The Avett Brothers could be one of the best live bands ever. It's true. It's most likely magnified, though, by the fact that this newest live release was recorded in their home state of North Carolina in front of hometown die hard fans. Well, that type of setting always makes for an excellent show, especially when combined with an awesome live band playing a plethera of hits and fan favorites. The disc features every facet of the Avett Brothers and the songs span the length of their career in the spotlight. Recorded about a month before the release of their most recent critically acclaimed studio album, the disc features four of the songs which were yet to be released. "I And Love And You" and "Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise,' two of the Avett's best songs ever get previewed at the show (and would become two hit singles at radio soon after) along with a hard hitting rendition of "Kick Drum Heart" (as part of the encore) and "The Perfect Space." The Avett Brothers leave no stone unturned, even with Seth and Scott performing solo and acoustic. "Murder In The City," "Shame," "Colorshow" and "Paranoia in B Flat Major" are all included and are just as good, if not better, than their studio versions. The DVD companion to the album is the next best thing to being there and is a must have for anyone who wants to truly experience the Avett Brothers live show to the fullest extent in their living room. The Avett Brothers have finally brought everything they've been doing so awesomely to the masses and it's as close to perfection as you can get.
Indie and pop rock music meet at the intersection that is Elizabeth & The Catapult. The new album by the duo is head and shoulders above their debut album. Filled with catchy hooks and lyrically potent music, the new collection of songs features Elizabeth & The Catapult at their best. "You And Me" is the group's defining moment. It is a song that is equal parts accessible and indie gold. It is sure to be the song that catapults (no pun intended) these two into the spotlight. "Time (We All Fall Down)," "Open Book," and the title track are all highlights of and album is just as exciting as a whole as each of its eleven parts. Just as other indie duos have in the past (particularly Matt & Kim), this alum is going to have Elizabeth & The Catapult at the top of everyone's "best of what's next lists" and a handful of these songs are going to wind up on several "best of 2010" charts.
Coming full circle, the latest EP released by Matthew Mayfield features return to rock music. With his new band, The Blue Cut Robbery, Mayfield cranks out some rockers that have not been heard from him since he began writing and recording music as a solo performer. "Swamp," "Shotgun," and "Good Girls" are Matthew Mayfield at the top of his rock game. He translates his folk rock roots and lyricism into pure rock and roll gold, proving that at the core of every great rock musician there is a singer/songwriter. It's doesn't matter the delivery system that is chosen, because Matthew Mayfield has the true makings of a superstar, and the songs on this new EP are proving that point well.
Matthew Mayfeild's "Man-Made Machines" shows elements of his rock and roll past in his folk rock recordings. Although Mayfeild has found new life in creating singer/songwriter music, the rock lives inside him. "A Cycle" and "Safe & Sound" show off hos Mayfield two musical worlds mesh together with precision. Matthew Mayfield is a truely talented musician that has range and depth. Listening to his music, such as on this EP, you can hear the level of emotion in his lyrics and the dedication to the creation of beautiful songs. Hard work and passion have proven to be great qualities of Matthew Mayfield, and with the release of each of his EPs, you get a sense that these principals are what drive the creativity.
This EP continues along the same lines as Mayfield's previous collections. On this EP you can hear the influence of folk fork heroes such as Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and even James Taylor. Mayfield wears his hear on his sleeve throughout each and every song on this EP. "The Last Ride" and "Fire Escape" are two of Matthew's best compositions, showing off his fluidity and ability to mix music and lyrics in a way that transcends typical folk rock delivery. Matthew Mayfield is a warrior in the studio, and unlike many musicians who write and write and shelve many of their tunes never to be heard, Mayfield has involved the listener in the creative process, letting them into his world through his songs and allowing them to hear all the various intricacies.
