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It's sometimes difficult to critique a band as accomplished and as influential as U2. And it must be equally as challenging to be a band of that stature and continue to create music as stimulating as your earliest works. On their 12th studio album, No Line On The Horizon, U2 has yet again crafted an album that is expansive, and at the same time attentive to that familiar U2 spirit.

For Shemekia Copeland, her new album Never Going Back reveals a new attitude, a new sound and an overall evolution for the young blues woman. Lots of things have changed since last we heard from Copeland. For the first time in her career Shemekia is releasing an album on a label other than Alligator Records; Never Going Back is her debut for the Telarc label. And her choice of producer for the new album, Oliver Wood of the Wood Brothers, was another step outside the traditional blues world.

 Widely known as one half of the rock duo The Black Keys, Dan Auerbach steps out on his own with the release of his first solo record, Keep It Hid. While The Keys' music has always been steeped in the blues, Auerbach's appreciation runs deep on Keep It Hid.  Not only do we hear what the blues may sound like for a new generation, but Auerbach stretches into some territory that The Keys have yet to.

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.

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