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October, 2012 CD of the Month

One thing that’s for sure is that Delta Rae does not lack ambition or appeal on their album Carry the Fire. And simply stated these kids can flat-out sing. The six-piece band, featuring four vocalists, is from North Carolina and they pounce onto the music scene with a collection of songs rooted in their southern upbringing and gospel inspired vocal blend. Carry the Fire is a lively attempt at Americana flavored with plenty of pop sensibility.

August, 2012 CD of the Month

Honestly, what’s not to like about JD McPherson? The teacher turned rocker dials up a sound reminiscent of rock and roll’s early days on Signs & Signifiers, his first album. His style and attitude are both representative of those times, but noticeably his influences run the gamut from rockabilly to soul, from punk to hip-hop. It’s that combination of appreciation and living in present that makes Signs & Signifiers an absolute gem.

September, 2012 CD of the Month

It won’t take long as you listen to Is Your Love Big Enough? to draw the conclusion that Lianne La Havas is a special voice. Her enchanting vocals certainly act as the centerpiece to this lovely debut. Yet as you unfold the songs on this album, it becomes clear that you’re not listening to a one-dimensional artist but someone who can sing and play across a wide musical spectrum.
You could call this a side project, an indie-rock super-group or simply a musical experiment, but really Divine Fits stands better as the result of mutual admiration. Spoon frontman Britt Daniel and Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner shared a love for each other’s music, and once Wolf Parade called it quits the idea of starting a band together quickly became a reality. They recruited drummer/percussionist Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks) and started work on their debut album, cleverly titled A Thing Called Divine Fits.

Featured Album of the Week, 8/20/2012 | CD of the Month , 2012

One thing that’s for sure is that Delta Rae does not lack ambition or appeal on their album Carry the Fire. And simply stated these kids can flat-out sing. The six-piece band, featuring four vocalists, is from North Carolina and they pounce onto the music scene with a collection of songs rooted in their southern upbringing and gospel inspired vocal blend. Carry the Fire is a lively attempt at Americana flavored with plenty of pop sensibility.

It won’t take long as you listen to Is Your Love Big Enough? to draw the conclusion that Lianne La Havas is a special voice. Her enchanting vocals certainly act as the centerpiece to this lovely debut. Yet as you unfold the songs on this album, it becomes clear that you’re not listening to a one-dimensional artist but someone who can sing and play across a wide musical spectrum.

July, 2012 CD of the Month

There are some artists that just don’t act their age. And in the case of XPN Aritst To Watch Michael Kiwanuka, that's a good thing! The fact that this singer-songwriter is in his early 20’s will be the last thing to come to mind (if at all) when you make your way through his debut album Home Again. Kiwanuka is the latest in a wave of British soul and R&B singers to captivate audiences. And while connections to his peers like Adele exist, he paves his own path to our ears with the songs of Home Again.

Maybe it’s the time of the season. Or maybe it’s the fact that as music lovers we’re overdue for a reggae record that truly strikes a chord. Either way, the new album from reggae icon Jimmy Cliff is one of the season’s brightest and most satisfying albums. The aptly titled Rebirth finds Cliff as spirited as at any point in his career and with a batch of songs that are weaved together with a message of righteousness and hope.
It’s reasonable to ask whether or not Passion Pit was ready for the level of exposure that followed the release of their Chunk of Change EP in 2008, and their subsequent debut Manners. For frontman Michael Angelakos, a musical project that started as a Valentine’s Day gift for his girlfriend evolved rather quickly into a full-time band with significant impact. Passion Pit’s animated brand of electronic, dance-pop thrilled audiences and even found a warm embrace across the media landscape from bloggers and radio to TV and film. So with high expectations and anticipation surrounding their new album, can Passion Pit continue to live up to the hype? Gossamer, their sophomore effort, answers that question with conviction.
Reunions don’t often go this well. It’s been twenty five years since The dB’s last released a new studio album. Actually, make that thirty if you’re talking about an album featuring all the original band members. Well, on Falling Off the Sky, Peter Holsapple, Chris Stamey, Will Rigby and Gene Holder reconnect and restore that classic power-pop sound that’s been missing since the 80s. It’s an album that takes a serious crack at picking up where they left off and stands comfortably alongside their admired work.
An enduring rock n roller since the mid-70s Alejandro Escovedo may not be a household name to many, but the continued reverence for his music is no surprise. Big Station, his latest album, is another prime example of artistic vision and the relentless pursuit of challenging one’s own musical aspirations. For Escovedo, at this point in his career, making the same album over and over is a trap that some of his contemporaries have fallen into, but for Alejandro it’s a path that he won’t concede to take. Big Station is the proof of that.
We should’ve seen this coming. For the past decade, The Walkmen have quietly released six studio albums, all of which have been relatively well-received, and have garnered fans at a steady pace. They’ve had some minor indie hits with songs like “The Rat” from 2004’s Bows + Arrows and “Angela Surf City” from their last studio effort Lisbon. But to the general public, they still flew under the radar amongst a growing wave of blog buzz bands. As The Walkmen celebrate their 10th anniversary as a band what’s clear now is that they’ve carved their own path. The past ten years has been a cultivation of a band and a sound that now seems fully realized on the new album Heaven.
Back in 1996, at just 19 years old, Fiona Apple stepped into musical stardom with her debut album Tidal. Only two albums fall between her debut and this latest collection The Idler Wheel. Where some artists would see their supporters fade during long gaps of silence, that’s not the case with Fiona Apple. The periods between albums (the latest of which was seven years) seem to have only strengthened what is already a pretty rabid fan base. And Apple matches that intensity and obsession with her approach to making music. One thing that certainly hasn’t changed over the course of her career is her willingness to bare all no matter how difficult or controversial it may be. The Idler Wheel… is her latest assertion of that.

