On Real Animal – his ninth solo album – Alejandro Escovedo rediscovers his punk rock roots in a big way without sacrificing any of the songwriting craft he's worked so long to perfect. As a member of the first wave San Francisco punk group The Nuns, the roots-punk, proto-Americana Rank & File (with the enigmatic brothers Tony & Chip Kinman), and the "new sincerity" torch bearers True Believers, Escovedo learned all about passion and substance over flash and gloss. He's come full circle with this new release.
Amos Lee's music on his third album Last Days At The Lodge, on Blue Note, continues to be a compelling mix of soul, folk, and blues music. The new album was produced by Don Was. The CD features Amos on guitars/vocals, Doyle Bramhall, Jr. (Eric Clapton) on guitar, Spooner Oldham (Neil Young, Aretha Franklin) on keys, Pino Palladino (The Who) on bass, and James Gadson (Bill Withers) on drums.
One of the most popular bands in the world is also one of the most maligned bands in the world. There are a lot of people who really hate Coldplay, but it's kind of hard for me to understand why. More workman-like and less arty than Radiohead, and not as spiritual or "deep" as U2, Coldplay occupies some sort of a musical no-man's land that is not completely without merit.
Arguably the most anticipated lbum of the year - indie, major, whatever - Evil Urges finds Louisville (pronounced LOO-uh-vull) reverb rockers My Morning Jacket poised on the cusp of mainstream success while still maintaining a link to their Southern rock, slow burning, lap-steel slide roots.
I don't think that The Ting Tings are just another British "it" pop band of the moment, but I can certainly understand those who may think they are just that. On We Started Nothing, the Manchester duo (go City!) prove that they are perfectly capable of writing and performing infectious confections that stick with you despite any of your best efforts to rid yourself of the melodies they contain. In the wrong hands, this can lead to major annoyance and a quick career. If they continue to do it like the songs on this album, bigger things await.
When we first heard the tune "Mercy" by 23-year old Welsh singer and songwriter Duffy, we were hooked. The tune (XPN was one of the very first radio stations to play the song, by the way...) is instantly catchy, with lots and lots of cool historical flourishes. It's her ability to wear her influences on her sleeve without sounding completely retro that makes Duffy a very interesting new voice.
It's been interesting to watch (and listen to) the career offerings of XPN favorites Old 97's. In their 15-year existence, Rhett Miller and company have consistently given us quality rock & roll with a touch of Texas twang, and while they break no new ground, Blame It On Gravity, is a solid effort full of hooks and attitude.
Death Cab for Cutie is a band that boasts two of the very best artists in all of indie-dom: singer Ben Gibbard, who's blessed with an amazing, natural voice, and guitarist and producer Chris Walla, who has the knack of making everything he touches sound real and epic at the same time. The talent is certainly on display on this new album, Narrow Stairs, but the subject matter is much more suffocating.
Combining elements of hip-hop, punk, new wave, electronica and classic pop music, Santogold's self-titled debut album is truly a remarkable piece of work. Philadelphia native Santi White, along with songwriter and producer John Hill – a.k.a. Johnny Rodeo – is quickly developing a reputation as one of music's best and brightest, and this album certainly shows why.
As most people probably know the only things closer to Helen Leicht's heart (other than her family and Paul McCartney) are our local musicians. Helen loves having the opportunity to share this music with you, the WXPN audience.