Before you even put on your headphones, there is something mysterious and luring about the debut album from the South London band, The XX. Maybe it's their name, or the simplicity of a plain white "X" that's planted on the black backdrop of their album cover. Whatever it is that draws you in, expect to be met with a haunting album that is clever and ambitious in its simplicity.
Over the course of five albums, the Canadian twins Tegan and Sara have over and over again delivered concise and catchy pop songs. While slightly altering the formula to their sixth album, Sainthood, Tegan and Sara yet again hit the mark with an uncompromising, infectious set of songs.
It's difficult to pinpoint what exactly makes Reservoir, the debut album from the London-based band and XPN's Artist To Watch Fanfarlo, so endearing. Perhaps it's the robust orchestrations or the imaginative storytelling. Regardless, it's hard to believe this is actually the band's first effort. The songs of Reservoir are sweet and melodic, carefully arranged and refreshingly original.
Where soundtracks often miss the mark is in their inability to capture consistency from song to song as an album. Where the new soundtrack to the film The Twilight Saga: New Moon hits the bulls-eye is in its ability to recruit a wealth of musical talent, resulting with a cohesive set of songs in both atmosphere and ambition.
Much has been made of the forthcoming Norah Jones record, The Fall. There've been forewarnings of a "new direction" and a change in the approach from her previous studio efforts. However, before you brace for the unexpected, the reality is that The Fall is not a seismic shift for the sultry songwriter.
They captivated audiences worldwide in the Oscar-winning love story that was the film Once. Now known as The Swell Season, the musical partnership of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova attempt to recapture the hearts of listening audiences with their new record Strict Joy.
What started as a "list" to educate his daughter about the roots of country music has transformed itself into both a tribute to the character of Johnny Cash and an inspired new release from his daughter, Rosanne. Rosanne Cash's new album simply titled The List is more than a just a collection of favorites. It's an insightful look at the musical lineage of one of the great American music families.
Singer-songwriter Joshua James may be more an artist than he is simply a musician. As you listen to his new album, Build Me This, it's evident that his compositions take shape more as musical portraits than just plain songs.
It comes with slight hesitation to say that Brandi Carlile has fully realized her potential on her new album Give Up The Ghost. Her gutsy brand of country-tinged, roots and rock is utterly appealing and her talent undeniable. Yet, as she takes another leap forward on Give Up The Ghost you get the sense that this is a singer-songwriter whose musical well is far from dry.
It's easy to be fooled on Death Won't Send A Letter, the debut full length album from Cory Chisel and his band The Wandering Sons. The singer-songwriter from rural Wisconsin makes a strong first impression. From his confident road-tested vocals to his textured compositions, Chisel sounds more like a veteran performer on his proper debut.