FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
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Nick DeCicco

Our Music Year No. 344: Willie Nelson, ‘Red Headed Stranger’

Artist: Willie Nelson Title: “Red Headed Stranger” Year: 1975 Format: Spotify Grade: A- “Red Headed Stranger” marked the beginning of Willie Nelson’s career with Columbia Records, a deal that gave him complete creative control. That meant that the dusky, sparse sound of “Red Headed Stranger” stayed intact, despite the label’s objections. For Nelson, it worked, […]

December 09, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 343: John Talabot, ‘ƒin’

Artist: John Talabot Title: “ƒin” Year: 2012 Format: Spotify Grade: B- Restraint and atmosphere rule the day on John Talabot’s “ƒin,” the first full-length release from the Spanish electronic artist. The Barcelona-born composer focuses his efforts in deep house and Balearic beat, striving for a marriage between the chilled out Balearic sound with house’s slow […]

December 09, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 342: John Lennon, ‘Walls and Bridges’

Artist: John Lennon Title: “Walls and Bridges” Year: 1974 Format: Digital Grade: C John Lennon died 33 years ago today, but left a musical legacy that continued on after The Beatles packed up shop. He released a glut of albums in the early ’70s before taking off the back half of the decade to be […]

December 08, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 341: Molly Hatchet, ‘Molly Hatchet’

Artist: Molly Hatchet Title: “Molly Hatchet” Year: 1978 Format: Spotify Grade: B- Molly Hatchet arrived late in the Southern rock boom of the ’70s, with the Jacksonville, Fla., group dropping its self-titled debut in 1978. Unlike Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers Band or Outlaws, Molly Hatchet attacks more aggressively. On “Gator Country,” the finest song […]

December 07, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Album-of-the-year lists reveal personality, deceptive consensus

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s time for year-end music lists, of course. Who’s is this “Santa” person you’re talking about? Critics compile their favorite spins, showing off the year’s favorite albums – Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” Kanye West’s “Yeezus” and My Bloody Valentine’s “MBV” – and the overlooked underdogs, such […]

December 06, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 340: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, ‘The Heist’

Artist: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Title: “The Heist” Year: 2012 Format: Spotify Grade: B The Seattle hip-hop duo of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis first turned heads in 2010 with “Otherside,” which cops a name and a beat from a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, but Macklemore used it to talk about the fatal dangers of […]

December 06, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

County graduates complete basic training

Air Force Airman Joshua M. Benton graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio. He is a 2010 graduate of Dixon High School. Air Force Reserve Airman 1st Class Eric A. Harala graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio. Harala is the son of […]

December 08, 2013 | Posted in Military | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 339: Pig Destroyer, ‘Book Burner’

Artist: Pig Destroyer Title: “Book Burner” Year: 2012 Format: Digital (Spotify) Grade: B Blink an eye and miss a track on Pig Destroyer’s “Book Burner,” the Washington, D.C., grindcore group’s ferocious fifth album, burning through 19 tracks in nearly 32 minutes. J.R. Hayes’ dirty, howled vocals are at their best when his subject matter is […]

December 05, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 338: Iron & Wine, ‘The Creek Drank the Cradle’

Artist: Iron & Wine Title: “The Creek Drank the Cradle” Year: 2002 Format: Compact disc (Spotify) Grade: B- Sam Beam jolted to indie superstardom thanks to generous song placement in films. Plucked from 2007’s “The Shepherd’s Dog,” “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” stands as his best-known track thanks to its inclusion in the “Twilight” series. Before those […]

December 04, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 337: Metz, ‘Metz’

Artist: Metz Title: “Metz” Year: 2012 Format: Spotify Grade: B Last year was a good year for post-hardcore albums, between Cloud Nothings, The Men, Converge and Canada’s Metz. For Metz, the group’s self-titled debut clocks in under 30 minutes but ties post-hardcore to noise rock to create a vibrant, efficient creature. The songs are tenacious […]

