After self releasing a few album, Stacy Clark has finally got the backing of a label. That being said, she has harnessed her unbelievable ability to write great pop songs and released a new album that is her most accessible yet. The lead single "Touch & Go" is going to make her a huge success, and once music fans get a hold of her album they are going to love songs like "All Time Low" and "Air Force." She mixes her roots in acoustic pop and emo with the best production she has had on any of her albums to create a defining sound that is all her own. Stacy Clark is certainly an artist to watch, with a new album that is going to stand up as one of the year's best.
Michael Franti caught his big break with his last album, blowing up pop radio airwaves with his mega-hit "Say Hey (I Love You)." This new album takes that formula and puts it in album form, creating Franti's most widely accessible album ever. His previous work was geared towards mor eunderground reggae and dancehall fans, but after gaining massive popularity he decided the new path on his musical journey was molding his world music styles into pop glory. The title track has already become one of the most popular songs of the summer on AAA radio and his other single, "Shake It," is climbing the charts at top 40 radio, repeating the success of his previous singles. Michael Franti has always been an outstanding performer, but he finally has managed to garner the success he should have been receiving all along. This new album is full of feel good tunes that anyone and everyone will be sure to enjoy.
The Break Mission have turned into a very powerful band with their new album. Their previous work was a bit more raw and a bit more pop, but their newest release features some incredibly tight alternative rock that could find itself onto any rock radio station alongside the buzz bands currently blowing up the airwaves. Songs like "Thieves" and "All Of Your Guns" are tracks that could easily help this band become huge. Fans of artists like Snow Patrol, OneRepublic, and even Radiohead will all get something from this album. The Break Mission is truly a band to watch, and this latest album is going to put them on the map.
Kina Grannis is one of those unique souls that doesn't come along very often. Her music is beautifully written and performed and shows the signs of a seasoned veteran of the music industry. Although the album was independently produced and released, the music shows no lacking qualities that you might find without the presence of a label or super producer. Songs like "Strong Enough" and "In Your Arms" are ready to make waves on radio right now, and could easily become Grannis' breakout hits, catapulting her to stardom. She is surely the next Sara Bareilles or Colbie Caillat, as her music fits in the same vein and she delivers it with the same subtlety and intensity. Kina Grannis is everything that her music makes her out to be: a great songwriter, and beautiful singer, and an artistic soul. "Stairwells" is the culmination of her journey towards greatness, and she has certainly achieved it.
This EP by talented new singer/songwriter Michael Lowman is a breath of fresh air. He can be compared to musicians such as David Gray, Damien Rice, and other newcomers like Joey Ryan and Alexi Murdoch. The mixture of guitar and piano makes for simple pop music with lyrics as the defining backbone. The instrumentation is not typical for pop rock music, as a bit of blues rock can be heard in songs like "Morning Shine." The album's title track is sure to become Lowman's defining musical moment. Michael Lowman is on his way, on the heels of this EP, to do great musical things in his career.
Sheryl Crow is a future Rock & Roll Hall-of-famer, adn the reason is that she has staying power in an industry that chews you up and spits you out. The reason she has been able to have such an incredible career is because she has the ability to create awesome albums, like this one, that bridge the gaps between styles of music while still retaining the essence of their originality. On this album Crow embraces her soulfulness and brings it all the way back to the 50's and 60's with her own twist on some classic styles of music. She includes a few cover songs including Citizen Cope's "Sideways" (which he guest appears on) and Terrence Trent D'Arby's "Sign Your Name" (which includes son background vocals by Justin Timberlake). Her originals are as classic as the styles she mimics and as well written as her extensive catalogue of hits. "Summer Day" is one of her best songs ever, and "Eye To Eye" has her embracing reggae with a little help from Keith Richards. She closes the album with a cover of the Jackson 5 classic "I Want You Back," and her version is a spectacular update to the song. Sheryl Crow is an amazing singer and songwriter and her abilities transcend her music. On album's like this one, it's wonderful for her to let us into her world through her music.
