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.