Some quick history: In 1993 the seminal alternative-country band Uncle Tupelo broke up due to differences between their co-leaders. Jeff Tweedy went on to form Wilco, and Jay Farrar went on to form Son Volt - the more traditional leaning of the two bands that resulted from the split.
The charismatic and charming Erin McKeown first came to XPN listeners’ attention five years ago with her debut album, Distillation, a collection of quirky, folksy songs infused by her passion for jazz and blues. Since then, McKeown has greatly matured and on her new album she continues to create a singular sound unbound by genre restrictions.
John Hiatt is a consummate singer-songwriter who has long been a core artist on XPN. On Master Of Disaster Hiatt teams with legendary Memphis producer Jim Dickinson and his sons Luther and Cody of the North Mississippi All Stars and bassist David Hood who for years played with the Muscle Shoals studio collective.
One of the highlights of this year's All About The Music Festival will be Mike Doughty's Band. Mike and his band perform on Saturday July 23. This week, XPN will go deep in to his new record to showcase the many sides of an incredibly talented artist.
Vocalist Lizz Wright was introduced to XPN listeners in 2003 when she released her debut album, Salt. With an eclectic mix of traditional jazz, R&B and soul/folk, Wright’s sultry vocals and warm, organic songs quickly won fans around the world with Salt's release and Lizz’s dazzling live performances. Salt was an XPN Featured Album of the week in June of '03, and came in at no. 21 in the Top 50 Countdown that same year.
Many curious music fans want to know: Can Coldplay do it again? Can they follow-up their masterful 2002 release with a collection of songs as good as, if not better than A Rush Of Blood To The Head? The answer is yes - X&Y has many of the musical Coldplay-isms in place to make this their best record yet.
Ever since jazz guitarist John Scofield was a kid, the music of Ray Charles had a significant influence on him. So when Verve Records’ President Ron Goldstone approached Scofield with the idea of doing a tribute album to Charles, Scofield was game.
The Austin, Texas based originated in 1994 and released their first full length album in '96 on the indie label, Matador Records. Following an ill-timed move to a major label in 1998 the band left Elektra Records and returned to Merge Records, another vital indie-rock label which Spoon has called their home since.
Is the former Led Zep front man still vital after all these years? You bet. With his band The Strange Sensation (including musicians who have performed and collaborated with Massive Attack, Portishead, Jah Wobble and Roni Size), Plant has delivered the best of his now eight solo album catalogue.
Cold Roses, the new double album from Ryan Adams, is probably very much the record that his hardcore fans have been waiting for him to make since his days with Whiskeytown. But since his 2000 collection of rustic Dylan-esque songs on Heartbreaker, alt-country rocker Ryan Adams made a nod towards his love for Morrissey and Brit-rock on 2003’s Rock N Roll and was followed by the dark double Love Is Hell (Parts 1 and 2). Now he returns with the 18 song Cold Roses. Writing for amazon.com, music critic Don McLeese sums up Roses succinctly: “This double-disc gem delineates the possibilities of alt-country in 2005 while transcending the limitations typically associated with the genre.”
Aimee Mann returns with her fifth solo album, The Forgotten Arm, a "concept album," that loosely tells the story of John and Caroline as they meet, fall in love and road trip across the country together. On her web site, Mann tells the story of these two lovers. "The guy's a Vietnam vet and a boxer, but he's also a drug addict, and she's trying to get away from the dead end world where she lives in the South.
Three years after his post 9/11 inspired rock record The Rising , and the incredible tour that followed with the E Street Band, the Boss returns with a sparse, folk and country inspired collection of songs. Many of these songs were written in 1997 on the road during Springsteen's solo The Ghost Of Tom Joad tour, and were intended to be a follow-up to Springsteen's 1995 John Steinbeck-inspired acoustic record.
