Hailing from Montreal, Win Butler, Regine Chassagne, Richard Perry, Tim Kingsbury and Win’s brother Will make up The Arcade Fire. With a strong underground indie-rock following, Funeral is possibly the most critically acclaimed album of 2004 that fell under the radar. It’s a debut record too good and original to be ignored.
Elliott Smith’s posthumous album, From A Basement On The Hill, was close to completion when Smith met his untimely, sad death. A truly talented songwriter, Smith rose from obscurity to mainstream awareness in 1997 on the strength of the song “Miss Misery” from the Academy Award nominated soundtrack to Good Will Hunting. But even with that stellar surreal performance – Smith in a white suit singing to millions of television viewers alongside Celine Dion and Trisha Yearwood – he remained one of pop music’s more engaging, much loved and revered, yet little known singers and songwriters. Who can also forget his breathtaking cover of the Beatles’ “Because” at the end of the film American Beauty? It is a great moment in movie music history.
With 16 studio records to her credit since her debut in 1989, singer-songwriter Ani Difranco has come to define the essence of musical independence. With her prolific outpouring of self-produced albums, she has inspired countless of musicians and fans with her unique guitar playing, lyrical content and cottage-industry business model that many musicians have aspired to.
Bright Eyes is the primary project of 24 year-old Connor Oberst, a singer-songwriter wunderkind from Omaha, Nebraska. Precocious beyond his youthfulness, Oberst’s two new releases follow 2002’s Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground. A truly brilliant, ambitious release that music critics tripped all over each other to use as the opportunity to pronounce Oberst as “Next Big Thing,” the release was marred only by its self-indulgence.
Live at the World Cafe Volume 19: New Beginning contains sixteen exclusive tracks recorded live at WXPN's World Cafe Performance Studio in Philadelphia. Tracks include Citizen Cope, Van Hunt, Adrienne Young, and an awesome rendition of Come To Jesus' by Mindy Smith.
Just 13 years old in 1992 when he recorded music in his bedroom in Bondi Beach, Australia as the band Noise Addict, much has been made about Ben Lee’s youthfulness. Noise Addict were a full-on Aussie teen sensation, adapted here in the States by hipsters like Sonic Youth and the Beastie Boys. But now as a 26 year-old, Lee’s youthfulness has been informed by young adulthood and with it a more mature perspective as a singer-songwriter with something to say. Lee’s twenty-something experiences warmly inform these songs with stories and lyrics that transcend age appeal.
Way back in the Winter of 2002, XPN mid-day host Helen Leicht began playing an independent release from a Philly based singer-songwriter named Amos Lee. Soulful and organic, Lee was making ends meet working at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia and honing his craft by playing open-mic nights and writing songs. After recording an EP, his music reached Helen - who directs XPN’s Philly Local program – and she began playing songs like “Colors” and “Arms Of A Woman.”
Kathleen Edwards released her debut album, Failer, in January ’03 to critical acclaim and wide open arms (or is that ears) from WXPN listeners. One of XPN’s most popular albums and breakthrough artists that year, the Canadian singer-songwriter came on with killer songs, a tight little band and a feisty rock ‘n’ roll attitude. With comparisons to Lucinda Williams and influences like Neil Young and Tom Petty, Ms. Edwards established herself almost immediately as an artist of significance and she built herself a loyal cult-like audience.
The John Butler Trio effortlessly combines gritty soulful vocals, elements of hip-hop, and Appalachian folk with subtle hints of everything from reggae to Zeppelin. Their new release is Sunrise Over The Sea and they are XPN's Artist To Watch this month.