David Peisner

writer

Biography

  • Joe Henry, 'Blood From Stars' (Anti-)

    Joe Henry's transformation over the last decade from roots-rock traditionalist to jazzy, avant-blues beatnik has been startling, so it's tempting to hear Blood From Stars as a half step backward. It's a collection of bluesy, meditative tunes that feels less like the bold declarations of 2001's Scar or 2003's Tiny Voices and more like a consolidation of his talents. Restraint is key: Creeping guitar lines and delicate piano plinks seem to emerge from the ether; horns and woodwinds add texture but rarely draw attention to themselves. These soulful laments and menacing gospel rumbles don't really demand attention but reward it handsomely. BUY: Amazon

  • Madness, 'The Liberty of Norton Folgate'

    Despite being enamored with ska's Jamaican skank, Madness never forgot their working-class British roots. And the band's first album of new material in a decade owes a greater debt to the Kinks than to Prince Buster. London landmarks (the Hippodrome, Marks & Spencer) add sharp details to memories of a soured relationship on the piano-and-organ-led "Sugar and Spice." The similarly wistful "Forever Young" weaves horn lines over minor-key piano plaints and a loping backbeat. It all looks backward unabashedly -- fitting for a band formed 30-plus years ago -- but no less resonant. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Solillaquists of Sound, 'No More Heroes' (Anti-)

    This Orlando crew is like a bizarro world Black Eyed Peas. SoS's Swamburger, a forceful, hyperliterate MC, and Alexandrah, a beguiling vocalist, have a will.i.am/ Fergie dynamic, and however deep beatmaker DiViNCi wades into funk, rock, trip-hop, folk, or Afrobeat, No More Heroes never buries its pop hooks. Where Black Eyed Peas assiduously avoid meaningful subject matter, SoS offer nothing but. Both approaches can grow tiresome. Here, tunes about racism, consumer culture, and the evils of TV hit their marks, then hit them again and again and again. BUY:

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    Q&A: Hole's Eric Erlandson

    It's hard to imagine a more "colorful" bandmate than Courtney Love. And for 10 years, guitarist Eric Erlandson maintained his shaggy-haired stance alongside rock'n'roll's most unpredictable frontwoman in the group Hole. Since Hole disbanded in 1999, Erlandson retreated from the spotlight (aside from a stint touring with Vincent Gallo's band Rriiccee in 2007). While he says Hole's "worst record contract in the history of Geffen [Records]" hasn't kept dollars rolling in, he was able to buy a house in 2000 and sell it at peak market value in 2005. That real estate deal afforded him time to go backpacking across Asia, practice Buddhism (which he picked up from Courtney), and become a vegan.

  • Discovery, 'LP' (XL)

    To call this synth-slathered electro-R&B side project from Ra Ra Riot's Wes Miles and Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij a genre experiment implies it's a failure. It's not. Hearing Miles croon, "I promise to leave before your mother wakes up in the morning" over a warm bed of fuzzy synths and tinny 808s on "Orange Shirt" falls just on the right side of ridiculous; the multitempo electro-pop jam "So Insane" is oddly affecting, as is the spare, reggae-tinged"Slang Tang." Goofy lyrics and too-frequent Auto-Tuning pushes this close to winking douchebaggery, but not too close. BUY: Amazon

  • Moby, 'Wait for Me' (Mute)

    Let's be honest: Moby has been treading water ever since 1999's multiplatinum Play. Sure, there was some interesting music -- as well as some banal crap -- on his last three albums, but overall he's been a man without a compass. Wait for Me isn't exactly a statement of clarity, but it's easily his loosest, most consistent work in quite a while. Which isn't to say it's light: The mood is somber, mournful, and at times, downright postapocalyptic. But the best of these ambient orchestrations, gurgling uncomplicated beats, and scattered vocals add up to something emotionally wrought, even transporting. BUY: iTunesAmazon

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    The Last Temptation of Steve-O

    At 8:00 on a cool, sunny April morning, Stephen Glover walks barefoot across aleafy side street in Pasadena, California, toward a white Chevy pickup. The blue oxford shirt he borrowed from his roommate is unbuttoned and hanging open. In one hand, he's carrying well-worn black shoes, in the other, a letter from his drug treatment counselor attesting to the fact that he's been sober and drug-free for just over a year. The truck belongs to Glover's bail bondsman, Dan Nesser, who is driving the Jackass daredevil to the Los Angeles Criminal Courts Building. Glover, 35, is on probation after pleading guilty last June to felony cocaine possession; six days after his arrest, eight friends, including Jackass ringleader Johnny Knoxville, had him committed to the psych ward at Cedars-Sinai. Glover's hearing this morning is to check his progress in the probation-mandated recovery program.

  • Eugene McGuinness, 'Eugene McGuinness' (Domino)

    "I shall age," Eugene McGuinness promises on "God in Space," the swaying, romantic ballad that closes his debut album. True, but the 22-year-old British singer-songwriter already sounds like an old soul. A few of these tunes toy with styles that sounded like throwbacks when Ray Davies played them 30 years ago; the rest are dragged no further toward the present than 1985. Perky guitar melodies and skiffle beats predominate, as McGuinness strums like he's not used to playing with an amplifier. It's wittier than it is moving or insightful, but give McGuinness time. He shall age. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Willie Isz, 'Georgiavania' (Lex)

    Think of Willie Isz as Gnarls Barkley's fucked-up little cousin. In fact, it's the handiwork of Philly-based producer-vocalist Jneiro Jarel and Cee-Lo's Goodie Mob mate Khujo. Their debut shares Gnarls' yen for psychedelic weirdness and uncharacteristic (for hip-hop) emotional vulnerability, but with beats that are swampy, murky, and -- when thumping below moaning guitars and spacey organ melodies -- wholly disorienting. Pop hooks are fairly nonexistent, though hazy bangers like "Gawn Jet" and "The Grussle," the latter of which sounds like the Chieftains gone crunk, are not without their intoxicating charm. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Ha Ha Tonka, 'Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South' (Bloodshot)

    What do Sherman, Thoreau, Dostoevsky, and the Holy Ghost have in common? All pop up on Ha Ha Tonka's second album and, in large part, define its contours. Novel Sounds is violent, literate, unapologetic Southern rock: With its angelic organ and snarling guitars, "The Outpouring" conjures the Allmans, "Hold My Feet to the Fire" drops gospel harmonies over a boogie-­woogie backbeat, and the fingerpicked "Close Every Valve to Your Bleeding Heart" builds from tender to raging without a false note. The Kings of Leon comparisons will be legion and, for better or worse, apt. Watch: Ha Ha Tonka, "St. Nick on the Fourth in a Fervor" BUY: iTunesAmazon

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