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2005

Two years after the release of the remarkable, critically acclaimed Let Go, Nada Surf return with another infectious collection of super-melodic guitar driven pop songs. There isn't a better album of smart guitar pop you'll hear this year than Nada Surf's The Weight Is A Gift.

If you're already a fan of blues singer Shemekia Copeland you'll be happy to know she's made the best album of her career. The Soul Truth is the third album from the daughter of the late great bluesman Johnny Copeland, and is Ms. Copeland's funkiest, grittiest, blues-iest rockin' record yet.

Lead vocalist Ben Gibbard sings like an angel and the songs on this CD make great use of jangly guitars and sinewy synthesizers. Bellingham, WA, indie pop quartet Death Cab for Cutie may remind you of a cross between REM and New Order, but they craft truly unique songs about relationships that draw you completely in.

As witnessed by his incredible performance at the XPN All About The Music Festival in July, Rodney Crowell has returned with yet another amazing album of country influenced rock songs. The Outsider is the third of a trilogy of CD’s that he’s released (The Houston Kid and Fate’s Right Hand being the first two) that find him at yet another creative peak of his long outstanding career.

On their new album Why Should The Fire Die? the newgrass trio Nickel Creek continue to grow beyond their bluegrass and folk roots yet demonstrate how those genres have informed the expansion of their musical horizons.

To quote many of the music reviews coming in on singer-songwriter Sufjan Steven's new album, "this might be the year's masterwork." Every once in a while a record comes along with such breathtaking creativity and audaciousness and Illinoise is this year's model.

In the Fall of 2002, XPN listeners got their first listen to a new artist who at the time was a complete unknown, not heard on any other radio stations in our listening area. He was just another guy with a guitar and a head and heart full of lyrics.

Some quick history: In 1993 the seminal alternative-country band Uncle Tupelo broke up due to differences between their co-leaders. Jeff Tweedy went on to form Wilco, and Jay Farrar went on to form Son Volt - the more traditional leaning of the two bands that resulted from the split.

The charismatic and charming Erin McKeown first came to XPN listeners’ attention five years ago with her debut album, Distillation, a collection of quirky, folksy songs infused by her passion for jazz and blues. Since then, McKeown has greatly matured and on her new album she continues to create a singular sound unbound by genre restrictions.

John Hiatt is a consummate singer-songwriter who has long been a core artist on XPN. On Master Of Disaster Hiatt teams with legendary Memphis producer Jim Dickinson and his sons Luther and Cody of the North Mississippi All Stars and bassist David Hood who for years played with the Muscle Shoals studio collective.

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