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 1.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Music review score: 74
Highest review score: 100 24/7
Lowest review score: 0 Last of a Dyin' Breed
Score distribution:
1,091 music reviews
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Phillips captures the imagery, as well as the heart, of an era’s underground.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Ce
    A brilliant shot of Veloso the pop composer.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The son has a strong, pleasing voice and an easy facility with the sort of æthereal, filigree guitar picking that served the father so well.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    White Chalk is more chamber music, and a dark chamber at that. The only flickers of light come from Harvey’s voice: high, airy, and imperiled as she weaves her echo-coated and darkly soulful spell till the story’s bleak finale.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    After a few listens, the entirely synthetic remainder that is Supreme Balloon is not merely a relief but a delight. If anything, the limitation of having no limitations has revealed Matmos as more skilled, stylish, and sculptural here than on any of their past releases--not to mention versatile.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The record bursts with energy and purpose, revealing the brilliance that advocates like the Roots’ ?uestlove have long suspected 9th had in him.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    At Mount Zoomer will give you those same goosebumps you felt when you heard the band’s debut.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Humor, melody, and weirdness rule, and that makes Ceramic Dog lighter than both Ribot’s Los Cubanos Postizos Afro-Cuban band and his aggro-noise outfit Shrek.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Modern Guilt is a hot thing of indefinite course.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Elsewhere we get lots of the usual earthquake bass and keening synth arpeggios and staccato horns, and, of course, Jeezy’s hypnotically commanding flow, all of it amounting to one of the hardest mainstream rap albums in years.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Of special note is the 10-minute instrumental 'Suicide and Redemption': listening to it, you almost forget that there are supposed to be words in rock songs, since it’s filled with building riffs, escalating volleys of tension and release, and moments of frantic drum abandon from Lars Ulrich that should do a lot to redeem his standing in Modern Drummer’s Drummer of the Year polls.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It’s brimming with curious melodies (like the darkly cute skews of the title track), rich poetic detail (as lush as the orange carpet in '16A'), and a truly generous spirit (you can listen to the whole damn thing over and over).
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    This is DiFranco’s most sophisticated album, a musical convergence of her best qualities: warm singing, graceful writing, experimentation.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The music is neither bastardized nor precious, just a riveting reflection of the ongoing allure and paradox that is the Congo.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    These tricks crop up throughout the album--sly moves familiar to house fans are retrofitted to a pop framework, and the result is an entirely new (and very livable) structure
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Blending in traditional strings and flutes, singular soulful vocals, trenchant dub pockets, and inventive production flourishes, this is the most powerful contemporary release out of Ethiopia in years.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Matador's two-disc Nicene Creedence Edition (nyuk nyuk) goes way beyond the original 12-song release, adding a whopping 31 additional cuts: outtakes, B-sides, compilation tracks, and live radio sessions, all of them top-notch.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Suffice to say that with all its slowly blooming beauty, alluring aberrations, and deftly measured brute force, the closest analogue to what Fennesz has done on Black Sea seems to be nature itself.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Eschewing fleshed-out pop maps in favor of shiny fragments works oddly well for this duo, especially given the breadth and depth of the subject matter.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Middle Cyclone is her most fearless and arresting record, ruthlessly composed and beautifully recorded.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The Truth Is Here is his second perfect disc in that many years and just earned a spot in my Top Five Alive column.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    For their ninth studio album, the Welsh quintet go heavy on vamps, riffs, and refrains; the result is their most spontaneous and blissfully lax effort since 2000's "Mwng."
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    This is not so much a reinvention as another way to look deep into the heart of Elliott's music. It's also an early nominee for folk album of the year.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It’s just solid, classic Dolls, with all the swagger, muscle, righteous kitsch, and ballsy defiance you expect, plus some new twists.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The only thing Dirty Projectors' fifth album leaves me wishing for is a fifth rating star to wedge in.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Quik knows what he's doing. You can hear it on every track of this symphonic mini-masterpiece.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Despite the deceptive pop-song outlines and strong grooves, just about every piece emphasizes the rich weave of voices, and on originals like 'The View from Blue Mountain' and 'Twilight of the Dogs,' Douglas extends forms you think you know to take you someplace new.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Because Bergsman keeps Eden's doors open (centerpiece 'Wapas Karma' is a traditional performed entirely by locals), there's a natural light and a welcome freshness--a breeze from across the world, rather than a suitcase of souvenirs.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Crash is easily A.F.I.'s best since 2003's "Sing the Sorrow," and the cheeky pop-punk chorus of 'Too Shy To Scream' is their first successful decree to boogie the night away.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Despite all these lyrical dalliances, there's one of the best house albums of the year somewhere in these songs--you just have to agree to their terms.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    This is accessible music pushed to the very edge of accessibility, far away from the safety of the band's song-oriented efforts "At War with the Mystics" and "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots."