Matthew Mayfield is a true folk pioneer. The reason he is a pioneer is not because he is doing anything new or exciting that is so different she should be commended. Rather, he is doing something so natural and so well and he is doing it so often that it is uncanny. This EP, just one of many Mayfield has released this year features his signature lyrics in their most raw nature. His subtle delivery and an almost demo-like production showcases the natural side of his music. He is organic and his music is touching. The title track is one of Mayfeild's best and the EP closes with a live performance, featuring Matthew Mayfield is his most important setting.
Bands come around once in a while breaking stereotypes. UK based Mumford & Sons is the newest to take the US by storm, casting aside all notions of what a four piece from across the pond should be. These guys sound like they probably come from the midwest or the south, and they have a folk band quality that is something out of the 50's or 60's. "Little Lion Man" and "The Cave" have traditional folk energy with a bit of an alternative rock skeleton. Using instruments like the banjo and the upright bass are not typical for an indie rock or alternative rock band, but Mumford & Sons do it with grace and ingenuity. The standout on the disc is "Winter Winds" with its sing-song lyrics and blazing horns. Mumford & Sons are a great new band doing something different with their music that has already proven its excellence by landing at the number one spot on many radio playlists across the country.
Sister Hazel are not only road warriors, but they are kick out albums full of hit songs like nobody's business. Their latest has them flirting a bit with country music and making an album that is full of songs that are perfect for a road trip. "Heartland Highway" is as good as anything they've released in the past, if not better. The songs contained within the album they may not be embraced by commercial radio or music television, but they will surely be recognized by countless fans as some of the best written by Sister Hazel. "Great Escape" and "Stay A While" are highlights of the album which will have you fixated on listening from beginning to end, preferably while cruising the open road.
Nick Hornby is a well known and very cutting edge author of such classics as "High Fidelity" and "About A Boy." Both books were turned into movies that featured equally incredible soundtracks. Now, coming full circle, it's time for Nick Hornby the songwriter. Nick coupled with Ben Folds to release this new album featuring the words of Hornby with music written, played, and sung by pop rock superstar Ben Folds. Folds, known for his quirkiness, poignant lyrics, and distinctive piano playing, did Hornby right and turned his lyrics into a musical masterpiece. The entire album sounds like a soundtrack to a Hornby novel, and features some of Folds' best performances since the breakup of Ben Folds Five. "Your Dogs" and "From Above" are the definite album standouts. The bottom line is that Ben and Nick have combined their distinctive and incredible talents to create a musical collection unlike anything released before, and they did it with style.
It's been quite a while since Dexter Freebish graced our ears with new music, but the Texas alternative rock band is back with an incredible new album. The album is filled with hard hitting rockers with an updated modern alternative sound. Alternative rock bands don't always pay incredibly close attention to lyrical content, but Dexter Freebish has always been one that does. Their last few albums were a little bit more subdued, but they come at us hard on this one with music that is both familiar and edgy. Dexter Freebish have reignited themselved with their new album and it seems as if they are back to make a statement.
Kings Of Leon just keep getting better. While their last album still stands strong as their best, their new one comes in a close second. Building on the success of singles "Sex On Fire" and "Use Somebody" the band reinvigorates their arena rock sound, while pulling elements of their first two albums back into the mix. "Back Down South" has an updated southern rock sound that is more My Morning Jacket than the Allman Brothers. "The End" and "The Immortals" rely heavily on syncopated rhythms, ambient bass lines, and incredible rock and roll energy. The first single "Radioactive" is not as hard edged as previous singles, however, it's the biggest rocker in the set. "Pickup Truck" is quite possibly the best album closer released this year. "Beach Side," "Pyro," and "The Face" are all highlights of an album that is sure to hover around the top of the charts for weeks to come and surely make its way onto some best of 2010 lists.
