The Boston Phoenix's Scores

  • Music
For 1,091 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 63% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 34% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1.8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 74
Highest review score: 100 Lenses Alien
Lowest review score: 0 Last of a Dyin' Breed
Score distribution:
1091 music reviews
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Chalk up at least some of this disconnect to Brendan O’Brien’s production, which is often so slicked down and smooshed together that it doesn’t just airbrush the band’s jagged edges, it sandblasts them.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Steam Days is usually pretty, but it's also a snooze.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Of the Cathmawr Yards is Ambien-fueled folk that never rises above room temperature, well-crafted yet lacking in passion and vitality.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Forsaking subtly Southern melancholy in favor of jangling, twanging hillbilly heartbreak, Here's to Taking It Easy misplaces amplified country fever instead of channeling it.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    His much-delayed solo debut eschews the kind of risk his productions are known for, and the result turns into one big mash of slow fades waiting for pretty ladies in the video.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Those vocal harmonies are used to good effect in the blue-eyed-soul tune 'Alaska.' But 'Die Die Die,' a slow and raggedy piece of psychedelia complete with funereal organ but thrown askew by out-of-place handclaps, is far too taken in by its own gloom.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Not everything is new on Everything Is New, this young London singer's sophomore set, but enough is to make you wonder what on earth persuaded Jack Penate to ditch the ample charms of his terrific debut.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Safari Disco Club is unlikely to find itself in the speakers of many dance parties on this side of the Atlantic in coming weeks.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    What Spiritual, Mental, Physical documents is a group kicking around possibilities that could go somewhere great, but as they appear here, only a handful of these half-cooked ideas deserve an audience.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Aphrodite feels like a disjointed hodge-podge of shallow Hi-NRG dance-floor bangers for a decidedly older crowd.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    On "Cynic's New Year," Portland, Ore., indie-folk duo Horse Feathers stick so firmly to their sonic guns that it becomes tightly constricting.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Returning after 11 years of officially not existing, what's left of ATR could've focused their energies on kicking lots of ass. Instead, they indulge spoken-wordy, freshman-year non-profundities that mostly siphon energy from the get-up-and-f*ck-some-shit-up ethos present on a few okay tracks like "Activate" and "Codebreaker."
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Individually, these songs pack an emotional wallop, performed with a passion that is rare in today's indie-rock scene of disconnected cool. But taken as a giant lump, they're exhausting dead-ends: 12 straight climaxes cancel each other out - and Babel could use a little rising action.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Sun
    Bland, quasi-political lyrics and zonked-out, dead-end textures.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    But as a musical concern, the Conchords can’t hold a candle to [Tenacious] D, a shortcoming that’s much more apparent on this homonymous CD than it is on TV.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Only the title track bears any resemblance to what Dashboard once were.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Keys and Codes, which inverts the title of Death Cab's last record, feels slapped together, which is disappointing when you consider the array of talent present.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Besides sounding more like laptoppers Fennesz and Tim Hecker than proto-drone cousins Sunn O))), All the Way even dips into the glorious filter sweeps of trance music, here twisted toward sonic decay rather than utopia.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Gorilla Manor is listenable and inoffensive, but it doesn't express a single aforementioned component of its genre with any gusto.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The murky production seems lazy rather than artful; the hard-rock riffs don’t kick as hard as they’re meant to.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The Devil's Rain is chock full of good, campy horror business.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Too many of the songs rely on a stilted, march-like rhythm that makes them sound formal and restrained, especially when paired with Newman's arch lyrical delivery.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage fails by making the obvious choice at every turn.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Freedom is mostly lame club tunes with mega-auto-tuned vocals about wishing "I could just stop by and lay by your side."
