Mudhoney's pure punk rage on display in Boston
Mudhoney is a force of nature, a band that never really changed or really grew up, but they might've gotten better as their 25 years went on. And they're a hurricane live. May
Clapton and Allman collided on the masterpiece 'Layla'
Pinpointing Duane Allman's finest moment is tough, considering how much music he made and how quickly he made it. But Eric Clapton's best is easier to pinpoint, and it came with Allman on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. May
Duane Allman's career was lovingly chronicled on 'An Anthology'
Beyond the Allman Brothers Band, guitarist Duane was an incredible sideman and had some solo sessions and early recordings that deserved to be heard. An Anthology did an excellent job of painting the entire picture. May
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club push forward in Boston
Armed with a new record and a never-ending sense of purpose, B.R.M.C. took the crowd for a ride and brought their music places that, honestly, only they can go. Incredible. May
Accidental soundtracks and the sounds of home
When I hear certain songs from Bruce Springsteen's Live/1975-85, I know right where I am. The same goes for Quadrophenia, Lifes Rich Pageant and any number of albums that associate themselves with a certain time. May
The Flaming Lips mine the depths of humanity on 'The Terror'
The fact that the Flaming Lips made a deep, complex album isn't the surprise. That comes in just how dark and bleak the message is. It's almost as if this is the greatest songwriting exercise ever. It's incredible. April
Big Star's story is beautifully told on 'Nothing Can Hurt Me'
Big Star is one of the greater "what-ifs" in the annals of rock music. But their skill and depth can't be denied, and Nothing Can Hurt Me, the soundtrack to an upcoming documentary, makes for a fantastic portrait. April
The Black Crowes announce their return to the road with a fury
Recharged by a two-year hiatus and new lead guitarist Jackie Greene, the Robinson Brothers are back on tour, and their show on this night in Boston was a barn-burner. April
Mad Season's incredible 'Above' gets the treatment it always deserved
Unfairly relegated to the status of a side project, Mad Season featured some of the best music in the careers of any of their fabled members. This deluxe version of their only album does everything it can to correct that. April
The Strokes continue their mastery of the rock song
When I put in Comedown Machine, I expected it to be good. What I didn't expect was to be bowled over by how far the Strokes have come, and how no one really approaches what they're able to do. March
BRMC expand their sound on 'Specter at the Feast'
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have created an epic, sprawling template from which to work, and they push their own boundries on their latest record. March
The next chapter in Bowie's career as challenging as the rest
After a decade away from music, David Bowie returned in glorious form with The Next Day, an original work that is just as vital as any in his career. March
Thurston Moore's Chelsea Light Moving keeps momentum
With Sonic Youth on the shelf, Moore got back on the horse and ripped out a new album of noise, riffs and poetry, keeping the ship moving. March
Hendrix diverted to R&B and funk on 'People, Hell and Angels'
On what could be his final posthumous studio album, Jimi Hendrix showed hints of his new direction without his famous Experience. March
Sitting down with the mind behind Mercy Choir
Paul Belbusti and I had a conversation via email about his new record, Waabaayo, and the inner workings of songwriting and recording. February
Pearl Jam left everything on the Dead's stage at Soldier Field
In the first entry of the Bootlegging series, I took a closer look at Pearl Jam's performance at Soldier Field in 1995, one of my favorite less-than-legitimate recordings ever. January
Searching for Richard Manuel
A binge-listening session of The Band that spanned more than a week lead to an amazing revelation — Richard Manuel sang much more than I'd realized. January
'Before the Frost' and the makings of a wintertime album
Certain records lend themselves to chilly nights indoors, with cocoa and blankets and a blizzard whipping around the streets beyond the window. The Black Crowes have definitely made that type of album. January
'Tonight's the Night' and the power of suggestion
The quick, fleeting mention by Neil Young in his autobiography, Waging Heavy Peace, that Tonight's the Night sounded like "God" when played loud, inspired me to indeed play it loud. January
Sizing up the Rolling Stones' epic 'Singles Collection'
I bought this three-CD set in high school in an attempt to learn more about the band, and it provided as great a history as I could have reasonably hoped. December
