Fair & Square is singer-songwriter John Prine's first album of original material in nine years and comes after his recovery from a bout with cancer. His last studio album was the Grammy-nominated Lost Dogs & Mixed Blessings. It included some classic Prine stories - "New Train," "Ain't Hurtin' Nobody," "Humidity Built The Snowman," and continued to showcase an American icon at the top of his game and craft - some thirty years after his brilliant 1971 debut that included songs like "Angel From Montgomery," "Sam Stone," and "Hello In There."
With bossa nova beats, trip-hop, Jamaican dub, and world grooves galore, the Washington DC based DJ duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton are back with The Cosmic Game, their fourth record. Since the mid-90's Hilton and Garza have created their own flourishing cultural cottage industry with their own record label and a niteclub, restaurant and bar in Washington, DC. Starting out as DJ's catering to fans or rare-groove and acid-jazz music, they broadened their sound to include an ecelctic mix of groove and ambient genres of music. The Cosmic Game is their finest studio record yet.
South California native Billy Miles was discovered by producer and musician Andre Williams while Miles was making the rounds of small clubs in Los Angeles. With her excellent debut release and words of praise spreading from fans that have seen her live shows, Miles is an exciting and exotic new talent.
‘Guero’ is a wonderfully creative work that straddles the line between the mature sophistication of 1998’s ‘Mutations’ and the beat-driven excitement of his classic ‘Odelay’.
The Decemberists are a five piece band from Portland, Oregon and are fronted by singer/songwriter Colin Meloy. They take their name from the early 19th century secret society of Russian insurrectionists that led the revolution against the czars.
The John Butler Trio effortlessly combines gritty soulful vocals, elements of hip-hop, and Appalachian folk with subtle hints of everything from reggae to Zeppelin. Their new release is Sunrise Over The Sea and they are XPN's Artist To Watch this month.
Kathleen Edwards released her debut album, Failer, in January ’03 to critical acclaim and wide open arms (or is that ears) from WXPN listeners. One of XPN’s most popular albums and breakthrough artists that year, the Canadian singer-songwriter came on with killer songs, a tight little band and a feisty rock ‘n’ roll attitude. With comparisons to Lucinda Williams and influences like Neil Young and Tom Petty, Ms. Edwards established herself almost immediately as an artist of significance and she built herself a loyal cult-like audience.
Way back in the Winter of 2002, XPN mid-day host Helen Leicht began playing an independent release from a Philly based singer-songwriter named Amos Lee. Soulful and organic, Lee was making ends meet working at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia and honing his craft by playing open-mic nights and writing songs. After recording an EP, his music reached Helen - who directs XPN’s Philly Local program – and she began playing songs like “Colors” and “Arms Of A Woman.”
Just 13 years old in 1992 when he recorded music in his bedroom in Bondi Beach, Australia as the band Noise Addict, much has been made about Ben Lee’s youthfulness. Noise Addict were a full-on Aussie teen sensation, adapted here in the States by hipsters like Sonic Youth and the Beastie Boys. But now as a 26 year-old, Lee’s youthfulness has been informed by young adulthood and with it a more mature perspective as a singer-songwriter with something to say. Lee’s twenty-something experiences warmly inform these songs with stories and lyrics that transcend age appeal.
Between the scruffy sweetness of Luke Reynolds’ rough, expressive tenor and the orchestral richness of the band’s intricate arrangements, Burning in the Sun is an album that is easy to get lost in.