December 02, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 336: The Mother Hips, ‘Green Hills of Earth’

Artist: The Mother Hips Title: “Green Hills of Earth” Year: 2001 Format: Digital (Spotify) Grade: C+ “Smoke,” the final track on The Mother Hips’ “Green Hills of Earth,” name drops Wilco. “Green Hills” is the Chico band’s attempt to “pull a Wilco,” transitioning from its alt-country beginnings into something more sleek and approachable as Wilco […]

December 02, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 335: !!!, ‘Myth Takes’

Artist: !!! Title: “Myth Takes” Year: 2007 Format: Spotify Grade: A- One way to silence critics about a band’s unpronounceable name is to release a record that forces people to respect it. For Brooklyn’s !!!, “Myth Takes” is that record. Pronounced Chk Chk Chk and formed in Sacramento in 1996, “Myth Takes” heads straight for […]

December 01, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 334: Lead Belly, ‘King of the 12-String Guitar’

Artist: Lead Belly Title: “King of the 12-String Guitar” Year: 1991 Format: Digital Grade: B- Recorded in the first three months of 1935, Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter’s “King of the 12-String Guitar” marks the oldest set of recordings reviewed during Our Music Year. Lead Belly is best known in the 21st century thanks to Nirvana […]

November 30, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 332: Crooked Fingers, ‘Breaks in the Armor’

Artist: Crooked Fingers Title: “Breaks in the Armor” Year: 2011 Format: Spotify Grade: B- A cloud of gloom hovers over Crooked Fingers’ sixth LP, “Breaks in the Armor,” threatening to rain on even the most uplifting of its tracks. “Went to the City” rides a cascading piano hook as singer Eric Bachmann turns in a […]

November 28, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Service members from Solano County finish basic training

Army Pvt. Wesley F. Bunch has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C. Bunch is the son of Sybille Eschen and David Bunch, both of Benicia. He is a 2012 graduate of Liberty High School in Benicia. Army Pfc. Angela L. Jennings has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson […]

December 01, 2013 | Posted in Military | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 331: Jimi Hendrix, ‘Valleys of Neptune’

Artist: Jimi Hendrix Title: “Valleys of Neptune” Year: 2010 Format: Digital (Spotify) Grade: C+ Today would’ve been Jimi Hendrix’s 71st birthday, had he lived to see it. He lives on through a slew of albums, more released posthumously than during his 27 years. Most recent among them was 2010’s “Valleys of Neptune,” cut mostly in […]

November 27, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 330: Julia Holter, ‘Ekstasis’

Artist: Julia Holter Title: “Ekstasis” Year: 2012 Format: Spotify Grade: B- Julia Holter’s second full-length release, “Ekstasis,” is an effort of depth and vision, feeling like wandering through a dreamscape. Layered, textured and ambitious, Holter strikes an arty balance somewhere between dreampop and ambient sounds. Synthesizers and soft drum loops comprise most of the backing, […]

November 25, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 329: ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, ‘Dare to Be Stupid’

Artist: “Weird Al” Yankovic Title: “Dare to Be Stupid” Year: 1985 Format: CD-R (Spotify) Grade: C+ Only four of the 11 songs on “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Dare to Be Stupid” are full-length parodies, an unusually low number for him. It includes “Like a Surgeon,” based on a quip from Madonna, marking the only known instance […]

November 25, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 328: Freelance Whales, ‘Diluvia’

Artist: Freelance Whales Title: “Diluvia” Year: 2012 Format: Spotify Grade: B- New York’s Freelance Whales have expanded their scope a bit with their second album, “Diluvia.” They dared to think big on “Weathervanes,” but “Diluvia” fashions itself as a complete package. Though it has drawn comparisons to Ben Gibbard and Owl City, a closer comparison […]

November 24, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 327: Glen Hansard, ‘Rhythm and Repose’

