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Featured Album of the Week, 10/29/2012 | CD of the Month December, 2012

Now 28 years old, Gary Clark Jr. has been preparing to release his major label debut since he first started playing live in Austin, Texas at the age of 12. Undeniably a blues guitar phenom since that young age, Gary has been Austin’s little secret until recently. The buzz surrounding his 4-song EP Bright Lights was substantial. And his live show, so dynamic that it demanded a relentless touring schedule the last couple years and ultimately delayed the release of his proper introduction - Blak and Blu.
Every fall big name rock & rollers dominant the season with new releases, and this year is no different. While new albums from heritage and popular acts like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Mumford & Sons account for lots of listening, there is one album that should compete for your ears. Enter Ben Schneider. The brainchild of Lord Huron, Ben started to shape the sound for his band a couple years ago after a trip back home to Michigan’s Lake Huron.
If you read into the title of the album, Glad All Over, and/or have heard its first single you can probably make an educated guess that Jakob Dylan and his band are in a good place. Yes, The Wallflowers have reconnected (or 'rebooted') to release their first studio album since 2005's Rebel, Sweetheart and with a slightly tweaked line-up they pick up right where they left off.
There is something incredibly satisfying about Born to Sing: No Plan B, the brand new studio album from Van Morrison. One of the greatest and most prolific songwriters of all-time, Van delivers an impassioned performance on this collection that sonically travels through worlds of jazz, blues and soul as only he can. He sounds inspired throughout this new 10 song set and as he suggests on the title track “passion’s everything when you were born to sing.”
The success of Mumford & Sons, especially here in the U.S., is the type of story that most bands can only dream of. Their debut album, Sigh No More, was a stormy blend of folk-rock that put banjo back on the commercial radio dial, transcended formats and made Marcus Mumford and his bandmates international stars. Contrary to the sentiment of the bands first single from Babel, their much anticipated second album, audiences ‘couldn’t wait’ to hear more from Mumford & Sons. And so with the release of their sophomore album, the London based four-piece amp up the emotion, realize their potential and deliver exactly what fans have come to love.
The Carpenter is the new album from The Avett Brothers and the follow-up to their breakthrough major label debut I And Love And You. Their latest is an album that continues to distance the band from their early image as a rambunctious bluegrass act and settle them into a place where craftsmanship takes center stage. Perhaps that’s where the title, The Carpenter, comes from (or maybe not) – but on this latest collection it really is about the songs. It’s something that Scott & Seth have always excelled at, but was perhaps easy to overlook because of how dynamic and engaging they are (and continue to be) in performance. The Avett’s are still as engaging as ever on The Carpenter, their approach just slightly remodeled.
As the "Duquesne Whistle" blows, the train pulls out of the station for another ride with the most heralded songwriter of all-time. Despite creeping into his 70's and this being his 35th album, Tempest is far from "just another record" from Bob Dylan. Dylan’s latest work is a testament to his grand acclaim as a lyrical poet. He's constructed a batch of songs that aren't the least bit intimidated by his words penned prior. And throughout Tempest Dylan exudes an aura of greatness, even a little bit of an edge as he chuckles at your expectations.
Soul legend Bobby Womack was considered a survivor before starting work on his latest album (his first since 1994) The Bravest Man in the Universe, released in June. But after overcoming hospitalization with pneumonia and successful treatment of colon cancer while in the midst of recording the album, Womack has delivered his greatest comeback yet. Womack's first studio record in 12 years is a stunning mix of regretful introspection and hopeful romance, running the gamut from elecro-disco to stripped-down storytelling along the way.
Photo Credit:  Courtesy of Jory Cordy As the favorite to win the Mercury Music Prize in November and a Top 20 phenomenon in the UK, Alt-J is perhaps the most successful British Band of 2012. Alt-J has made its splash with their debut album An Awesome Wave
Photo Credit:  Barbara Anastacio Three years removed from their celebrated record Veckatimest, Grizzly Bear has once again earned critical acclaim with Shields, the band's fourth studio album. Shields builds upon the group's innovative indie rock of the past, mixing melodic pop with lush orchestrations and emotional honesty.
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