For twenty years the band Elbow has been making music together. In 2008, they received arguably their most noteworthy accolade winning the UK’s Mercury Prize (their 2nd time nominated) for The Seldom Scene Kid. That album spawned some mild attention in the States for the song “Grounds for Divorce.” Yet despite their longevity and critical praise the band is seemingly still making lots of first impressions upon each release. Their latest, Build A Rocket Boys! stands perfectly in line with their previous works as a grandiose, deliberate and emotionally stirring effort.
John Paul White and Joy Williams hail from very different parts of the country (Alabama and California, respectively), and have both have been free spirits when it comes to their solo music careers....more....
Bloodless Coup is the fifth album from the Irish band Bell X1. And similar to their previous works, listening to these songs only makes one wonder what the larger scale American audience is missing. If you don’t know the story, the trio who tour the U.S. in humble fashion from club to club, like most other indie rock bands, are of superstar status in their native Ireland. And while this scenario isn’t unheard of, we see that type of discrepancy in popularity with Canadian artists frequently, Bell X1 offer up a blend of emotive songwriting and tempting melodies that our audiences should no doubt fall in love with.
It didn’t take long for the Seattle band The Head And The Heart to find an audience for their brand of indie folk and pop. In fact, within a year of coming together at a local open mic night the six piece band had released their self-titled debut album and become a standout of a hearty Seattle music scene. Following in the steps of fellow indie-folksters like Fleet Foxes, The Head And The Heart signed to the local Sub Pop label who have re-released the group’s introduction this year.
A decade into their career and with their fourth studio album now complete, it’s a good time to take a moment to reflect upon the impact of TV on the Radio. While some bands follow a road map to success, others make their own. The always experimental Brooklyn outfit, TV on the Radio, prove that the latter is not only more impressive but also a more enjoyable trip. Their latest collection Nine Types of Light is an uncanny blend of styles that will surely move your feet, right after you pick your jaw up from the floor.
Expectations aren't always easy to understand. Sure they're subjective, we all have our own. And after a while, you start wondering if you're setting the bar too high for certain things. When an artist like Paul Simon goes into the studio, what should we expect? Not every album is going to satisfy at the same level as say, Graceland right? Well, as we fast forward nearly 25 years again we realize why we hold this songwriter in such high regard. So Beautiful or So What is a stunning album, in the true sense of an album, and easily settles in as one of the year's best thus far.
On their new album Gimme Some, the Swedish trio Peter Bjorn and John waste little time reassuming their role as great pop songwriters. From top to bottom their new collection is near flawless in its ability to capitalize on pop sensibilities. From infectious hooks to energized drums and catchy guitar riffs, Gimme Some feels effortless in its power pop ambition and on the whole, simply stated a lot of fun.
Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills are no longer the darlings of the alt-rock world that they once were. It’s been 30 years since R.E.M formed, and the band has just released their 15th studio album, Collapse Into Now. For any band that’s been making music as long as R.E.M., and with a back catalogue of such might, it’s easy to compare and dismiss. And while a new album would be enough to generate praise, on Collapse Into Now, the band aspires for more.
Blessed from Lucinda Williams is the songwriter's 10th studio album and emotionally one of her heaviest works. The twelve song collection is certainly reflective, delving into some recent troubling times including both the passing of her former manager and also fellow songwriter Vic Chesnutt. While the songs of Blessed deal with some weighty issues and the musical tone is far from rollicking, Blessed is more a look at a songwriter coming to terms with these events not necessarily drowning in them.
Just about a year ago, word of the indie-rock collaboration that would evolve into the band Middle Brother began to make some noise – literally. After a performance at last year’s SXSW festival, we learned that Matt Vasquez (Delta Spirit), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes) and John McCauley (Deer Tick) had more in store for us beyond their one-off jam session. The three band leaders had actually been writing material for what would soon become the band’s debut album Middle Brother. Carving out some time this winter/spring, the three will release their first album and hit the road for the first time as Middle Brother.
The new Live at the World Cafe Vol 31 CD is hot off the press and available as a thank you gift to XPN members. Here's the track list. One of the best yet! Make your pledge now, and pick it up as an XPN thank you gift!
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.
