Mark Ronson is a London-born, New York City-raised artist, producer and DJ. His new album Version is - true to its title - a collection of versions of other artists' tunes. This is, of course, an oft-used idea, but few can match the ideas, personnel, and deft production touch that Ronson possesses.
We figured we'd see it sometime... Suzanne Vega has delivered her "New York City album", a collection of 11 tunes that revolve around life in "The Big Apple" where Vega was raised and has lived ever since. It's not a new idea. Lots of artists (Lou Reed, for example on his 1989 New York album) have used this muse before. Vega has done it with a tremendous amount of style, and her first new release in six years is clearly one of her best.
On an album that will please long-time fans and new converts alike, the Texas band Spoon sound comfortable, confident, and on top of their game. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is short and sweet (10 songs, 36 minutes), and its relative brevity only serves to accentuate front man Britt Daniels' and co.'s craftsmanship.
Louisiana rocker Marc Broussard has always had more than a little soul in his rock mix so it makes a lot of sense for him to release an album of mostly R&B and soul music covers. There is one original new song on the album, which is the follow up to Broussard's 2004 breakthrough debut Carencro. While Brousard can certainly rock like the best of them, he is clearly and convincingly at home covering songs like The Staple Singers' "Respect Yourself," "Yes We Can Can" written by Allen Toussaint, Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues," "Love and Happiness" by Al Green, and the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell duet that he sings with Toby Lightman, "If I Could Build My Whole World Around You."
Back Door Slam was XPN's Artist To Watch in March. Their CD "Roll Away" was released last July in the U.S. on Blix Street.
The enigmatic juggernaut that is Ryan Adams keeps on rollin'. It's exhausting to be a Ryan fan - he's just so prolific, and it's become difficult to digest one new album before another one comes along. That being said, it's important that you spend some time with his latest, Easy Tiger. What we have here is a truly great American songwriter who's really just hitting his stride.
Jack and Meg White certainly kick up a ruckus on the new White Stripes album Icky Thump. On their sixth album, the duo is louder and bolder than ever before. They try on plenty of previously unexplored American music styles, and the vast majority of it fits nicely. The best news is that it still sounds like The White Stripes.
First a brief history lesson: Joan as Police Woman is the nom de plume of Joan Wasser, a Maine-born, Connecticut-raised, Boston U.-educated singer/songwriter, guitarist and violinist. She was a member of The Dambuilders, a respected Boston band of the early 90's. After the drowning death of her friend and lover Jeff Buckley in 1997, she briefly joined Those Bastard Souls and then embarked upon a career of singing and playing behind some pretty remarkable musicians including Lou Reed, Elton John, Rufus Wainwright, Antony & The Johnsons, Sheryl Crow and others. She began performing as Joan as Police Woman in 2002.
Paul McCartney's new album Memory Almost Full may very well remind all of us of all the elements that made this guy such a talented, celebrated composer and performer in the first place. Let's face a few facts: Sir Paul has let us down in the past. Quite a bit of his solo output of late (he used to be in this band called The Beatles, ya see...) has been disappointing to say the least. Memory Almost Full (great title, by the way) will bring back fond memories of mid-70's Wings, the best parts of his solo albums, and even harkens back to the creative juggernaut that was the "Fab Four".
Bjork's new album Volta is one of the year's most innovative and exotic new releases. Ever since her days as the frontwoman for The Sugarcubes, Bjork has been one of pop music's most enigmatic and other worldly artists, and her solo career has confirmed that even more. Volta hearkens back to the sound of Bjork's earlier solo work yet still has some of the experimental verve of her albums like Vespertine and Medulla.