John Ondrasisk – A.K.A. Five For Fighting – arrived seemingly out of nowhere with America Town, which featured the iconic song “Superman,” an album Ondrasik and Wattenberg made on a shoestring budget in 1999. Five For Fighting’s new album, Bookmarks, reflects the best of their prior collaboration, along with all that’s transpired in the intervening years. And once again, Ondrasik’s music contains timely cultural introspection as well as an honest look into that which is us. From the classic “I Don’t Want Your Love” to the haunting “Symphony Lane,” to a taunting “She’s My Girl,” Bookmarks bounces from the serious to the satirical with one of the most unique and recognizable voices of the past decade.
Charlie Worsham Rubberband Warner Music Nashville
For the last seven years, singer-songwriter Charlie Worsham has devoted himself to honing his musical vision by collaborating with many of the most innovative musicians in Nashville today -- working as both a session player and writer, while serving as a central member of a high-profile band of players. Now, the 27-year-old multi-instrumentalist’s debut album, Rubberband, not only reveals his refined musical talent, but announces Worsham as a country artist of uncommon ingenuity, substance, and soul. Joined by musicians carefully assembled through his years of dedication to the Nashville scene, as well as through his studies at Berklee College of Music, Worsham infuses each track on Rubberband with a reverence for country’s rich heritage while ultimately delivering a bold sound entirely his own featuring left-of-center flourishes (including guest vocals by indie vocalist Madi Diaz), and deeply inventive riffs.
Sly & The Family Stone Higher! Legacy
All through the brilliant highs and the murky lows of the late '60s and early '70s, Sly & The Family Stone had the globe dancing to the music. The creativity of the mixed-race, mixed-gender, and mixed-genre band shines in this new 77-track, four-cd box set. This incredible collection showcases the classic hits not just in stereo format, but in the good ol' mono mixes and in unheard early versions, and concert performances. Also included are gems from Sly Stewarts' pre-Family Stone period, studio outtakes, and potent instrumentals from this archetype of jam bands. This powerful music is accompanied by a stunningly colorful and evocatively detailed 104-page, 10-inch book of rare photographs, posters, picture sleeves, recording documents, vintage ads, and other memorabilia, along with extensive liner notes, track-by-track annotations, and a detailed timeline of Sly and The Family's life and career.
The Rubens The Rubens WB
The Rubens are brothers Sam, Elliott And Zaac Margin and good friend Scott Baldwin. Although they’ve only been playing together since early 2011, they have already won over a legion of fans with their rich, soulful take on blues rock, thanks to their debut single, “Lay It Down.” With their single’s success these wunderkinds holed up in New York City and recorded their debut album with producer David Kahne (Regina Spektor, Paul McCartney, The Strokes). The Rubens seem to be on a dream run: The band’s self-titled album has already come in in at #1 on the iTunes chart and an impressive #3 on the ARIA Album chart in their native Australia. The band’s video for ‘My Gun’ is also nominated for Best Video at the 2012 ARIA Awards. Not bad for a band that has been together just over a year. Let’s see what you Yanks think about it…
The Moondoggies Adios I'm a Ghost Hardly Art
Adiós I’m A Ghost highlights The Moondoggies’ dichotomies: Dirty hooks and sweet harmonies, electric edge and plaintive pleas, chaotic collapse and restorative rhythm, nostalgia and newness. Though there is plenty that evokes the band that came before. Those of you looking for something familiar will be wowed by the Crazy Horse deja vu of “Don’t Ask Why,” and several of the new songs have already become live standards at Moondoggies shows.But the most exciting parts of the album are the band’s explorations of undefined territory. The surf strut that begins “Midnight Owl” is unlike anything heard before on a Moondoggies record, the upbeat tempo masking a brutal retelling of love at any cost. As a creative process and a finished product, Adiós I’m a Ghost is the Moondoggies at their best yet -- exemplary of their desire to move beyond a self-made mold and embrace a boundary-less existence.
JD Eicher & The Goodnights Into Place Rock Ridge Music
Two years after the release of their debut album and hundreds of performances later, JD Eicher & the Goodnights deliver their sophomore release, Shifting, which reaches out and touches listeners with vivid portraits of love, struggle, and hope. Thirteen songs chart their journey from feel good pop to keys-out-front alternative rock with a radio-ready, polished sound with literate songwriting and intimate, swoon-worthy vocals. Forging their diverse musical backgrounds, JD Eicher (vocals/guitar), Dan Prokop (keys), Jim Merhaut (bass), and Ryan Kirk (drums/percussion) combine seasoned songwriting, rich vocals, melodic arrangements, and emphatic delivery to establish their own take on that most elusive of genres: “subtle pop.”