Too much is often made of an artist’s jump from an indie to a major label. For fear of tainted artistic vision or imposed guidelines, ‘purists’ hold their collective breath in the weeks (or months) leading up to an albums release. But to be fair, there is a recent track record of success when you think of artists like The Decemberists or Death Cab for Cutie who have arguably made some of the best albums of their careers since making such a move. And with that, Iron and Wine is the latest indie darling to successfully make the transition to a major label with his most confident and expansive album to date, Kiss Each Other Clean.
If Hollywood were writing the script there’d likely be a long, perilous journey before a new-comer band could hit any type of stride to success. Luckily for Fitz and the Tantrums, WXPN's February Artist To Watch, they’re writing their own story and in just over a year what started as a solo endeavor has turned into a ‘can’t miss’ stage show with a debut album to match. Pickin’ Up the Pieces, the band’s debut full-length, is an instant party-starter that not only echoes sounds of Motown soul but also fosters an indie-rock sensibility to top it off.
For his fourth album, Mission Bell, Philadelphia native Amos Lee was drawn to Tucson, Arizona to work with producer/musician Joey Burns of the band Calexico. The acclaimed songwriter not only takes a subtle step in a new direction, but takes a commanding step forward in his artistry. The heart and soul of Mission Bell is uniquely Lee, yet texturally the presence of Burns, his Calexico bandmates and an all-star cast of guests pays instant dividends.
Coming off their expansive rock-opera, The Hazards of Love, the Portland-based band The Decemberists return to form on their new album The King Is Dead From the opening Springsteen-esque harmonica riff of the album leadoff “Don’t Carry It All,” it’s apparent that there’s different tone and atmosphere set for this collection.
As we usher in a new year and anticipate new musical discoveries, it’s an unmistakable voice that’ll be first to grab your ears. Low Country Blues is the first solo album from Allman Brothers founding member Gregg Allman in nearly 14 years. Along with a decorated cast of musicians, including producer T-Bone Burnett, Allman delivers a book of songs steeped in rhythm and blues yet with his own unique signature.
It surely caught some folks by surprise at the end of 2010, but yes a new album from Ryan Adams & the Cardinals was released this past December. However, don’t expect to find this new 21 song collection on the shelf in your favorite local record store. III/IV, as it is titled, was sold-out before it was even released. The now digital-only release is a hefty collection of previously, unreleased gems from recordings sessions with Ryan Adams and company.
Rumors of a Roxy Music reunion swirled around the making of Olympia. And while the album bares just the name Bryan Ferry, Olympia. is witness to collaborations with a number of Roxy alums as well as healthy dose of guest stars. Ferry sounds effortlessly in the now on his 13th studio album and only his second album of mostly original material since the mid-90s.
XPN Artist To Watch, Warpaint, may have just released their full-length debut, but the LA four-piece have been crafting their sound for the last six years. Having gone through a variety of line-up changes since forming in 2004, the all-female cast appears settled in on The Fool. And while it’s been over a half-decade since the band first plugged in, it’s no surprise on their debut that they offer up a well-crafted, seductive set of songs.
Cee Lo Green has been an influential music-maker for more than a decade, but it wasn’t until his collaboration with DJ/producer Danger Mouse as Gnarls Barkley that he found mainstream success. As the world went crazy for Gnarls Barkley, Green began to trademark his left-of-center personality with elaborate on-stage costumes and of course, that unmistakable voice. While his Gnarls Barkley counterpart has kept busy this year with projects like Broken Bells and producing the likes of The Black Keys, Cee Lo Green has saved arguably one of the year’s most intriguing releases, The Lady Killer, until now.
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.
On their new studio album The Grand Theatre Vol. 1, the alt-country rockers Old 97's set out to remind us what captivated so many fans early in their career. This latest collection is a raucous, energy-filled set of songs that does its best to capture the band’s heralded on-stage intensity in the studio.
For nearly 15 years, Belle & Sebastian has set their mark on the indie-music world with a unique brand of pristine pop that continues to earn Stuart Murdoch and his band mates critical praise. While commercial success, for whatever reason, has been elusive it’s hard to argue with the musical results. On their eighth studio album, Write About Love, Belle & Sebastian deliver another collection of irresistible ear-candy while writing about exactly what they profess, love.