Years from now we may look back at Daptone Records as the label that produced the most significant soul music of this time period. And yes, most of the attention comes from the spirited Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. But on the compilation Daptone Gold we're introduced to the many fine artists that call Daptone Records home.
It's hard to imagine any area on the musical spectrum that Bob Dylan hasn't dipped his paintbrush in. But as the days get shorter, and the first of the snowflakes start to fall so does arrive a Christmas record from the man himself, Bob Dylan.
Before you even put on your headphones, there is something mysterious and luring about the debut album from the South London band, The XX. Maybe it's their name, or the simplicity of a plain white "X" that's planted on the black backdrop of their album cover. Whatever it is that draws you in, expect to be met with a haunting album that is clever and ambitious in its simplicity.
Over the course of five albums, the Canadian twins Tegan and Sara have over and over again delivered concise and catchy pop songs. While slightly altering the formula to their sixth album, Sainthood, Tegan and Sara yet again hit the mark with an uncompromising, infectious set of songs.
It's difficult to pinpoint what exactly makes Reservoir, the debut album from the London-based band and XPN's Artist To Watch Fanfarlo, so endearing. Perhaps it's the robust orchestrations or the imaginative storytelling. Regardless, it's hard to believe this is actually the band's first effort. The songs of Reservoir are sweet and melodic, carefully arranged and refreshingly original.
Where soundtracks often miss the mark is in their inability to capture consistency from song to song as an album. Where the new soundtrack to the film The Twilight Saga: New Moon hits the bulls-eye is in its ability to recruit a wealth of musical talent, resulting with a cohesive set of songs in both atmosphere and ambition.
Much has been made of the forthcoming Norah Jones record, The Fall. There've been forewarnings of a "new direction" and a change in the approach from her previous studio efforts. However, before you brace for the unexpected, the reality is that The Fall is not a seismic shift for the sultry songwriter.
They captivated audiences worldwide in the Oscar-winning love story that was the film Once. Now known as The Swell Season, the musical partnership of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova attempt to recapture the hearts of listening audiences with their new record Strict Joy.
What started as a "list" to educate his daughter about the roots of country music has transformed itself into both a tribute to the character of Johnny Cash and an inspired new release from his daughter, Rosanne. Rosanne Cash's new album simply titled The List is more than a just a collection of favorites. It's an insightful look at the musical lineage of one of the great American music families.
Singer-songwriter Joshua James may be more an artist than he is simply a musician. As you listen to his new album, Build Me This, it's evident that his compositions take shape more as musical portraits than just plain songs.
It comes with slight hesitation to say that Brandi Carlile has fully realized her potential on her new album Give Up The Ghost. Her gutsy brand of country-tinged, roots and rock is utterly appealing and her talent undeniable. Yet, as she takes another leap forward on Give Up The Ghost you get the sense that this is a singer-songwriter whose musical well is far from dry.
It's easy to be fooled on Death Won't Send A Letter, the debut full length album from Cory Chisel and his band The Wandering Sons. The singer-songwriter from rural Wisconsin makes a strong first impression. From his confident road-tested vocals to his textured compositions, Chisel sounds more like a veteran performer on his proper debut.
The debut album North Hills, released September 29, 2009, from the local LA quartet and XPN Artist To Watch, Dawes (featuring members of the old Record Collection Simon Dawes) fringes with a blend of classic 70's folk-rock and contemporary embellishments.
Blending their acoustic folk tendencies with an abandon and spirit of a punk rock act, The Avett Brothers grew to prominence due in part to their raucous, high-energy live shows. They've also been prolific writers and road-warriors for nearly 10 years now. And on their major label debut, I And Love And You, which is produced by Rick Rubin, the Avett Brothers propel their irreplaceable brand of folk-rock to a new level.
Over 10 years since the release of White Ladder, the man who brought us "Babylon" returns with arguably his most engaging collection of songs since that 1999 breakthrough album. Draw The Line is the new release from David Gray. The new album was patiently recorded over two years in the North London studio, The Church, which Gray purchased from the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart. A new setting, a new band and a new record label result in a refreshed batch of songs.
Often the hype that precedes an album's release ends up overshadowing the impact of the actual arrival. The announcement of collaboration between My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, M. Ward, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis was sure to leave some expectations unreasonably high. Yet the resulting album from the proclaimed Monsters Of Folk still offers plenty of surprises amongst a wealth of dreamy compositions.
If Joy, the new studio album from Phish, is any indication of what to expect when a band takes an extended breather, perhaps there is a lesson to be learned. Fans relished the band's return to the stage this past year, and will undoubtedly embrace the lively, inspired new studio album that is Joy.
Growing up just outside Detroit, Michigan, Mayer Hawthorne fell in love with the sound of soul music as a kid. Listening to old Motown classics on the radio inspired Hawthorne to not only embark on a music career of his own, but renovate the music he adored with a modern relevancy. On his new album, A Strange Arrangement, Hawthorne strikes that balance between then and now in stunning fashion.
Presently, there is arguably no singer-songwriter that writes songs with as much visual perspective as Ingrid Michaelson. A success story born out of a new generation of fans on MySpace and strategic television placement, Ingrid's cinematic love tales have crossed the ears of millions, whether knowingly or unknowingly. And her second proper full-length album, titled Everybody, has the potential to set the proverbial scene yet again.
On their second full-length release the Providence, Rhode Island band Deer Tick offer a concoction of country, folk and rock. As a follow-up to their acclaimed 2007 debut War Elephant, the new album Born On Flag Day succeeds in capturing the band’s raw and youthful energy.
When you first listen to Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros it's difficult not to be captivated by their revivalist style of jangly folk-rock. It's somewhat striking, an open departure in the current landscape of indie rock. And the band has created a big buzz locally in Los Angeles due in large part to their lively stage shows and their debut album Up From Below.
God Help The Girl is the name of the new project spearheaded and written by Belle & Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch. The narrative of God Help The Girl is scheduled to be produced next year in the form of a musical film, but with the release of this record Murdoch already has his soundtrack ready to go.
Wait For Me, the new release from Moby may have some celebrating a "return to form", but the songs on Wait For Me do more than simply recall his earlier work. Very much in the now, Moby takes back the role of conductor, offering fans a collection of brooding songs unconcerned with demand or destination.
Electric Dirt, the new release from Levon Helm, comes just two years after his Grammy-award winning album Dirt Farmer. And, in an attempt to recapture that magic, Levon again enlists producer Larry Campbell and essentially the same group of players from the Dirt Farmer sessions.
If your desire for that one record that both challenges and inspires you has not yet been satisfied this year, the new album from The Dirty Projectors may be your answer. Bitte Orca offers up a set of songs that defy your usual musical expectations and is overwhelmingly successful.