Tom Moon

Tom Moon has been writing about pop, rock, jazz, blues, hip-hop and the music of the world since 1983.

He is the author of the New York Times bestseller 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die (Workman Publishing), and a contributor to other books including The Final Four of Everything.

A saxophonist whose professional credits include stints on cruise ships and several tours with the Maynard Ferguson orchestra, Moon served as music critic at the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1988 until 2004. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GQ, Blender, Spin, Vibe, Harp and other publications, and has won several awards, including two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Music Journalism awards. He has contributed to NPR's All Things Considered since 1996.

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First Listen
11:03 pm
Sun July 20, 2014

First Listen: Bear In Heaven, 'Time Is Over One Day Old'

Bear In Heaven's new album, Time Is Over One Day Old, comes out July 29.
Dusdin Condren Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 11:39 am

Two minutes and 11 seconds into "They Dream," from Bear in Heaven's fourth album Time Is Over One Day Old, the music takes a strange turn. The band has been shuttling along at a riveting adventure-movie clip, with Jon Philpot's reverb-swaddled voice functioning as the primary distinct element in a sleek blur. Then, abruptly, the tempo stops. A wash of Space Mountain synths dissolves slowly — the set has been struck. When Philpot begins to sing again, he's the sole occupant of the spotlight.

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Music Reviews
4:44 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

A Sax Trio Taps Tradition While Thriving In The Present

Melissa Aldana and Crash Trio released its self-titled debut album in June.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 7:23 pm

Melissa Aldana, who became the first female instrumentalist and first South American musician to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition last fall, is not the average talent-contest winner.

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First Listen
11:03 pm
Sun June 29, 2014

First Listen: Cloud Boat, 'Model Of You'

Cloud Boat's new album, Model of You, comes out July 8.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 11:31 am

"The madness runs in cycles," Tom Clarke sings forebodingly in "The Glow," one of the highlights of the U.K. duo Cloud Boat's second album. The music rushes along, propelled by the high-efficiency tick of a drum loop, but there's no trace of madness or even anxiety in his voice. Instead, Clarke radiates priestly calm as he gives listeners a set of vague, odd instructions: "Take some of these candles," he intones darkly, as if calling from some Middle Ages theater. "The glow will guide you."

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Music Reviews
4:06 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Album Review: 'While You Were Sleeping'

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 11:28 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: A jazz singer for the hip-hop generation - that's how Jose James was described after he released his first album last year for the famed Blue Note record label. James has now released a follow-up. It's called, While You Were Sleeping. And reviewer Tom Moon says the 35-year-old shows phenomenal growth.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING")

JOSE JAMES: (Singing) Shadows long upon my face. Shadows long upon my face.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: Catch up with Jose James now because he's a rarity - an artist evolving at warp speed.

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A Blog Supreme
8:58 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Take 75: Great Solos In Blue Note Records History

Clifford Brown turned in a number of fine solos playing with bandleader Art Blakey in 1954.
Francis Wolff Courtesy of Blue Note Records

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 3:55 pm

Blue Note Records has been many things over the course of its 75 years: a label responsible for blinding jazz innovations, a home for the titans of hard bop and soul jazz, a place for smart, sly, jazz-inflected pop creations.

One constant running throughout its history is improvisation. Its records have showcased jazz soloing in every possible mood and temperament. Its artists, both the jazz legends and those journeymen who are little regarded today, have helped shape the ever-evolving notion of what a solo is and what it can be.

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Music Reviews
3:10 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Is The 'Xscape' Deluxe Version Worth It? 3 Words: Michael Jackson Demos

The deluxe version of Xscape features Michael Jackson's original demos, before the songs were "contemporized" for the album.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 7:26 pm

When he died in June 2009, Michael Jackson left behind a trove of unfinished recordings — some were released on the 2010 album Michael, while many more were left behind because they were in rough demo form. Jackson's label went through the material, then asked Timbaland and other top producers to finish the King of Pop's ideas with an album called Xscape.

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First Listen
11:03 pm
Sun May 11, 2014

First Listen: Conor Oberst, 'Upside Down Mountain'

Conor Oberst's new album, Upside Down Mountain, comes out May 20.
Butch Hogan Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 20, 2014 12:53 pm

You probably haven't been waiting around for some singer-songwriter to update Harry Chapin's inescapable 1974 hit "Cat's In the Cradle," the slightly cloying tune about the changing dynamic between parents and children over time. And if you did happen to be waiting for such a song, you probably wouldn't put Conor Oberst, noted sensitive indie-rock soul, in charge of writing it.

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Music Reviews
5:24 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Album Review: 'Nikki Nack'

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 3:20 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Merrill Garbus topped critics' polls when her second album came out in 2011. She's the singer and multi-instrumentalist who records as tUnE-yArDs. After that release, she took time for a creative recharge. She studied Haitian drumming and incorporated its rhythms into the third tUnE-yArDs album. It's called "Nikki Nack." It's out today and reviewer Tom Moon thinks it's a knockout.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MERRILL GARBUS: (Singing) No water in the water fountain.

