Saturday, July 26, 2014

Wide range of artists shine bright on new albums

In addition to welcoming the continent-hopping collective Riddle & The Stars to the burgeoning Americana genre via their terrific debut, a strong field of artists have returned with noteworthy new releases.

Artist: Riddle & The Stars
Title: This Is Happening (independent release)
You might like if you enjoy: Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris, Fleet Foxes, Johnnyswim
Tell me more: Few movements in modern music have been as rewarding as the explosion of Americana over the past decade. Extending the sonic soundscape first established by the likes of Neil Young, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, modern-day heroes like Mumford & Sons, Trampled by Turtles and Johnnyswim have extended the reach of the genre in new and exciting directions. So too now have Australian singer-songwriter Ben Riddle and Huntington Beach, California-based outfit The Fallen Stars on the newly-issued collaboration This Is Happening. The sterling 12-track collection of authentic songs are enriched by a blend indie folk, alt country and roots music as Riddle and the Stars' talented tandem of Bobbo and Tracy Barnes each get to sing lead vocals while elsewhere they combine forces for some crafty harmonies (notably on the stirring title track).  Highlights include the haunting "Favourite Photograph," reflective "Massachusetts," lovely "Stronger Than Steel" (inspired by the Kaylee Frye character on the cult sci-fi show Firefly) and epic "Dam." Note: This Is Happening isn't scheduled to be released until August 2014, but you can get the first single "Chance" via the link listed below. Information:
Get the single "Chance" here

Artist: Jenny Lewis
Title: The Voyager (Warner Bros.)
You might like if you enjoy: The Watson Twins' 2006 album "Rabbit Fur Coat," Jenny and Johnny, Rilo Kiley
Tell me more: Rarely is an album as interesting or confessional as California singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis' The Voyager. The former singer of Rilo Kiley, Lewis is not afraid to explore and share the deepest reaches of her soul as evidenced by a range of songs offered in different musical styles with lyrics that clearly reflect her own experiences with a rich honesty that is never less than inspired. The evocative "She's Not Me," bouncy New Wave-tinged "Head Underwater" and baroque pop gem "Late Bloomer" are among the wonderful songs on this outstanding album. Information: The Voyager is set to be released on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.
Pre-order "The Voyager" now

Artist: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Title: Hypnotic Eye (Warner Bros.)
You might like if you enjoy: Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Mudcrutch
Tell me more: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' 13th album Hypnotic Eye not only rocks with abandon but mostly recaptures the youthful spirit of the Florida-spawned ensemble's best '70s and '80s efforts. From the mighty opener "American Dream Plan B" and sparse "Full Grown Boy" to the rollicking "All You Carry" (you have to love Mike Campbell's guitar work in this one) and similarly fierce "Forgotten Man," there is a vibrancy and power that defies the group's "classic rock" moniker. What's more, the edgy "Fault Lines" could have fit in as a track on the Beatles' "White Album," with its savage John Lennon-styled guitar licks and confessional core. Information: Hypnotic Eye is set for release on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.
Pre-order "Hypnotic Eye" now!

Artist: Marillion

Title: A Sunday Night Above the Rain (earMUSIC / Eagle Rock Entertainment)

You might like if you enjoy: Peter Gabriel, Porcupine Tree, Radiohead

Tell me more: While British rock artists such as The Beatles and Rolling Stones have achieved widespread acclaim in the U.S., outstanding U.K.'s exports including Blur, Keane and Porcupine Tree have been mostly overlooked here. Add to that essential-listening list the pioneering Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire legend Marillion. The band's newly-released double-album A Sunday Night Above the Rain features the stellar neo-progressive alt rock troupe captured in action in the Netherlands on March 10, 2013 playing all eight songs from their 2012 studio disc Sounds That Can't Be Made as well as long-time favorites including "Garden Party" and "This Strange Engine." Information:
Buy "A Sunday Night Above The Rain" here

Artist: First Aid Kit

Title: Stay Gold (Columbia Records)

You might like if you enjoy: Emmylou Harris, Puss n Boots, Fleet Foxes

Tell me more: Anyone questioning the foundation First Aid Kit  Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Sรถderberg -— set on their 2012 debut, need listen no further than their aptly-titled sophomore effort Stay Gold. The Stockholm-based sisters continue to blend artful and melodic song craft with voices that harmonize in infinite magical ways that haunt and soar simultaneously. There is a slightly edgier approach this time around, both in the lyrics and music making that will further excite the faithful. Standouts on the 10-track disc include the sorrowful "Cedar Lane," the probing "The Bell" and mournful romantic epic "A Long Time Ago." Information:
Purchase "Stay Gold" here

Artist: Michael Lington

Title: Soul Appeal (Copenhagen Music)

You might like if you enjoy: Mindi Abair, Richard Elliot
Tell me more: As modern as it it retro, Michael Lington's Soul Appeal boasts 11 accessible and grooving tracks that blend Memphis soul, funk and R&B. A skilled threat on alto and tenor sax player, Lington shines every step of the way without stepping on the talented cast of players around him. Most of the disc shines with instrumental tracks, although the '70s-mining romantic song "Gonna Love You Tonight" features Kenny Lattimore; "Leave Me You" (co-written and sung by Ryan Shaw) is one of those kind of timeless ballads that Sam Cooke could have hit out of the park half a century ago. Information:

Buy "Soul Appeal" today

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