Authentic. That's the first word that springs to mind when you encounter Brandi Carlile. From her rootsy bell-clear voice to the palpable emotion that seeps through every song on her stunning debut album, everything about this 23-year-old from rural Washington state is the real deal.
"For us, ALO is more than just a band and we're more than just a group of great friends making music together. ALO is our lifestyle."
Imagine a road trip in Nick Drake's old car, give Ryan Adams a seat, Grant Lee Phillips is there, maybe Beck has the wheel and Joni Mitchell is giving directions. The music they'd listen to would be pretty close to the music of David Berkeley, this young, charismatic singer from Georgia. His voice is warm like a tumbler of bourbon. He believes in the lyrics he writes, and he sings them from the marrow of his bones.
British pianist/vocalist Jamie Cullum mixes jazz with melodic pop and rock into a crossover style that calls to mind such artists as Harry Connick, Jr. and Norah Jones. In that vein, Cullum will just as often cover a swinging jazz standard as a modern rock song, and his original compositions deftly move from earnest ballads to songs of sardonic wit.
Tom Chaplin (vocals), Richard Hughes (drums), and Tim Oxley-Rice (piano) are childhood friends from Battle, East Sussex, England who make up the merry pop sounds of Keane. Formed in 1997 while each were attending college, Keane initially started out as a cover band. The shtick would only last so long, for Keane got tired of playing everyone else's songs and yearned to do things on their own. They signed to Island UK in Fall 2003 and released their fourth single, "This Is The Last Time." The band's full-length debut, Hopes and Fears, appeared the following spring.
If In Parentheses served notice of Charlotte's arrival, then the stunning new full-length record On Your Shore confirms that she's here to stay. The album delivers on the promise of its predecessor with achingly beautiful meditations on faith, hope and love. On the surface, On Your Shore is catchy and compelling and swims in lush, piano-drenched balladry. But those who remember how to really listen to an album will also discover an artist determined to broaden her range by digging deeper. By taking a fearless and open-hearted approach to songwriting, Charlotte transforms the personal to the universal, making On Your Shore a shared and moving catharsis.
Ray LaMontagne is a tall, lanky, bearded guy, with a penchant for rumpled denim shirts and homemade haircuts. Which makes sense, seeing as he lives in a house he built himself on an old farm plot in Hartford. And he has no phone or electricity. Ray's voice has been compared to a dusty cabernet. He plays his guitar like it wronged him, and has more songs full of love and desperation than he knows what to do with. When he plays live, he writhes around on the stage like he had ants in his pants and sings from the depths of his soul and the soles of his shoes. He played the Tin Angel in Philadelphia in May. You can check out Ray's website for sample music cuts - "Trouble", "Shelter", and "Jolene".
Philly Local favorite. Whether it's the Soul, Funk, Jazz or Hip-Hop, there is something in Mutlu's music that will resonate in your heart, mind and soul. Mutlu is a singer, songwriter and musician of uncommon caliber and soul. He can often be seen playing solo or with a back-up band in and around the city of Philadelphia. His soulful vibe draws comparisons to such legendary performers as Stevie Wonder, Al Green and Prince.
Mutlu's new EP is available at all of his shows and at CD Baby.
When he was 16, singer/songwriter Johnathan Rice opened his mouth and let out a weathered, rustic sound that caught him by surprise. Like most teenagers obsessed with music try to do, Rice just wanted to see what his voice sounded like when imitating his heroes - Joni Mitchell, The Band, Neil Young, Bob Dylan. As consequence would have it, Rice decided to make his songwriting hobby a serious affair and returned to his native Virginia after spending most of his life growing up in Glasgow.
Irish-born Ciaran McFeely (aka Simple Kid) was about 10-years-old when he strolled home with a copy of Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet to the great shock of his brother. McFeely's hipper, older sibling immediately took him upstairs, tossed the disc out the window and said, "Here's Led Zeppelin." So began McFeely's love affair with the classics - Zeppelin, Neil Young, Bowie. As Jon and the boys hit the pavement and Zeppelin skins' man John Bonham pumped out his monstrous low-end march, the roots of Simple Kid were planted.
Singer/songwriter Jesse Sykes and guitarist Phil Wandscher have come together to unearth their own spooky brand of American music. The couple met in the smokey, charming confines of Seattle's Hattie's Hat bar in 1998 and began a naturally evolving collaboration, initially performing as a duo. Their effective partnership soon drew the attention of violinist Anne Marie Ruljancich, upright bass player Bill Herzog, and drummer Kevin Warner. Sykes' delicately bewitching alto and Wandscher's darkly spacious guitar melded warmly with their new band mates, and the collective was christened Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter.
Pyeng Threadgill is the daughter of free jazz artist and composer Henry Threadgill and dancer & choreographer Christina Jones, who was also a founding member of the Urban Bushwomen. As an exciting and innovative new vocalist Pyeng is continuing the family's creative traditions.
Singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata grew up listening to Carole King, Roberta Flack, James Taylor, and the like, for music was the one thing in Yamagata's life that remained consistent. By the time she reached college in the mid-'90s, Yamagata had one year of piano lessons and a spiral notebook full of songs under her belt. In September 2002, Yamagata landed a deal with Arista's Private Music and her self-titled EP was pulished in October. On sale everywhere in June, is Rachael's debut Album Happenstance.
Adrienne Young believes that, in the past, music was more of a communal activity than it is today. "Ideally, music is something you play with people, not just for them," she says. Young and her band, Little Sadie, trust that by sharing what moves them, people who attend their performances will walk away feeling that they were part of a creative exchange.
