#reviewofthweek / Tristan Prettyman - Back To Home

After having been independent and then singing to a label, Tristan Prettyman has decided once again to go it alone and do it herself. As the title of the album suggests, she is returning to her roots, and this time she has a whole lot more in her bag of tricks. Her foundations in surfer folk music coupled with her experiences in the pop rock world combine perfectly on this short independent release that features a great collection of lyric driven tunes. "Who We Are" leads the way as the short album's first single, but it's song like "Waves" and "Perfect Storm" that remind us why Prettyman is a unique songstress and not some cookie cutter pop princess. The bottom line is that Tristan Prettyman has proven that you don't need major label backing. Just with some talent, some appeal, and some guts and you can do it however you want as good or even better than the best.


#reviewoftheweek / Lowell Thompson - Stranger's Advice

Lowell Thompson isn't well know all over the place, but certainly he's a name that many Vermonters and New Englanders know. His latest release is a refreshing bit of folk rock and Americana, that lends itself well to the northeast. You can imagine yourself hearing this music or seeing Thompson perform as a busker in the streets of Boston, MA or Burlington, VT or in small clubs all over the northeast in the aforementioned locations as well as others like Northampton, MA, Albany, NY, and Portland, ME. Envision pine trees, snow covered mountain tops, red plaid flannel shirts and the like in the crowd. His blend of rootsy sensibilities and heritage rock is not something that you hear on pop radio, but can draw comparisons to everyone from Mumford & Sons to Phish to John Mayer. If given the right audience and recognition, Lowell Thompson, with this latest album, could be as recognizable as those artists and surely share the stage with them in years to come.


#reviewoftheweek / Ben Ottewell - Rattlebag

As one of the voices of the British rock back Gomez, Ben Ottewell has experienced some incredible, underground success. But, with such a distinguishing voice, its hard for someone like Ottewell to break away and not sound like his band. On his second solo album, Ben has managed to make sure that the music, regardless of its sound, is his own. After having heard his folky solo music, it makes Gomez sound more like a jam band than an alternative rock group. The music on this album is driven by simplicity and hinges on the lyrics. Ben Ottewell has proven, with this new album, that he is one of his generation's best vocalists, and can stand as a band leader or as a solo musician equally and outstandingly.


BURN THIS / December 2014

  1. Paolo Nutini "Let Me Down Easy"
  2. Madi Diaz "The Other Side"
  3. Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness "High Dive"
  4. Tristan Prettyman "Who We Are"
  5. Allen Stone "Million"
  6. The Staves "Blood I Bled"
  7. Ben Ottewell "Red Dress"
  8. Vance Joy "Georgia"
  9. James Bay "Hold Back The River"
  10. Monica Heldal "Boy From The North"
  11. Joshua Hyslop "Living & Dying"
  12. Beta Radio "East Of Tennessee"
  13. Lowell Thompson "Rose Petals"
  14. The Barr Brothers "Even The Darkness Has Arms"
  15. Sarah Jaffe "Leaving The Planet"
  16. Guster "Endlessly"
  17. Ben Howard "Conrad"
  18. Damien Rice "The Greatest Bastard"
  19. Rocco DeLuca "Colors Of The Cold"
  20. Nathaniel Rateliff "Closer"


#reviewoftheweek / Tommy Guerrero - No Mans Land

Tommy Guerrero is a skater! But he's been making funky and jazzy music for years and years on the side, and is one of the most talented musicians around. This album is a slight departure, but not too far, from his previous releases which feature a more light hearted and breezy sound. You could call what he does as west coast jazz, mostly because you can sit back and close your eyes and imagine yourself surfing or skating or just chilling out in California. The album opens is a bit of a spooky way, drawing a strange comparison to ambient indie rock. The album doesn't feature and vocals, but it doesn't need them, as is proven by the album's best track "The Lone Pisolero" and the second to last track "The Viper." Guerrero also outdoes himself, proving his genius and mastery by playing almost every single instrument you hear on the album. People who are multitalented always amaze, but Tommy Guerrero does it in such a cool way, jealousy is never an option.


