#reviewoftheweek / John Butler Trio - Flesh & Blood

John Butler Trio has always brought a unique twist to rock and roll and folk music since they formed and began putting out music. Their latest incarnation features a new drummer, but they're doing everything fans have come to expect from their music. This time around, however, they've left the harder stuff behind for a more rootsy and folksy sound. Each song tells a story, many from John personal life, while mixing lyrical excellence with some of the funkiest and, at time, mellowest instrumentation. "How You Sleep At Night" and "Spring To Come" are excellent specimens of the lyrically driven folk songs on this album. The funky stuff comes on the form of "Livin' In The City" and the first single "Only One." JBT bring elements of reggae and some killer electric guitar solos together on the album's longest song "Blame It On Me." The album is titled well as the band and it's namesake's flesh and blood are connected to each and every song on the album, and is a solid, and possibly the most connected, set of songs JBT has released to date.


#reviewoftheweek / Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain

The Bright Eyes singer is fully involved in his solo career, and this latest album has him transforming into a full blown modern singer/songwriter with roots in indie, folk, and a bit of jam rock. Conor Oberst is not an emo indie kid any more. This new album is a masterpiece in it's own right, drawing influences from his own career of excellent tunes and bring in a bit of rootsy folk rock similar to the likes of bands such as Dawes, The Head And The Heart, and The Lumineers. The best thing about the album is the connection the listener can make to the lyrics, drawing themselves into Oberst's world with his vivid imagery and witty observations. The standouts on the album are the radio-friendly "Zigzagging Towards The Light" and "Hundreds Of Ways" which showcases an excellent horn section. Conor Oberst is all grown up on this album and is securing his place amongst this generations top singer/songwriters. It is truly one of the year's best collections of music with some of the year's best compositions as well.


#reviewoftheweek / Matisyahu - Akeda

After being dubbed the Hasidic reggae superstar, Matisyahu is turning the tables once again. On his latest, he mixes his reggae with everything from sweeping spiritual melodies to hip hop and jam rock. The debut single, "Watch The Walls Melt Down," is sure to become as popular as his previous hit "King Without A Crown," simply because it is catchy and has pop rock reggae energy. There are surprises around every corner including songs like "Broken Car" and "Hard Way" which are less in your face and more in your soul. "Black Heart" and "Surrender" are sure to be great live staples as they showcase every aspect of Matisyahu's live energy in the studio. "Confidence," which features guest vocals from Collie Buddz, is the album's heaviest reggae tune, and reminds us why Matisyahu is who he is in the music world. Matisyahu has proven once and for all on this album that he is the real deal when it comes to his music, and there is certainly nothing gimmicky about it.


BURN THIS / July 2014

  1. O.A.R. "The Architect"
  2. Phillip Phillips "Alive Again"
  3. The Wind And The Wave "With Your Two Hands"
  4. Johnnyswim "Home"
  5. Jamestown Revival "Golden Age"
  6. Ben & Ellen Harper "A House Is A Home"
  7. Shovels & Rope "The Devil Is All Around"
  8. Nathaniel Rateliff "Nothing To Show For"
  9. Ray LaMontagne "Drive-In Movies"
  10. St. Paul & The Broken Bones "I'm Torn Up"
  11. Paolo Nutini "Iron Sky"
  12. Will Dailey "Sunken Ship"
  13. William Fitzsimmons "From You"
  14. Bahamas "All The Time"
  15. Matisyahu "Surrender"
  16. Phish "555"
  17. moe. "Annihilation Blues"
  18. White Denim "Come Back"
  19. The Revivalists "When I Die"
  20. G. Love & Special Sauce "Weekend Dance #2"


#reviewoftheweek / Phish - Fuego

After 5 years, Phish have returned with a new collection of studio tracks that is their best complete set of studio tracks since they released "Farmhouse." They have managed to harness the best of their stage show and improvisation, while adding in some excellent concise songwriting to bring it all together. They have obvious hits on their hands with songs like "The Line" and "Sing Monica" which are surprisingly radio ready. They showcase the long jam well with the title track and their quirkiness on "Wombat." The albums standout tracks are "555" which features a funky horn section and the quiet swirling "Waiting All Night" which is probably the best from their live debut of these songs on Halloween 2013. Phish have proven that they can do it live and in the studio time and time again, and like fine wine, they continue to get better with age. Though the road and the radio dial have proven to be a young man's realm, it seems Phish can't bear sit idly by, and "Fuego" is a reminder why they have been doing their thing for over 30 years.