Coping with the sensless
Newtown, Conn., and Bruce Springsteen. December
Band of Horses lights up a rainy Sunday night
With Japandroids and Dave Matthews, among others, also in town, Band of Horses made everyone in the the House of Blues happy to have picked their show. December
Neil Young stomps out the non-believers with the Horse
It's hard to comprehend how this guy can be this loud, this intense and this relevant as a 66-year-old playing the dirtiest, grungiest music around. But here we are. November
All that is powerful and mysterious returns on 'Celebration Day'
In Dec. 2007, Led Zeppelin did the impossible: they reunited, played an amazing show and didn't cash it in. All a great reminder of what they were and what they could be. November
Townshend brings The Who to life with 'Quadrophenia'
I've always known that Pete Townshend is a furious performer, but to see him so committed and energized in bringing his greatest work to the stage was something else. November
McCartney scored a late-career triumph with 'Chaos and Creation'
Rare are the latter-day albums by acknowledged legends that are both well-reviewed in the moment and still hold up years later, but 2005's Chaos and Creation in the Backyard is remarkable in its strength. November
Young & the Horse reclaim The Spook on 'Psychedelic Pill'
On their second album in six months, Crazy Horse truly ride on their best album in 20 years, one full of the long, mysterious jams that make for their best music. October
'Call Me On Your Way Back Home' another song that delivers a blow
Once again, iTunes delivered a wallop while it was mindlessly shuffling songs, and I took a deeper look at this song from Ryan Adams' first record. October
Neal McCarthy makes the most of any given Monday
I'd written about McCarthy a few years ago at The Standard-Times, but a random trip to see his acoustic trio reminded me of what makes him such a great musician. October
Dinosaur Jr.'s 'I Bet on Sky' adds more artistic relevance to reunion
The reformation of the classic Dinosaur Jr. lineup wasn't necessarily a surprise, given the climate in alternative music, but the fact that they've so steadly pumped out great, new music is. October
Crawling Back to You: A personal and critical breakdown of Tom Petty's masterpiece, "Wildflowers"
After stewing over this project for years, I sat down and wrote a long essay on my favorite album of all time and presented it as an e-zine, for your reading and flipping pleasure. September
'Hard Promises' and the myth of the greatest hits set
While they're handy and fun at first, any band's Greatest Hits album can become a burdon on exploration. Tom Petty's Hard Promises helped break that. September
On 'Otis!,' one disc rules in defining Redding's power
In an unusual move (I think), I reviewed the fourth disc of Otis Redding's 1993 box set, the live compilation that serves as the ultimate Redding concert. It is excellent. August
Joe Strummer's unwritten future at 60
I looked back at Strummer's life and influence on what would have been his 60th birthday, just a few months shy of the 10th anniversary of his death. There was no one like him. August
Springsteen and the E Street Band put on a clinic at Fenway Park
I got a ticket to this at the last second thanks to a friend, and I was completely enthralled by Bruce Springsteen. It was one of those magical, uplifiting experiences that are too few and live in the soul forever. August
The Flaming Lips invite friends to their neverending freakout
In a move that proves that, yes, other people can be just as strange in the right setting, the Flaming Lips bring in names from across the musical spectrum (Ke$sha and Nick Cave on the same record?) for The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends. August
From third voice to first, Ranaldo shines apart from Sonic Youth
Following Sonic Youth's split, Lee Ranaldo released his first proper solo album, Between the Tides and the Times, and damn it if it's not a smash. August
Beachwood Sparks returns with the beautiful 'Tarnished Gold'
After a decade away, the Los Angeles band reformed and recorded an album that lives up to its excellent, though overlooked, back catalogue. August
Neil Young and Crazy Horse twist 'Americana' classics into ragged gems
Neil brought back the Horse in the weirdest way he could conceive, by having them turn classic American traditionals into messy Crazy Horse jams. Of course he did. August
Wilco makes the most of a summer night in Newport
Kicking off the Newport Folk Festival, Wilco has a blast through a long set at Fort Adams State Park, and a seagull relieved himself on my Sonic Youth t-shirt. July
The Who are touring again, but what does 'The Who' mean?
