In a time where most country musicians seem as glitz and glam as their pop music counterparts, it's songwriters like Ryan Bingham who remind us that it's not just the hat you’re wearing but the words you’re spilling that make you a country artist. Now on his third proper album, Junky Star, Bingham continues to impress as a songwriter offering a collection of songs that stress his talent with wordplay and emotion.
It's a bit hard to believe that God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise is the fourth album from the soulful singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne. It doesn’t seem so far off from when many of us first stopped us in our tracks upon hearing the song “Trouble” from his debut album. But over the course of his career, Ray has captivated audiences with an emotionally driven songbook, a voice that summons goose bumps and a fascinating aversion to the spotlight he so requires.
For nearly 40 years, Los Lobos has been an inspiring model of consistency in the world of rock and roll. It's difficult (if not impossible) to think of bands over the past four decades that have maintained the same line-up and continue to engage at such a high level as Los Lobos do on their brand new studio album, Tin Can Trust.
For many, Omni, the new album from the Seattle-based band Minus the Bear is an introduction. However, as fans of the experimental rock band already know this is a band and a sound, that for years has escaped mainstream success, yet record after record saw their fan base only grow larger. On stage the music of Minus the Bear is undeniable from small club stages to major festivals. Until Omni however, harnessing their fearlessness for sonic boundary, seductive lyricism and muscular energy never seemed so easy.
One of this year's most anticipated records!
~ Bruce Warren, Program Director WXPN
Much like their first two albums, The Suburbs from The Arcade Fire stands as a grandiose musical adventure. Similar to Funeral and Neon Bible, this new batch of songs triumphs with dynamic orchestrations and pure power. Yet, what sets The Suburbs apart from its predecessors is a sense of nostalgia. Where a dark cloud of impending doom may have at times hovered over their first two albums, The Suburbs offers a unique look back at adolescence both in a standalone state and in comparison to our current social state.
For XPN Artist To Watch, Trombone Shorty, measuring success doesn’t necessary seem like it equates to album sales or tangible assets. For Shorty it appears more about creation, collaboration and the excitement of the music he plays. It’s a veteran like perspective, but that’s not surprising coming from the 24 year old virtuoso. He’s been leading bands since the age of 6, long before he arms could even extend the length of his instrument, and even less surprising from Shorty is his inspiring debut album for Verve, Backatown.
We’ve seen a number of artists in the first half of 2010 whose stock continues to rise upon the release of new albums. The best recent example comes from The Gaslight Anthem. More confident and just as powerful the Jersey-based rock band truly breakthrough on their third full-length album American Slang.
As we know is the case for certain artists, the church is the place where some of their earliest musical experiences occur. We know this to be true for Robert Randolph, and his gospel influences have always played a part in his music. While his last record did its best to capture the bands live energy and flash, We Walk This Road accomplishes a more mature musical journey.
For Alejandro Escovedo, his new album Street Songs Of Love serves as a reminder as to how important a voice he continues to be in the world of music. The title pretty much tells the theme of the album. Whether it's a straight ahead rocker like the album opener “Anchor” or a heartfelt ballad like “Down In The Bowery,” Alejandro is rich with the sentiment of love on his latest collection.
A superstar cast of indie-artists that range from Josh Ritter to Drive-By Truckers come together to pay homage to one of the great country/folk songwriters on a new tribute album. Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine is, for the most part, a younger cast of admirers taking a deep look at the songbook of John Prine.