The very first time we heard Ryan Shaw's voice, we knew we were listening to something very, very special. He possesses an extremely emotional set of vocal chords. Fortunately for us, it is showcased in a great fashion on This Is Ryan Shaw, his debut album. It's a calling card for a gifted singer, a guy that should be around for a long time.
The enigmatic juggernaut that is Ryan Adams keeps on rollin'. It's exhausting to be a Ryan fan - he's just so prolific, and it's become difficult to digest one new album before another one comes along. That being said, it's important that you spend some time with his latest, Easy Tiger. What we have here is a truly great American songwriter who's really just hitting his stride.
Perhaps only the fantasy duo of King Kong and Bambi could be a more bizarre pairing than Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Yet on Raising Sand, their haunting and brilliant collaboration, the Led Zeppelin screamer and Nashville's most hypnotic song whisperer seem made for each other. This, however, is not the howling Plant of "Whole Lotta Love," but a far more precise and softer singer than even the one who emerged with Dreamland (2002).
Much more diverse musically than her previous four studio albums, Children Running Through deals with some big issues lyrically - namely new beginnings and dealing with trouble and strife of all sorts. Standout tracks include "Stay On The Ride," "No Bad News" and the sublime "Heavenly Day," which builds slowly into a remarkable tune.
Mark Ronson is a London-born, New York City-raised artist, producer and DJ. His new album Version is - true to its title - a collection of versions of other artists' tunes. This is, of course, an oft-used idea, but few can match the ideas, personnel, and deft production touch that Ronson possesses.
It wasn't easy to successfully follow-up her debut album Eye To The Telescope, but Scottish singer/songwriter K.T. Tunstall has done a pretty fair job on Drastic Fantastic. Her strength on this album - as it was on the debut - is her ability to write engaging pop songs that don't venture too far into the pop song jungle. You don't have to be ashamed to say that you dig K.T. Tunstall.
Josh Ritter is a prime example of an artist getting better and better as he goes along. We all knew he was super-talented, but even that didn't prepare me for the genius of this new album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. It's a bona fide best of '07 contender, and a completely rewarding listening experience, whether you hear the album from start to finish or hear it a song at a time. Ritter's got it goin' on...
With his new album Armchair Apocrypha, Andrew Bird has delivered one of the most beautiful, challenging and diverse records we've heard in a very long time.
This unique compilation project brings together the legendary musicians of the Buena Vista Social Club and some of today's most popular artists Radiohead, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Sting, U2's Bono, Dido, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, Jack Johnson and others. They perform collaborations of some of their classic hits, and the result is pure genius.
Zero 7 are the English "sound-design" duo of Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker who debuted in 2001 with their now classic Simple Things album, a collection of warm, soulful and chilled out electronica. The Garden is their gorgeous third release and not too unlike their previous albums, which put them in a similar musical genre wih bands like Royksopp, Air, Portishead. This time around however, Zero 7 have added a more upbeat musical direction to their trademark ambience and finds them mining some excellent & fertile musical ground.
WAYNE COYNE and company - the endlessly endearing FLAMING LIPS - continue their strange and beautiful musical/psychological journey on At War With The Mystics, an album that undeniably rocks, makes you laugh, and provides a musical soundtrack for the proverbial "wonder of it all".
In the space of two years (2003-2005), ROSANNE CASH lost her mother, stepmother (JUNE CARTER CASH), and - of course - her father JOHNNY CASH. The result for her musically is the most intense and personal of all of her many releases over a 25-year-plus career.
One of this year's most outstanding new artists, Rodrigo y Gabriela are Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintana, Mexico City natives who now live in and wrok out of Dublin, Ireland. It's a simple formula, really... two acoustic guitars, all instrumental songs. I can assure you that the results are much more interesting than the description.
Whether or not Ray LaMontagne will become this generation's Van Morrison is something that's yet to be determined, but you'll be hard-pressed to find another singer who combines light and dark, power and subtlety as well as this New Hampshire native. His second album - Till The Sun Turns Black - is another well thought-out, well delivered set of music.
KT Tunstall is a sparkling new songwriter with Chinese blood, a Scottish heart, great legwarmers and a cool name who celebrates classic singer-songwriting with an articulate, accessible, immediate brew of rootsy sass, wistful quandary and after-hours atmosphere. more...
Anyone who's seen or heard James Hunter perform is already hip to his remarkable talents as a singer, guitarist and songwriter. This includes Van Morrison
Gnarls Barkley So who is Gnarls Barkley? The rumors fly in every direction and remain unverifiable, but with links to underground hip hop artists Danger Mouse
Along with Gnarls Barkley, Corinne Bailey Rae has made one of the most spectacular debut splashes of the first half of this year. This 27 year-old, Leeds, England native's eponomous album is a versatile, flowing, 11-song listen that sounds perfect for these hot summer days (and nights).
Blessed with a wonderful voice and a fine storytelling style, Philly's own Amos Lee seems poised to take his craft to a wider audience. His sophomore album - Supply & Demand - will most certainly help him get there.
Well, he certainly took his time, but Alexi Murdoch's first full album Time Without Consequence is set for release on June 6. Since we first heard his understated masterpiece 4 Songs in 2002, Alexi fans everywhere have been patiently waiting for some new songs. Time Without Consequence will not disappoint those people.
XPN Artist To Watch - October 2005 The Magic Numbers Drawing inspiration from many sources, the band craft a sound which, like The Flaming Lips or Beck, is coming from everywhere but is uniquely theirs. more....
With Careless Love, Peyroux is once again proving herself to be an original interpreter and an open receptor to songs from earlier eras—an artist who channels vintage jazz and blues with chilling accuracy. “I feel very lucky to be part of a tradition of songwriting that stands the test of time,” says Peyroux. “I also feel lucky to be able to go back and perform as much as I did before—I can’t wait.” Adds Peyroux, with characteristic modesty:
With bossa nova beats, trip-hop, Jamaican dub, and world grooves galore, the Washington DC based DJ duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton are back with The Cosmic Game, their fourth record. Since the mid-90's Hilton and Garza have created their own flourishing cultural cottage industry with their own record label and a niteclub, restaurant and bar in Washington, DC. Starting out as DJ's catering to fans or rare-groove and acid-jazz music, they broadened their sound to include an ecelctic mix of groove and ambient genres of music. The Cosmic Game is their finest studio record yet.
To quote many of the music reviews coming in on singer-songwriter Sufjan Steven's new album, "this might be the year's masterwork." Every once in a while a record comes along with such breathtaking creativity and audaciousness and Illinoise is this year's model.
Soulive is a funky organ trio who cover a lot of musical ground including jazz, funk, soul and hip-hop. Their grooves are wide and thick, the beats guaranteed to bump your rump all through the night. Formed in the late Nineties, the band include drummer Alan Evans and his brother Neil on keyboards and guitarist Eric Krasno. Since their debut album, they've brought jazz to the dance floor and have become an exciting live band who were one of the highlights of this year's XPN All About The Music Festival. And they are known throughout jam band circles as one of the premier groups drawing on the jams of jazz and rhythms of soul.