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
7:03 pm
Sun July 27, 2014

First Listen: Adult Jazz, 'Gist Is'

Adult Jazz's new album, Gist Is, comes out Aug. 4.
James Pearson Howes Courtesy of the artist

To music obsessives of a certain age, the current generation of listeners sometimes appears as lightweight grazers at the Internet smorgasbord who seem unwilling (possibly unable) to focus attention at depth on a single piece of music. The summary dismissal: The kids today, they can't handle all of what somebody like a Frank Zappa (or a band like King Crimson) throws at them.

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First Listen
7:03 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 Aug. 5.
Dusdin Condren Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 7:39 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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First Listen
7:03 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 7:31 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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First Listen
7:03 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 8:53 am

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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First Listen
4:04 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 8:13 am

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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