Wendell and Sherman Holmes, and Popsy Dixon have been playing their funkified and gospel inspired blues and R&B since the Sixties and released their first album in 1989 on Rounder Records. In The Spirit was an instant classic, showcasing their tight rhythm playing and vocal harmonies. Early supporters included Peter Gabriel and Van Morrison, while Joan Osborne produced their last album and hired them as her backing band in 1997. It has taken them almost a quarter of a century, but now The Holmes Brothers are internationally acclaimed performers.
Hailing from Taunton, Massacheusetts – South of Boston – the three piece band Wheat formed in 1997 and released their first two albums on the Chicago-based independent label Sugarfree. Wheat is made up of singer/guitarist Scott Levesque, drummer Brendan Harney and guitarist Ricky Brennan.
The soundtrack to the Civil War film Cold Mountain is a collection of old-timey traditional country, folk, blues and gospel music in the same vein as the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou. Produced by the extraordinary T-Bone Burnett whose work as producer of 'O Brother' has equal import to his work with Counting Crows, Wallflowers and other pop bands, Cold Mountain is a slightly darker, more bucolic first cousin to O Brother.
Sweetheart is an excellent collection of covers of love songs featuring many favorite XPN artists. Recorded especially for this collection, it includes a mix of classic love songs and more recent tunes.
The Scottish indie-pop band Belle & Sebastian have been critic’s darlings and since the mid-Nineties have released a handful of adventurous, whimsical albums influenced by folk-rock and 60’s pop. Led by guitarist and vocalist Stuart Murdoch, roots of Belle & Sebastian’s “twee-pop” can be traced back to the jangly-pop punk of The Smiths, The Go-Betweens, Orange Juice, and the enigmatic British singer/songwriter Felt. Today, Belle & Sebastian’s colleagues include bands like Stereolab, the High Llamas, Elliot Smith (RIP), even Nashville’s eccentric Lambchop.
Beneath These Fireworks is singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson’s sixth album in ten years. Born in Massachusetts and based in San Francisco, Nathanson has built a loyal and impassioned grassroots following over the last few years.
Comparisons to John Mayer, Howie Day and Jason Mraz notwithstanding, Nathanson has his own completely unique musical identity that includes a live show that literally has him taking unsuspecting audiences by storm. He knows how to entertain, and his performances take his recorded songs to a completely intense level.
Every year around the December holiday time, it seems that almost every musician releases a Christmas album or single. Some have stood the test of time, others seem like a commercial cash-in on the emotions and meaning of the holidays.
If there’s ever a band moved by the true spirit of Christmas, it is the Blind Boys of Alabama – one of the greatest gospel groups of our time.
After his reign of the R&B and pop charts in the 70’s with classics like “I’m Still In Love With You,” “Let’s Stay Together,” “Tired of Being Alone,” and “Here I Am,” Al Green decided to join the ministry and by the 1980’s was only releasing Gospel records and has been primarily been a religious performer since then.
David Dye, host of the World Cafe says it best: "This is the best World Cafe CD yet." And on the CD, David and the World Cafe staff present 17 of the most incredible live performances recorded exclusively for the national syndicated show. Train, Steve Winwood, Phil Roy, Daniel Lanois, Ben Harper, Los Lonely Boys, John Eddie, Alexi Murdoch, Rosanne Cash, Joe Jackson, Pete Yorn, Amy Rigby, Azam Ali, Damien Rice, Mark Knopfler, Richard Thompson and Ziggy Marley make the all-star cut on this all-star edition, Three Flights Up.
An understated gem, Josh Ritter’s second album Hello Starling is an album not to be missed this year.First listens to this Idaho-born singer-songwriter will reveal touchstones as familiar as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, even Tim Hardin.
When Ryan Adams’ first band Whiskeytown debuted in the mid-Nineties they were one of the few “alt-country” bands that critics and fans of the genre felt could break through to mainstream success. Truth is however, while Whiskeytown was a critical success, creatively that had as much to do with “country” music as the Eagles did during their prime. If anything, Adams established himself as an excellent songwriter with a variety of influences, country music being just one of them.