On her third full-length album, Canadian Kathleen Edwards has once again proven herself to be among the very best of the young songwriters out there. Combining an interesting worldview with a very honest voice and plenty of attitude, this 29-year-old has stepped up in several ways on this new release, Asking For Flowers.
Despite the loss of the very talented Jason Isbell from the Drive-By Truckers last year, the band has carried on and then some. Their eighth album, Brighter Than Creation's Dark, is another testament to a great American rock band.
On her new (mostly) cover song collection Jukebox, Chan Marshall (a.k.a. Cat Power) continues her tradition of cover songs and pretty convicted crooning. She's really an underrated vocalist, and this second collection of covers tells us a lot about what she is as an artist.
Not since the soundtrack to the movie Garden State has a collection of mostly indie-rock and indie-folk captivated so many listeners. Anchored by the recent success of the movie about a teenage girl's unplanned pregnancy, the soundtrack has become the number one album in the country and with good reason; it brings together some classic rock nuggets by The Kinks, Mott the Hoople and Buddy Holly with unique cover songs like Cat Power's "Sea of Love" and Sonic Youth's cover of The Carpenters' "Superstar."
Always consistently good, Sheryl Crow just may have released her best all-around record to date. Detours will remind you a lot of her debut smash Tuesday Night Music Club, and for good reason since Bill Bottrell produced both of them. It sounds terrific, and the songs are all poignant and punchy. It's vintage Sheryl through and through.
Sounding rested and refreshed, Joe Jackson's new stripped-down album Rain harkens back to the Night And Day era. Always a talented tunesmith, Jackson has given us an album that plays to his strengths.
Combining a healthy dose of Afro-pop with the kinetic energy of Talking Heads and a decisively modern world-view, New York City's Vampire Weekend has created a debut album that sounds nothing like anything else out there.
World Cafe with David Dye has just polished off the track list for the 25th Volume in its incredible series of live recordings from XPN's signature program. Artists including Suzanne Vega, Josh Ritter, Martin Sexton, Sea Wolf and many others have contributed to this stellar collection.
It's hard not to compare Ryan Bingham to some other Texas troubadour heavyweights. Hints of Joe Ely, Steve Earle and - most notably - Townes Van Zant permeate his Lost Highway records debut Mescalito. This is not to say that he hasn't already developed his own voice, but these songs are just as dusty and heartfelt as his predecessors.
First of all, major kudos to Radiohead for doing things their way. After their record contract expired, the band made In Rainbows available as a download on their personal website back in October on a pay-what-you-want basis with pretty stellar financial results. The physicalCD is coming out in America on the A.T.O. records imprint T.B.D. Records.