This is not your grandma's jazz music. Trombone Shorty takes jazz and mixes it with a whole lot of funk on his newest album, showing off his brass instrument in ways that it has never been showcased before. It's always fun to hear music that is out of the ordinary. And, even though the style of music that you get from this album is familiar and accessible, it's the fact that Trombone Shorty is the purveyor causes all the excitement. Lenny Kravitz and New Orleans' own Marc Broussard lend their vocal abilities to a few of the tracks, adding a bit of rock and roll into the funky mix. Firing on all cylinders, the entire album hits hard from end to end in a fury of fantastic horn madness and proves that even a trombone can rock as hard as any instrument.
My Morning Jacket's guitarist Carl Broemel has branched out on his own for the second time, this time releasing an incredibly mellow folk album on ATO Records. Broemel, known for his classic rock style guitar riffs with MMJ has taken a huge left turn with this album showing off his inner Bob Dylan. Broemel, a master of many instruments, almost performs every single musical part in each song. "Carried Away" and "Life Leftover" are lyrically poetic. Elements of jazz and classic 50's era pop are sprinkled throughout the midwest folk compositions making for a collection of music that is unlike any other recently released folk recording. "Enough" is probably the most interesting recording on the disc, combining modern synth beats with old school folk. The album sounds both new and classic at the same time and Carl Broemel definitely can have a solo career if something horrible happens and MMJ calls it quits.
Not enough can be said about The Romany Rye. The fact that his music is not more widely available, though, is a huge issue since it is some of the best indie folk rock recorded in recent years. While everyone has been digging on Edward Sharpe, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, and fellow tourmates Dawes, The Romany Rye has been quietly living in the shadows. His debut album, although short, is full of powerful songs that are both lyrically beautiful and sonically powerful. The opening track "Brother" sets the tone for the entire album and shows off how The Romany Rye's delivery of the music can really take your breath away. "Dear Holly" and "Old Soul" follow, further dragging you deeper into his musical world. The Romany Rye is certainly destined for wide critical praise and should rightfully receive it. The music contained within this debut album is hands down awesome and upon first listen everyone will become an instant fan.
Arman Srsa is a bit of an international mutt. He was born in Croatia, raised in South Africa, and recorded his new album in Argentina, a place he currently calls home. That all being said, it's hard, from his music, to really decipher where he is from, being that it sounds a whole lot like much of the mellow indie and folk rock being released by bands from the US, UK, and Australia. Regardless of where the music comes from, or sounds like it comes from, it's still pretty darn good. It mixed typical mellow folk similar to Jack Johnson with acoustic reggae for a unique twist on a familiar sound. Fans of Jack Johnson will love the similarities of Srsa's music, particularly on "Shine On Me" and "Trouble All Around," which are two of the album's best tracks. The Bob Marley fan will fall deeply in love with "Passer By" with is mellow reggae vibe and summery feel. Arman Srsa is a great unknown talent that is sure to gain tons of fans once their ears take in this album.