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Music Reviews
4:03 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Album Review: 'Everyday Robots'

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 2:28 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Damon Albarn's first solo album is out today. Albarn was the frontman of the acclaimed British rock band Blur in the '90s, and since 2000, he has spearheaded the multi-platinum group Gorillaz.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE WINDMILL")

GORILLAZ: (Singing) Take it all it on your stride. And it's sticking, falling down. Love forever...

SIEGEL: Reviewer Tom Moon says Albarn's new work seeks out the flipside to the Gorillaz' manic intensity. The new album "Everyday Robots."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYDAY ROBOTS")

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First Listen
8:04 am
Fri April 25, 2014

First Listen: tUnE-yArDs, 'Nikki Nack'

tUnE-yArDs' new album, Nikki Nack, comes out May 6.
Holly Andres Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 6, 2014 12:13 pm

The creators of pop music are usually able to break down the fundamentals of their craft — that search for the clever rhyme, the killer beat, the singable chorus. They are less articulate, understandably, about the other quest, the one that powers those everyday searches: the pursuit of ecstasy in sound. There's something almost paranormal about that part of the creative process, yet we know those moments, instantly, when we hear them.

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First Listen
11:03 pm
Sun March 23, 2014

First Listen: Thievery Corporation, 'Saudade'

Thievery Corporation's new album, Saudade, comes out April 1.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 2:16 pm

Every language has words and phrases that elude easy translation. In Portuguese, "saudade" (pronounced by Brazilians as "sow-DAH-djee") is one of those. Some musicians equate it with the blues; it's generally associated with melancholy and longing. In its most recent bio, the Washington, D.C., electronic duo Thievery Corporation defines it as "a longing for something or someone that is lost."

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First Listen
11:03 pm
Sun March 9, 2014

First Listen: Kevin Drew, 'Darlings'

Kevin Drew's new album, Darlings, comes out March 18.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 10:54 am

Back in 2007, Kevin Drew (of Toronto's baroque-pop collective Broken Social Scene) gazed longingly at a woman and pronounced her too beautiful for the carnal escapades swirling inside his brain. That song, "Tbtf," was among the wondrous creations on his solo debut Spirit If — a worship-dream set in a sleek, gliding tempo, and sung in a mood of melancholy wistfulness.

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Music Reviews
4:05 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Album Review: 'Morning Phase'

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 11:05 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The singer and songwriter Beck is considered one of the most innovative artists of his generation. This week, he released "Morning Phase," his first new album in six years. Critic Tom Moon says the new record returns back to the brooding pop of 2002's "Sea Change," which many consider his best work.

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First Listen
11:03 pm
Sun February 16, 2014

First Listen: Beck, 'Morning Phase'

Beck's new album, Morning Phase, is out Feb. 25.
Autumn De Wilde Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 3:15 pm

The thumbnail summary already circulating for Beck's 12th full-length album goes like this: It's a sequel to Sea Change, the brooding 2002 record frequently mentioned as his masterpiece.

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Music Reviews
4:00 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Album Review: 'Sun Structures,' By Temples

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 8:00 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Finally this hour, a new perspective on the enduring influence of The Beatles. It comes from another four-piece British rock band called Temples. The group is from the town of Kettering. Critics have been raving about them since last summer. Their debut album, "Sun Structures," has now been released here in the U.S. And hearing it might whisk you away to 1960s Liverpool. Here's our critic, Tom Moon.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: If nothing else, Temples has impeccable timing.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHELTER SONG")

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First Listen
11:02 pm
Sun February 2, 2014

First Listen: Temples, 'Sun Structures'

Temples' new album, Sunstructures, is out Feb. 11.
Ed Miles Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 11:15 am

It makes cosmic sense that Sun Structures, the debut album from Temples, arrives at the height of the current nostalgia wave associated with the 50th anniversary of Beatlemania and the British Invasion.

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First Listen
11:00 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

First Listen: Tom Brosseau, 'Grass Punks'

Tom Brosseau's Grass Punks comes out Jan. 21.
Nathaniel Wood Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 11:58 am

The opening lament on Tom Brosseau's new Grass Punks is as old as the hills: You don't pay attention to me anymore. In a thin, reedy voice that grows more vulnerable as the song unfolds, Brosseau confronts the reality that he no longer commands his beloved's attention. He's been supplanted not by a new affair, but by the smartphone: "I long for you to hold me in your arms," he sings, "but instead, you cradle your device."

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Music Reviews
3:14 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Pop's Resident Provocateur Fizzles On 'ARTPOP'

Lady Gaga's new album, ARTPOP, is out now.
Inez and Vinoodh Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 7:54 pm

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Music Reviews
4:33 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Tom Odell: A Polarizing New Voice Shows Promise

Long Way Home is British singer Tom Odell's debut.
Andrew Whitton Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 5:34 pm

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Music Reviews
5:31 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Pat Metheny And John Zorn: A Vivid Sound World

Best known for bright, accessible modern jazz, Pat Metheny takes on an experimental composer's work with the new Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels, Vol. 20.
Jimmy Katz Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 5:43 pm

Guitarist Pat Metheny is revered for his bright, accessible modern jazz. Saxophonist and composer John Zorn is associated with much knottier, often dissonant experiments.

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