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2004

Singer-songwriter Ben Arnold is no stranger to XPN listeners and members. A staple of the local music scene since the early Nineties Ben is an honest and earnest songwriter of immense talent whether doing a solo gig with an acoustic guitar, as a member of the Philly super-group 4 Way Street or leading his own highly engaging rock band.

Coming off their explosive performance at this year’s XPN Singer-Songwriter Weekend, the Old 97’s – fronted by Rhett Miller – return with a fine new collection. It’s their first new collection since 2001’s Satellite Rides and the first since Rhett Miller’s solo debut in 2002, The Instigator.

For her debut on the distinguished Nonesuch label, k.d. lang’s new album is filled with songs that she says are “part of her cultural fabric, my Canadian soundtrack.” On Hymns, lang chose to cover songs written by some of her favorite Canadian singers and songwriters including Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn, Leonard Cohen, Ron Sexsmith, Jane Siberry, and Joni Mitchell.

It’s been two years since the release of Bruce Hornsby’s Big Swing Face and on his debut for a new label, Columbia Records, Hornsby comes out swinging with 11 great songs. On Halcyon Days, Hornsby is in classic form; it’s a 21st century album that recalls some of his best work starting with his debut The Way It Is in 1986 and on 1993’s Harbor Lights.

One of XPN’s Artists To Watch for 2004, Charlotte Martin is a remarkable new talent. In 2003 Ms. Martin released an EP called In Parentheses that signaled her engaging arrival. An intense piano-laden collection of confessional songs in which she demonstrated her amazing vocals, it was but a hint of the magic she would ultimately release on her full debut album, On Your Shore.

Everyone Is Here is Neil and Tim Finn’s first collaborative studio album in eight years. Throughout their careers, the Finn’s have enjoyed global success alone and together. Between their solo careers, Crowded House, and Split Enz, Neil and Tim Finn have written more than their fair share of classic tunes we have come to love over the years. There are too many songs to list, however a handful will remind you of their stature as significant songwriters: “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” “Weather With You,” ”Six Months In A Leaky Boat,” “I Got You,” “Persuasion,” and “She Will Have Her Way.” No fan of pop music can deny the power of these songs over time.

In 1963, renowned chemists Bear Owsley and Nick Sands developed a strain of designer LSD which had a reputation for inducing tribal hallucinations. This strain of acid was called “west indian girl,” hence the name for which the Los Angeles duo of Robert James and Francis Ten have chosen to call their musical collaboration.

One of XPN’s Artists To Watch for 2004, singer-songwriter, Ray Lamontagne explains how Stephen Stills saved his life. One of six children raised by a single mom who worked hard to make ends meet, Lamontagne – who barely made it out of high school left his family for Lewiston, Maine. Bored, going nowhere in his life and doing some serious soul searching Ray was in Lewiston working long hard hours in a shoe factory when he experienced a musical epiphany.

In early 2002 WXPN listeners and members got their first taste of the sounds and music of Citizen Cope on his self-titled debut record on the Dreamworks label. Fusing soulful, down-home grooves with pop sensibilities, Cope’s record quickly found a home on 88.5 and developed a nice following in our listening areas. Cope’s debut was smart, intelligent, high quality music for an integrated world. Not afraid to take on weighty, social, cultural and political issues in his lyrics, he’s both a realist and an optimist. Songs like “If There’s Love,” “Let The Drummer Kick It,” “Mistaken Identity,” and “Contact” quickly became staples on the radio dial at XPN, as did Cope’s collaboration with Santana on the song “Sideways” from Santana’s Shaman album.

Elvis Costello’s first album for the Lost Highway label is a roots-rock laden collection of songs inspired by the history and cultural import of the location where it was recorded – mostly in Oxford, Mississippi, but also in Clarksdale, Mississippi and Nashville. Costello - working with his band Steve Nieve on keyboards, bassist Davey Farragher and drummer Pete Thomas – touches down on gospel and soul, sweet ballads and rollicking rock.

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