#reviewoftheweek / Amos Lee - Live At Red Rocks With The Colorado Symphony

Live shows don't always translate well into live albums. This is not one of those cases. Amos Lee's collaboration with the Colorado Symphony is one of the best live albums to come out in years, by any artist. You might think it's just Amos with his guitar and a backing orchestra, but that's not the case. In fact, Amos has his full band, and the music is only supplemented by the incredible instrumentation of the "backing band." It's not a Amos-plays-all-the-hits album either, making it excellent for both die hard fans and the casual listener. Some of his bests are included, though, such as his first ever single "Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight" and popular "Sweet Pea." The album is bookended by two of his best ever, leading off with a spirited rendition of "Windows Are Rolled Down" which kicks the whole show off into high gear. He closes the set with an encore capped off by "Arms Of A Woman" which is one of his most poignant, showing off the songs subtleties and really showcasing his talents as a songwriter live on stage. Amos is as good a live musician as he is in the studio, and this should turn on even the most casual of listeners to wanting to see him live.


#reviewoftheweek / Bag Of Toys - Eating Monsters

Bag Of Toys are severely underrated. Sure, their blend of acoustic pop is the kind of music that seemingly only a certain type of music fan can love. You hear elements of Jack Johnson and Bob Marley and Sublime all throughout, however, these guys are blending acoustic pop and lyricism with the same ease and intensity as was going on in the 60's. They've, of course, put an updated modern twist on that style, and on this album, they'd surprised us with a large collection of new tracks that are fun and bouncy without seeming like a continuation of previous releases. Their west coast vibe is evident, and on songs like "Hold On Me" and "Callin' All Friends" you are reminded as to why this band puts you in a good mood all the time. Their light hearted and subtle comedic side is always present, and this time is no different on songs like "Stinky Gorilla" and "Boner In My Baggies." "Love" is another standout track, showing off a bit of simple reggae influence, which is absolutely present on several other tracks. Bag Of Toys can be an unfamiliar band, but they have a familiar sound that makes their newest album excellent.

BURN THIS / July 2015

  1. Matt Nathanson "Gold In The Summertime"
  2. Family Of The Year "Make You Mine"
  3. Moon Taxi "All Day, All Night"
  4. The Revivalists "Keep Going"
  5. Anderson East "Satisfy Me"
  6. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats "I Need Never Get Old"
  7. Tim Rogers & The Bamboos "Easy"
  8. Allen Stone "Freedom"
  9. Leon Bridges "Better Man"
  10. Alabama Shakes "Sound & Color"
  11. Dawes "Right On Time"
  12. Rayland Baxter "Yellow Eyes"
  13. Angus & Julia Stone "From The Stalls"
  14. The Staves "Make It Holy"
  15. William Fitzsimmons "Pittsburgh"
  16. Chadwick Stokes (featuring Lucius) "New Haven"
  17. Xavier Rudd & The United Nations "Flag"
  18. Slightly Stoopid "The Prophet"
  19. Blues Traveler (featuring The Dirty Heads & Rome) "Vagabond Blues"
  20. JJ Grey & Mofro "Ol' Glory"


#reviewoftheweek / Dawes - All Your Favorite Bands

This is a jam band album! Don't let that fool or scare you. It's just that the music on this album is vast and expansive when it needs to be. There are a ton of guitar solos, that despite their seemingly never ending length on the album, are sure to turn into 6+ minute endeavors when the songs are played live on stage. That all being said, it's still a Dawes record, and Taylor Goldsmith's imprint is everywhere on the album, and the music is just as familiar and inviting as all their previous releases. His storytelling lyrics are present in each of the 9 songs, and both subtlety and obviousness are prevalent. The title track is probably the albums quietest and most poignant, with songs like "Things Happen" and "Right On Time" playing the roles of the most radio-friendly. Some of those masterful guitar solos can be found on "Don't Send Me Away" and "I Can't Think About It Now." The closing track clocks in at over 9 minutes long, further showcasing the band's venture into the jam scene. They are still and indie rock band, but have embraced their instruments just as much as they have embraced Goldsmith's songwriting, making for a killer, yet small, collection of awesome new songs. This album has opened a whole new set of doors for Dawes, and up is pretty much the only way from here.


