Conor Oberst (a.k.a. Bright Eyes) has packed more into his 27 years than most artists accomplish in a lifetime. This new release - Cassadaga - will most certainly contiune the legacy. Named after a spiritualist camp in Florida where Oberst spent some time, Cassadaga is tuneful, bold and a further move away from his earlier work.
The very first time we heard Ryan Shaw's voice, we knew we were listening to something very, very special. He possesses an extremely emotional set of vocal chords. Fortunately for us, it is showcased in a great fashion on This Is Ryan Shaw, his debut album. It's a calling card for a gifted singer, a guy that should be around for a long time.
A perfect mixture of past & present, LCD Soundsystem's latest - Sound Of Silver - is this year's very best punk/disco/indie rock combination. The album's nine tracks are all instantly appealing, the perfect combination of groove and irony and sonic hoopla.
Already and XPN favorite because of her heartfelt songs and incredible voice, BRANDI CARLILE has upped the ante with her sophomore album The Story. The choice of veteran roots poducer T-BONE BURNETT was a wise one, because he's able to capture Carlile's emotion perfectly, and he coaxed some very, very stellar vocal performances out of her.
For the second major U.S. release, The John Butler Trio recruited producer Mario Caldato, Jr. (Beastie Boys, G. Love, Beck), and keyboardist Money Mark, but has retained the energy and groove of Sunrise Over Sea. Not really a "jam band" per se, the Trio is already a decade into their career, and Butler is a very underrated songwriter and singer.
With his new album Armchair Apocrypha, Andrew Bird has delivered one of the most beautiful, challenging and diverse records we've heard in a very long time.
Modest Mouse's We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank is one of the most anticipated releases of 2007. Their last album, 2004's Good News for People Who Love Bad News, yielded a radio hit, VH-1 support and even a Kidz Bop tribute, but upon first listen, their follow-up gives the impression the members of Modest Mouse are chafing at their newfound success in a typically indie fashion.
Philadelphia's own Dr. Dog has really hit the jackpot on their latest album We All Belong. You'd be hard pressed to find a more engaging album anywhere, as the band effortlessly combine familiar pop touchstones with some excellent songwriting.
Always the cause for celebration in singer/songwriter and Americana music circles is a new album from the quirky and undeniably talented Lucinda Williams. Her new album West is a rather subdued affair, but it contains some of her most heartfelt balladry yet.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's debut album was a masterpiece of style and substance over hype. The staunchly independent group released that album without a label or promotion - traditional record biz promotion, anyway - yet it's sold in 6-figures... a daunting task in today's music-as-data, who-needs-records-stores market. All hipster eyes were/are on this second album Some Loud Thunder. Nobody should be dissappointed.