music: reviews

James Carter, Chasin' the Gyspsy *****/5

    Chasin' the Gypsy made a spectacular first impression on me. I've enjoyed it more and more each time I've listened to it. JC has put together an excellent album that is among his strongest work to date, and dramatically different from his earlier recordings. He is immensely successful in demonstrating his versatility as a player, composer, and leader, as well as his deep respect for his predecessors. full review

James Carter, Layin' in the Cut ****/4

    I came into these two discs expecting more from Layin' in the Cut than Chasin' the Gypsy, because I've been very impressed with JC's funky playing to date. Unfortunately, Layin' in the Cut did not meet my high expectations. The title track is remarkably mediocre, until the closing cadenza, in which JC pulls out his full bag of tricks, including the percussivve slap-tounging and multiphonics that he does so well. Layin' in the Cut is a mixed bag, with the excellence exceeding the mediocrity. full review

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Outbound ****/4

    In their first outing for their new label, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones deliver an ambitious effort featuring many guests. These guests help the 'tones to field a much larger sound on this album with a far-ranging global influence but still retain the typical Flecktone wackiness, virtuosity, and innovation that have characterized the group. Outbound is not an astoundingly spectacular album, but it does not disappoint. The more I've listened to this album, the more I've appreciated and enjoyed it. full review

first listen: Radiohead, Kid A

    When I get a chance to listen to Kid A more thoroughly I might come closer to starting to understand it. The album is very dense and experimental. Everyone who has written about Kid A so far has said that it is a post-rock album. I was prepared to hear something different, but this was very different from what I expected. It features lots of electronics and synthesizers, drum and vocal loops. Kid A is very far out there. It is very different than anything else Radiohead has done to date. full experience

Agents of Good Roots, Needle and Thread *****/4.5

    After their less than successful major label (RCA) debut album, One by One, Agents of Good Roots return with Needle and Thread, an excellent album, recorded for RCA, but finally released independently. Working with producer Steve Fisk (Nirvana), Agents have produced a well conceived, consistent album. The sound has a gritty, edgy texture that is distinct from any other recent album I've heard. In the studio, the Agents have finally been able to capture the unique sound they have developed on the road and have created a sepactacularly compelling album. full review

rating system

*****/5: A superior recording. Drop everything you're doing to go out and buy this album now

****/4: An excellent recording. Put this on your "to-buy" list. You'll enjoy it.

***/3: A decent recording. It's worth considering purchasing.

**/2: A fair recording. Buy it only if you need to get rid of $14 ASAP.

*/1: A poor recording. Listen to it if you get it for free, but it's not worth buying.