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Their loping AM-radio psychedelia--like later Stereolab or lighter Dungen--engages with enough noise (if not complex rhythms) to keep the band out of mawkish territory.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Though Eno is adequate, moments where he takes over the collaboration (such as on "West Bay" and "Watch a Single Swallow . . . ") are too under-nourished and ponderous to suggest that he's giving us something new.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    La Radiolina is the most rockist album of his solo career--and also the most disappointing.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Yes, there are some colorful, more fully realized moments toward the end, but all the mumbling and fussing it takes to get there is murder.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Like any great jingle, it leaves you with nothing but a vague craving for the product, without quite knowing why you need it.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The rest of the album, which was produced by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, never quite lives up to that early peak.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The heart is here, but the lyrics have him sounding like a man who’s turned healing into a systematic process — a man who’s heard too much kind advice or maybe sat through too much therapy.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Despite the raucous vibe, Diamond Rugs is flawed - scattered, unfocused, and rather long, at 14 tracks.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Ritual is so grandiose that it rarely has room to breathe.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The Donnas get the ball into the red zone from time to time on Bitchin', but they never really score.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Polished, tuneful, and utterly unmemorable.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Where's the band's personality? Promises glimmer everywhere, as when off-kilter instrumental breaks start stabbing away at "18th Street," but the entire album eventually drifts past without delivering anything as sonically-or emotionally-provocative.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Too often on The Evolution she’s looking over her shoulder, too self-conscious to be a real seductress.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Kasabian can’t do anything besides snarl, a limitation that’s starting to show after only two albums.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The meta quality of the immoral, libidinous singer refracted through unblinking irony feels too transparent for a songwriter of Cocker's depth.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Brian Wilson and his karaoke-smooth backing band the Wondermints have instead given us something on par with 1970s Beach Boys--kinda bloated, kinda silly, mostly out of date, but with enough earnestness and pop intuition to be so, so, so puerile that hating it would be like hating Raffi.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The release is not without brief visits to riff heaven, and it’s in the details that there are pleasures to be found....But too often you bop along to the tight drum/bass syncopations only to forget what you’re listening to--or worse, why.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Still, like the lovable Muppet, Flaws is just a little too green to have any major impact.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Of all the possible directions the band could have taken, they decided on generic coffeehouse folk pop, with predictably pleasant-yet-dull results.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Diver is depressingly one-note, trimming back the band's scope and muscle. For some reason, Callan Clendenin sings every line in the same tiring, vacant croon, and its charm fades with each track, as does the Garageband-style production.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Although Scattered Trees get emotionally expansive throughout this full-length debut, there's a distinct lack of production (and even playing) here, and that colors the proceedings with an anonymous hue.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    For a while, it's promising: "Only If for a Night" pits Welch's soulful-and-strange vocal gymnastics against a firecracker beat and a gang of chorus chanters. But elsewhere, Ceremonials feels drained of personality.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Despite always titanic levels of rock-star delusion must at some level be aware that this time they have turned in a truly half-assed piece of work.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    This is a mixed bag.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Hooks are competent and decent but never demanding enough for you to race out to get a song's lyrics embedded into your skin.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Nothing about The Soft Pack makes you wanna know who these guys are or what they have to say about the world outside their practice space.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Ode to Ochrasy is a little more energized, but Mando Diao still aren’t breaking fresh ground.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Last 2 Walk is a club-banging record, but it’s hard to recommend something so by-the-book.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It lacks the playfulness of the early Faust records, where the band's experiments with jazz, folk, and raunchy rock and roll were coated with acceptable degrees of avant-garde theatricality.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    For a visionary guy like Hendrix, this glorified compilation isn't as imaginary as it could be.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    There’s something melodious and calm about Will.i.am’s third solo hip-hop/R&B album--but there’s also something boring about its euphonic electro-funk dolor.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Lissy Trullie sounds simultaneously hungry and tepid, as if Trullie wants to make a big splash, but her album lacks the conviction or vision to make it happen.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The contrived sheen marring much of the album dissolves, and things get industrial real quick. That dark and uncharted - for Cut Copy - territory might be the way to go heading forward.