Being that this is Mason's first widely available live album, it's pretty awesome. The album features a live performance from the tour Jennings went in support of the release of his last studio release "Blood Of Man." The set is heavy on tracks from that album, but also features a few classic Mason Jennings songs from older albums. Some of the highlights of the album include the heavy rockers "Ain't No Friend Of Mine" and "Be Here Now," as well as the stirring and emotional tracks "Black Wind Blowing" and "The Field." Mason also shines during performances of the subtle classics "Ballad For My One True Love" and "Rebecca DeVille." His interaction with the crowd showcases just what an excellent and down-to-Earth performer he is and the fact that the performance was in his home state of Minnesota makes the performance extra special for Mason and the crowd. The album features thee unreleased songs as well, "Born," "Lonely Computer Screen," and "Grow Old With Me." "Born" could have easily found its way onto any of Mason's albums and the other two tracks are beautifully performed by Mason solo with just his acoustic guitar. "Godless," a gem from his first album closes out the set and bridges the entire performance from then until now. Many of his fan favorites and radio singles are missing from the performance, but if he found time to include them all, he'd need about a 4 hour show and probably have to release it as a box set. Mason's live versions of his songs are very similar to his studio recordings, so the fun is in experiencing them live on stage. This is the closest most will get and it's a great representation of what it's like to be there,
Florida swamp funk is not the kind of music you hear a whole lot of these days. That's why J.J. Grey & Mofro are an essential part of the music world. Grey combine funk and soul with country and blues for a distinctive sound that no other band is playing. Their fourth album, possible their most accessible yet, is a testament to this style of music, showing off all facets of Grey's musical talents and influences, and even a few new ones. Jam band guitar virtuoso Derek Trucks lends his talents on slide guitar to the album's closer. Toots Hibbert (of Toots & The Maytals) shares vocal duties on the album's first single "The Sweetest Thing," which is one of Mofro's best songs. You'd think that with Toots singing that the song would have a reggae vibe, but it actually doesn't. It's a very soulful, horn-driven tune that is perfect for a sunny day. J.J. Grey shows off his acoustic guitar skills in a big way on the song "King Hummingbird" and rocks pretty heavily on the blues and funk filled "The Hottest Spot In Hell." J.J. Grey & Mofro are one of those anomalies in the music industry today. They are a band who does their own thing, conforms for no one, and puts out great records that fans love and this album displays all of that and then some
The Dandy Warhols are one of those underappreciated rock band that make hit records but fade away in between. That doesn't mean that they aren't an excellent band, it just means they get in, get it done, and get out. With each of their album they have reinvented themselves while expanding their very distinctive sound. They mix the charm of an indie rock band with the psychedelia of 70's synth rockers, and the angst of grunge era alternative rock music. This collection features most of their best songs released as early as 15 years ago. You'll fine their hits like "Bohemian Like You," "We Used To Be Friends," and the song that helped them break out, "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth." The album also features some of the music that their fans came to love but didn't receive as much commercial appeal such as "Godless," "Get Off," and "Boys Better." They've also included an unreleased track "This Is The Tide," which fits right into the collection as it could have been included on any of their albums. Greatest hits collections can often define the end of a career for a band, but for The Dandy Warhols, it's more of a "here's what we've been doing, wait here while we do some more" kind of vibe and it it's a must have for any fan if the band and modern alternative rock music.
Jess Harris became well known as the Grammy award winning songwriter of the Norah Jones hit single "Don't Know Why." But, what many people don't know is that Jesse Harris is an incredible musician on his own, and he has released eight excellent albums of his own music. This latest album, the first in a double album release, shows off his jazz roots with light pop music that is full of soul. "Tough As Water" and "Put It Out Of Your Mind" are the album's standout tracks. The entire collection of music is so incredibly natural and organic and is the true mark of a superior songwriter. Not only are the lyrics magical and poetic, but they are sung over a backdrop of music that is beautifully written and performed. With this album, coupled with the pending release of a fully instrumental album, Jesse Harris is showing the world why his Grammy award is the real deal, and with or without Norah, he would have won one eventually.
New music out today worth checking out:
- The Dandy Warhols - The Capitol Years 1995-2007
- J.J. Grey & Mofro - Georgia Warhorse
- Jesse Harris - Through The Night
- Mason Jennings - Live At First Ave.
- Ra Ra Riot - The Orchard
"Foundling" is not a b-sides album. What "Foundling" has become is a collection of reinterpreted tracks from David Gray's extensive songwriting history that he felt the world finally needed to hear. He recently decided to get back into the studio and give many of these songs new life, some songs having been born right out of soundcheck jams. Other songs he felt just needed a little love via some vocals and piano. The blues of the title track and the jazz elements of "We Could Fall In Love Again Tonight" show off the album's twist from Gray's signature folk style. Although, the album is heavy on Gray standards, it features a lot less commercial friendly tracks than usual, making for an interesting mix that is straight from his soul. The oldest song of the album is a reworking of "A New Day At Midnight" which is actually where the name of David's critically acclaimed 2002 album came from. The song didn't make it to that album but finds itself right at home here. The first single from this album is "A Moment Changes Everything" actually strangely comes from the bonus disc. The fact that the last track on the bonus disc is the first single shows the lack of commercialism of the entire album, with is one of the more appealing qualities of this collection of music. David Gray has come a long way since "White Ladder" but one this has remained true: his unmatched songwriting and delivery is as perfect now as it was then.