Ever since the creation of Hill Country Revue, an offshoot of the North Mississippi Allstars, it seemed as though it was a new band doing the same thing. That notion is squashed with their latest album which maximizes the rock aspect of their down south country blues. The Dickinsons outdo themselves with their newest release, and songs like the first single "Raise Your Right Hand" are proof positive that the rock and roll is alive and well in the hearts and souls of the members of this band. The biggest treat of them all is that the album closes with a cover version of the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses," which is far and away one of the best Stones covers ever recorded by anyone. Hill Country Revue may just be a secondary incarnation of an idea that started live on stage at Bonnaroo, but the band and the music it cranks out is the real deal and way more than just a side project.
Beau Young hails from down under in Australia and is another one of those surfer/musicians that have been taking the world by storm over the past decade. Beau, however, is not the typical cookie cutter surfing musician. He is a unique soul that utilizes his music not only to entertain,m but to send a message. Sure, he's another guy with a guitar, but his voice sets himself apart. You can hear his native tongue in his inflection and pronunciation which makes his familiar style a bit more exotic to typical acoustic folk fans. It's been almost four years since he last released music, making his new album as anticipated as it is excellent. "48 Shades" and "We Got It Made" are the hands down highlights of the album, and the title track leads off the album with a bang. Beau Young may not be known throughout the world, but that doesn't mean that he should go unnoticed. "One Step At A Time" with surely help to alleviate that.
Joshua Radin has created his best album yet with his newest release. After having obscure success through having his music placed all over television and gaining several high profile celebrity fans, Joshua Radin has now created an album of songs that is sure to catapult his career to the next level. "Streetlight" is classic Radin, emphasizing the lyrics on a bed of simple pop folk music. Several of the songs on the new album feature a bit more production than in the past thanks to working with Martin Terefe (Jason Mraz, James Morrison). Radin gets soulful on the track "You Got What I Need" which has a bit of a Ray LaMontagne flavor. One of the best tracks on the disc is "The Ones With The Light" which combines his excellent lyricism with an upbeat pop vibe, creating a song that may become the cornerstone of the album. Joshua Radin is a unique pop folk artist, and on his newest album he shows off the broad range of his abilities and the best of his talents.
The Alternate Routes have come full circle on their latest studio album. They started out as an independent band, released two albums signed to Vanguard Records, now have returned to their roots with a new independent album. The album showcases the same thing that fans have been loving about the band since they started their career. The combination of incredible lyrics and familiar American rock music is a perfect mix. "Stay" is a standout and is reminiscent of the music from their debut album. "Kiss Me" is an upbeat rocker that shows the evolution of the band across their three studio albums. The Alternate Routes do what they do so well because they love it so much. You can feel and hear the love throughout their entire new album and they have proven that great music truly comes from the soul.
Tyrone Wells has been making music as a solo performer for quite sometimes, receiving incredible success both as an independent and as part of a major label. This new recording finds him teaming up with his wife for a duets album that is just as good as everything he has previously released. The two share writing duties on the album which is full of beautiful music and both heartfelt and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. The title track, "Lucky," and "Until The Sun Burns Out" are three of the standout tracks. One of the lyrical standouts of the album is "The Exhausted Spouse" which calls for a break from the realities of being a husband, wife, and parent. Tyrone and Elina Wells' music is magical and relatable and they have proven that as a team they as beautifully as they do apart.
Matt Costa is one of the most talented musicians creating music these days. His latest proves that point more than either of his first two full length albums. Each album has been different, showcasing everything from pop to folk. The latest, seems like an adventure in time travel. The album is a collection that sounds like much of the pop music that was being released in the early to mid 60's. Influences from everyone from the Beatles to the Beach Boys and everything in between can be heard throughout the entire disc. "Witchcraft," the first single, shows off Matt's new take on pop rock music incredibly well, as well as his lyrical prowess depicting a woman's control over him as if she was casting spells. The most incredible song lyrically is "Painted Face" which tells the story of a clown and how there is always a different side to the performer that we never get to know. "Johnny's Love Of Majik" and "The Season" are also standouts in an album that is full of inventiveness and creativity. No one will ever know what Matt Costa has up his sleeve, and this album definitely sets itself apart from his other music as well as anything else other musicians have recently released.
