With the release of their 4th studio album, I Learned The Hard Way, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings have further solidified their place at the head of the table when it comes to modern soul music.
Philly's own Dr. Dog may have a new home for their six studio album, but their unmistakable brand of psychedelic, retro-rock remains familiar. Shame, Shame is the name of the new release and a record of many firsts for Dr. Dog. It's the group's first release for Anti- Records, and first album recorded with producer Rob Schnapf, yet all the while Shame, Shame remains a confident leap forward that leaves Dr. Dog poised for bigger things.
In many ways the new album from Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, known collectively as She & Him, picks up right where their first album left off. Volume Two, appropriately titled, is another dreamy collection of breezy, retro-fitted pop gems. And what She & Him may lack in adventure, they make up for with charm - which is easier said than done.
Damon Albarn's musical foresight may be well-documented, but it's arguably never been more fully realized as it is on Plastic Beach, the new album from Gorillaz. The sun has risen again on the virtual world that Albarn and Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett first brought to life nearly a decade ago.
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.
Under normal circumstances an artist releasing an album at an average of once per decade would hardly seem like a formula for success. In the case of Sade however, the norm tends not to apply, and the success of her enchanting new album Soldier of Love is a story few could foresee.
As veteran artists continue to make music, some often have the benefit of resting on their laurels. Some however, don't need to. For Peter Gabriel, the latter is true and his new album of cover songs is proof. Scratch My Back is a collection of songs that spans not just decades or genres, but musical sensibilities.
Pioneers of the trip-hop genre, the British duo Massive Attack emerge with their first studio album in nearly seven years, Heligoland. Their return is welcomed with an arsenal of guest vocalists, and an understated tension-filled musical landscape.
After bonding over a profound affinity for country, bluegrass and folk music, four friends Marcus Mumford, Country Winston, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane began putting their passionate song-writing to the works in 2007. Their enthusiastic passion for music was infectiously joyous and launched them to the forefront of the underground folk scene in London. That same infectious passion is the reason XPN has chosen Mumford and Sons as the XPN Artist To Watch for the month of June.
A few years removed from his last studio recording and just a couple years since walking away from a major label Citizen Cope finds himself in what seems to be an awfully comfortable place making music. Cope will release The Rainwater LP a new recording of looser, expressive songs and the debut album to be released on his own label Rainwater Recordings.
For folks that may have first claimed their breakout potential at last year's South By Southwest Music Festival, Local Natives resisted rushing out their debut album. But their patience and ability to road-test their material makes this one pass the big test.
The unavoidable truth about the new album from Corinne Bailey Rae is that it comes from one of the most painful places one can imagine. The Sea, the highly anticipated follow-up to her Grammy nominated debut album, features songs that were written on both sides of the unexpected passing of her husband. The result is an album that is as you would imagine, personal and poignant.
The track list from the 29th volume in the Live at the World Cafe series includes 18 live tracks from your favorite WXPN artists individually chosen By David Dye, for you, the XPN Listener.
A few years removed from arguably their most successful studio album to date, the veteran indie-rockers, Spoon, return with their seventh studio album Transference. And while its predecessor dipped into a pop arena at times, Transference consciously avoids that avenue opting for a raw, unapologetic approach.
Simply stated, Contra, the sophomore effort from Vampire Weekend does not miss. As a follow-up to their much admired debut, the new album is open to new, adventurous musical avenues all while still harnessing their worldly appetite. Unquestionably, Contra is smart, artistic, and — as you'd expect from Vampire Weekend — catchy.
As the New Year gets underway, we anticipate lots of new releases from some of our favorite artists. However, a new name jumps to the head of the line in this year; a duo from Baltimore named Beach House. Their first album for the Sub Pop label comes out this January, entitled Teen Dream, and may just be one of the albums we're talking about again when we come full circle in 2010.
Since forming, the band Freelance Whales have went from busking on street corners to independently releasing their debut album, Weathervanes, to signing a record deal all in just under two years. The five piece band from New York has had no problem garnering attention. Ambition is a big factor but after spending time with their music it's easy to hear what makes Freelance Whales so irresistible.
Years from now we may look back at Daptone Records as the label that produced the most significant soul music of this time period. And yes, most of the attention comes from the spirited Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. But on the compilation Daptone Gold we're introduced to the many fine artists that call Daptone Records home.
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.
Before you even put on your headphones, there is something mysterious and luring about the debut album from the South London band, The XX. Maybe it's their name, or the simplicity of a plain white "X" that's planted on the black backdrop of their album cover. Whatever it is that draws you in, expect to be met with a haunting album that is clever and ambitious in its simplicity.
Over the course of five albums, the Canadian twins Tegan and Sara have over and over again delivered concise and catchy pop songs. While slightly altering the formula to their sixth album, Sainthood, Tegan and Sara yet again hit the mark with an uncompromising, infectious set of songs.
It's difficult to pinpoint what exactly makes Reservoir, the debut album from the London-based band and XPN's Artist To Watch Fanfarlo, so endearing. Perhaps it's the robust orchestrations or the imaginative storytelling. Regardless, it's hard to believe this is actually the band's first effort. The songs of Reservoir are sweet and melodic, carefully arranged and refreshingly original.
Where soundtracks often miss the mark is in their inability to capture consistency from song to song as an album. Where the new soundtrack to the film The Twilight Saga: New Moon hits the bulls-eye is in its ability to recruit a wealth of musical talent, resulting with a cohesive set of songs in both atmosphere and ambition.
Much has been made of the forthcoming Norah Jones record, The Fall. There've been forewarnings of a "new direction" and a change in the approach from her previous studio efforts. However, before you brace for the unexpected, the reality is that The Fall is not a seismic shift for the sultry songwriter.
They captivated audiences worldwide in the Oscar-winning love story that was the film Once. Now known as The Swell Season, the musical partnership of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova attempt to recapture the hearts of listening audiences with their new record Strict Joy.