Album Reviews

Reviews of albums by Jeff the Brotherhood, Ponderosa, and Joss Stone

Abby Bernstein
Talk in Tongues (self-released)
★★★ (out of 5 stars)
Whoever thought to cue up Abby Bernstein, a 24-year-old NYC pop hopeful, as the soundtrack to Shoshanna "Everyone's a dumb whore" Shapiro's first time with a guy on the HBO show Girls is a genius. Cute as a button with childhood Polaroids littering her online bio, Bernstein perfectly (if incidentally) channels Shoshanna's bittersweet clinginess to her childhood (album opener "Training Unicorns"), her slightly bendable morality ("Mary's Son") and a Sex and the City addict's conflicted relationship with the word "love" on a debut album that, like her fictional counterpart, is impossible to fully embrace yet hard not to … that word. – Justin Strout

Antibalas (Daptone)
★★★★ (out of 5 stars)
It's been five years since Antibalas released their last album, a period during which they were keeping busy as the musical directors and house band for the Broadway production of FELA!. While one would assume that a half-decade might have mellowed the group, that hasn't happened at all. In fact, Antibalas seems to have fully assimilated the political fire of their Afrobeat mentor and, rather than embarking on a people-pleasing, festival-friendly "world music" path, the charged excitement of their formative days is on full display here. – Jason Ferguson

Redd Kross
Researching the Blues (Merge)
★★★★ ★ (out of 5 stars)
It seems strange to suggest 15 years after their last album that Redd Kross has never sounded better. Three decades after brothers Steven and Jeff McDonald released their first album comes their sixth, a 10-song tour-de-force worthy of their long tenure. They hold true to their typical hookiness, while sampling a spot-on array of styles worthy of its own movie montage – paisley psychedelica reminiscent of Robyn Hitchcock ("Dracula's Daughters"), a bright, catchy, modish paean to goodwill ("One of the Good Ones"), gritty guitar-shredding garage blues (the searing title track, "Uglier") and orchestral-tinged indie pop ("Hazel Eyes"). It's a breathless, infectious rush with no soft spots. – Chris Parker


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