It's been quite a while since Sara Bareilles broke onto the scene with her incredible debut album. This is the follow up to that album, and although it doesn't match intricacy and intensity of the debut, it's got a whole mess of incredible qualities not seen on that album. On the title track which opens the album Bareilles does her bet Imogen Heap impression, singing the song a capella with the assistance of well produced but not overplayed autotune. The first single "King Of Anything" reminds us that Sara Bareilles and her lyrics are supercharged and full of angst, as well showcasing her incredible hooks. He piano playing is magical on this album, but it's "Basket Case" that shows a different side of Bareilles. On the entire track, Bareilles puts away the piano in order to showcase the vocals and guitar. In the four years since her debut Bareilles has made plenty of guest appearances on her friends' recordings (Joey Ryan, Jay Nash, Tony Lucca), but it's wonderful to her her back behind the mic and piano creating new music. She is currently one of the best young female singer/songwriters making music.
Will Hoge is a master of musical creativity, and with his latest EP he finds himself revisiting some of the tracks that were contained within his most recent studio album. This endeavour, however, doesn't take place in a studio. Instead, it takes place in Hoge's living room. An unlikely place to record music, the living room adds a bit of intrigue to the music in the form of rawness. It's as if you are sitting there with Hoge as he performs for you. The most exciting of the revisited tracks is of the song "Even If It Breaks Your Heart" which takes an almost Storytellers or Unplugged take on a rocking classic. This acoustic version really sets itsels apart from the original and the rest of the EP, as it is the only song that finds itself this far from the original recording. Also included in the disc is a version of the Hoge classic "All Night Long," which is the only track not featured on Hoge's last album. Will Hoge makes music for music lovers and the EP is Hoge at his best, reinventing himself and his music, while remaining true to his core.
This new album is a huge step up from her debut album. Brooke Fraser has hit it out of the park with her new album, combining simple pop music with clever lyrics, relatable content, and outstanding instrumentation. The album starts off with "Something In The Water," and upbeat poppy love song that could be her defining moment. The two songs, however, that define the album are right in the middle of the mix. "Coachella" and "Jack Kerouac" are unconventional, catchy, and make the album fun and exciting. Aqualung makes a guest appearance on "Who Are We Fooling" adding yet another layer. Brooke Fraser is a talented young artist that comes into her own on her new disc, making an incredible name for herself in the process.
New music out today worth checking out:
- The Alternate Routes - Lately
- Badly Drawn Boy - It's What I'm Thinking: Photographing Snowflakes
- Brooke Fraser - Flags
- Hill Country Revue - Zebra Ranch
- Will Hoge - The Living Room Sessions
- Mutemath - Armistice Live
- Old 97's - The Grand Theatre, Volume 1
- Pepper - Stitches
- Joshua Radin - The Rock & The Tide
- Sister Hazel - Heartland Highway
Reggae from north of the border is a different kind of thing altogether. It's a long way from Jamaica to Canada, but for the music of Bedouin Soundclash, the distance isn't all that great at all. The band's fourth album is one of their most creative yet. It's not an album full of straight funky reggae music. In fact there is a lot more worldly influence that just reggae. The album starts off with "Mountain Top," which, along with being the album's hand down standout, is the song that most closely resembles their previous work. Just as in their previous album, The Police can be heard as a pretty heavy influence. There are also similarities to mid-90's Duran Duran and even the song "Elongo" somewhat parallels Toto's "Africa." "Fools Tattoo" is another great track, showing off the band's signature reggae rock. This new disc is a progression of the band's evolution combined with elements of singer Jay Malinowski's adventurous solo album. Bedouin Soundclash are an unmatched talent in the music world, and with each album they grow and branch out, creating new and exciting tunes that sound like they're straight out of the Caribbean.