The master of the pedal steel, Robert Randolph, has release his third album and has returned, slightly, to his roots as a musician. The album is incredibly heavy on the influence of gospel and soul music, and for this rocker, it's a bit of a departure from the sound of his first to studio albums. Also, this album is heavy on cover songs, with Randolph & band taking on songs by Bob Dylan, Prince, and John Lennon. In fact, Lennon's "I Don't Want To Be A Soldier Mama" is one of the standout songs from this album. Randolph only co-wrote four of the tracks on this album, and one in particular is one of Randolph's best released songs. Featuring Ben Harper on guitar and vocals, "If I Had My Way," is an excellent combination of heavy guitar rock and gospel influenced blues which is the closest bridge to Robert Randolph's previous work. On this album the Family Band also plays a much larger role as many of the tracks feature Lanesha Randolph and Danyel Morgan on vocals. This T-Bone Burnett produced album is certainly a great one and really showcases Randolph's pedal steel mastery and unique mix of rock, gospel, soul and blues.
Every now and again a musician comes along and surprises listeners with their incredible songs and music. That such musician is Lissie, and her debut full length album is full of excellent tracks. Produced by a handful of big names including Jaquire King (Kings Of Leon) and Bill Reynolds (Band Of Horses), each song takes on a bit of the producers signature style and a whole life of their own. The album's first single "In Sleep" is easily one of the ten best songs of 2010 and the guitar solo at the end of the song is unlike anything heard on an indie rock recording. "Cuckoo" and "When I'm Alone" are a couple of the other standouts, however, each song on the album can stand alone as a great song. Lissie is truly the next big thing, and her blend of indie, classic, southern, and alternative rock styles is both interesting and outstanding.
The mellow soul master is back, and this time he's brought his friends along for the ride. Self producing this latest album, Ray LaMontange formed an essential backing band called The Pariah Dogs which features some of the best in the business. The album pretty much stays along the standard format that Ray is used to, with a bit more classic rock and country music influence throughout. The most exciting track on the album is the lead off song "Repo Man," which features a bit of funkiness not heard in LaMontagne's music on any of his previous three albums. Of the ten tracks, seven feature Ray's signature deep soul vocals over a bed of mellow acoustic driven soundtrack. The first single "Beg, Steal, Or Borrow" is an instant LaMontagne classic, and will most likely go down as one of his best written. "For The Summer" and "Like Rock & Roll And Radio" are also incredible songs that are sure to become instant fan favorites. This new DIY approach to music that LaMontagne & Co. have taken on this album makes the music much more organic, proving that LaMontagne is one of this generations best songwriters and performers.
Although he just recently released his debut album, Matt Hires has decided to grace us with a few new tunes to keep our cravings at a minimum until his next full length release. This EP features a reinterpreted version of his hit single (and downright awesome song) "Honey, Let Me Sing You A Song," which falls somewhere between the studio version from his debut album and an acoustic performance of the song. The original version also appears on the EP. This digital only release also features two brand new songs, the title track "A To B" and "Rock N' Roll Heart," both of which could have easily found themselves on the debut. These songs are the epitome of pop rock music and are exactly the style you'd expect from Hires. Nothing outrageously inventive, but nothing incredibly run-of-the-mill either, Matt's new tunes could play on the radio, but could very well become just a few fan favorites that only the die hards fall in love with. Either way, Matt Hires has proven that his debut album and the beauty of it was not a fluke and he can match its excellence with subsequent releases, even if they are only a few songs long.
Florida musician Roy Jay has returned with his second album, this time featuring more of a classic rock and blues influence array of songs. His debut album had him pegged as a Bob Dylan-meets-Jimmy Buffet style singer/songwriter because of his excellent combination of folk and island styles of music. On his latest, Roy has continued his fun loving attitude and added a bit more substance to the music in the way of some excellent funky horns and killer bluesy guitar riffs. He gets a little help from some of his indie friends and both Tony Lucca and Joey Ryan collaborate by co-writing and singing on some tracks. His backing band also features some well known musicians such as the Rob Wasserman, the Counting Crows' David Immergluck, and Chris Seefried, who also produced this album. "Love Seed Mama Jump" and "Movin' On" are two awesomely funky tracks. On "Fatal Mistake" you are truly introduced to Roy Jay's bridge from his first album to this one as the sound is familiarly folksy but still retains some elements of roots and blues rock. The lyrically best song on the album is "John Brown" and shows off Roy's inner Dylan. Roy Jay's latest is a definite musical masterpiece of fun, sun, and roots rock.
