Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog had set all their cards out on the table from the beginning and has consistently kept to their laid back, forwardly retro, bum rock style. Although this consistency doesn’t mean they haven’t progressed from the start. In fact they perfected it with their latest album, Shame Shame. While most of the terms used to describe this album will be a mash-up of random music-related terminology and slapdash adjectives, it all makes sense with just one listen through. Their recent release steps away from the raw production, giving a shinier feel to their typically rough presentation.
- Shadow People
- Jackie Wants a Black Eye
The Annuals recently released a five song EP and it’s all about quality, not quantity. Every song on Sweet Sister has its own individual flavor; making the track-to-track listen a seriously pleasant experience. From music quality to production, it’s all there. With only two full-length albums under their belt, this record makes up for the sophomore mistake of going with a major label when independent just worked so well.
- Sweet Sister
Paper Tongues are an alternative rock band from Charlotte, North Carolina. Managed by Randy Jackson and signed to A&M/Octone Records, they are definitely trying to make a name for themselves. Their first step was made with the release of their self-titled debut album.
Starting the album with a significant push, Trinity is a great way to introduce an album. While the verses have serious strength, the hooks are catchy and strong enough to bust some speakers. The album doesn’t slow down, keeping the energy high with heavy bass, strong vocals, and light electronics filling in the details. Their hit song, Ride to California, moves into Get Higher, which bats clean up. Both songs have their strengths and seem to standout. A Surprise standout came on track 6, Soul, which is high intensity with a fun beat and great lyrics.
Overall, the album is a nice combination of alternative rock and upbeat pop. The music isn’t anything different, but it will definitely create a following for this young band.
- Ride To California
- Get Higher
The Rock band from Georgia known as The Whigs released their latest album, In The Dark. The record has a heavy dose of distorted electric guitar, deep bass, and rich drums with a ton of cymbal. Although all the element s of pure rock are present, the album just seems incomplete. The standouts definitely standout, but in this case that’s not a good thing. The album has three or four solid tracks, but beyond that, it gets a bit thin. The album is basically a collection of scrapped Foo Fighters material. “Someone’s Daughter” might contain some of the most annoyingly repetitive lyrics ever put to music.
- Kill Me Carolyn
- In The Dark
- I Am For Real
The Andronicus’ latest album, The Monitor, stirs an interesting pot of assorted alternative sounds. Anthems for drinking, Irish punk rock, heavy garage distortion, west coast electric, and a plethora of classic lyrical placements litter the album as a surprise around every corner. The album is rough and extremely raw, but includes an interesting twist; a reoccurring Civil War theme. Fuzzy old monologues and patriotic undertones are placed throughout the album.
- Four Score And Seven
- A More Perfect Union
- Titus Andronicus Forever
Brian Burton, a.k.a. Danger Mouse, has a notable track record of creating successful breaks in the music industry. His resume includes the essential 2004 Jay-Z / Beatles mash-up album, The Grey Album. Burton has teamed up with James Mercer, lead singer of The Shins. A collaboration we never saw coming.
The self-titled album successfully promotes each of these individuals’ strengths. Let it be Danger Mouse’s next level instrumentals and distinctive production or Mercer’s infectious vocals and catching choruses. Whether it’s intentional or the product of unique collaborative design, the album is a successful departure from the typical. Mercer’s vocals are barely comparable to that of The Shins and Danger Mouse’s instrumentals are innovative yet clean and relaxed.
Although the album isn’t a leap in front of music’s last step, it has its charm.
- The High Road
- The Ghost Inside
Every now and then, an album comes along that is able to sweep its listener off their feet and send them somewhere unexpected. Josh Rouse’s El Tursita does just that. The listener is sent on a tropical albumcation, where warm feelings and careless thoughts transpire.
El Turista starts like a paradise-based weekly sitcom with its opening track acting as an introductory theme song that greets the listener. Bienvenido, or “Welcome” in Spanish, moves seamlessly into Duerme, a South American bosanova, sung entirely in Spanish. Each track from there on is mostly in English, yet radiates exotic influences. The album offers a sense of vacation and relief. The standout track on this album is quite obvious and likely undisputed. I Will Live on Islands is an upbeat song that is catchy and complete.
- I Will Live On Islands
- Sweet Elaine
- Cotton Eye Joe
Jamie Cullum continues to create jazz music with a contemporary appeal. His latest album, The Pursuit, is large and boisterous with a sizable horn section, big background vocal support and tons of swing. Jamie’s voice is stronger than ever and his style pushes through multiple genres.
The album opens with “Just One of Those Things”, which sets the energy level incredibly high using its big brass segment and tons of sway. Flowing into the piano of “I’m All Over It”, Jaime shows the strength in his voice. The surrounding vocal support gives this song its serious depth. Defiantly a standout track on the album. Jamie includes his signature covers, such as the classically song “If I Ruled the World”, which he conducted in a classic soft approach. He truly lets his voice stand front and center on this track. Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music” is also featured on the album, with a light café style which opens up into a stronger chorus. The song continuously fluctuates its tempo and strength, which creates an interesting take on the club banger.
Some of the finer tracks display amazing instrumental talent, like “You and Me Are Gone”, which features an impressive lengthy piano solo.
- I’m All Over It
- Don’t Stop the Music
- I Love This
- You and Me Are Gone
Heavy drums, echoing electric guitar, spacey keys and pseudo-rap vocals make up a large portion of Portugal, The Man’s highly anticipated album, American Ghetto. The collection is a blend of their prior album’s styles, which range from rather experimental to a raw alternative attitude. As a whole, the album plays seemingly different from their 2009 release, The Satanic Satanist, which had a more pop sensibility.