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Closer to Closed is a testament to the decline of Braid's teen angst, but those who grew up with the band may not recognize this aging friend.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Although only adequate run-throughs of the studio-album tracks, Stage Whispers' live performances do underscore a continuity between songs from both 5:55 and IRM that otherwise wasn't apparent. Stage Whispers' new offerings, on the other hand, are consistently interesting.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The effect is as scattershot as the guest list.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Great Lake Swimmers' sugar-sweet ditties easily drift in one ear and, unfortunately, out the other.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    There are so many clashing vocal parts and guitar effects that you have to strain to hear the actual songs. Which is a shame, because said songs (all of which Ringo co-wrote) are pretty good.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    There just isn't much personality on display here: Icky Blossoms strive for in-your-face decadence, but most of the time, they sound like every other anonymous dance-pop act on the planet.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It's a bummer that Visions ended up as a fever dream of a record: unnecessarily oblique, listlessly long (48 minutes!), and painfully shapeless.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    These straight pop tunes are great by themselves, but after slogging through the symphonic sludge, you’re likely to find The Resistance a jumbled, forgettable tracklist.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It's all meant to sound fresh, but it doesn't always sound good.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Unless you’re a diehard fan, wait for their new album in the spring.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It would help if the songs were better, but with all the up-and-down scales and chirp-chirp-chirpiness, the American Express commercial gradually gives way to a Riverdance special on pay-per-view.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    There is a place in this world (Pottery Barn maybe, or a future Eddie Murphy romantic comedy) for the R(ap)&B cocktail party that is Finding Forever.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    For a while, Magic Hour - the band's fourth full-length - lives up to the promise of its hilarious, zebra-centric-2001: A Space Odyssey cover art. But the wheels fall off with "Year of Living Dangerously," a campy, aimless doodle not even rescued by its random violin solo.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Nary a tippy toe strays from the well-trodden path; it's as if Lemmy and the boys spent every couple of years locked in a studio with their own discography and no outside noises that might besmirch the purity of their brand. There are occasional hints of self-awareness.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The songs start running together till they’re not distinct tracks so much as guitars and bass and drums and yelpy indie vocals that happen to have been recorded at the same time.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The echo-saturated clang works as background music if you’re washing dishes in a haunted house or performing at-home knee surgery, but hunker down with the sound by itself and it evaporates like stale smoke.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The results are hit-or-miss.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    A curiosity from a true talent.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The King of Limbs, a breezy exploration of the depths of subliminal glitch-folk, is this band's admission that the labyrinth of post–OK Computer zigs and zags they've led their audience through may never again lead to an arena-rock goldmine.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Hamilton attempts to resuscitate it with his warm voice, but the record plods on with one mid-tempo nodder after another.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    For the jaded among us, this is regressive and full of genre-contrivance.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The General Strike sticks to the same supposedly state-smashing standards that drove the previous six or so albums from these Pittsburgh-bred punks into redundancy.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Although the Cribs are very good at what they do, the songwriting on the album just feels tired and unfocused.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Part of the problem is Rihanna's essential blandness in a post-Gaga/post-Idol pop market, but mostly it comes down to the siren-song nature of her amazingly recognizable voice.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Their most subdued effort yet.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    And so it goes with Mogwai's A Wrenched Virile Lore: a broad range of electro producers, ambient knob-twiddlers, and singer-songwriters re-assemble the Scottish post-rock champs' most recent studio album, the excellent Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, mostly with shitty bonus-feature-styled results.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    This is the same ol' Korn you've loved or hated (or felt indifferently toward) since you first saw that slo-mo bullet in the "Freak on a Leash" video, except with de-tuned guitars swapped for garish, beefy synths.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Seaside Rock amounts to a log of underhashed production ideas from the test kitchen.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    For a densely layered, expertly produced dance-rock album, this second full-length from British three-piece Friendly Fires is perplexingly bland.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    In the end, the record seems an ascetic exercise, complete with drumstick count-ins.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    In exploring his split psyche, T.I. forgets what made the excursion interesting to begin with: there’s good and evil in everyone, but you gotta mix the two to get a reaction.