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As the lead singer of the hugely successful British pop band Travis, Fran Healy has become synonymous with Travis' signature sound. Always compared to other British bands like Oasis, Snow Patrol, and Coldplay, Travis still managed to carve out a little niche of their own. That all being said, Fran Healy has decided to give a solo album a shot. You might think it's just another Travis album, as many lead singers tend to continue down the same path they were already on, but this album is nothing like the music Travis put out. Healy has really put together a stellar singer/songwriter disc, with emphasis on the lyrics and the personal connection to the music and the listener. The album is full of great songs, some of which are surely going to become hits, both in the UK and US. "Buttercups" is the first single, and bares the closest resemblance to a Travis song. Paul McCartney (yes, the Beatle) plays bass on "As It Comes" and Healy duets with Neko Case on "Sing Me To Sleep," both of which are album standouts. Other songs like "Anything" and "Holiday" are perfect compositions showing off Healy's solo talents to the max. Fran Healy has proven that he is a major part of Travis' success, and now he's out to prove he can do it all again on his own.
Although it's only four songs long, the debut self titled EP by James Vincent McMorrow is excellent. He already released a full length album overseas, but this EP is his arrival stateside, and he makes quite a name for himself. Landing somewhere between Bon Iver and Damien Rice, the Irish singer/songwriter uses vivid imagery and cunning delivery, showcasing all of his talents in just a brief amount of time. "If I Had A Boat" is sure to turn heads and "We Don't Eat" is McMorrow performing at his best. His mellow indie style and folk energy is purely beautiful. The other two tracks on the EP are just demos, hopefully to get the full studio treatment with the release of a full length album in the not-too-distant future. James Vincent McMorrow is the newest sensation to make the trip across the pond, and despite just the tease we get from his debut, he's going to to be huge.
Th soulful stylings of Nathan Angelo continue on his newest EP. Angelo enlisted a few friends to assist in producing the album, Andy Davis and David LaBruyere, both of whom lent their musical talents as well. The songs contained within are excellent displays of musicality and lyricism. Highlights of the album include "I Need A Woman" and "Brighter Day." Angelo's piano driven pop is just what the doctor ordered, and this collection of tunes shows off the playfulness and sincerity in his music.
Recorded live at this summer's Life Is Good festival in Massachusetts, Jason Mraz's new digital EP is exactly what you'd expect. It's full of high energy music with Mraz's signature delivery. The horn section is in full effect throughout the entire disc, which featured 4 unreleased songs. The EP leads off with "Freedom Song," which is actually a cover of a song by California indie band Luc & The Lovingtons. It sounds like a song that Mraz would have written himself, so it's no wonder he's decided to add it to his arsenal. "San Disco Reggaefornia" and "Up" are two more of the new tunes, showing off his high energy body moving music as well as his fun-loving lyrics. "What Mama Say" is a song that is reminiscent of his first album, showing off his mastery of wordplay and quick lyrical delivery. It is a tongue-in-cheek ditty about all of the stuff you mother told you to do, not do, and always remember. The EP finishes off with "Coyotes," a song from Mraz's last studio album. Jason Mraz is a true performer, and as has been seen on his previous live releases, he sure knows how to do it up. This continues to be the next best thing to seeing him live, and for true Mraz fans getting a taste of new tunes in the form of live performances without having to be at the show is a treat.
Once in a while a band comes along that amazes you right off the bat. The Black Angels are that type of band. They combine elements of several different styles and eras of rock music to create a sound that, although it can be compared to others, is as unique as it gets. For starters, if you were to describe your first initial impression you might say that the sound is somewhere between the Doors and early 60's Beatles. Now those two bands have very distinctive sounds, and you can hear influences of both throughout the Black Angels' newest album. It might even sound like these guys are a lost piece of the British Invasion, but they are actually from Austin, Texas. For a modern day comparison, mid-90's Dandy Warhols might be as close as you get. The bottom line is psychedelia is alive and well, and showcased perfectly on the first single, "Telephone." The energy of the album is great, and you get a sense that the band is as artistic as they are musically talented. This album is like taking a rock and roll history lesson and wrapping it up in just ten songs.