Inspired by reading more than a few friends dismiss the news of the band's 2012 tour as, "meh, Keith Moon's dead, not interested." Can this band, without Moon and John Entwistle, still be The Who? July
Ryan Adams lets it all out — literally — on 'Live After Deaf'
Even for a notoriously prolific artist, releasing a vinyl-only, 15-record live album is pretty ambitious. But Ryan Adams pulls it off, and the results are a smashing success. July
Radiohead: Rock and roll's first concept band?
Through emails with friends, we kind of cooked up the idea that maybe every Radiohead album is meant to fit in with each other. They're probably not, but it was still fun to think about. June
Radiohead proves nothing is impossible on stage
There is no band like Radiohead. Seeing them live is a good reminder of this. May
Mark Lanegan brings his thrilling, terrifying vision to Boston
Lanegan has a command and stage presence the likes of which I've never seen. He's dark, intense and, yes, terrifying. And "Methamphetamine Blues" was sick. May
Adam Yauch led a life well lived
A column written a couple of days after the Beastie Boys' MCA passed away. He always struck me as being a really solid guy, and everything said about him in the wake of his death did nothing to disprove that. May
Jack White blazes his own trail on 'Blunderbuss'
After finally releasing his first solo record, the relief resided in how fearless and creative White can stand on his own, without one of his many bands behind him. May
To Levon Helm, goodbye and thanks
It would be impossible to overstate how much the Band means to me, and how much they changed my outlook when I truly discovered their music in college. Levon Helm was the center of that. April
Wild Flag own the stage, through sore throats and beer bottles
I cannot overstate how incredible this band was in that moment. Someone had chucked a Heineken onto the stage, and it barely registered. They just kept doing their thing. Inspiring. April
For better or worse, Mercer runs The Shins on 'Port of Morrow'
I was surprised to hear that James Mercer considered the Shins a project rather than a traditional band. And I would've felt better about it if this album had been as good as the other Shins records. March
Bruce Springsteen channels the 99 percent on 'Wrecking Ball'
I wasn't expecting to like any new Springsteen record that much, but this bucks the trend of his last few E Street Band projects a bit. A pleasant surprise, to be sure. March
The Black Keys work their tunes in an arena setting
So, how did the Black Keys adjust to playing in TD Garden instead of, say, the Paradise? By turning it up and rocking. Fantastic show, and they're going to be playing for a long time. March
The Black Keys grow up without selling out
A column chronicling my own thoughts on seeing this band graduate from clubs to small theaters and, ultimately, arenas. Includes a sidebar on Kings of Leon and how not to make that leap. March
Mark Lanegan recasts soul on 'Blues Funeral'
Lanegan could probaby sing the phone book and I'd enjoy it. As it is, he instead keeps writing interesting, captivating songs and putting his own smokey doom on all of it. February
Thurston Moore works out old ghosts with acoustics and noise
Apart from Sonic Youth, Moore showed that he's an amazing performer in his own right. Not a surprise, but still a thrill to see in person. February
Tracing the path of Neil Young's 'Helpless'
A simple ode to a song that I've strummed on the guitar for years and listened to for longer, and looking a little at where it measures up in Young's career. January
Ticket stub memories: sorted, filed and treasured
I received a ticket stub album for Christmas, and had more than a fair amount of fun tracing my concert-going history through little pieces of paper I've refused to throw away. December
The Black Keys conquer genres, again, on 'El Camino'
Offering their take on a big, uptempo rock album, the Black Keys furthered the notion I have that they are almighty and can do no wrong. December
Noel Gallagher flies high on his own
Oasis had been going through a bit of a rebirth on their last albums, and Noel Gallagher keeps the inspired music rolling on his own. If you're wondering, yes, it's much better than Beady Eye. November
Revisiting the mechanical world of walkmans and cassettes
A broken iPod led me back to my tape player, a bunch of mix tapes, nostalgia and the like. It was a blast, though. November
Tom Waits is at his morbid, bizarre best on 'Bad as Me'
Waits always surprises me, and his willingness and ability to turn the ugliest sounds into something compelling is definitely admirable. Seriously, this rocks in the weirdest way. October
Ryan Adams writes another beautifully sad chapter
In a great week for music — I'd just discovered Wild Flag two days before — Ryan Adams floored me with an amazing record, Ashes & Fire. Somehow, after hundreds of songs, he keeps amazing me. October
Wild Flag debuts with greatness
I first heard this record on my iPod, driving home from Boston. I listened to it again after I got home, and again the next morning, and again, and again ... October
Wilco resumes the search for sound on 'The Whole Love'