This creative new EP from Trent Hancock is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise cloudy world of singer/songwriter music. Only six tracks long, he manages to cram in an show off each of his many talents as a songwriter and performer as well as all of his different influences. The song "Zale" is one of the most beautiful indie songs recently written. The EP, which was produced by Andrew Williams and Mikal Blue (known for his work with Colbie Caillat and Jason Reeves), is as good as any full length album and leave the listener satisfied and excited for Hancock to release more music.
New music out today worth checking out:
- David Gray - Foundling
- Matt Hires - A To B
- Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs - God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise
- Lissie - Catching A Tiger
They say "the west coast is the best coast" but in this group's case, Best Coast is the west coast. The entire album is light and airy indie rock music that transports you right to the coast of California. It's old school indie vibe is incredibly similar to the work of She & Him, but the music seems to me much more gritty and less poppy. At times the vibes of 50's era pop shine through the music and in other places on the album you can hear elements that remind you of no one else. "Boyfriend" could be Summer 2010's best song. The title track and "Summer Mood" are also two of the album's best tracks. Best Coast is truly great new band that is making music that is unmatched in its special blend of uniqueness and excellence.
Without the burden of a major recording contract, making music can be fun, sound great, and define you as a band. Ingram Hill has come full circle from being an unknown indie band, to a major label standout, back to an indie band, only this time people know who they are and really want to hear their new stuff. Well, the wait is over, and "Look Your Best" has the band looking their best with some of their best tunes since before anyone cared who they were. "As Long As I'm With You," the album's lead single, could be the band's best song since the original indie release of "Will I Ever Make It Home." "Ready For The Sun" is another of the album's standout tracks. The band has outdone themselves and have proven that making great music is the core of who they are. They have proven that the band they always were is the band that they still are, and the music industry certainly didn't get in the way of the music.
The jam band world wouldn't be the same without a lot of things, one of them being the presence of The String Cheese Incident. Since announcing they'd go on a bit of a hiatus, Kyle Hollingsworth, the band's keyboardist, decided to get into the studio to lay down some tracks for his second solo release. The album is a bit of a departure from his day job, but the music still has the same elements and qualities of what makes great jam band rock. Of course, the album is keyboard heavy, and the production quality is a bit more than just organic, but that is what make it great. He has decided not to make a SCI album, and that makes for an interesting take on his own personal style, influences, and experiences. The album is full of genre bending with elements of jazz, pop, hip hop, and rock sprinkled throughout, making for and interesting and musical journey. Hollingsworth still can't forget his musical roots, and this solo release showcases just how necessary he is as a member of SCI and how excellent a musician he can be on his own.
Amy Kuney is a lesser known singer/songwriter that is beginning to make a name for herself in the indie world. Her newest release, a full length album that features ten originals, is a beautiful collection of music showing off both her talents in songwriting and performance. "Simple Things" is probably the best on the album, however each song has it's own level of greatness. She even gets a little help on the song "Time Machine" from her friend and fellow singer/songwriter Ari Hest, repaying the favor of guest appearing on his last album. The music is beautiful and listeners will get lost in its subtleties and intricacies. She is truly a talent to keep your eye on, as she will surely continue to turn heads and gain fans in the years to come.
Operation Aloha is a bit of a supergroup, comprised of members from Gomez, Phantom Planet, and Maroon 5. The guys all got together, being that they are all friends, and decided to make sweet music while on the island of Hawaii together. The result is an outstanding album that combines original tunes with some of the band members' previously released music, all done in a traditional Hawaiian musical style. The best song on the album is "Failure" which previously appeared on Ian Ball's (of Gomez) solo release. The version featured here makes the song even better by adding the Hawaiian elements and the musicality of all of his friends. Overall, the album is a success, creating more of a feeling and an energy than a collection of music. Hopefully this won't be a one time thing, but who knows. At least we still get to bask in their sunshine.