The album opens with one of the strongest tracks, “The Dead Dog”. The heavy drums and crackling production push the album off with a convincing start. A quick abstract interlude leads into another solid song, “60 Years”. Heavy on the electric guitar, notes cry out in the background carefully filling in the songs details. As the track progresses, the chorus takes off and seals its appeal. Overall the first three songs on the album are the standouts, but that doesn’t mean it’s over.
- The Dead Dog
- All My People
- 60 Years
Many artists I’ve discovered are now in heavy rotation on my iPod, but Ben’s music always seems to be getting a lot of plays from me. Rector’s songs “The Kill” and “After All” are the ones that initially got me hooked and I’ve been anticipating the release of Into The Morning for some time now.
This marks Ben Rector’s fourth official release, and my personal favorite of his so far. This album is a great piece of pop music that offers something new with each track. It also doesn’t hurt that the album is addicting right from the start. It took me a fifteen minutes to get past the first track…”The Beat” is one of the catchiest tracks on the album for sure. Great choice in song placement right there. It pulls people right in leaving them wanting more! Overall, Into The Morning is a great collection of songs. Ben gets us hooked with some great upbeat songs like “The Beat”, “Out of my Head” and “Loving You Is Easy” and keeps us hooked with a few slow tracks like “When a Heart Breaks” and “Moving Backwards”.
Rector did some great marketing leading up to the album release as well, posting video clips of the new tracks every few days. I know that got me pumped for the album, and I’ll be keeping my eye out for some full-length videos for these new songs. Ben definitely has an intriguing creative side and I’m looking forward to seeing what he has in store for us next!
Right now Ben’s out on the road with Steve Moakler and Andrew Ripp on the “Three Amigos Tour”. Check out Ben’s Myspace to see if he’s coming to a city near you. Make sure you head over to iTunes and pick up a copy for yourself!
The Chicago artist, Andrew Belle, is an exceptional young talent who had set the bar high with his debut album, All the Pretty Lights. He recently released his follow-up album, The Ladder, which does not disappoint. The collection features Belle’s charming vocals, a smooth style, and some new instrumental additions.
The Ladder is an engaging mix of guitar pop, aged sounding production and a sincere approach to songwriting. Instead of replicating his previous successes, the album improves and expands on where he left off. His voice stands front and center, but now accented by big strings and subtle banjo driven rhythms. The album opens with strong vocals and faint cloudy echoes accentuated by the surprising string details. The second song, a duet with Katie Herzig called Static Waves, is an obvious standout. The soft female vocals accentuate Andrew’s solemn tone, and allows for the two’s words to intertwine as if conversing.
The Ladder is yet another illustration of Andrew Belle’s abilities as a Singer/Songwriter. His latest release shows growth and courage to experiment. This record will hold us over till he shows us something bigger and better.
- Static Waves feat. Katie Herzig
- Don’t Blame Yourself
- The Ladder
Fang Island’s new self-titled album starts big and doesn’t quit. The album is a surge of high spirited, jubilant rock. Opening with a double dose of high intensity instrumental fireworks and only slowly moving into the bare minimum of required lyrics. It’s hard to compare to anything more than a rock concert where the lead singer forgot all the words but the background singers are on point. Harmonizing vocals and guitars bring the album to life, while the drums keep everything on beat. Each song builds and builds, never hitting a climax until it’s all but done.
Mumford and Sons debut album, Sigh No More, is exciting and bold. The full sound, filled with banjo, bass, and a spunky folk guitar are set off by passionately raspy vocals. Their music fuses both Indie’s future and the deepest reaches of music’s past.
Songs like Roll Away Your Stone, Little Lion Man, and White Blank Page are so big, they explode through your speakers. They have the passion and push of a fight song. The strong lead vocals backed by a gang of voices gives each song an energy and overwhelming depth.
The high energy and up-tempo instrumentals keep this album completely entertaining.
- The Cave
- Sigh No More
- Winter Winds
Voice-overs, heavy horns, and a background full of chanting men is probably the best way to introduce the first two tracks on your album. Galactic released their latest album, Ya-Ka-May, this week and its sure to satisfy. Each track is a mash up of sophisticated beats and vocals, featuring a new artist and their individual style on every song.
- Heart Of Steel (featuring Irma Thomas)
- Do It Again (featuring Cheeky Blakk)
- Wild Man (featuring Big Chief Bo Dollis)
Future Sons and Daughters is a collection of unique mid-tempo tracks taking the typical indie sound, including the soft nature of 70’s light rock, and fuzing it with an unassuming shot of contemporary pop. AM’s latest album is a refreshing taste of something new, but not too far from the familiar. He’s taken the recognizable acoustic-pop/folk sound and reworked it enough to keep things interesting.
- The Other Side
- It’s Been So Long
- A Complete Unknown
Manchester’s Starless & Bible Black released their sophmore album Shape of the Shape, which is an illustration of the trio’s evolution and overall shift to more of a futuristic space cowboy’s song. Distancing their strategy to that of their self-titled debut album in 2006, the sound lost its acoustic feel. Helene Gautier’s voice stands up front, backed by an electric surround of wired instruments and reverberating tones.
- Your Majesty Man
- Say Donna Say
- Les Furies