#reviewoftheweek / Phillip Phillips - Behind The Light

The latest album from Phillip Phillips picks right up where the last left off. The album is full of jam rock tunes disguised as pop rock ditties. Phillips knows exactly where his roots lie and the blues and jazz elements of his heroes are evident yet again on his second offering. Despite where he got his start, Phillips is shaping up to be a force in the music world bridging gaps between genres that haven't been mixed together since the early nineties. The album's first single "Raging Fire" could have fit well on his debut, but much of the album is a step up from the cookie cutter tunes of the first album. "Fly" is a fantastic track featuring pedal steel from Robert Randolph, and Phillips' co-writers help him craft some fantastic lyrics, including the tune "Alive Again" which was co-written by David Ryan Harris. All in all, a great second album  that should beat the sophomore slump. This collection of songs should allow Phillips to continue to broaden his music spectrum with each subsequent release.


#reviewoftheweek / O.A.R. - The Rockville LP

O.A.R. have been there and back again. That's just what this album is about. Touring for the better part of the past 20 years, after having formed in high school and come into their own in college, O.A.R. have finally brought it all back to where they began. The album sounds like a band who is writing and recording their first batch of songs, only the difference is, they sound like they're doing it with years of experience. Named for where their roots lie, the album features only 10 new songs to add to the band's extensive catalogue, but some of them are classics in the making. The first single "Peace" is in the same vein as previous singles such as "Shattered" and "Heaven" which are full of pop rock simplicity and radio friendly sing-along lyrics. Other tracks like "We'll Pick Up Where We Left Off" and "So Good So Far" are destined to be crowd pleasing fan favorites. "The Architect," which is arguably the best on the disc, features the band's signature funkiness and is sure to turn into a 10+ minute jam session live on stage. Their reggae roots are prevalent on the album's opener, "Two Hands Up" and "Caroline The Wrecking Ball," which was co-written by friend and touring buddy Stephen Kellogg, is a true O.A.R. storyteller. All in all, the album encompasses elements of each album in the band's history, wrapping up a sound that tells a story and a vision of the journey the band has been on so far.


#reviewoftheweek / Rebelution - Count Me In

Despite the fact that they don't have a major label in their back pocket, reggae rockers Rebelution are becoming the quintessential act of the genre. Spearheaded by the rise of Sublime in the mid-nineties, the sub-genre of rock music has a very distinct sound that combines alternative rock, punk, and reggae, but Rebelution have elevated their game by bringing a bit of jam band quality to heir sound and performances. Their latest album has them venturing further in this direction, which they tried a bit of on their previous release. "De-Stress," "Counterfeit Love," and "Lost In Dreams" are the albums standout tracks, all of which the band debuted online before the release of the album. The title track is also one of the albums highlights, as well as their collaborations with Collie Buddz and Don Carlos. There are plenty of bands out there showcasing this style of music (Slightly Stoopid, Pepper, The Dirty Heads, etc.) but Rebelution continue to elevate their game with each new album, trying to stay fresh and do things a bit differently each time. This album, along with their last, showcases how their musicianship is truly the core of their music.


BURN THIS / June 2014

  1. The Dirty Heads "My Sweet Summer"
  2. Rebelution "Lost In Dreams"
  3. Matisyahu (featuring Collie Buddz) "Confidence"
  4. SOJA (featuring Michael Franti & Nahko) "I Believe"
  5. Pepper "Come And Get Me"
  6. Cris Cab "Liar Liar"
  7. Ed Sheeran "Sing"
  8. Sam Roberts Band "Shapeshifters"
  9. Wild Adriatic "Mess Around"
  10. Benjamin Booker "Violent Shiver"
  11. Old 97's "Let's Get Drunk & Get It On"
  12. The Belle Bridgade "When Everything Was What It Was"
  13. Robert Francis & The Night Tide "Love Is A Chemical"
  14. Ray LaMontagne "No Other Way"
  15. Marc Broussard "Hurricane Heart"
  16. O.A.R. "So Good So Far"
  17. John Butler Trio "How You Sleep At Night"
  18. The Revivalists "Chase's House"
  19. moe. "Some Old Story"
  20. Phish "Waiting All Night"


#reviewoftheweek / Current Swell - Ulysses

Current Swell could be labeled as the "little band that could." They keep on plugging along, churning out awesome folk and roots rock albums with little to no popular recognition. Well, with the release of their latest "Ulysses" they are poised to change all that. With the popular music landscape changing and radio formats such as AAA gaining steam, Current Swell's music is at the right crossroads to make a splash. "Rollin'" and "Keys To The Kingdom," both of which the band released prior to the album, are two tracks that would fit well along side the current songs spinning on the airwaves by artists like Brett Dennen, John Butler Trio, and even The Black Keys. They blend elements of rooty folk rock (in the vein of Jack Johnson and G. Love) with blues rock elements (in the vein of Ben Harper and Ray LaMontagne) that should ultimately gain them fans from every corner of the roots music landscape. Other standouts include "Gunshots" and "Man Of Maps." The surprise track of the album is "Sideways" which seems like a throwback from the mid-90's with it's crunchy and heavy guitar riffs. All in all, Current Swell showcase elements of their entire career on the album and prove that they too deserve a shot in the spotlight currently being occupied by the aforementioned Black Keys, and others like the Luminees and Mumford & Sons.