For a few years, Jeff Tweedy and Wilco seemed content with writing and recording good songs. On The Whole Love, the band returns to using the studio as an experimental instrument. October
Cameron Crowe delivers the ultimate Pearl Jam mixtape
The thrill of listening to Pearl Jam Twenty for the first time will not be forgotten for some time. This collection is amazing, and I tried to do it justice in a 600-word review. And just one week after trashing "Olé," too! September
Radiohead holds another challenging masterpiece in 'The King of Limbs'
As far as I can tell, this is the first time I've managed to write an entire, coherent piece on Radiohead. Write about this band typically gives me fits. This either means I'm getting better, or I've just gotten boring. February
Goodbye to the White Stripes
I think it's pretty clear that the White Stripes are without peer when discussing the great bands of the 2000s. They changed so much. They were the White Stripes. February
Robert Plant hosts a Boston hootenanny
I might never see Led Zeppelin live, but with this show, I have now see all three living members live. Jimmy Page in 2000, John Paul Jones in 2009, and this. January
Springsteen outlines an alternate reality on 'The Promise'
I'm never amazed more than when I study prolific artists. How Bruce Springsteen managed to write this many great songs in this short a window is nothing short of amazing. January
Say goodnight to the bad guys
I caught two of the Black Crowes acoustic/electric shows before they made their hiatus official. Who knows when/if they're play again, but at least I got to say goodbye. October
Neil Young throws out the concepts with 'Le Noise'
It makes me ridicoulously happy that Neil Young just decided to try something new and make an album without some heavy-handed message or theme. September
Dark and rootsy, Lanois helped Dylan shine on 'Time Out of Mind'
Daniel Lanois' latest project is with Neil Young on Le Noise, so naturally, I went back and listed to Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind about a 1,000 times. September
Love and passion on the Backstreets
This has always been a true favorite in the Bruce Springsteen catalog, but around this time I really started to dive deep into the meaning and the passion of the song. Just beautiful, really. September
Keith Richards, in a moment of calm
Here, I take a look at one of my favorite photographs, Jim Marshall's shot of Richards recording in 1972, and how it can mean so much to the music and the man. August
Nothing saves the season like 'Waterloo Sunset'
To set the scene, it's a hot night on a weekend. I'm alone. So what do I do? If it's a good night, I'll put on Something Else by the Kinks, and I'll write. August
The Dead Weather arrive in time to save the summer
In the midst of a particularly uneventful and unproductive summer, I finally heard the Dead Weather's Sea of Cowards, and all was made right again. August
Even with a digital cleaning, 'Exile' oozes unchecked genius
The remastered version of the Rolling Stones' masterpiece walked that line between making the most of technology and keeping the original spirit of the record alive. That the Stones did something right, mind you, is huge. May
In the moment, Pearl Jam thrives
It was hard reconciling my dislike of the new record with their ability as a live band. As it turns out, that was silly. They rocked. May
Total immersion: Delving into Jimi Hendrix's home recordings
When a friend sent me the CD Jimi By Himself — The Home Recordings, I was obsessed immediately. It took a few days to articulate my feelings on the subject, but, here they are. January
Petty redefines the Heartbreakers' greatness on 'The Live Anthology'
I've long been a Tom Petty fan, and this four-disc box set blew me away when I got it for Christmas. It has completely changed my (already high) opinion of this band. January
It's not too late: 10 gems you might've missed this decade
Year by year, I round up some overlooked goodies from the musical sphere of the 2000s. And I got to revisit Boomslang, a pivotal album for me in 2003. December
Sonic Youth: Not to be taken for granted
Sonic Youth really is the greatest live band I've ever seen. There are a lot of fantastic bands, and I've seen plenty of amazing shows, but no one else compares. They're just amazing. Damn. November
How I was freed from the shackles of classic rock by 'Gold'
A column trying to explain how this particular album by Ryan Adams shook me so hard that everything I felt about music wound up changing. No, really, it did. November
'Embryonic' isn't just daring and inventive, it's stunning
The Flaming Lips have made a career of left-turns and surprise moves, but their latest album was a shock, even for them. Every time I listen to it, it gets better. Easily the best album of 2009. October
Them Crooked Vultures are more than just hype
Supergroups are typically terrible, or at best, underwhelming. Them Crooked Vultures are definitely the exception, and their show — before they'd even released an album — blew me away. October
The Beatles are finally given the treatment they deserve
My full, comprehensive review of the Beatles remastered albums, via the stereo box set. This tops 2,000 words, and I'm pretty proud of it. It was also a blast to write. October
What would another Beatles album have looked like?
