#reviewoftheweek / Charlie Mars - The Money

Charlie Mars has been at it for quite some time, but recently he has become a more prominent figure in the Americana music scene, blending his alternative pop with organic instrumentation to deliver some killer music. This album, the third in a collection known as the Texas trilogy, is a testament to Mars as both a musician and a songwriter. The title track, as well as the lead track "Hell Yeah" are the album's cornerstones, and the ones that fans will gravitate towards as their intro to this album. However, it's songs like the remake of his original "Silver Buttons" and "Danger Danger" that bring his musicianship into perspective. Both songs are driven by their lyrics, but show vastly different facets of Mars' musical delivery. It also helps that he's got a talented backing band. One of the most fun tracks on the album is the reggae-infused "Things You Don't Wanna Know" which also showcases some of Mars lyrics in a more playful way. Despite having been released almost a year ago, "The Money" holds up as a highly listenable and accessible musical collection, and is one of those albums that you crave listening to over and over again.


#reviewoftheweek / Donavon Frankenreiter - The Heart

Donavon Frankenreiter is always reliable when releasing new music. You always get a collection of sunshine acoustic pop songs that transport you directly to the beach, by the campfire, or out on the waves. His latest does not disappoint, and while most of his releases are similar in nature, this release showcases his songwriting at the forefront. "Big Wave" is the first single from the album, and is as fresh as his first songs released over 10 years ago. The title of the album reflects the theme that this entire collection circles around love. It's simple and accessible where it needs to be, yet refreshing and familiar. For his old school fans, it's a welcome addition to the catalogue. For the newbies, it's a great introduction that will have you craving his earlier releases.


#reviewoftheweek / Anderson East - Delilah

Making a splash as a new artist these days takes a lot, especially if you're not in the cookie-cutter-pop-vein that you hear all over radio and television. But when you've got something special like a sound not heard in decades, you're bound to make a name for yourself. That's just what Anderson East has done with his debut album, showcasing his soulful vocals and throwback sound in a top notch way. Just as artists like Allen Stone and Leon Bridges have been able to do, East has tapped into a sound that is both new and familiar, bridging Americana-style folk and classic southern soul, for a sound that is both refreshingly different and nostalgic at the same time. "Satisfy Me" is the album's cornerstone and surely going to be the song keeping Anderson in the running for accolades like "Best New Artist" by year's end. "Find 'Em, Fool 'Em, and Forget 'Em" is piano driven and molds high energy rock and bar room soul into a fun and catchy song. Other highlights include the acoustic "Devil In Me" and rock driven "Keep The Fire Burning." If this album is any indication, we are in for a long and fruitful ride with Anderson East for years to come.


#reviewoftheweek / The Revivalists - Men Amongst Mountains

Roots rockers The Revivalists are the real deal. This New Orleans band has embraced what it meant to be from that city, and their album is like a party in musical form. Each song is creatively crafted to sound accessible and familiar, without sounding like every other band performing these days. It is full of radio-friendly tracks, that with the right exposure, will have The Revivalists being a household name by the end of the year. "Keep Going," "Stand Up," and "Wish I Knew You" are sure to become fan favorites, and the songs that will surely solidify the band's legacy for years to come. Other tracks on the album that have the vibe of a live show are "Move On" and "Gold To Glass," both of which are sure to impress fans both old and new. Vocalist/lyricist David Shaw and company have shown on this album what it means to be a band who loves what they do and has fun doing it. It is evident through each and ever song on the album.


BURN THIS / August 2015

  1. Dispatch "Bound By Love"
  2. Trevor Hall "To Zion"
  3. Michael Franti & Spearhead "Once A Day"
  4. Slightly Stoopid "Rolling Stone (Alt Version)"
  5. G. Love & Special Sauce "I Ain't Finished Yet"
  6. The Revivalists "Stand Up"
  7. Galactic (featuring Ryan Montbleau) "Domino"
  8. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats "S.O.B."
  9. JJ Grey & Mofro "Light A Candle"
  10. Anderson East "Fine 'Em, Fool 'Em, And Forget 'Em"
  11. Leon Bridges "Smooth Sailin'"
  12. Gary Clark Jr. "The Healing"
  13. Alabama Shakes "Gemini"
  14. Rayland Baxter "Young Man"
  15. Josh Ritter "Getting Ready To Get Down"
  16. Good Old War "Broken Record"
  17. Brandi Carlile "The Things I Regret"
  18. Will Hoge "Desperate Times"
  19. Lowell Thompson "Bradley Street"
  20. Pat McGee (featuring Pat Monahan) "Overboard"


#reviewoftheweek / Of Monsters And Men - Beneath The Skin

Of Monsters And Men came out of nowhere with their debut album and were a massive hit both in the pop and alternative worlds. That put an incredible amount of pressure to repeat that success on their second album. With that, it looks as though they have created one of the year's best album. The thing is, this album is more artistic than pop-friendly and may not translate incredibly well on pop radio. This album feels more like something that Death Cab For Cutie or even TV On The Radio would record. "Crystals" is by far the album's most accessible and leads the album off well, with other tracks like "Empire" and "Orphans" showing off the band's song craftsmanship. Other standout tracks, showing off the band's less folk and more alternative side, are "I Of The Storm" and "Black Water," both of which receive a remix on the deluxe version of this release. It's nice to see that OMAM have not tried to remake their success throughout this new album, but rather showcase their talents with excellent alternative rock songs that should have them winning critical praise and awards by the year's end.


#reviewoftheweek / Slightly Stoopid - Meanwhile... Back At The Lab

Almost 20 years ago, Sublime was all the rage on the So Cal music scene. Slightly Stoopid has been just that for the past decade or so, and this album bridges the two bands' sound better than ever before. Slightly Stoopid has been know for their reggae and punk driven songs, but as the band has matured over the years, their artistry has become more prominent. This album could possibly be their most defining collection of songs. Highlighted mostly by reggae and mellow acoustic tracks, they'd pulled together their party vibe and live show energy and harnessed it in the studio. One of the biggest surprises on the album is the lead track "Dabbington" which is a funky instrumental that gets you in the mood to listen to the rest of the songs. Other highlights include "This Version" and "Rolling Stone." There are probably more radio friendly songs on this album than Slightly Stoopid have ever recorded and they are driven by "Life Rolls On" and "The Prophet" which has a major connection to a song previously recorded by Sublime. Slightly Stoopid are the current crown holders for the best of So Cal, once owned by Sublime, and it doesn't look like they're ready to pass it on any time soon.


#reviewoftheweek / Matt Costa - Eucalyptus EP & Cat Mosta EP

Matt Costa's plan is to release a handful of EPs by the end of the year. His first two are folk masterpieces. Costa has dabbled in a lot of different styles throughout his short career, but has shined the brightest when he presents his music in stripped down folk format. "Eucalyptus EP" is primarily instrumental, and as it was released first, eases you into the classic folk sounds of Matt Costa. "Cat Mosta EP" was mostly recorded with the intent of becoming demos, but Matt felt that his fans needed to hear his music in this way and decided to release it. Costa's music is defined by the lyrics on these two EPs, and rather than make the listener wait for an entire collection, he's hitting us up with snippets of what he's working on. It's a great insight into how a musician works, and the intimate and short collections are miniature works of art.


#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.