Go To Blazes

Philadelphia four-piece Go to Blazes specializes in roadhouse rock’n’roll — whiskey-kissed shuffles and sour blues and Stones-influenced stomps that have a way of making everyday sorrows seem heroic. Known drinking buddies of Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (producer of their recent recordings), Go to Blazes belongs to that loose confederation of roots rockers determined to preserve the…

Freedy Johnston

Freedy Johnston writes epic songs of loss and heartbreak and sings them with unassuming earnestness, as though apologizing for intruding on a private moment. He charmed his way into the hearts of rock critics with the opening line from Can You Fly‘s “Trying to Tell You I Don’t Know”: “Well I sold the dirt to…

Jennifer Trynin

First issued independently on the Boston-based singer/songwriter’s own label, Jennifer Trynin’s Cockamamie was released nationally in June 1995, at precisely the same time as Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. This was initially a good thing: Trynin’s smart, self-sufficient-woman rock songs were reviewed favorably next to Morissette’s jilted-lover rants, and many critics wrote that Trynin was…

Kate Bush

Kate Bush’s literate, masterful, enchanting records have won her enormous popularity, even if she can be overbearingly coy and preciously self-indulgent. Over the years, she has become increasingly — if far less frequently — ambitious, turning what might have been a career dominated by others into a fascinating singleminded pursuit of her own muse. From…

Katell Keineg

Welsh-born, Scottish-bred and resident in Ireland, singer-guitarist Katell Keineg somehow reflects each of those landing points (and a few American ones besides) in her hauntingly textured, wildly emotional music. She’s a singer-songwriter by trade — Ô Seasons Ô Castles has its share of relationship-disintegration songs, including the pelting “Franklin” and the more metaphysical “The Gulf…

Oumou Sangaré

Oumou Sangaré, whose family comes from the Wassolou region of southern Mali (she was actually born in the nation’s capital, Bamako), is not one of those world music cheerleaders who exhort listeners to get up and dance. Backed by violin, the lute-like kamelengoni and minimal percussion, she creates processional chants and arresting call-and-response episodes from…

Black Train Jack

Green Day might have grabbed the headlines and the multi-platinum sales figures, but New York’s Black Train Jack proves there’s more than one approach to latter-day pop-punk. The adamantly anti-drug foursome, formed when guitarist Ernie Parada’s hardcore combo Token Entry (in which he played drums) disbanded in 1992, specializes in lightning-quick tempos and effusive choruses…

Roots

The next time someone grumbles that hip-hop artists have no business messing with jazz, send them to the Roots. The Philadelphia outfit (initially formed as a performing arts high-school duo called Square Roots in the late ’80s), which built a reputation busking in the city’s South Street shopping district, proves it is possible to integrate…

Charlie Hunter Trio

Charlie Hunter is one of a handful of musicians spearheading the “grits-and-gravy” renaissance, a return to the greasy grooves and organ-centered riffage popular in jazz clubs of the late ’50s and ’60s. But he’s no mere revivalist: he’s a youngster whose first guitar teacher was Joe Satriani. He grew up listening to Eric Clapton and…

Ali Farka Toure

It’s a disservice to write off the Malian guitarist and singer Ali Farka Toure as simply a blues musician who happens to come from Africa. He understands the blues and has listened to John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters and the whole canon; his guitar accompaniments borrow liberally from the folk-blues trickbag. But when he…

Digable Planets

Talk about timing. New York’s Digable Planets happened along at the exact moment when many in hip-hop-newcomers and veterans alike-were seeking ways to integrate aspects of jazz into the mix. The trio of Doodlebug (Craig Irving), Butterfly (Ishmael Butler) and Ladybug (Mary Ann Vieira) met as students in Washington DC and began collaborating on rhymes…

Bailter Space

Formed as an outgrowth of New Zealand noise-exploration trio the Gordons, Bailter Space was, in the late ’80s, doing something similar to what Sonic Youth sold in the ’90s — hard, droning, unforgiving guitar music with occasional lapses into verse/chorus regularity. Only Bailter Space wasn’t quite as interested in accessibility. Right from the band’s debut…

Anthrax

Disproving the fantasy that New York bands were too cool to play heavy metal, Anthrax abandoned the hardcore scene early enough to get in on the ground floor of the underground movement that eventually spawned Megadeth and Metallica. One of the most fertile products of the cross between metal and punk, the quintet helped establish…

Goats

A good idea for one album, the Goats became an out-of-control lesson in rap excess on the tours and album that followed it. Two of the group’s three rappers — Madd and Swayzack — met while working as street vendors in Philadelphia. After trading rhymes for a while, they began to make appearances at local…

G. Love and Special Sauce

The bio reads like something out of Frank Capra: young white kid from Center City Philadelphia plays blues guitar on street corners, gets exposed to hip-hop and begins to write rambling narratives that somehow combine the earthy knowledge of the urban streets with the more timeless wisdom proffered by his heroes, blues legends like Howlin’…

Jack Logan

Jack Logan and a loose confederation of drinking buddies spent more than a decade writing songs and recording them in various garages, working more or less for their own amusement, never trying to land a record contract. All had day jobs: Logan and his best friend Kelly Keneipp repaired swimming-pool motors. After amassing over 600…

Last Poets

There was nothing even remotely like the Last Poets when the trio of New York wordsmiths (Umar Bin Hassan, Abiodun Oyewole and Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin) and their percussionist (Nilaja) burst on the scene in 1970. For the first time, here was an outfit that understood African chanting and free-jazz dissonance; with the accompaniment of just…

Contributors

These folks either wrote reviews that appear on the site or wrote for Trouser Press magazine. If anyone listed below cares to E-mail us with a link you’d like added, just let us know. And ditto if anyone is AWOL from this list. Grant AldenDavid AntrobusJem AswadTroy J. AugustoMichael AzerradCary BakerMichael BakerEmily BeckerJohn BergstromArt BlackJohn…