Lots of musicians attempt to recapture sounds of classic soul, few actually own it. For Raphael Saadiq, Stone Rollin’, his fourth studio album is another indicator of how much a true descendent of classic soul and R&B he is. He tips his cap to the greats like Sly Stone and Stevie but all the while walks his own walk. The Grammy nominated Saadiq again delivers an awe-inspiring collection of throwback style jams on Stone Rollin’.
On her debut album, the title, 19, served as a reminder that such an extraordinary voice was beholden to a young lady a year shy of her twentieth birthday. Now just a couple years removed from her Grammy award winning introduction, Adele returns with 21 an equally captivating effort that only re-enforces the disparity between her actual youth and her incredible vocal prowess.
Could’ve? … Should’ve? … Would’ve? Three questions musicians ask themselves often, especially when it comes to what to do next in their careers. We spend a lot of time analyzing the career trajectories of our favorite artists, but rarely do we get to listen to what exactly those different directions would have sounded like. Well, for fans of Bruce Springsteen, The Promise offers answers to those questions at perhaps the most pivotal point of his career.
Wake Up! is a one-of-a-kind collaboration first conceived roughly two years ago amidst the buzz of the Presidential election season. Similar to the minds of many, soul sensation John Legend and hip-hops most versatile players The Roots connected a likeness of the events of 2008 to the socially charged music of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Wake Up! is as much a testament to the power of that music as it is a literal ‘wake up’ call to a new generation.
Despite the success that surrounded their debut album, MGMT stand determined to wipe the slate clean with their sophomore release Congratulations. Where songs like “Kids” and “Electric Feel” found leverage in pop venues, the songs of Congratulations aim to push beyond those boundaries challenging the audience to a musical kaleidoscope.
What do you get when you cross the precious indie-pop melodies of The Shins with the futuristic beats of DJ/producer Danger Mouse? Well, the one-of-a-kind collaboration between James Mercer, frontman and songwriter from The Shins, and Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse and co-founder of another ground-breaking partnership Gnarls Barkley, is known as Broken Bells. And the duo’s self-titled debut offering is witness to the best of what both have to offer.
It's hard to imagine any area on the musical spectrum that Bob Dylan hasn't dipped his paintbrush in. But as the days get shorter, and the first of the snowflakes start to fall so does arrive a Christmas record from the man himself, Bob Dylan.
It comes with slight hesitation to say that Brandi Carlile has fully realized her potential on her new album Give Up The Ghost. Her gutsy brand of country-tinged, roots and rock is utterly appealing and her talent undeniable. Yet, as she takes another leap forward on Give Up The Ghost you get the sense that this is a singer-songwriter whose musical well is far from dry.
Blending their acoustic folk tendencies with an abandon and spirit of a punk rock act, The Avett Brothers grew to prominence due in part to their raucous, high-energy live shows. They've also been prolific writers and road-warriors for nearly 10 years now. And on their major label debut, I And Love And You, which is produced by Rick Rubin, the Avett Brothers propel their irreplaceable brand of folk-rock to a new level.
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.
Who would've imagined that a collection of songs, written and produced by a college student as a belated Valentine's Day gift for his girlfriend would've launched a music career? Well, for Emerson College undergrad Michael Angelakos his six song EP not only served as an overdue present for a loved one, but it launched the career of the yet-to-be realized band Passion Pit. In fact, demand for the EP entitled, Chunk Of Change, grew so quickly around the campus that the rise of Passion Pit seemed inevitable.
With thirty-three studio albums now to his credit, Bob Dylan continues to offer songs with the richness and depth to which we've all been accustomed. His latest album, Together Through Life is a 10 song collection, a majority of which were co-written with Robert Hunter and self-produced by Dylan, under his alter-ego Jack Frost.
In the year's most meteoric indie rock success story, Tallahassee, Florida's Black Kids have climbed the major label mountain in record time. Thanks to a relentless barrage of positive press from all the right music crits, the band that was counting its collective change for gas money last fall have cashed in their rock dreams. Partie Traumatic documents a young band with great ideas in a big hurry.
I don't think that The Ting Tings are just another British "it" pop band of the moment, but I can certainly understand those who may think they are just that. On We Started Nothing, the Manchester duo (go City!) prove that they are perfectly capable of writing and performing infectious confections that stick with you despite any of your best efforts to rid yourself of the melodies they contain. In the wrong hands, this can lead to major annoyance and a quick career. If they continue to do it like the songs on this album, bigger things await.
Ya wanna know what "magic" is? It's what happens to his fans every time Bruce Springsteen releases a new album. From the initial response to this new album - Magic - from these aforementioned fans (yeah, I'm one, too...), it sounds like everybody's satisfied.
Already and XPN favorite because of her heartfelt songs and incredible voice, BRANDI CARLILE has upped the ante with her sophomore album The Story. The choice of veteran roots poducer T-BONE BURNETT was a wise one, because he's able to capture Carlile's emotion perfectly, and he coaxed some very, very stellar vocal performances out of her.
For his 31st (!) studio album, Bob Dylan has not really broken any new ground, but the musically sacred ground he continues to till is rich indeed. Modern Times is an album that only Dylan - with his peerless wordplay and insight - could make sound as, well, modern as it does.
Call it the musical surprise of 2006 thus far: the Dixie Chicks emerge from a couple of years of turmoil to create one of the most sincere, poignant discs we've heard in some time. It may have been once easy to dimiss the Chicks as some kind of "country-lite" creation, but no more. Taking The Long Way has way too many good songs, harmonies and ideas to dismiss.
Ever since the Nebraska album in 1982 (and probably earlier for astute Bruce-heads), we've known that Springsteen has has more than a healthy dose of respect for the folk idiom. We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions is not only a salute to the stylings of PETE SEEEGER, but also an acknowledgement of the American tradition of storytelling through song. It's a lovingly detailed album from an artist who understands his roots more than most musical superstars.
On his third solo album - and his first in twenty years since About Face - PINK FLOYD's DAVID GILMOUR doesn't dissappoint those enamored with the Floyd-ian "wall of guitar" sound or his lovely, plaintive vocal stylings. On An Island is a pretty satisfying venture that - while not really breaking any new ground - certainly will fill whatever cravings you have for the classic rock juggernaut that was the Floyd.
As witnessed by his incredible performance at the XPN All About The Music Festival in July, Rodney Crowell has returned with yet another amazing album of country influenced rock songs. The Outsider is the third of a trilogy of CD’s that he’s released (The Houston Kid and Fate’s Right Hand being the first two) that find him at yet another creative peak of his long outstanding career.
When Ryan Adams’ first band Whiskeytown debuted in the mid-Nineties they were one of the few “alt-country” bands that critics and fans of the genre felt could break through to mainstream success. Truth is however, while Whiskeytown was a critical success, creatively that had as much to do with “country” music as the Eagles did during their prime. If anything, Adams established himself as an excellent songwriter with a variety of influences, country music being just one of them.