MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

By Simon Howell - The Listening Ear - 01/22/2008

"I'm feeling rough, I'm feeling raw / I'm in the prime of my life." Beginnings don't get much more confident than "Time to Pretend," the ebullient opener to Brooklyn synth-pop duo MGMT's (pronounced "management") debut album. The track explodes with Technicolor synths, Dave Fridmann's typically commanding production work and an infectious sense of purpose -- even as it tosses out inanities about getting "models for wives." It's a sign either of brilliant things to come, or a band a little too eager to grab your attention.


By Simon Howell - A Listening Ear - 01/22/2008

About four years ago, when I was still ecstatic to have moved to a city in which great music was in abundance at a seemingly endless variety of used record stores, I picked up the Shalabi Effect's self-titled debut. Why? Principally because it had a shiny cover with a nebula on it, and it was a two-disc record for eight bucks, which seemed like an unbeatable bargain. Needless to say that seventeen-year-old me was inadequately prepared to process the two hours of drone-based recordings contained inside that inviting slipcase.

THE PACK A.D. - Tintype

By Simon Howell - The Listening Ear - 01/22/2008

Too many bands get the particulars right but offer little in the grand scheme of things. They dazzle you with colorful cover art, witty liner notes, slick production, or a clever name. So it was refreshing to discover B.C. duo The Pack A.D.'s Tintype, which eschews all of these superficialities to deliver a surprisingly multifaceted blend of blues-rock, undercut by a compelling moody streak and aided by its bare-bones production (courtesy of drummer Maya Miller). 

SALLY SHAPIRO - Disco Romance

By Simon Howell - A Listening Ear - 10/30/2006

KATE NASH - Made of Bricks

By Simon Howell - A Listening Ear - 01/08/2008

ALOHA - Light Works

By Simon Howell - A Listening Ear - 12/04/2007