A blues rock queen, Grace Potter has returned with her band for their third album, and this one is self titled for a reason. The band has come into their own on this album, showcasing their rock chops to the fullest extent. Potter's vocals are bluesy as always, and on this album their remind of rock legends like Janis Joplin and Grace Slick. "Tiny Light" is the album's standout track and the band's finest recording. "Paris (Ooh La La)" is an edgy rocker that reminds us that this is a rock band at it's core. While their previous albums may have been more laden with blues and jam rock, this one is filled with 70's style guitar rock that many bands would only dream of being able to perform. This album will prove to be a defining moment in the career of Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, and many of the songs will become some of the band's most classic recordings.
Chris Trapper has always defined his music through his songwriting and storytelling, and this latest digital release is no exception. It is incredibly reminiscent of his debut solo album as well as the music he made in the early days with The Push Stars. "Family Tree" is signature Chris Trapper, as his lyrics are the star and his vocal delivery is as unique as his music. "The Game Is Done" and the title track are also excellent tracks. Trapper will always be one of those musicians that you can count on for great music, and this new EP is no exception.
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Not enough can be said about Kid Cudi, however, the one thing that stands out is that he's embracing the art of turning the hip hop world upside down. His unique vocal delivery and production quality is currently unmatched, and his ability to tell stories through his music is as good, if not better, than some of hip hop[s greats. The album features guest appearances by everyone from Kanye West and Common to MGMT and Ratatat, making for an eclectic sounding mix of intense music. "Day 'N" Nite" took the world by storm and is one of his best songs, however "Pursuit Oof Happiness" and "Up Up & Away" are the best songs on the album, artisticly. Kid Cudi is the next generation of hip hop and will surely pioneer a whole new era of cutting edge hip hop music.
Andrew Belle is a bright young singer/songwriter, and on this digital release he shows off why he is one of the best new talents to come around. His intimate performance at Hotel Cafe in March is one of the best acoustic pop live recordings around, showing off some of his best material all in one short collection. "I'll Be Your Breeze" and "Static Waves" are two of Belle's best songs, and here they are performed beautifully. He also includes a cover of the Death Cab For Cutie song "I Will Follow You Into The Dark, which takes on a whole new personality when sung by Andrew.
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Back for the third time, Needtobreathe has created their most accessible album to date, with hit after hit song filling the entire disc. It's nothing but straighforward homegrown rock and roll music for these guys, and the proof is in songs like the title track and "Prisoner." Lyrically, Needtobreathe have always been at the top of their game, but some of their greatest lyrical gems show up on this album like the incredibly popular "Something Beautiful" as well as "Hurricane" and "Lay 'Em Down." Finally embraced by the masses, rock radio has helped Needtobreathe and this album get the recognition and airplay that they deserve.
This album is a brilliant second effort for the duo that is Shwayze. Cisco Adler's production is excellent again, and the duo has created some new summertime jams that will hold up for years to come. Snoop Dogg and rap group The Knux lend their assistance to a few tracks, brightening up the already sunsoaked album. "Sally Is A.." and "Crazy For You" are the standouts of the collection. Shwayze sure know how to make party music, and this album is no exception.
Stripes And Lines are and incredibly interesting and talented band out of San Diego, CA. They have managed to most indie rock that is reminiscent of bands like Death Cab For Cutie and Rogue Wave with their So Cal energy for an awesome album of new music that embraces a sound that is all their own. The music is mellow yet upbeat. "Dillinger" and "Slow Motion" are the surefire favorites of the eight tracks on the album, but all the songs have a quality that makes you want to listen again and again. Having shared the stage with acts such as Fiction Family, Switchfoot, and Company Of Thieves, it's easy to see how their music bridges many different genres and is for all fans of any style of music. Indie rock is alive and well in southern California, and Stripes And Lines are delivering it beautifully.