January, 2012 CD of the Month

There’s a new sound in Chicago and it comes in the form of XPN Artist To Watch JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound. Taking their name from Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, this four piece band goes beyond your typical soul revivalists. Following in the footsteps of standouts like Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings or Austin’s Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Brooks and company cook up their own brand of soul stew. On their second album Want More you’ll hear a band that can produce some pure soul, add a dash of funk, rock with a punk-like attitude and even sweeten the mix with a little R&B.

February, 2012 CD of the Month

Since her debut, Failer, in 2003 it's hard to be critical of the work of Kathleen Edwards. As a songwriter, as an artist she's never really taken a step backwards. As listeners we can argue over our favorites, but it's a fair to say that each album has matched a certain level of expectations if not surpassed them. And with that the Canadian songstress continues a career trajectory on the rise with her new album, Voyageur, but at the same time broadens our expectations.

June, 2012 CD of the Month

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals have come a long way from their blues-rock beginnings in Waitsfield, Vermont. For Grace, she's finally emerging as the superstar frontwoman that so many of us knew she had the potential to be. And on the latest album, The Lion The Beast The Beat she grabs hold of the spotlight and seems unwilling to let it go. We know what a commanding presence this band, and Grace in particular, can be on stage, yet until now capturing that on record has been a challenge. The Lion The Beast The Beat may be the step in the right direction.

April, 2012 CD of the Month

Few bands have the natural chemistry that you’ll find on Come Back As Rain, the new album from XPN Artist To Watch, Good Old War. The latest album from the Philadelphia trio is all at once a comfortable, feel good collection and a fresh step forward. Keith Goodwin, Tim Arnold and Daniel Schwartz capture liveliness on Come Back As Rain that they’ve been applauded for onstage and translate it somewhat effortlessly in the studio.

May, 2012 CD of the Month

Mac is back! Well, to be fair, it’s not like Dr. John hasn’t been consistent in his musical output. He’s released more than a handful of albums since the turn of century. But with Locked Down, his latest, perhaps none of those recent releases matches this latest collection in terms of energy and/or sheer appeal. Many will argue that a five time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has the latitude to do just about whatever they want, but for Dr. John Locked Down is an album he needed to make and music fans need to hear.

March, 2012 CD of the Month

Welcome back Dr. Dog, it’s almost as if you never left. Listening to Be the Void, the 7th album from Philadelphia’s favorite indie-rockers is a quick reminder as to how likeable and captivating they can be. In some ways Be the Void picks up where the last Dr. Dog album, Shame, Shame left off. But add to that tuneful collection of songs an energy that’s indicative of their live shows and you have an album that will keep attracting new fans plus reignite their already faithful following.

CD of the Month

John Paul White and Joy Williams hail from very different parts of the country (Alabama and California, respectively), and have both have been free spirits when it comes to their solo music careers....more....

CD OF THE MONTH: DEC 2011 The Black Keys' El Camino

It wasn’t the fast lane to success for The Black Keys. In fact, the cover of their new album El Camino is a convenient reminder of that. The old, beat-up van featured on the front of the Akron duo’s latest collection is the actual vehicle that The Keys used as a touring van in their early days. From then until now The Black Keys have earned countless fans through rigorous touring and a strong body of work in the studio. In 2010 the duo had a substantial breakthrough with the album Brothers. It garnered The Keys a couple Grammy nominations and their highest charting single to date “Tighten Up,” which was produced by Brian Burton (aka DangerMouse). El Camino answers Brothers call for a little more punch and the doctor’s order for a good dose of rock n roll.

CD of the Month

It seemed destined that beyond their marriage to each other Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi would ultimately tie their music together as well. After years of touring and collaborating the immensely talented husband and wife team have officially joined forces under the banner of the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Merging talents and band members have made for as you could imagine one powerful debut album in Revelator.

CD of the Month

On their new album Gimme Some, the Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John waste little time reassuming their role as great pop songwriters. From top to bottom their new collection is near flawless in its ability to capitalize on pop sensibilities. From infectious hooks to energized drums and catchy guitar riffs, Gimme Some feels effortless in its power pop ambition and on the whole, simply stated a lot of fun.

CD OF THE MONTH: NOV 2011

At just 21 years old Laura Marling has already found significant success at home in Britain. She’s emerged from a revivalist music scene in London rooted in traditional folk that has already spawned massive commercial appeal with bands like Mumford & Sons. For Laura, her first two albums were each nominated for the UK Mercury Music Prize and earlier this year she won Best Female Solo artist at the Brit Awards. Her third release A Creature I Don’t Know aims to cover new ground musically, plus serves as a proper introduction to new audiences here in the U.S.

CD of the Month

When you think of music from New Orleans it’s not unusual to visualize big brass bands, Dixieland jazz, swampy blues or Cajun funk. But as we listen to In Light the debut full length album from the band Givers it might surprise you that this young 5-piece band actually calls home to Lafayette, Louisiana. To attempt to categorize their sound is a challenge all to itself. One thing is for certain though, In Light is a bright and flavorful adventure.

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