Typhoon White Lighter Roll Call
Recorded at Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, Oregon, Typhoon isolated themselves from outside distractions to arrange and record White Lighter -- a collection of songs with an impressive emphasis on storytelling and melody. Produced by the band along with their in-house engineer Paul Laxer, Typhoon created a dynamic recording – full of horns, strings and group vocal crescendos – that will establish the band as an immensely creative force. Raves Paste: “Music critics throw around adjectives like ‘orchestral’ and ‘expansive’ all the time these days. But here’s a band that actually deserves such labels. Portland’s Typhoon is an indie rock geek’s dream: a dynamic 12-piece with a seemingly unending reservoir of energy, emotive vocals, arpeggiated guitars, horns, multiple drum kits and strings… Ladies and gentlemen, meet your new critical darlings.”
Pure Bathing Culture Moon Tides Partisan
It's a rare and beautiful thing when a band emerges fully formed, but it makes perfect sense in the case of guitarist Daniel Hindman and keyboardist Sarah Versprille's Pure Bathing Culture. Moon Tides builds off their past experiences as musical collaborators, in a short time the duo have created a sound that is undeniably their own. Moon Tides features soaring synths, chiming keyboards, and shimmering electric guitars move in lockstep with bouncing drum machines. It's a sound that looks back momentarily for inspiration -- Talk Talk, Prefab Sprout, Cocteau Twins -- but then fixes its gaze firmly on the present. Have a listen and get lost.
Ry Cooder & COrridos Famosos Live in San Francsico NON
Recorded in 2011 during a special two-night engagement at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall, the aptly-titled Live In San Francisco features 12 songs and was produced by the one and only Ry Cooder and performed by his band, The Corridos Famosos: Joachim Cooder on drums; Robert Francis on bass; vocalists Terry Evans, Arnold McCuller, and Juliette Commagere; Flaco Jimenez on accordion; and the ten-piece Mexican brass band La Banda Juvenil. Live in San Francisco includes original songs and interpretations of other material ranging across Cooder’s entire career, from classics like “Boomer’s Story” and “Dark End of the Street” to more recent originals such as “Lord Tell Me Why” and “El Corrido de Jesse James,” with a detour for Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs’ “Wooly Bully” and Lead Belly’s “Goodnight Irene." Also available on vinyl.
Annihilator Feast UDR
Canadian metal band Annihilator is the lifework of guitarist Jeff Waters. Founded in 1984, the band took the metal scene by storm with their debut 1989 release Alice In Hell, upped the ante with 1990’s Never, Neverland and Set The World On Fire. While most late-80’s era metal bands disappeared, Annihilator went on to forge 9 more studio CDs, DVDs and live releases, all consistently selling well and remaining true to the heavy metal cause. Tours with everyone from Judas Priest to Pantera to Trivium, plus dozens of headlining tours and festivals around the world, have been going on steady since 1989 for this band. No rest for the wicked… 2 years in the making, Annihilator’s new album, Feast, will set the world alight one more time. Dig in.
Stefano Bollani / Hamilton de Holanda O Que Será ECM
Italy’s creative piano virtuoso Stefano Bollani meets Hamilton de Holanda, Brazils peerless master of the bandolim, the 10-string mandolin for O Que Sera -- a summery celebration of the joy of music-making that radiates an irresistible enthusiasm while raising the bar for trans-idiomatic instrumental interaction. Bollani, acknowledged as one of the most prodigiously gifted soloists of jazz, is matched every step of the way here by de Holanda, and the exchanges between the musicians are frequently breathtaking. Repertoire draws upon the rich heritage of South American music including Jobim, Piazzolla, Chico Buarque, Baden Powell, Ernesto Nazareth and more, plus original compositions by the protagonists. O Que Sera was recorded live in Antwerp last August before an audibly delighted audience at the Jazz Middelheim Festival.
RALPH ALESSI Baida ECM
There are magic moments when an artist can be said to have well and truly arrived. For Ralph Alessi, the release of Baida -- his ECM debut as a bandleader -- is just such a moment. Among those in the know, Alessi is renowned as a musician’s musician: A first-call New York trumpeter who can play virtually anything on sight and has excelled as an improviser in several groups, as well as leading his own bands. But Alessi has created something breath-taking with Baida -- an album sure to beguile a wider audience with its atmospheric depth and melodic allure. To voice his suite of compositions, the trumpeter has convened a powerhouse New York band with pianist Jason Moran, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Nasheet Waits. As a vessel for the album’s seemingly bottomless lyricism, this quartet of virtuosos plays with extraordinary finesse. There is also a tensile strength emanating from the performances -- a muscularity that one can feel. Then there is the silver of Alessi’s trumpet: As The New York Times has said, it has a “rounded luminescence, like the moon in full phase.” Spellbinding.
Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard and Steve Swallow Trios ECM
Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard and Steve Swallow revisit classic Bley compositions on an exceptional album recorded in Lugano, Switzerland last year by Manfred Eicher. Included here are spirited new versions of “Utviklingssang” and “Vashkar,” and the suites “Les Trois Lagons,” “Wildlife” and “The Girl Who Cried Champagne.” Carla’s robust tunes are vividly conveyed and all members solo compellingly -- the trio has never sounded better. Trios is one of the outstanding jazz albums of the season and marks the first time that a new Carla Bley album has appeared on ECM itself (rather than the ECM-distributed WATT label, which has been her primary platform for 40 years). Listen and learn.
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