Artist to Watch

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Back Door Slam was XPN's Artist To Watch in March. Their CD "Roll Away" was released last July in the U.S. on Blix Street.

Artist To Watch November 2007, indie folk-rock starlet Ingrid Michaelson may be compared to artists Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor, but she has definitely staked out her own territory in the music industry.

This unique compilation project brings together the legendary musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club and some of today's most popular artists Radiohead, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Sting, U2's Bono, Dido, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, Jack Johnson and others. They perform collaborations of some of their classic hits, and the result is pure genius.

Jeff Tweedy's a genius, I guess. I say that without any sarcasm intended - it's just that I feel kind of weird pinning that title on a guy who's basically a down-to-earth cat. I came to this realization while listening to the latest Wilco album Sky Blue Sky.

For their third album, The Shins have pulled out all the stops. Chock full of memorable tunes, Wincing The Night Away is at once the band's best and most eclectic offering.

This album has my vote for best debut album of 2007. Englishman Scott Matthews has put together a very strong, emotional set of tunes for his album Passing Stranger. He's got it all: a great voice, interesting ideas, passion to burn. There's nothing, really, not to like about this album.

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.

The enigmatic juggernaut that is Ryan Adams keeps on rollin'. It's exhausting to be a Ryan fan - he's just so prolific, and it's become difficult to digest one new album before another one comes along. That being said, it's important that you spend some time with his latest, Easy Tiger. What we have here is a truly great American songwriter who's really just hitting his stride.

Perhaps only the fantasy duo of King Kong and Bambi could be a more bizarre pairing than Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Yet on Raising Sand, their haunting and brilliant collaboration, the Led Zeppelin screamer and Nashville's most hypnotic song whisperer seem made for each other. This, however, is not the howling Plant of "Whole Lotta Love," but a far more precise and softer singer than even the one who emerged with Dreamland (2002).

Much more diverse musically than her previous four studio albums, Children Running Through deals with some big issues lyrically - namely new beginnings and dealing with trouble and strife of all sorts. Standout tracks include "Stay On The Ride," "No Bad News" and the sublime "Heavenly Day," which builds slowly into a remarkable tune.

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