Artist to Watch

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CD of the Month

Bon Iver gained notoriety in 2008 with the release of his intimate solo debut For Emma, Forever Ago. The album was heralded as one of the year’s best independent releases. Peter Gabriel would go on to cover Bon Iver and Vernon even ventured into the world of hip-hop as a prominent guest on the latest release from Kanye West. All that would just add to the build-up of expectations for the second Bon Iver album. To say that the new album from Bon Iver singer-songwriter Justin Vernon is easily accessible … well … that wouldn’t be true. Yet despite a much bolder landscape, puzzling lyrics and a general propensity to demand more of its audience Bon Iver, Bon Iver is an inspiring effort.

CD of the Month, February, 2011

For his fourth album, Mission Bell, Philadelphia native Amos Lee was drawn to Tucson, Arizona to work with producer/musician Joey Burns of the band Calexico. The acclaimed songwriter not only takes a subtle step in a new direction, but takes a commanding step forward in his artistry. The heart and soul of Mission Bell is uniquely Lee, yet texturally the presence of Burns, his Calexico bandmates and an all-star cast of guests pays instant dividends.

CD of the Month January, 2011

Rumors of a Roxy Music reunion swirled around the making of Olympia. And while the album bares just the name Bryan Ferry, Olympia. is witness to collaborations with a number of Roxy alums as well as healthy dose of guest stars. Ferry sounds effortlessly in the now on his 13th studio album and only his second album of mostly original material since the mid-90s.

The debut album North Hills, released September 29, 2009, from the local LA quartet and XPN Artist To Watch, Dawes (featuring members of the old Record Collection Simon Dawes) fringes with a blend of classic 70's folk-rock and contemporary embellishments.

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.

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.

CD of the Month

Simply stated, Contra, the sophomore effort from Vampire Weekend does not miss. As a follow-up to their much admired debut, the new album is open to new, adventurous musical avenues all while still harnessing their worldly appetite. Unquestionably, Contra is smart, artistic, and — as you'd expect from Vampire Weekend — catchy.

Anthemic rockers The Hold Steady ready the release of their fifth studio album entitled Heaven Is Whenever. Animated keyboardist, Franz Nicolay, has parted ways with the group leaving the dynamics a bit altered, but nonetheless The Hold Steady’s classic brand of fist pumping rock ensues.

Under normal circumstances an artist releasing an album at an average of once per decade would hardly seem like a formula for success. In the case of Sade however, the norm tends not to apply, and the success of her enchanting new album Soldier of Love is a story few could foresee.

After bonding over a profound affinity for country, bluegrass and folk music, four friends Marcus Mumford, Country Winston, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane began putting their passionate song-writing to the works in 2007. Their enthusiastic passion for music was infectiously joyous and launched them to the forefront of the underground folk scene in London. That same infectious passion is the reason XPN has chosen Mumford and Sons as the XPN Artist To Watch for the month of June.

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