No, the new album from Sufjan Stevens is not a concept record about Alaska, Louisiana, Montana or any of the 50 states for that matter. Yet while his ambition of creating a musical-map of our country may have subsided (for the moment), the new full-length album The Age Of Adz is a sonic adventure all to itself.
Kings of Leon were propelled to stardom with the release of their 2008 Grammy nominated album Only By The Night. Their 5th studio album Come Around Sundown, another collection of undeniable rock anthems, comes almost exactly two years after and does little to lessen the argument that the Followill family currently reign as the biggest rock band in America.
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.
Which direction Robert Plant turns next is anyone's guess. After his hugely successful collaboration album with Alison Krauss, Raising Sand, the Led Zeppelin frontman decides to turn back the clock on his latest solo effort Band Of Joy. Besides being the title of the new album, Band Of Joy references Plant's pre-Zeppelin blues band with drummer John Bonham. Band Of Joy is a bluesy, Americana collection comprised mostly of covers and supported by an all-star cast of musicians.
Promise and Potential are two words that often bring with them as much excitement as they do disappointment, especially in the case of young musicians. So, you can’t blame many of us for holding our breath in anticipation of the full-length debut album from the artist that simply goes by the name Lissie. The twenty something songwriter, originally from Rock Island, Illinois, perked our ears last year with her debut EP Why You Runnin’. And upon the release of Catching A Tiger not only could we exhale but applaud the collection as one of the years truly dynamic debuts.
In a time where most country musicians seem as glitz and glam as their pop music counterparts, it's songwriters like Ryan Bingham who remind us that it's not just the hat you’re wearing but the words you’re spilling that make you a country artist. Now on his third proper album, Junky Star, Bingham continues to impress as a songwriter offering a collection of songs that stress his talent with wordplay and emotion.
It's a bit hard to believe that God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise is the fourth album from the soulful singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne. It doesn’t seem so far off from when many of us first stopped us in our tracks upon hearing the song “Trouble” from his debut album. But over the course of his career, Ray has captivated audiences with an emotionally driven songbook, a voice that summons goose bumps and a fascinating aversion to the spotlight he so requires.
For nearly 40 years, Los Lobos has been an inspiring model of consistency in the world of rock and roll. It's difficult (if not impossible) to think of bands over the past four decades that have maintained the same line-up and continue to engage at such a high level as Los Lobos do on their brand new studio album, Tin Can Trust.
For many, Omni, the new album from the Seattle-based band Minus the Bear is an introduction. However, as fans of the experimental rock band already know this is a band and a sound, that for years has escaped mainstream success, yet record after record saw their fan base only grow larger. On stage the music of Minus the Bear is undeniable from small club stages to major festivals. Until Omni however, harnessing their fearlessness for sonic boundary, seductive lyricism and muscular energy never seemed so easy.
One of this year's most anticipated records!
~ Bruce Warren, Program Director WXPN
Much like their first two albums, The Suburbs from The Arcade Fire stands as a grandiose musical adventure. Similar to Funeral and Neon Bible, this new batch of songs triumphs with dynamic orchestrations and pure power. Yet, what sets The Suburbs apart from its predecessors is a sense of nostalgia. Where a dark cloud of impending doom may have at times hovered over their first two albums, The Suburbs offers a unique look back at adolescence both in a standalone state and in comparison to our current social state.
For XPN Artist To Watch, Trombone Shorty, measuring success doesn’t necessary seem like it equates to album sales or tangible assets. For Shorty it appears more about creation, collaboration and the excitement of the music he plays. It’s a veteran like perspective, but that’s not surprising coming from the 24 year old virtuoso. He’s been leading bands since the age of 6, long before he arms could even extend the length of his instrument, and even less surprising from Shorty is his inspiring debut album for Verve, Backatown.
We’ve seen a number of artists in the first half of 2010 whose stock continues to rise upon the release of new albums. The best recent example comes from The Gaslight Anthem. More confident and just as powerful the Jersey-based rock band truly breakthrough on their third full-length album American Slang.
As we know is the case for certain artists, the church is the place where some of their earliest musical experiences occur. We know this to be true for Robert Randolph, and his gospel influences have always played a part in his music. While his last record did its best to capture the bands live energy and flash, We Walk This Road accomplishes a more mature musical journey.
For Alejandro Escovedo, his new album Street Songs Of Love serves as a reminder as to how important a voice he continues to be in the world of music. The title pretty much tells the theme of the album. Whether it's a straight ahead rocker like the album opener “Anchor” or a heartfelt ballad like “Down In The Bowery,” Alejandro is rich with the sentiment of love on his latest collection.
A superstar cast of indie-artists that range from Josh Ritter to Drive-By Truckers come together to pay homage to one of the great country/folk songwriters on a new tribute album. Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine is, for the most part, a younger cast of admirers taking a deep look at the songbook of John Prine.
After a listen through Mojo, the new album from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, there is an overwhelming realization that this is more than just another studio album from one of rock's great songwriters and performers. In fact, Mojo is a representation of how dynamic and elite Petty and the Heartbreakers are together as a band.
We all know that sophomore records can be tricky. Especially for young bands who’ve tasted even a little bit of success, expectations grow quickly and often the results don't match. For the San Diego based band Delta Spirit, their new record History From Below bucks that trend and responds with an intensely intimate, powerful batch of songs.
It’s hard to distinguish whether the “unofficial” start of summer was actually Memorial Day weekend or if it coincided with the release of the new album from Jack Johnson. Needless to say, as many folks were taking out the swim trunks for the first time this year, the world’s most unassuming superstar Johnson released his fifth studio album To The Sea.
After taking some time apart to work on individual projects, the tandem of singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney are back together as The Black Keys. The two slip comfortably back into their blues rock grooves on the new album, Brothers. With less of an emphasis on refining the edges, Brothers offers rawness reminiscent of early Black Keys records, which is sure to excite fans.
For those of us who either never have or will realistically never again step foot onto a nightclub dance floor, James Murphy gives us our at home admission with the new LCD Soundsystem album This Is Happening. The addictive atmosphere that LCD produced three years ago on the critically praised album Sound of Silver is full-realized again on This Is Happening.
Without even listening to a note of the new Band of Horses album, you'd be inclined to suspect that the blueprint for Infinite Arms would equate to sonic changes. The cast of band members has been altered, yet frontman Ben Bridwell remains consistent in his tendency for writing dreamy melodies and affecting lyrics.
With a decade of music-making under their belts, The National stand ready for another round of introductions. With each subsequent release, the band has garnered a wider fan base and louder critical praise. Upon the release of their new album High Violet, the band should be prepared for its most overwhelming ovation yet.
In a musical climate where pure singer-songwriters are burdened by competition for attention and ears, it seems cliché yet appropriate to say that the cream rises to the top. And with that, Josh Ritter is a name who has continued to engage and grow artistically with each record. His latest So Runs The World Away continues a progression of agreeable, literate releases from the Idaho native.
Anthemic rockers The Hold Steady ready the release of their fifth studio album entitled Heaven Is Whenever. Animated keyboardist, Franz Nicolay, has parted ways with the group leaving the dynamics a bit altered, but nonetheless The Hold Steady’s classic brand of fist pumping rock ensues.
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.