CD REVIEW: Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers "The Bear"

At first listen it is hard to grasp the songs on this album. Each song in itself does not stand out on its own. So, one might say, this album is not a success. Well, that would be a false statement if uttered, and the truth is that this album is sonically beautiful and a incredibly cohesive album. It truly is a collection of songs that as a whole completely outdoes each of its individual parts. Don't get me wrong, there are standouts on the album including the title track and the lead single, "Shady Esperanto And The Young Hearts." But, it's the intimate moments that are spread throughout where Kellogg shines as a storyteller and really connects with the listener. He is the same type of artist that a painter or an author is, putting his heart and soul out there for the world. He showcases his true talents as a lyricist and musician on songs like "Satisfied Man," "A (With Love)," and "Lonely In Columbus." Friends join in as well with Josh Ritter, Serena Ryder, and the Alternate Routes making appearances and the Sixers are on their game like never before. This album is a masterpiece and may prove to be a defining moment in the Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers' career, showing that being musicians is not just about writing really good singles, its about making really great albums.

CD REVIEW: Ben Howard "These Waters"

A guy and a guitar seems to be everywhere these days. So, why not another one, right? Well, in Ben Howard's case, this guy with a guitar has something that not many others have: uniqueness. He's not a copycat version of every other pop songsmith out there. He's truly got a sound all to himself. He combines his British descent with simplistic tunes and clever production to unleash a subtle, mellow, and yet complex debut EP. Sure you can draw comparisons to Chris Martin, David Gray, and even Newton Faulkner, but that is only to say that his sound and his music can be put in the same league and fans of those will surely be fans of Howard. Ben, on this EP, delivers an outstanding performance of intimate and lyrically beautiful songs that transcend the stereotype that he is surely going to be pushed into. Standout songs include "Cloud Nine," which is by far one of the best songs this year, and the lead off track "The Wolves."