On Four Songs, his debut EP, Murdoch showcases a songwriting style in which he impossibly manages to build the grandeur of arena-rock anthems into quiet folk songs. With "Only Fear" and "Orange Sky" especially, he writes and sings with an urgency that implores you to take notice. His music assaults the listener from all angles - with a lyrical style that is both earnest and thought-provoking (while avoiding the pervasive cliche and banality of today's music), and with the melding of his subtle guitar and his calm, soothing voice, creating an atmospheric quality that ensnares the senses.
Highly influenced by soul, folk, and blues music, Amos Lee directs his music with a spirit and presence rooted in American tradition. Taking inspiration from soul greats Stevie Wonder, and Donny Hathaway as well as from folk legends John Prine and Dave Van Ronk, Amos delivers a unique breed of folky soul music that aims to unite, uplift, and inspire. Amos has recently been touring both in Europe and here on the North American Tour with Norah Jones. He played the WXPN Singer Songwriter Weekend Festival on July 18 in Philadelphia. You can pick up his EP at his shows or through CD Baby.
With the album unfinished, Damien Rice released his first single "The Blower's Daughter" in Ireland in September 2001. Entering straight into the top 20, his ensuing tour was a resounding success. O, Damien's debut album, was released the following February to hails from the critics of "mesmerizing," "absorbing" and "emotional." Now at double platinum status album in Ireland, Damien Rice has received three nominations in the 2003 Meteor Ireland Music Awards, as well as scooping the board in the Hot Press Readers' Poll for Best Album, and entering the top 5 for Best Male Singer, Best Live Act, Best Songwriter and Best Single.
Growing up in a musical family, Darcie went from mimicking the bands she admired and that her parents played on the home stereo, including Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, to picking up the guitar at age 11. And even while this precocious singer/songwriter/guitarist assesses where she's come from, she's hurtling into a very promising future in rock music. After building a regional following in the northeast with steady touring and opening slots for the likes of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Wyclef Jean, Beth Hart, Jeffrey Gaines and Edwin McCain, Miner and her crack four-piece band are ready for national exposure.
The Derek Trucks Band has been a work in progress for over 10 years, slowly blending jazz, rock, blues, Latin, Eastern Indian, and other world music into the sound that now defines the DTB. The mission of the band has been to assemble a group of musicians that share a passion for improvisation and musical exploration and to develop a special musical unity by performing with this core group of players for an extended period of time. The focus of the band is on the art form itself, despite the current trend of image-driven music on the scene today. The DTB aims to create progressive roots music in an effort to move the art form forward and re-establish substance over hype.
At its core, the group is Kat Maslich and Peter Adams. Both are vocalists, instrumentalists and writers imprinted with the undeniable regional character one might expect from children of the South. Their music, as exemplified by eastmountainsouth, is an alloy of hill-country melodies, contemporary studio techniques and literary-minded lyrics that frequently trace the experience of loss.
Gemma honed her songwriting skills playing the Dublin circuit by night. Despite audiences and critics instantly warming to her gorgeous melodies and haunting songs, she gradually grew tired of the restriction of the acoustic guitar and started to put together a band. Her vision to combine the singer songwriter elements of her acoustic work with the layered harmonic discord of her favorite artists like My Bloody Valentine. It's been this aim to combine the opposing forces of fragility and chaos that has remained central to her work since.
Kathleen Edwards was born in Ottawa, Canada to parents in the Foreign Service, and spent portions of her youth in Korea and Switzerland. At age five, she began classical violin studies that continued for the next twelve years. (Kathleen arranged and played all the string parts on Failer.) "A lot of my classical training was by ear, and I think that played a big part in my being able to play guitar and write melodies," she says. "My mother was a piano teacher and my dad is a great singer - in fact, they met in a choir. So my older brother and I were both thrown into playing music almost from birth."
The music of Robert Randolph is more than just one man playing a pedal steel guitar. It is more than just a band, a family, on stage engulfing its audience with intense jams. It is a unique style and a new genre of music altogether. Hearing it for the first time, you get the feeling of meeting someone for the first time and knowing instantly you've met a lifelong friend. The music of Robert Randolph, at its heart, is a friendship. A friendship between Robert and his band - they are his cousins in blood and in passion. A friendship between the musicians and the music itself - they pour their emotion into each note, their souls into each jam.
Everything about singer Sam Roberts seems rockstar-ready. He enjoys a good time, is crazy about sports and lives for the road, whether it's with his band or as a world traveler. The music penned for The Inhuman Condition is witty, straightforward stuff reminiscent of all that was good about classic British and American pop-not too cool, not too specific, melodic and rocking, the type of music that makes you move.
Dallas symphonic pop group the Polyphonic Spree is less a band than a happening, in the 1960's sense of the word. When the group takes to the stage for a live performance, its two dozen members are costumed in flowing robes of snowy white, an appropriate backdrop for their happy and uplifting musical message that's catchy pop minimally laced by gospel. Fans have compared them to both the Flaming Lips and the Beach Boys, with a smidgen of lively Godspell-like attitude thrown into the mix.
"We're The Thorns," Matthew Sweet tells the crowd of assembled radio programmers and various music industry folks at an out-of-the-way resort on Hawaii's Kohala Coast. It's early evening on Thursday, February 13, and Sweet is introducing a new trio who, individually, are already quite well-known. Sweet, Shawn Mullins and Pete Droge come equipped with a resume that features, between them, 15 albums' - including one gold-seller (Sweet's Girlfriend), and one platinum (Mullins' Soul's Core), and one of those songs that was absolutely everywhere back in 1998 (Mullins' "Lullaby"). The introduction as The Thorns is particularly appropriate given that this is the very first time anyone outside of the group's immediate circle is seeing them perform.