Fair & Square is singer-songwriter John Prine's first album of original material in nine years and comes after his recovery from a bout with cancer. His last studio album was the Grammy-nominated Lost Dogs & Mixed Blessings. It included some classic Prine stories - "New Train," "Ain't Hurtin' Nobody," "Humidity Built The Snowman," and continued to showcase an American icon at the top of his game and craft - some thirty years after his brilliant 1971 debut that included songs like "Angel From Montgomery," "Sam Stone," and "Hello In There."
With bossa nova beats, trip-hop, Jamaican dub, and world grooves galore, the Washington DC based DJ duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton are back with The Cosmic Game, their fourth record. Since the mid-90's Hilton and Garza have created their own flourishing cultural cottage industry with their own record label and a niteclub, restaurant and bar in Washington, DC. Starting out as DJ's catering to fans or rare-groove and acid-jazz music, they broadened their sound to include an ecelctic mix of groove and ambient genres of music. The Cosmic Game is their finest studio record yet.
South California native Billy Miles was discovered by producer and musician Andre Williams while Miles was making the rounds of small clubs in Los Angeles. With her excellent debut release and words of praise spreading from fans that have seen her live shows, Miles is an exciting and exotic new talent.
‘Guero’ is a wonderfully creative work that straddles the line between the mature sophistication of 1998’s ‘Mutations’ and the beat-driven excitement of his classic ‘Odelay’.
The Decemberists are a five piece band from Portland, Oregon and are fronted by singer/songwriter Colin Meloy. They take their name from the early 19th century secret society of Russian insurrectionists that led the revolution against the czars.
The John Butler Trio effortlessly combines gritty soulful vocals, elements of hip-hop, and Appalachian folk with subtle hints of everything from reggae to Zeppelin. Their new release is Sunrise Over The Sea and they are XPN's Artist To Watch this month.
Kathleen Edwards released her debut album, Failer, in January ’03 to critical acclaim and wide open arms (or is that ears) from WXPN listeners. One of XPN’s most popular albums and breakthrough artists that year, the Canadian singer-songwriter came on with killer songs, a tight little band and a feisty rock ‘n’ roll attitude. With comparisons to Lucinda Williams and influences like Neil Young and Tom Petty, Ms. Edwards established herself almost immediately as an artist of significance and she built herself a loyal cult-like audience.
Way back in the Winter of 2002, XPN mid-day host Helen Leicht began playing an independent release from a Philly based singer-songwriter named Amos Lee. Soulful and organic, Lee was making ends meet working at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia and honing his craft by playing open-mic nights and writing songs. After recording an EP, his music reached Helen - who directs XPN’s Philly Local program – and she began playing songs like “Colors” and “Arms Of A Woman.”
Just 13 years old in 1992 when he recorded music in his bedroom in Bondi Beach, Australia as the band Noise Addict, much has been made about Ben Lee’s youthfulness. Noise Addict were a full-on Aussie teen sensation, adapted here in the States by hipsters like Sonic Youth and the Beastie Boys. But now as a 26 year-old, Lee’s youthfulness has been informed by young adulthood and with it a more mature perspective as a singer-songwriter with something to say. Lee’s twenty-something experiences warmly inform these songs with stories and lyrics that transcend age appeal.
Between the scruffy sweetness of Luke Reynolds’ rough, expressive tenor and the orchestral richness of the band’s intricate arrangements, Burning in the Sun is an album that is easy to get lost in.
Live at the World Cafe Volume 19: New Beginning contains sixteen exclusive tracks recorded live at WXPN's World Cafe Performance Studio in Philadelphia. Tracks include Citizen Cope, Van Hunt, Adrienne Young, and an awesome rendition of Come To Jesus' by Mindy Smith.
Bright Eyes is the primary project of 24 year-old Connor Oberst, a singer-songwriter wunderkind from Omaha, Nebraska. Precocious beyond his youthfulness, Oberst’s two new releases follow 2002’s Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground. A truly brilliant, ambitious release that music critics tripped all over each other to use as the opportunity to pronounce Oberst as “Next Big Thing,” the release was marred only by its self-indulgence.