If you're like me, you always look forward to a new TOM PETTY release. He's never quite gotten the critical acclaim that he possibly deserves, despite the fact that he's certainly been given respect over the years by music writers and has sold millions of records. Petty's kind of like the corner bar version of BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and/or BOB DYLAN - and that's no slight, by the way. Never as downright poetic as Dylan (but then again, who is?) or as cinematic as Springsteen, T.P. nevertheless is an important American rocker, and one who has penned and performed more than his fair share of classic anthems. His contribution to the culture is quite remarkable, come to think of it.
For his first solo album, RADIOHEAD's charismatic frontman THOM YORKE does not dissappoint the faithful. There is nobody in music today who can communicate alienation through song like Yorke, through his lyrics and - probably most importantly - through his vocal stylings.
Slowly but surely, WIDESPREAD PANIC has established themselves as one of America's most popular and consistent live acts. Their recorded output hasn't quite reached the success of their road show, but - with Earth To America - the band has finally gotten their feel and passion properly on disc.
The poignancy and brilliance of the fifth and final installment of Johnny Cash's American series is a lasting testimony to the genius of an American icon. As reported in Rolling Stone magazine, the story goes that the day after his wife June Carter Cash died on May 15th, 2003, Johnny Cash called Rick Rubin - his producer and said to him: "I have to get to work. If you don't have something for me to do every day, I'm going to die." Unfortunately, his life ended too soon.
Zero 7 are the English "sound-design" duo of Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker who debuted in 2001 with their now classic Simple Things album, a collection of warm, soulful and chilled out electronica. The Garden is their gorgeous third release and not too unlike their previous albums, which put them in a similar musical genre wih bands like Royksopp, Air, Portishead. This time around however, Zero 7 have added a more upbeat musical direction to their trademark ambience and finds them mining some excellent & fertile musical ground.
KEB' MO' (born Kevin Moore) is back with his eighth album, Suitcase, and it's another stellar collection of blues/folk/pop tunes that feature his signature tasty, understated guitar licks and hum-along songs.
Call it the musical surprise of 2006 thus far: the Dixie Chicks emerge from a couple of years of turmoil to create one of the most sincere, poignant discs we've heard in some time. It may have been once easy to dimiss the Chicks as some kind of "country-lite" creation, but no more. Taking The Long Way has way too many good songs, harmonies and ideas to dismiss.
ELVIS COSTELLO is one of music's most talented chameleons. Throughout his career, he's constantly explored any and all stylistic avenues - classical, country, punk, R&B, etc. His new album with legendary New Orleans writer/producer ALLEN TOUSSAINT is another chapter in his distinguished quest for musical diversity.
Well, he certainly took his time, but Alexi Murdoch's first full album Time Without Consequence is set for release on June 6. Since we first heard his understated masterpiece 4 Songs in 2002, Alexi fans everywhere have been patiently waiting for some new songs. Time Without Consequence will not disappoint those people.
For his first new album in six years, Paul Simon's Surprise will indeed be a wonderful surprise for his fans. "Sonically enhanced" (produced and co-written) by the legendary Brian Eno, the album bubbles and gurgles and percolates and simmers with the electronic beats, synthesized guitars and sinewy keyboard accompaniments that are trademark to Brian Eno's production style and sonic soundscapes.