A column where I put together the "next" Beatles album, based on solo recordings from 1969/70. It's a pretty fun game, and it's now a cool little playlist on my iPod. September
'Quadrophenia' lets the tide in
I'm fairly convinced that Quadrophenia is one of the five greatest albums I've ever had the pleasure of hearing, and everytime I drive out to the beach to write, it's always the first thing on my mind. July
The Black Keys grew up quickly in '08
Attack & Release was my favorite album of 2008, and I also run down the other things that made my year. January
Three albums can cure a bad day's hangover
Column. How three albums — namely, Nebraska, Time out of Mind and Into the Wild — took the sting out of a frustrating day. November
The Who are honored, not finished
A long piece reviewing the taping of the VH-1 Rock Honors: The Who special in Los Angeles, as well as a look at the Who's place in history. Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, the Flaming Lips, Tenacious D and Incubus are also covered here. July
Ryan Adams is holding me hostage
Sometimes, I go on kicks where I listen to nothing but one artist for weeks at a time. When I wrote this column, it was Ryan Adams. May
The Black Crowes reclaim their song
A review of the Black Crowes' album Warpaint. March
The argument for the Foo Fighters
A review of the Foo Fighters' concert in Glendale, Ariz. March
Wild call a quiet one for Vedder
A review of Eddie Vedder's soundtrack for Into the Wild. September
From the abyss: Rediscovering the mighty Zeppelin
In high school and the beginning of college, Led Zeppelin was my favorite band (other than Pearl Jam), but they took a fast and total fall off the cliff right around my 21st birthday. I got back into them in a huge way right around this time, centered on their live album, How the West was Won. August
All thrills and no frills: Marc Ford tackles his music with no pretense
Interview with guitarist Marc Ford, and a review of his concert in Phoenix. June
Killer Party: The Hold Steady lead a triple threat
The Hold Steady are one of the best live bands around, and they stepped up again on this night, leading a bill with Illinois and Blitzen Trapper. June
Icky Thump: How the White Stripes will one day save the world
As the title might've led you to believe, a very enthusiastic review of the White Stripes' Icky Thump. June
R.E.M. takes their place in the Hall
A column about R.E.M.'s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and how it made me feel as a long-time fan of their music. March
A cassette classic makes a comeback
I've always been a fan of concert bootlegs, and this is a look at one of my early live tapes, a Black Crowes recording from 1995. December
The Who breathes fire on stage in Boston
A review of the Who's concert in Boston. December
Gov't Mule gets down to business in Providence
Gov't Mule, on a weeknight, tearing the roof off the joint in Providence, R.I. Needless to say, this is an enthusiastic review. December
Ain't Talkin': Dylan lets his songs tell the story
Bob Dylan doesn't screw around when he's on stage. Also, the Raconteurs were a great opener. November
Endless Wire a mark of maturity for the Who
At the end of 2006, the Who got together and released their first album in 24 years and their best in 31, Endless Wire. November
Mudhoney crafted a rude debut with 'Superfuzz'
A look back at Mudhoney's classic 1988 debut, Superfuzz Bigmuff plus Early Singles. If at some point you ask me to make a list of my 10 favorite albums, it's very likely that I'll list this one. November
Uncovering the Beatles: A series of demos unlocks 'The White Album'
The Beatles 'Escher Demos' shows a united side of the band, who were otherwise extremely divided during sessions for The White Album. October
Petty paves the way for a late-night treat
A review of Tom Petty's fantastic album, Highway Companion. September
Free your mind with the Flaming Lips
I swear, I've never felt happier in my life than I did when I walked out of the Bank of America Pavillion after watching the Flaming Lips do their thing. Oh man. September