#reviewoftheweek / Damien Rice - My Favourite Faded Fantasy

It's been a great while since folkie Damien Rice released new music, and what has been cultivating over that time is magnificent. Now, what helped him break out onto the scene is not what this album is about. This album showcases how he has grown and developed his sound over the years, while maintaining his core as a folk singer. Aided by the production of Rick Rubin (Angus & Julia Stone, Avett Brothers, Ed Sheeran), the singer/songwriter has been able to elevate the sound of his music and heighten the message of his lyrics. The title track and the first single "I Don't Want To Change You" are driven by the lyrics, while still being taken to the next level from a musical standpoint. One of the other major highlights of the album is "The Greatest Bastard." Damien Rice is an old soul, and this album refreshed everyone's memory that he is an important piece and part of the foundation of the current folk music world.


#reviewoftheweek / Monica Heldal - Boy From The North

Hailing from Norway, you might expect an artist like Monica Heldal to be in the same vein as some other European folkies like Sondre Lerche and Teitur or even Kings Of Convenience, but you'd be wrong. Heldal harnesses the blues and mixes them firmly with her style of pop and rock. The combination makes for a very unique sound coming from that area of the world. In fact, the most close interpretation of this music came recently from Of Monsters And Men. Heldal embraces her rootsy elements and invokes a style that is equal parts 70's hippie folk and 90's British indie rock mixed with the good old blues. The title track is by far the standout and the song that will get Heldal's music into the ears of the masses, but it's tracks like "Conman Coming" and "Follow You Anywhere" that showcase her true talents as a musician and a songwriter. From start to finish the album is intriguing and interesting. It's a great listen for music fans looking to hear something fresh and new that's not the same old import coming across the pond.


#reviewoftheweek / Meiko - Dear You

Meiko is pure pop. This new album embraces that to its fullest extent, branching out and away from her folky roots. Diving deeper into the pop realm, her newest album embraces heavier production and electronic elements, while still remaining true to her beginnings as a singer/songwriter. Think of the album as a new medium for the same message, an artist graduating from pencils and sketches to paints and canvas and larger, more impactful displays. At the core the album is a group of simply thought out songs, which unfold and develop into grand displays of musicianship. Highlights include the title track, the lead track "Bad Things," and "Be Mine." One of her finest moments on the album is the song that connects her sounds of the past to her sound of the present, "If He Doesn't Love You." This is the song on the album that reminds you of her roots, yet still manages to harness her current musical self. The album hovers somewhere between pop and indie rock, and will have old and new fans equally impressed and satisfied.


BURN THIS / November 2014

  1. Chadwick Stokes "Our Lives Our Time"
  2. Brad Corrigan "Anything New"
  3. Tristan Prettyman "Perfect Storm"
  4. Trevor Hall "Green Mountain State"
  5. Roo Panes "Tiger Striped Sky"
  6. James Bay "Let It Go"
  7. Ben Howard "I Forget Where We Were"
  8. Damien Rice "I Don't Want To Change You"
  9. Angus & Julia Stone "Get Home"
  10. Charlie Mars "Hell Yeah"
  11. Lera Lynn "Standing On The Moon"
  12. Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors "American Beauty"
  13. Gregory Alan Isakov "Amsterdam"
  14. The Head And The Heart "Let's Be Still"
  15. The Lone Bellow "Then The Morning Comes"
  16. The Belle Brigade "Back Where You Began"
  17. The Avett Brothers "Bring Me Your Love"
  18. Trey Anastasio Band "Bounce"
  19. Rebelution "Invasion"
  20. SOJA (featuring Alfred The MC) "Promises & Pills"


#reviewoftheweek / Hozier - Hozier

Hozier is another new singer/songwriter hailing from across the pond, from Ireland. You want to not like his music because, seemingly, before hearing it, you get a sense that this is just another one of the same types of things we've been hearing for years. Sure, he'll draw comparisons to artists like Gotye, Passenger, David Gray, and even Ben Howard, all of whom have recently came out with new music. But, what is striking about Hozier, and his self titled album, is that he's a bit more of a layered artist than a one-note, one-hit kind of musician. His entire album features countless instrumental arrangements, far from the signature acoustic guitar and voice that you might expect. The production is not overly done, which leaves the music more organic in nature. The debut single "Take Me To Church" is a great song and a good introduction to the music, but it's not what the artist or album are about. Take a song like "From Eden" and you've got what you'd expect, but take a song like "Jackie And Wilson" and you forget that this Irishman is even from across the pond, mixing soul and blues into his music like he's straight from the Mississippi delta. It's a hearty album, and clocking in at 13 tracks, it's one of the years longer releases, but it's necessary to get all facets of Hozier into one collection. He's not a one-trick-pony and is sure to be around for a while, showcasing his left of center take on the traditional international import.