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While his name seems to come up quite a bit when you reference modern independent music, it's been a couple years since we've got to enjoy an M. Ward solo record. More recently Ward has spent time recording and touring as the duo of She & Him. Hence, many are eager to get their ears on Hold Time, Ward's new solo album, which satisfies beyond expectations.

We often hear musicians talk about artistic integrity, yet few are as truthful or match the level of their ambitions as well as Andrew Bird. His songwriting, which at times will leave you reaching for your thesaurus, is as skillful as his string playing or his trademark whistling. The classically trained violin player has produced another record destined for critical praise in Noble Beasts.

Before recording had even completed on Bruce Springsteen's album Magic, producer Brendan O'Brien convinced Bruce to continue writing. So while on the road in support of Magic, Bruce & the E Street Band spent their downtime in the studio working on the songs that would ultimately become their latest release Working On A Dream.

For years now there have been a number of somewhat underground scenes of experimental music whose sonic limitations are as undefined as the venues in which they perform. It was difficult to imagine this music reaching beyond the walls of the high school gymnasiums packed with devoted disciples of the abstract, but perhaps that exemplifies the brilliance of the new album from Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Without question Derek Trucks is in the elite ranks of guitarists. But similar to when you hear someone talk about "capturing a bands live energy in the studio", Trucks had yet to release a record that both harnessed his skill and at the same time felt accessible to an audience larger than his loyal fan base. Well, with Already Free, the new album from The Derek Trucks Band, that balance is achieved and Trucks' stardom shines pretty bright.

We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed is the second album from Los Campesinos!, the seven-piece band in which all members share the same last name. The sophomore album comes less than a year after the release of the band's debut. We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed showcases the band's youthful excitement, which at times borders on ultra-hyper and is playfully matched with whimsical songwriting.

The full experience of Rodrigo y Gabriela is hardly realized until you witness the duo in a live setting. Well, you can do so now without leaving your living room with the release of Rodrigo y Gabriela Live in Japan. It marks the duo's first ever performance in Japan, recorded this past March, and takes advantage of the captivating energy and mind-blowing musicianship they bring to the stage.

The popular and innovative Verve//Remixed series adds another compilation to its credit this holiday season. The eighth release in their series, Verve//Remixed Christmas is witness to classic holiday songs from legendary acts like Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and Billie Holiday remixed by contemporary DJ's and producers.

Well, if you hadn't noticed new wave is back and The Killers just jumped to the front of the line with the release of their third album Day & Age. Frontman Brandon Flowers and company have produced a shimmering, dance inspired record full of disco-ball anthems.

As was true with their first album nearly 15 years ago, The Fireman does their best to downplay their Fab Four roots. Electric Arguments is the third album from the duo of UK producer Youth and Sir Paul McCartney. And while for McCartney the collaboration serves as more of an artistic excursion, this time around the transition is not quite as abrupt.

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