It's official: I finally get Bruce Springsteen
I didn't understand it for years, but when I did, Bruce Springsteen immediately became one of my favorite artists. He still is, too. July
Sonic Youth rips through another chapter
A review of Sonic Youth's latest album, Rather Ripped, coupled with a peek into their set at Bonnaroo that year. July
Sad songs and the fits they cause
I was exploring a feeling here in this column, and the result was one of my favorite pieces of writing to date. June
Return of the madness: A detailed glance at obsession, music and mental health through four Pearl Jam shows in three weeks
A very personal account of following my favorite band on the road, travelling with friends and getting turned on to new music. This one tops 4,000 words, and is one of my favorite pieces of writing. June
Neil fires back against Bush
Neil Young was furious at the Bush Administration in 2006, and he focused all of that anger into Living With War, which was recorded on the fly. April
The quest for the great, lost single
I spent years looking for Pearl Jam's "Off He Goes/Dead Man" single, and that journey came to an end in Berkley, Calif. March
Gilmour hones his craft with 'On an Island'
Former Pink Floyd frontman David Gilmour shows how to age gracefully in this review of his album, On an Island. March
Temple of Rock
Of all the venues in which I've had the pleasure of watching rock shows, San Francisco's Fillmore easily tops the list. As far as acoustics, environment and history, nothing tops it. And Black Rebel Motorcycle Club certainly played up to that standard on this night. March
The Black Crowes say goodbye to 2005
A review of two amazing end-of-the-year shows by the Black Crowes in Springfield, Mass., and Providence, R.I., which were immediately followed by the band's gig at Madison Square Garden on New Year's Eve. January
John Lennon's death, 25 years later
John Lennon was murdered about 18 months before I was born, but he's had a tremendous impact in my life. December
Do the rump! The Black Keys rock Boston
A review of the Black Keys concert at the Avalon in Boston, which was the first, and certainly not the last, time I saw the band.
Tell 'em Jack White sent ya — The White Stripes conquer Boston
This is, still, one of the five best concerts I've ever seen. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. September
Dylan matures and thrills on 'No Direction Home'
A review of No Direction Home, the seventh in Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series. September
BRMC blows away all preconceptions
I don't know what I was expecting the first time I caught Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, but I don't think I was expecting to discover one of my favorite bands of all time. September
Supergrass makes a giant leap forward on Road to Rouen
A review of Road to Rouen, which for my money is the best album Supergrass has made so far. August
Wilco spins arena rock on its head
Wilco put on a fantastic show at Agganis Arena in Boston, with My Morning Jacket opening. June
The Who smash on the ultimate rock scrapbook
A review of Jeff Stein's film The Kids Are Alright, a scrapbook and documentary of the original Who lineup. Honestly, is there a better rock movie? Maybe The Last Waltz. June
Queens pummel speakers and turn heads on Lullabies
A review of Lullabies to Paralyze, the then-new album by Queens of the Stone Age. At the time, this was probably the best record revew I'd written. May
Bob Dylan details the road less travelled in Chronicles
A book review of Dylan's Chronicles, Vol. 1, which, if you haven't read it, is superb. I'm still waiting patiently for Vol. 2, though. May
Sonic Youth steps up and shatters eardrums
A review of Sonic Youth's concert in Providence, R.I. April
An excercise in expanding musical horizons
A look back at Loose Fur's debut album, which sparked Jeff Tweedy into experimenting more with his main band, Wilco. This really is a fantastic record. February