Certainly a more ambitious collection of songs, Everest's newest album takes their indie rock to the next level. The album hits hard right away with "Let Go," which is one of the best songs on the album. The attention to detail in their music is still evident on songs like "Unfortunate Sea" and "Tall Buildings," both of which are lyrical standouts on the album. "I've Had This Feeling Before," shows off the band's current sound and will surely have you hooked after the first listen. Fans of bands like Delta Spirit and Band Of Horses will certainly be able to get into this album, and Everest, although they aren't mainstream, sure know how to put together accessible indie rock.
The first lady of Brushfire Records has quietly released an EP containing a new song and it's as beautiful as he self titled debut. The EP also featured 3 remixed versions of songs from her debut, including one of "Is This The End" which adds a new face to an already breathtaking song. The new tune, "I Wish I Never," is excellent and could have easily found itself amongst the songs on her first album. Zee Avi is one of the most underappreciated female singer/songwriters on the scene and this new EP is a reminder of just how great her beautiful music is.
Dashboard Confessional returns to their roots with their most acoustic filled album since "The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most." The boys, led by Chris Carraba, have put together a solid collection of new tunes that will have any fan of emo alternative rock pleased. "Belle Of The Boulevard" is the album's debut single and biggest highlight of the disc. During this album the band stays true to the music that hey have become known for and deliver a collection that is as good as anything they have released in the past.
Just a little greatest hits collection from one of the best ambient electronic acts to come around since Moby. Zero 7 broke onto the scene almost 10 years ago with their hit debut album which blew up the charts, the airwaves, and everywhere summery, mellow electronic music was played. Collaborating with (and helping to launch the careers of) Sia, Jose Gonzalez, and Sophie Barker, Zero 7 brought us the hits "Destiny," "Home," "Somersault," "In The Waiting Line," and "Futures" all of which were included in this compilation. This disc is truly the best of their best, featuring not only singles, but album standouts that define the group. For anyone looking for all of Zero 7's best in one place, this is it.
As a bright young talent, Caleb Hawley has created an excellent new album with incredible songs that range through a variety of genres. He does not pin himself down at all on this album, showing off his incredible vocal abilities with a soulful delivery. The highlights of the album are reggae song "Real Vacation" and the folk rocker "My Own Two Feet." The biggest surprise is a cover of the song "The Way It Is," which Hawley interprets in such a way that it keeps its classic appeal while still feeling new and fresh. Caleb Hawley is one of those special unknowns that you love discovering, and his latest album is definitely worth discovering.
Another 90's success story has returned a little over a decade later to reinvent themselves. Only this time, no reinvention is needed. The boys in the band did a lot of their own stuff (musically) during their hiatus, and that has made their newest record, which they fittingly self titled, a great one. As the guys are older, the music is less about the rock and more about the soul. The album is incredibly lyrics driven, and reaches out to their core fans ina huge way. As their fans have grown, so have they, and although you can head their 90's alternative rock style coming through in many of the tracks on this album, musically the album is more of an accessible disc to fans of all styles of rock. Less big guitars, and more acoustic, Tonic leads the way with the single "Release Me," and showcases exactly how they became huge stars in the 90's. They sure know how to right great pop rock songs, and this new disc is full of them. It could be the second incarnation of their career, but it looks like Tonic has found themselves once again, and picked it all right up where they left off.
For a band that has put in over a decade of touring and writing and recording music, Marah never cease to make their music interesting. Their newest release has them going a little lo-fi and a whole lot stripped down to their roots. The music on the new album is raw and personal, and has a quality that makes the music feel more indie than ever before. Songs like "Valley Farm Song" and "Put 'Em In The Graveyard" fit right in with the band's rootsy and gritty feel, that still has them chanelling greats like Springsteen and Cash. Marah has done it again, and despite the album's lo-fi production quality, the rawness and the truth in the music makes the recording shine.
Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers have lived their life on the road. This digital release (which will be available in physical form at shows this fall) is a testament to that life. Recorded live at Irving Plaza in New York in April 2010, the show was the band's 1000th. It featured the band in their purest of forms, Kellogg as a solo artist and with members of the band, both current and former, on stage performing classic Sixers tracks as well as excellent new ones from their latest studio release. The set opens with a stunning solo performance of "Satisfied Man" and closes with the Kellogg classic "See You Later, See You Soon." The meat in the middle consists of some fan favorites, some lesser known goodies, and the hits. "Thirteen," "Shady Esperanto And The Young Hearts," and "Such A Way" all appear in all their live performance glory. Friends Josh Ritter, Serena Ryder, and Marc Roberge of O.A.R. all lend a hand with the show, appearing on stage for some beautiful guest vocal performances. All in all, Stephen Kellogg proved why 1000 shows later, the band is still going strong and have reached a level that few bands ever get to. Sonically, the album feels just like you are there. There's no doubt that these guys have another thousand shows left in them, and each one is sure to be just as good as this one.
After coming off of a successful third album that featured probably their best song ever recorded ("Spiralling"), Keane are back rather quickly with a new collection of tunes that pick right up where the last album left off. This short set features only eight tracks, but has a few really awesome compositions included in it. Rapper K'naan joins in on the fun on two of the tracks, "Looking Back" and "Stop For A Minute." It's kind of interesting hearing rap music mixed with Keane's Brit pop style, but "Stop For A Minute" wouldn't be as awesome a song if it wasn't for the inclusion of K'naan's lyrics and performance. It is one of Keane's best singles. The opening track is an instrumental and "Back In Time" and "Clear Skies" could have easily found their way onto and fit into any of Keane's other releases. Written, conceptualized, and recorded while touring, this new release by Keane will surely hold us over until they get back into a proper studio and bang out their next album.
Dance music has been made cool again by LCD Soundsystem. This, their third album, is however, less danceable, than their first two from a "party-in-the-club" standpoint. Yet, indie kids will surely be able to get their groove on with these nine tracks. Much like LCD's first two albums the disc is heavy on syncopated rhythms and synthesizers, but this time Jame Murphy & Co.'s lyrics play much more of a heavier role in the music. "Drunk Girls," the album's first single, is an excellent track and reminiscent of the work the band has previously done. The album's true gems are "You Wanted A Hit" which has a bit of an 80's synth pop feel and "Dance Yrself Clean." "One Touch" and "Pow Pow" are also great additions to LCD Soundystem's catalogue. LCD Soundsystem started it all with the indie rock meets dance rock style of music Now that many other bands have jumped on board this wagon, it seems that these guys are still doing it right, making it classic, and bringing us the danceable indie rock music that is uniquely their own.
Keller Williams is an incredibly eclectic singer, songwriter, and musician. He always takes a unique approach at creating music, and this time he has partnered again with the Keels for another bluegrass style album. His first album with the Keels went over quite well, and featured a ton of original tunes. This time, Keller decided the time was right to reinvent a ton of cover songs, ranging from everything from pop to country to alternative rock. The songs chosen span several decades and the artists covered are as eclectic as Williams himself. Standout tracks on the disc include Marcy Playground's "Sex And Candy," Amy Winehouse's "Rehab," and the 90's alternative rock staple "Pepper" by Butthole Surfers. Songs by bluegrass artists Danny Barnes and Yonder Mountain String Band made the album, as well as a somewhat obscure Grateful Dead tune. Rounding out the mix are inclusions of covers by Ryan Adams, Cracker, The Raconteurs, and the Presidents Of The United States Of America. The entire album makes each song sound like a Keller Williams original, which is exactly the end result you want when making a cover album. You recognize the songs, but they sound brand new and super interesting, and Keller & the Keels prove that excellent musicianship will aways make a great album.
