Neil Young's Prairie Wind completes a trilogy of acoustic-based albums he began with the landmark Harvest in 1972 and continued with Harvest Moon in 1992. On the new album, Young is joined by keyboardist Spooner Oldham, pedal-steel guitarist Ben Keith, drummer Chad Cromwell, percussionist Karl Himmel, bassist Rick Rosas, vocalist Emmylou Harris, Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns and the Fisk University Jubilee Singers.
Welcome back Mr. David Gray!
How much do XPN listeners and members love your music?
Let me count the ways.
For starters, our infatuation began with David long before his 1999 breakthrough record, White Ladder. From his 1993 debut, A Century Ends, we marveled at songs like the title song, “Shine,” “Wisdom,” and the brilliant “Let The Truth Sting.”
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.
One of the highlights of this year's All About The Music Festival will be Mike Doughty's Band. Mike and his band perform on Saturday July 23. This week, XPN will go deep in to his new record to showcase the many sides of an incredibly talented artist.
Vocalist Lizz Wright was introduced to XPN listeners in 2003 when she released her debut album, Salt. With an eclectic mix of traditional jazz, R&B and soul/folk, Wright’s sultry vocals and warm, organic songs quickly won fans around the world with Salt's release and Lizz’s dazzling live performances. Salt was an XPN Featured Album of the week in June of '03, and came in at no. 21 in the Top 50 Countdown that same year.
Many curious music fans want to know: Can Coldplay do it again? Can they follow-up their masterful 2002 release with a collection of songs as good as, if not better than A Rush Of Blood To The Head? The answer is yes - X&Y has many of the musical Coldplay-isms in place to make this their best record yet.
Ever since jazz guitarist John Scofield was a kid, the music of Ray Charles had a significant influence on him. So when Verve Records’ President Ron Goldstone approached Scofield with the idea of doing a tribute album to Charles, Scofield was game.
The Austin, Texas based originated in 1994 and released their first full length album in '96 on the indie label, Matador Records. Following an ill-timed move to a major label in 1998 the band left Elektra Records and returned to Merge Records, another vital indie-rock label which Spoon has called their home since.
Is the former Led Zep front man still vital after all these years? You bet. With his band The Strange Sensation (including musicians who have performed and collaborated with Massive Attack, Portishead, Jah Wobble and Roni Size), Plant has delivered the best of his now eight solo album catalogue.
Cold Roses, the new double album from Ryan Adams, is probably very much the record that his hardcore fans have been waiting for him to make since his days with Whiskeytown. But since his 2000 collection of rustic Dylan-esque songs on Heartbreaker, alt-country rocker Ryan Adams made a nod towards his love for Morrissey and Brit-rock on 2003’s Rock N Roll and was followed by the dark double Love Is Hell (Parts 1 and 2). Now he returns with the 18 song Cold Roses. Writing for amazon.com, music critic Don McLeese sums up Roses succinctly: “This double-disc gem delineates the possibilities of alt-country in 2005 while transcending the limitations typically associated with the genre.”
Aimee Mann returns with her fifth solo album, The Forgotten Arm, a "concept album," that loosely tells the story of John and Caroline as they meet, fall in love and road trip across the country together. On her web site, Mann tells the story of these two lovers. "The guy's a Vietnam vet and a boxer, but he's also a drug addict, and she's trying to get away from the dead end world where she lives in the South.
Three years after his post 9/11 inspired rock record The Rising , and the incredible tour that followed with the E Street Band, the Boss returns with a sparse, folk and country inspired collection of songs. Many of these songs were written in 1997 on the road during Springsteen's solo The Ghost Of Tom Joad tour, and were intended to be a follow-up to Springsteen's 1995 John Steinbeck-inspired acoustic record.
Fair & Square is singer-songwriter John Prine's first album of original material in nine years and comes after his recovery from a bout with cancer. His last studio album was the Grammy-nominated Lost Dogs & Mixed Blessings. It included some classic Prine stories - "New Train," "Ain't Hurtin' Nobody," "Humidity Built The Snowman," and continued to showcase an American icon at the top of his game and craft - some thirty years after his brilliant 1971 debut that included songs like "Angel From Montgomery," "Sam Stone," and "Hello In There."
With bossa nova beats, trip-hop, Jamaican dub, and world grooves galore, the Washington DC based DJ duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton are back with The Cosmic Game, their fourth record. Since the mid-90's Hilton and Garza have created their own flourishing cultural cottage industry with their own record label and a niteclub, restaurant and bar in Washington, DC. Starting out as DJ's catering to fans or rare-groove and acid-jazz music, they broadened their sound to include an ecelctic mix of groove and ambient genres of music. The Cosmic Game is their finest studio record yet.