    • 93 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Paired with an artful book that spins the tale of these sides and their place in Woody's world by Guthrie historian Ed Cray and Rounder co-founder Bill Nowlin, these four CDs are a superb introduction to an artist whose influence extends to Dylan, Springsteen, and, indeed, nearly all American music that followed on his dusty heels.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    This beautiful disc needs only her sweet muted-trumpet voice and optimistic viewpoint to sail gracefully through its 10 songs.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Ay Ay Ay, the second full-length effort from Chilean-born, German-raised Matias Aguayo (who now splits time between Buenos Aires and Paris) is, in source and spirit, one of the most human dance-pop records of the year.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Split over six fantastic-sounding CDs, these live recordings are a revelation, an aural document of the Doors and Morrison at their professional best.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Teen Dream sheds the uncertainties evident in past Beach House albums--each melodic turn (and there are many) balances the force of confidence with the momentum of curiosity.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The likes of Kate Nash and company have flitted through this piano siren/exuberant dance-diva territory, but never mind, because this gorgeous genre starts now.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    After years of being the untrained savage in the china shop of modern metal, HOF may find themselves owning the store with this accomplished thrash platter.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Their fourth album isn’t substantially different from their first three: Jones’s delivery, alternately muscular and tender, and the band’s total empathy with the genre’s rules elevate each tune to lost-classic status.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    From the ironically melodic “Death Penalty” to the militaristic “Rearview,” this duo have executed one of the greatest roughneck opuses this side of last century. Let’s hope it’s not a one-off.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Having put aside the gimmicky Atari-melting antics of yore, the Castles have created a dense-yet-airy thicket of pure pop transcendence.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The Stooges' third and final studio album before their recent reunion--remains a uniquely visceral listening experience, a confrontational slab of psychedelic punk made in the dead zone between psychedelia's demise and punk's birth.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    He’s no slouch in his endless catalogue of exhumed pop tropes, and here he treats radio pop’s past with the all-encompassing vagueness of its title.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Anyone digging into Maya (or MAYA, as it's being promoted) expecting club-banging pop hits will be . . . not disappointed, but definitely confused.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    But tempos that gait like a swinging pocket watch and Kozelek's drowsy, double-tracked voice make a strong case for a spellbinding kind of sublimity. This uncanny effect is even more pronounced on Admiral Fell Promises.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Praise & Blame casts away the extraneous baggage that has weighed down many of Jones's previous recordings and puts the focus squarely on the voice.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The lyrical immediacy and intimacy lift Black City leagues above much of the disassociated drivel that's labeled vocal house.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The album is full of this kind of mish-mash, but it never feels forced or too clever. In fact, it's the apparent lack of thought that makes the whole thing work.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    From the opening "Variation 1" to the acoustic closer, "Sous le ciel de Paris," Ribot's phrasing is slow and contemplative, so each elegantly chiseled note stands as a beatific example of his virtuosity.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Fantasy is the sound of an artist who is so far from shunning the spotlight that the firepower of the wattage pointed at him is a full-on supernova.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Sublime production quality and danceability aside, this mix scores as a chronicle of American pop music that elicits a dual layer of nostalgia: the first for the sampled songs themselves, the second for the thrill of the novelty of early mash-ups.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Nearly a quarter-century in, Faith isn't timeless, but it fits into an '80s time capsule where horns, cheesy-sounding drum machines, and four-day-old stubble were the standard.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Amid the carnage and the stink of loss, PJ Harvey creates inspiring beauty.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The fact that Greatest Story didn't drop on a major just attests to how perverted the industry is. That said, the delicious and anthemic Just Blaze beats, money cameos, and precise orchestration that spoiled deals afforded render this the last great major-label rap album of all time - even though it's on an indie.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Scandalous, though a natural progression, takes some surprising turns that attest to a tightened-up band still figuring out just how much dy-no-mite they're capable of exploding.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Whether he's in onomatopoetic punch-line mode or scratching the Cee Lo end of his terrific range, Monch is hip-hop's superlative talent, and now he has a solo stripe to prove it.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Diotima is poetry, classical allusion, the consideration of platonic love and our place in history. It is searing shards, intricately arranged, forward-moving, stretching to infinity--lurching, faltering, and then thundering for passages that stop time and levitate your world.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It's at once majestic and gentle, a deep breath and a sigh that declares Vernon's transcendence of the turmoil and technique of his unique breakout record and establishes him as an artist who knows exactly what he's doing. Hallelujah.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    So many wonderful things happen on Lenses Alien that you can't possibly remember them all. The only solution, of course, is to listen again.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Almost dreamlike in his flow, Thundercat totes us along by way of his agile bass-neck work, sly Rhodes riffs, and vocals that sound filtered through daisies and sunshine.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The Whole Love feels like a truly audacious studio record, jam-packed with instruments, ideas, and the sort of restless creativity that marked 2002's game-changer, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It's one of 2011's finest pop records: 10 tracks of dreamy, weirdo hi-fi pop that grooves, sparkles, and hums with clipped beats and smooth drums.