Possible one of the most entertaining bands making music today, The Cat Empire are back with a brand new album that has them going to all sorts of new directions with their music. Rooted in world music styles, mostly Reggae and Latin, the entire album twists and turns with a funkiness and darkness that this band has not developed before. There are elements of urban funk and hip hop in the instrumentation, while the vocal delivery by both singers is spot on. The cleverness of their unconventional instrumentation is intriguing, and adds layer upon layer to the music. Their typical fun party band style is still evident on tracks like "Falling," without being too over the top and taking away from the depth of the album." Standouts include "Feeling's Gone" and "On My Way" which will surely be huge hits in the US and their native Australia. The biggest surprise on the album, and a potentially overlooked gem, is "Only Light" which has an almost 70's psychedelic rock feel to it and is vaguely reminiscent of Pink Floyd. The Cat Empire is one of the world's best bands, and they have proven that you don't have to follow the same path or use the same mold as everyone else to be successful and create great music. This album is their most artistic to date and shows off the band's range, ablility, and creativity even more than ever before.
The Silver Seas have an excellent way of combining indie rock with Nashville folk into their own perfect blend of artistry. Their latest is as good as, if not better than, their debut album, and the proof is in the lyrics. The lyrics paint pictures for the listeners, drawing them in, while the music sets the mood and develops a sense of entertainment. The Silver Seas are a rarity in the music world, in that they truly have a way about doing their own thing and being uncompromising with their music. The absolute standout tracks on the album are "Another Bad Night's Sleep" and "The Best Things In Life." This album is sure to gain the band critical recognition, and should turn into a commercial success if given a chance with a mass audience.
Indie rock has never sounded so good. The dark melodies and and moody delivery of the lyrics sets Fanfarlo apart from many indie rock bands on the scene these days. It is reminiscent of Arcade Fire and even a little matt pond PA, as the instrumentation and orchestration of the music is beautifully executed. Songs such as "I'm A Pilot" and "Ghosts" stand out as lyrical masterpieces. Other tracks like the single "Harold T. Wilkins," show how accessible the bands music is, despite the fact they stand out by being different from what is on the radio now. "Fire Escape" and "Luna" are also songs that show off the mastery of their compositions. Fanfarlo is a diamond in the rough, and this album will thoroughly be enjoyed by music fans of any kind.
Trevor Hall has always been a unique soul, but one thing is for sure: the dude can rock. His blend of acoustic folk, spiritual lyrics, and unmatched energy is in full display on his latest live release. This disc contains many of the songs off his most recent self titled album, some of which are being released as live recordings for the first time. The album also featured the three unreleased songs "Sa Re Ga," "Poem," and "Da Lion," which sees a guest appearance of percussionist Leon Mobley of Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals. Highlights of the album include "Origami Crane," "Who You Gonna Turn To" and "Other Ways." Trevor unleashes his live energy to the fullest on "Unity" and "Where's The Love," which also contains lyrical snippets of the songs "Handlebars" by Flobots, "Jerusalem" by Matisyahu, and "Paper Planes" by M.I.A. The fan favorite "The Lime Tree" is one of the best live recordings Hall has ever released, and with this being the fifth release to contain the song, it's hard to escape its awesomeness. Trevor and his band really show off their superior live energy and love for music in each and every song on the album, and this compilation of recordings from his 2009-2010 tour is the next best thing to having been there.
Bronze Radio Return's newest release, their first full length, is a collection of original songs that show off the bands mix of roots rock and indie pop music coupled with their live energy. It is certainly the type of album that is going to get them recognized and bring them out of the shadows. The album is filled with incredible lyrics, and one of the best is the song "Digital Love." Other standouts include "Lo-Fi," It's OK Now," and the album's closer "Stone's Throw Away." The unique vocal style of the singer and the familiar, yet still original, music will not likely have the band being dubbed a carbon copy of any other act out there. BRR definitely follows their own path and their talents are showcased well throughout this album.