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2009

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.

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.

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.

Peter Bjorn & John whistled their way into our ears just a couple years ago with their unavoidable single "Young Folks." And while their album Writer's Block was actually the trio's third album, all the symptoms of the dreaded "one-hit wonder" were beginning to loom. Well, fast forward to the present, and the release of Living Thing which sets out to prove that Peter Bjorn & John do in fact have a few more infectious offerings for us.

With her timeless voice, Melody Gardot offers an enchanting collection of jazzy originals with the release of her new album My One And Only Thrill. The Philadelphia native flourishes both as a singer and songwriter, upholding an assuredness that matches the elegance for which the album aspires.

Back and Fourth marks the fourth studio album from singer-songwriter Pete Yorn, and his first since Nightcrawler in 2006. No doubt an important point in his career, the new album witnesses Pete letting go of responsibilities to which he'd become accustomed and writing perhaps the most personal songs of his career.

For as much discussion that's been made about Wilco's decision to self-title their latest album, an equal amount of excitement should surround the music the band churns out on this new effort, Wilco (The Album).

Wait For Me, the new release from Moby may have some celebrating a "return to form", but the songs on Wait For Me do more than simply recall his earlier work. Very much in the now, Moby takes back the role of conductor, offering fans a collection of brooding songs unconcerned with demand or destination.

Presently, there is arguably no singer-songwriter that writes songs with as much visual perspective as Ingrid Michaelson. A success story born out of a new generation of fans on MySpace and strategic television placement, Ingrid's cinematic love tales have crossed the ears of millions, whether knowingly or unknowingly. And her second proper full-length album, titled Everybody, has the potential to set the proverbial scene yet again.

Often the hype that precedes an album's release ends up overshadowing the impact of the actual arrival. The announcement of collaboration between My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, M. Ward, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis was sure to leave some expectations unreasonably high. Yet the resulting album from the proclaimed Monsters Of Folk still offers plenty of surprises amongst a wealth of dreamy compositions.

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