#reviewoftheweek / Ethan Tucker - Misunderstood

This album was one of those albums that took forever to get out to the world, but when you have such great talent, it needs to be right and it needs to be the right time. Ethan Tucker's newest release is the kind of album that you hope for when discovering a new artist. Sure, he's been on the scene for a little while, making guest appearance and opening for some pretty well known acts, but until you hear the album, you don't realize what class Tucker is really in. He's a singer/songwriter with a flair for funk and reggae, which is evident in his music. But it's the guitar playing that is the bread and butter on this release. Ethan uses his instrument as a sidekick, a backup singer, and a driving force through each song. It's a little more than just an accompanying piece, as is evidenced on tracks like "Crazy" and "Cool Kids." His rework of his original "All I Need" is the song that is sure to hook new fans. The album's standout is "Crazy Tonight" which features guest vocals by Michael Franti, repaying the favor Tucker provided to Franti in the past. Tucker young and ambitious and this album proves he's the real deal.


#reviewoftheweek / Kopecky - Drug For The Modern Age

Alternative rock seems to go in all different directions lately, and many artists are embracing innovation over history when telling their stories through music. In this case, Kopecky has brought us a new collection of music that is the type of stuff you'd probably have listened to at various times over the course of the last 30 years, without sounding copycat, repetitive, or even nostalgic. Their new take on sounds congruent with new wave, grunge, and pop has created an album that feels fresh and bright, without sounding forced. The first single, "Quarterback," is the song that hooks you and brings you to discover the album. It's the familiar alternative pop song that you can't help but sing along to, allowing you to rediscover Kopecky, even though you may have been familiar with their previous work. It's "Talk To Me" that broadens the spectrum and opens your ears and mind to the album on a larger scale, and the song that will be stuck in your head long after you've finished the entire 12 tracks. With their dual singer approach, Kopecky is doing things a bit different from their radio wave counterparts, and that's just fine. In fact, it's one of the things that make this album stand out as one of the year's best.


#reviewoftheweek / Joshua Radin - Onward And Sideways

Joshua Radin's latest is an excellent collection of left-of-center pop music that showcases his skills as a singer and a songwriter rather well. The surprise of the album is the new rendition of his previous hit "Beautiful Day" which, this time, featured guest vocals by Sheryl Crow. Radin is both underestimated and celebrated at the same time, and his music goes largely unnoticed as background filler in many instances. But, if you stop to take the time to listen to this album straight through, you will find yourself reinvigorated to rekindle your love for his entire array of previous releases. "We'll Keep Running Forever" is a great way to begin the album and also Radin's best display of his natural ability to take familiar and turn it on it's head. Driven by his lyrics and distinctive subtle voice, this album is as adventurous as it is safe and familiar. Joshua Radin keeps making music because there are still too many ways he can express his talents.


BURN THIS / June 2015

  1. Bob Schneider "The Stars Over Your House"
  2. Ethan Tucker "All I Need"
  3. Blues Traveler (featuring The Dirty Heads & Rome) "Castaway"
  4. Slightly Stoopid "Life Rolls On"
  5. The Movement "Rescue"
  6. Passafire "Wheels Of Steel"
  7. Current Swell "Desire"
  8. Rhett Miller "Most In The Summertime"
  9. Alabama Shakes "Dunes"
  10. My Morning Jacket "Compound Fracture"
  11. Sugar & The Hi Lows "High Roller"
  12. The Alternate Routes "Nobody Else"
  13. Pat McGee "When Did Everything Go Wrong"
  14. Derek James "Take You Out Dancing"
  15. Graham Colton "Little One"
  16. Taylor Berrett "Hypnotize Me"
  17. Ryan Montbleau Band "Never Gonna Be"
  18. Matt Costa "Ark Song"
  19. The Milk Carton Kids "Monterey"
  20. Leon Bridges "Lisa Sawyer"


#reviewoftheweek / Derek James - Take You Out Dancing

He's not a name you are probably familiar with, but you should be. On his latest, independently released album, Derek James blends together pop and rock to create a sound unlike many other artists out there. Sure, it's not instantly accessible or maybe the tunes don't make for high requests or heavy rotation on your local radio stations. But what the album does have is heart and soul, and that's really all you can ask of any musician. The standouts on the album are the title track and "Lovely Fool" which both feature a very lighthearted vibe, which you will surely find yourself singing along to on a sunny day. Derek doesn't only want to get you to dance, but he wants you to become a believer in his music, and this album makes it very hard not to do just that.


#reviewoftheweek / Bob Schneider - King Kong, Vol. I

Bob Schneider has always been an ambitious musician. This time, he's releasing his latest collection is 3 sets of 5 songs. The "King Kong" series begins with volume one, and is a great kickoff to the series. It showcases Bob's great songwriting and the lyrics are the star of each and every song. The best of the set is the closing track "The Fools" which has a tropical feel to it. His acoustic guitar is all over the collection as the partner to his amazing poetic words. Schneider is proving to be a tease, however, by only releasing 5 tracks at a time. But, this is a great set of songs to whet the appetite for what is to come. It will be very interesting to see how each of the 3 volumes differ, and which parts of his repertoire he showcases on each.