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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.

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.

On his third album, Gossip in the Grain, Ray LaMontagne breaks out of his own mold a bit, relying less on lamenting love loss and seemingly is more centered on expanding into more hopeful musical territories . The album's opening track is evidence. "You Are the Best Thing" is perhaps, up to this point, the most optimistic we've ever heard Ray.

Brooklyn's finest, TV On The Radio, have just dropped an album on us – Dear Science – that has to go down as one of the most honest, challenging and engaging things we’ve heard all year. If I hadn't read the lyric sheet I'd say it was downright revolutionary, but the bands' concerns are personal ones, albeit personal in a context of an all-too troubling present and future. It's strong from start to finish, and TVOTR has really upped the ante for their major label debut.

Rachael Yamagata has hardly been idle since her acclaimed 2004 full-length debut, Happenstance, and its Adult Top 40 hit 'Worn Me Down.' So for her Warner Bros. premiere, the singer-songwriter-pianist with the sultry voice unveils a double disc set: Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart.

Twenty years after they started to bring the grunge revolution out of the Pacific Northwest, the resilient music lovers at Sub Pop Records have now given us a band with brilliant five-part harmonies and a decidedly hippie-esque world view that owes as much to Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Beach Boys as Mudhoney did to Iggy & The Stooges.

Amos Lee's music on his third album Last Days At The Lodge, on Blue Note, continues to be a compelling mix of soul, folk, and blues music. The new album was produced by Don Was. The CD features Amos on guitars/vocals, Doyle Bramhall, Jr. (Eric Clapton) on guitar, Spooner Oldham (Neil Young, Aretha Franklin) on keys, Pino Palladino (The Who) on bass, and James Gadson (Bill Withers) on drums.

Featured Album of the Week June 9, 2008
CD of the Month August 2008

Arguably the most anticipated lbum of the year - indie, major, whatever - Evil Urges finds Louisville (pronounced LOO-uh-vull) reverb rockers My Morning Jacket poised on the cusp of mainstream success while still maintaining a link to their Southern rock, slow burning, lap-steel slide roots.

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