their first After Dark compilation, kick-starting a conversation that was nearly as emblematic of that year’s blog noise as were think pieces on Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want sales policy. Disco was alive and doing the hustle again, at least as far as indie rockers were concerned. More

Aug 13, 2012

It’s a bit of a curiosity that in the past year or two, Fleetwood Mac has turned into a cornerstone of influence in indie-rock. Certainly many of those in their 30s grew up with their parents playing Rumours and Tusk, but 20-somethings today would be lucky to even have been born by the time Fleetwood Mac released the last of their first run Buckingham/Nicks-era albums, Tango In the Night. More

Apr 20, 2012

During the 1970s, Philadelphia International Records released some of the best pop music of the last century, and Golden Gate Groove documents the night in 1973 when a handful of Philadelphia International Records’ best and brightest, including The O’Jays and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, performed for a mainly white, and somewhat skeptical, convention of CBS record execs.

More

Nov 29, 2011

This twenty-fifth anniversary triple DVD set features two discs of stellar performances from the history of the annual Bridge School benefit concerts, but it is the third disc documentaries and student-artist interviews that truly impress. More

Sep 14, 2011

This Germano-Kenyan (how often do you get to use that) collaboration took a handful of Berlin-based electronic artists to work with various established artists of the Kenyan music scene. More

Dec 07, 2010

World Psychedelic Funk Classics put out its first release in 2009 under the title Psych Funk 101. An introductory study of the “golden years” of psychedelic funk music, the compilation brought together essential tracks of the genre from around the globe. Their third course in fuzz guitars and funk rhythm (following their Brazilian fuzz guitar comp) focuses on India, summarized by the subtitle of the record: Seminar: Aesthetic Expressions of Psychedelic Funk Music in India 1970-1983. More

Jun 15, 2010

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 40 years since Graham Nash released his first solo album, Songs for Beginners. Debuting in 1971 while on hiatus from Crosby, Stills & Nash, the album was the first to showcase Nash’s superb songwriting skills front and center, driven by a voice that so easily conveyed a complexity of emotion while retaining a certain innocence. More

Apr 02, 2010

It’s supremely odd to hear movie stars singing their own soundtrack material, especially since the characters they’re playing are actual musicians. The main attraction to the soundtrack from the Kristen Stewart/Dakota Fanning portrayal of ‘70s all-girl rock band, The Runaways, is not the period punk music included (fine tracks by David Bowie, MC5, The Stooges, and Sex Pistols). It’s the fact that Fanning and Stewart actually sing four of The Runaways tunes on the soundtrack. More

Nov 12, 2009

Indie kids beware—your heroes just got co-opted. While hardly a cohesive gathering, from Death Cab For Cutie doing what they do best (channeling youthful melancholy), to Lykke Li’s unexpected gravitas, it would be difficult to ask for a better group of ambassadors. More

Oct 23, 2009

Fidel Castro’s communism had incredible, if often polarizing, effects on the music industry of Cuba. The island employed state-subsidized musicians who earned steady paychecks, and these artists had relatively little concern about their commercial success, giving them free reign to experiment and play from the heart. On the other hand, there was very limited access to recording equipment and the raw materials necessary to record and create albums. More

Oct 13, 2009

Where the Action Is! is the Southern California answer to 2007’s San Francisco box set, Love Is the Song We Sing. With some exceptions, that NorCal Nuggets set focused on the infinitely collected works of the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Santana, and other Summer of Love bands. This new LA compilation digs much deeper and dredges some stellar tracks to the surface with 101 tracks spread over four discs and supplemented by copious amounts of liner notes about the bands, producers, and the stories behind the songs. More

Oct 08, 2009

Regardless of your views on love, marriage—or Michael Cera’s status as an indie heartthrob—writing off the Paper Heart soundtrack in its entirety would be like pulling a football away from Charlie Brown as he goes to kick it—heartless, cold… and all too tempting. More

Sep 30, 2009

Every decade following Woodstock there’s a flurry of retrospectives, and the 40-year anniversary is no exception. This one comes hot on the heels of an AARP membership for most attendees, but that doesn’t mean a new crop of music fans can’t be browbeat with the event’s mythology. See, kids, there was a time when neither Mountain Dew nor Clear Channel played a prominent role in music festivals, when pull-tabs were hauled past lax security, when the money-making aspect had yet to make things unbearable. Woodstock made things unbearable the old-fashioned way: half a million naked hippies rolling around in the mud. More

Sep 22, 2009

Judee Sill released only two LPs, 1971’s Judee Sill and 1973’s Heart Food, before tragically dying of a heroin and cocaine overdose in 1979. She didn’t live long enough to see her music become popular among Laurel Canyon-referencing indies such as Fleet Foxes and Department of Eagles. American Dust’s lovingly compiled Crayon Angel features gorgeous and tolerable Sill covers from Daniel Rossen (Department of Eagles, Grizzly Bear), Beth Orton, Bill Callahan, Final Fantasy, Marissa Nadler, and Ron Sexsmith. More

Sep 16, 2009

If there’s one great failing to Quentin Tarantino’s film soundtracks, it’s that they remind me just how boring my life really is. Extraneous orchestral swells? Unexpected juxtaposition of classic rock and symphonic scores? Obscure foreign language ditties? Why, it’s enough to make a girl want to seek revenge against the man who left her for dead on her wedding day, take a classic car for a blood-soaked joyride, or—in the case of his latest epic Inglourious Basterds—go a’ Nazi killing. You know, just for the hell of it. More

Jul 30, 2009

There’s a natural inclination to hate (500) Days of Summer. It’s aimed so squarely at the indie demographic, even starring the current cross-media Queen of Indie, Zooey Deschanel, and including her work (as half of the grammatically frustrating act She & Him) on the soundtrack. And anything that claims to know us thoroughly risks rejection out of hand: we’re unknowable, man, we’re individuals, you can’t just treat us like a demographic. But, well, of course you can. More

Jun 18, 2009

Kath Bloom is the daughter of the famous concert oboist Robert Bloom, and was raised in New Haven, Connecticut, where she trained as a cellist. The folk luminary’s six self-released CD-Rs and various cassettes are highly-sought after collectibles but most people would draw blanks if her name was brought up in conversation. The reason behind her anonymous nature is simple. Though Bloom’s been cutting records off and on since the late ‘70s, she took a long hiatus to raise her kids after her record with Loren Mazzacane Connors (1984’s Moonlight). After leaving for much of the ‘90s, Bloom returned to the public eye, resulting in some releases and her latest album, Finally, released on Australia’s Chapter Music in 2006. More

Apr 28, 2009

Along with Motown, Stax Records defined an era of soul music in the ‘60s and ‘70s. And from the parents who lived with and loved the sound of Stax came children who would sample and appropriate the breaks into loops that would become the foundation of hip-hop. This compilation collects the original Stax hits that spawned so many hip-hop classics. More