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Unlike liars, fakers, and bullshit artists, he backs up his name and claim with anecdotal gems aplenty.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Bad as Me, his first album of new material in seven years, is a tour de force of wise ol' swagger and new-century blues.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    It's Bummer Time, and in 2011 there is no better soundtrack for banging your head to oblivion.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    They don't make bands like this anymore.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The first comeback album in history by an iconic rock act that stands up against anything else on the shelves today.... This is the mighty Van Halen at their best.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Reissued last year, the debut Icky Mettle had their most celebrated pop songs ("Web in Front," "Wrong," "Plumb Line") but the follow-up Vee Vee was just as great, and thicker.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The sound is as swoon-inducing as it is complex. A brilliant debut full-length.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    This stirring collection makes Father John Misty's debut one of the best solo efforts this year, a true freak-folk standout.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    This may be the most uncharacteristic of his albums, but by venturing outside his comfort zone, Hawley has in turn made his best.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The Only Place [is] better-sung, slower, [and] expansively produced.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Take this, the album's third legit release (which, by the way, sounds so balls you can practically hear the dank nugs), pop it in, turn out all the lights, face Mecca, and bow down.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    1991 is all about the bubble-popping lushness of "Van Vogue" and the hall-of-mirrors shimmer of "Liquorice." It's also about the summer, and showing more of Banks than just her breakout hit.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    With their debut full-length, Brooklyn pop quintet Friends have released the best pop album of the summer.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Less polished than its predecessor, 2009's Fantasies, Synthetica brings all the varied influences and styles together in perfect synchronization.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    The year's most outstanding rock album.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Smith seems to struggle with whether he wants to write emotional pop songs or dark experimental soundscapes, but the push and pull between the two sentiments is ultimately gorgeous.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Ocean brings substance with style, rather than style demanding to be considered substance.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Teeming with B-sides, live tracks, and demos, much of it previously unreleased, 21 is both exhaustive and indispensable.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Ironically, this patchwork of 12-inch singles is Kieran Hebden's most delectable album-as-album.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Fear of a Blank Planet is not only their most vintage-sounding album, it’s also their best.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    [Sonic Youth's] most openly “mature” disc, possibly their best since ’95’s Washing Machine, maybe even the almighty Daydream Nation.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Experimental without sacrificing anything in terms of hooks or melody, passionate yet never overbearing, and clever without giving in to the urge to indulge, it places TV on the Radio on a plane with no peers.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    The simplicity of the punk-driven songwriting and the bare, urgent honesty of vocalist/guitarist Hutch Harris’ delivery drive home the album’s political points with startling effectiveness.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    So the first-listen impact has been lessened, but the growing affection ends up in the same place as always.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    You can’t ask for much more from a sophomore album.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    It’s as warm and melodic as the Soft Boys’ Nextdoorland was brittle and jagged.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Its stories of survivors and struggling lovers have a wistfulness that spills from the lyrics into the tone of David Hidalgo’s vocal performances and the warm guitar lines, which draw on blues, classic rock, and traditional Mexican musical flourishes.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Their third effort finds the four-piece twisting confessional post-punk into something startling, brash, and exhilarating.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    For the second time in 2006, Wu-Tang’s Ghostface has released an album that makes it seem everyone else in the hip-hop world should be paying more attention to Ghostface.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    If there are a few dull moments, that’s all part of recording an album that functions like one extended, magnificent achievement of a song.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Yeah, the alternate/alternating track sequence is screwy for the first seven songs or so — Deerhunter build momentum only to lose it. But it gives the album’s backside something of a black-and-white-to-Technicolor moment.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Here the material has the swagger and toughness of loud, sloppy rock.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    It feels endless — in a good way.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Like a perfectly attired woman, the National are fleetingly alluring, never gaudy, subtly enchanting.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Maybe it’s Lambert’s dark, rocking side that makes her ballads sound so disarmingly tender, sweet, and vulnerable.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Rough-edged and overdriven in the right places, super-slick as their Reagan-era new-wave touchstones elsewhere, this pomo-funk concoction from Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé is like a French kiss from Sonny Crockett.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    Johns’s stylistic schizophrenia might set you off here; even his singing on Young Modern changes from cut to cut. Everyone else: dig in--this thing is quite a feast.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 88 Critic Score
    The title Revival is no hype: Fogerty is again in full command of his talent for blending heartfelt writing with irony-free meat-and-potatoes rock.