Artist: Glen Hansard Title: “Rhythm and Repose” Year: 2012 Format: Spotify Grade: C Ireland’s Glen Hansard looks like a sad sack on the hand-drawn cover of “Rhythm and Repose,” his debut solo effort. It’s a window into what sort of record it is. Hansard wears his heart in an iPod exercise sling on his sleeve, […]

November 23, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Rio Linda outpaces Vacaville in playoff battle

RIO LINDA — Vacaville High watched Marcel Brown and host Rio Linda outrun them in a 31-21 loss in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoff quarterfinals matchup, Friday. The seventh-seeded Bulldogs (8-4) had few answers for Brown, who amassed rushing 224 and three touchdowns, including his last when he took a pitch from quarterback Stephen […]

November 23, 2013 | Posted in Sports | Tagged ,

Service members from Solano County finish basic training

Air Force Reserve Airman Michelle J. Bruce graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio. She is the daughter of Tonya Bruce of Benicia. Army Pfc. Andrew Cade has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C. He is a 2012 graduate of Jesse Bethel High School […]

November 24, 2013 | Posted in Military | Tagged ,

Original ‘Star Trek’ episodes endure as they approach five decades

Captain’s log, Stardate 67358.2: While space remains the final frontier, watching a show that’s been off the air nearly 45 years is boldly going where many have gone before. “Star Trek” holds an iconic place in pop culture lore, a legacy that has spawned multiple spinoffs, movies and fans so devoted they have conventions. To […]

November 22, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 326: The Byrds, ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’

Artist: The Byrds Title: “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” Year: 1968 Format: Spotify Grade: B Although late country-rock frontrunner Gram Parsons plays a key role in The Byrds’ “Sweetheart of the Rodeo,” he had already split from the group before the record’s August 1968 release. Originally conceived as a mini-history of 20th century American music, the […]

November 22, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 325: Randy Newman, ’12 Songs’

Artist: Randy Newman Title: “12 Songs” Year: 1970 Format: Digital Grade: A- Those younger than 40 probably know Randy Newman from one of two places: his work in multiple Pixar films or this “Family Guy” clip. “Family Guy” nailed everything that makes Newman an easy target – his keen skills of observation and that goofy […]

November 21, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 324: Ty Segall Band, ‘Slaughterhouse’

Artist: Ty Segall Band Title: “Slaughterhouse” Year: 2012 Format: Spotify Grade: B “Slaughterhouse” qualifies as the debut title for Ty Segall Band, but, truthfully, its namesake is such a workhorse that it’s understandable if the difference is indistinguishable to some. Regardless of its artist’s name, “Slaughterhouse” is a visceral and unvarnished invocation of ’70s garage […]

November 20, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 323: Best Coast, ‘The Only Place’

Artist: Best Coast Title: “The Only Place” Year: 2012 Format: Spotify Grade: C+ Best Coast doesn’t make its love for the Golden State subtle. Between the duo’s name, the state animal hugging a cutout of California’s shape on the cover of “The Only Place” and the title track, it’s hard to miss the Los Angeles […]

November 18, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 322: Echo and the Bunnymen, ‘Ocean Rain’

Artist: Echo and the Bunnymen Title: “Ocean Rain” Year: 1984 Format: Spotify Grade: B- Few things tell listeners to take an album serious like teaming up with a 35-piece Parisian orchestra. The intent is to underscore the emotional heft that the songs on Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Ocean Rain” shoulder, but several of the compositions […]

November 18, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,

Our Music Year No. 321: Joe Satriani, ‘Flying in a Blue Dream’

Artist: Joe Satriani Title: “Flying in a Blue Dream” Year: 1989 Format: Spotify Grade: B- What the heck? Joe Satriani on harmonica? And banjo? And singing? Really? Singing? It’s all captured on 1989’s “Flying in a Blue Dream,” Satch’s third studio effort. Though an undeniably talented player, there’s a hubris in instrumental guitar albums, so […]

November 17, 2013 | Posted in Entertainment-local | Tagged ,
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