Sleeperstar have returned with their best album to date. "Just Another Ghost" is the definition of what it is to make a great rock record. It won't be long before alternative rock radio station are picking up this album and adding its songs to their heavy rotation. And, despite the album's excellence, Sleeperstar remains unsigned and put the disc out all on their own. Recycling older songs like "Texas Rain" and "Disengage" (their best song period) and combing them with newer standouts like "We Go Tonight (Say It Again)" and "Only Human" is the perfect formula for making the album that is going to get you recognized by exponentially more fans than before, not to mention all the major labels. "We Go Tonight" and "Disengage" have the makings of superstar rock records and will hopefully find themselves atop airplay charts in the not-too-distant future. Sleeperstar have proven that they are the real deal and can rub shoulders with the best around, and this album is as good as anything that any alt-rock band has put out as of late.
After breaking onto the scene as a result of his inclusion on the soundtrack for the hugely successful and excellent independent movie "Garden State," Cary Brother has not turned back. He has released a slew of incredible albums and EPs and this newest effort is just as good as the rest. The album's lead single "Ghost Town" is a lyrical gem and proves why Zach Braff chose to include him on his film's soundtrack. Other standout songs are "Break Off The Bough," "Over & Out," and the album's title track. One of the coolest track on the album is the cover of obscure 80's song "Something About You," which fans of 80's music will instantly recognize and all Cary Brothers fans will mistake for one of his awesome originals. Truly and excellent collection of tunes, at only 10 tracks long, leaves fans satisfied and craving more all at the same time.
The duo of Dave Lowensohn and Micha Chellam have been around for quite a while releasing independent music whenever they can. Their latest album is called "Indifferent Cities" and each of the song titles is a place somewhere in the world. It's a clever look at songwriting, and SWLCC is always known for their creativity when it comes to delivering their signature acoustic pop. The album is playful and at times can be compared to something a band like Guster might have released a decade ago. "Hanoi" and "Santa Monica" are the album's standout cities, but each song shows off the true talents of each of its members. The album is an excellent addition to the band's already impressive catalogue of indie music.
Musket is a new side project from Eric Lyman of the band Slackstring, and featured a completely different sound that we are used to hearing from him. Musket is a band that is more on the indie side of things, stepping away from the usual SoCal acoustic laid back vibe that Lyman's other band is known for. Pro surfer Brad Gerlach is also a member of the band. The music is hard to describe, as it draws its elements from all different styles of rock music. It's got a hard edge at times and at other times is as mellow as it gets, but in each song it's the musical guitars and drums that shine. It's the kind of music you'd hear in action sports videos for things like skateboarding and surfing. Musket may not turn out to be the next great rock sensation, but their music is awesome and it's nice to hear a different side of southern California.
It's not often a promising young band releases as stellar a debut as Elmwood's. Poised to be part of the next generation of great live rock bands, Elmwood is beginning their journey following in the footsteps of bands like Dave Matthews Band, O.A.R., and Virginia Coalition. They have harnessed the musicality of each of the members of the band, combining their talents and efforts for a debut album that will have them selling out stadiums in the future. A music of shorter pop tunes and longer jams is the perfect combination, and songs like the title track and "Night Caper" are sure to make any listener an instant fan. There's only up from here, and Elmwood have found their springboard to catapult them to the next level.
The world may seem to be saturated by female singer/songwriters who are seemingly doing the same thing. But, the fact remains, that it just so happens that the ladies are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Tristan Prettyman, Sara Bareilles, and Colbie Caillat have all reaped the rewards of this and now Dawn Mitschele is here to claim a piece of the pie for her self. Her latest release is a collection of mellow and heartfelt tunes that are anchored by her incredibly subdued vocals. Her songs "Float Like A Feather" and "Dominoes" are reinterpretations of previously released songs, and on this album they have become some of the highlights. Her lead track "Water" is a lyrical masterpiece and the album's key track. She can be somewhat labeled the feminine answer to Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson, but her music is so unique it's hard to compare or categorize her. Dawn is one to watch as the women of the music world take join the boys at the top.