Rebirth of New Orleans Rebirth Brass Band
Basin Street

Author:
SAS

This is a bright time for brass bands. During a renewal of interest in the music, groups like the Rebirth Brass Band certainly are being reborn, and sparks of interest in the genre have, or course, revitalized its players too. With upbeat rhythms and coordinated playing as shiny as New Orleans at noon, the Rebirth Brass Band has created something that will give you a smoking introduction to the next hot dance music, much like it did during a previous brass band revival 30 years ago.

Rebirth of New Orleans was produced by Tracey Freeman, who has also produced the likes of Harry Connick Jr. and Kermit Ruffins, giving you a great interpretation of their live sound even in the recording. The lyrics are sexy and up-to-date, and the funky sound infused into trumpet, trombone, tuba and all manner of percussion instruments will not let sit out any of the 11 tracks.

Editor's Note: The times demand that you can't just sit back.

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On the Floor of Heaven, 2 CD Reissue Set The Blue Shadows
Bumstead / Burnside / Fontana

Author:
SAS

The Blue Shadows play more than a shadow of the blues. Complete with country swing and quality vintage production sound, this On the Floor of Heaven reissue will rock you to the pearly blue yonder. The album, which should have made it big back in 1993 when it was originally released, was apparently too ahead of its time with its alt-country ruminations, and never got distribution in the U.S.

Now you finally have a chance to check out something from this Vancouver-based band, a band that knows twanging love songs as well as they know broken hearts, 12-sting guitars and sweet vocal harmonies. You won't know if you're at an early '60s rock show or in a dusty saloon. So step up and lend an ear.

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Revelations Audioslave
Epic / Sony

Author:
SAS

Audioslave's 2006 Revelations is a great example of Audioslave's work: they deliver what they promise. In this case, they have promised early-electro-heavy rock with extreme drums, pretty vocals and a lot of wah pedal. They really pick up on the funky side of rock and roll on Revelations, in a Red Hot Chilli Pepper kind of way, and they take their time in showing off metal solos, as played on Tom Morello's double-neck guitar.

The band is fronted by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, so you can use Soundgarden as a judge of the singing style. The vocals are sometimes quite melodic and other times Cornell gets into the shouting zone. In spite of the heavy name of the band, the music has a somewhat upbeat feel. It's roadtrip music. Dated, but it's a great reminder of Chris Cornell and how you felt in high school.

Editor's Note: This supergroup of noise is a sonic assault of boiling water in your face.

Single of the Week: "One and the Same"

Late But Great!

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Live at Benaroya Hall With the Seattle Symphony Brandi Carlile
Columbia /Sony

Author:
SAS

Brandi Carlile is back, this time with a live album complete with backup symphony as well as her usual charming twin-brother guitarists. In between songs Carlile keeps a lucid grasp on the audience's attention, but during the songs she seems completely taken by the music, making for a perfect rock 'n' roll chemistry. It's hard to avoid comparisons to the Indigo Girls or Melissa Etheridge, with her deep voice and controlled rage mixed with an excitement for the rock experience that she just can't hide.

In this live recording, she includes several covers, including Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and Simon and Garfunkle's "The Sound of Silence" (the latter headlined by the twins). She's opened for plenty of other famous rockers and now has support with her own song arrangements; in short, this Seattle coffee-shop queen has ricocheted into stardom, putting on pop-rock show both on and offstage in all the ways she should, charity 501(c)(3), backup symphony and all.

Editor's Note: She beats the competition by doing everything sassier, bigger, crazier.

Single of the Week: "Before It Breaks"

BEST ALBUM OF THE WEEK!

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Back on Money Kane & Abel
Most Wanted / EntertainmentOne

Author:
SAS

There's a theme in brothers Kane & Abel's new Back on Money, besides, well, money. They manage to create a quality, club-worthy album entirely out of the usual club hip-hop fare. The production is hypnotic, with lovely brass notes, though it's not startling, and the lyrics are give quality women, money and freshness without tromping on especially new ground.

There are going to be some hot dance tunes from this album, and some that you probably won't have in heavy rotation. But where they are doing it right, it's a great dive into the story of big rapping. Kane & Abel haven't put out an album since their 2004 Street Legends: The Underground Tapes. The spent time in jail on cocaine charges for a while, and since then have worked on making urban DVDs and publishing fiction. They've got a handle on the real life, so there's plenty of potential in this and any future albums the brothers put out.

Editor's Note: Like few bands before them, they have won their success entirely without compromise.

SIngle of the Week: "So Fly" feat. Juelz Santana

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Chasing Someday Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors
Dualtone

Author:
SAS

Drew Holcomb's songs have a 1990s kind of nostalgia, the electric-guitar feel that has earned he and his band a place on several mainstream TV shows, including "Parenthood," "Oprah" and "Army Wives." At first listen, in fact, you mind not even notice that the band has a slight country feel. But it does. It formed in Tennessee, and charming country accents are clear throughout the album.

The band has maintained an independence throughout its entire history. It thrives on its fan base and its many shows, especially. And it has fans with good reason. The love songs are classic, the sound is easy on the ears and the male-female vocal harmonies add depth and interest. Drew and the crew are at their peak when they pull out their most creative side - the one that  blends Motown with pop and fast rhythms with country. Modern Southern pop has never sounded more heartfelt.

Single of the Week: "Fire and Dynamite"

ARTIST TO WATCH!

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Lines, Vines and Trying Times Jonas Brothers
Hollywood / Walt Disney

Author:
Sophia A. Strosberg

No wonder the Jonas Brothers are making it big - they have everything a young girl's heart desires. Sort of. There's emotional power-pop complete with electric guitar and violin section, team-ups with Miley Cyrus, blues guitarist Jonny Lang and rapper Common, a heaping dose of romance and plenty of promo shots of the brothers in the CD booklet.

These good-boy teenybopper stars seem willing to reach out a bit in terms of style right now, so it will be interesting to see how their futures develop. They can't stay popular with the youngsters forever - soon they'll have five o'clock shadows - so perhaps they are trying to transform slowly. The track with Common is practically startling! Still, the music on Lines, Vines and Trying Times is pretty mild, so they're not giving up teen-idoldom just yet.

Editor's Note: They've said everything, but they're still learning. It feels like they haven't fully arrived yet, but they'll get there.

Single of the Week: "Don't Charge Me for the Crime" feat. Common

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Warriors The Cookers
Jazz Legacy

Author:
SAS

This jazz septet, with its trumpets, saxes, flute, piano, bass and drums, certainly evoke a kind of warrior - the kind that roughs it in a jazz world where playing the mundane could be the death of the music, but having the experience to stroke new meaning out of each musical texture will tug you to new levels.

The guys in The Cookers have consistently played with talents such as Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, Art Blakey... Their unsung status should not deter you from acknowledging that they have the ability to weave fresh flavors of jazz from classic instruments, bring you a mellow vibe that's perfect for romance, solo listening enjoyment or playing for an evening of lounging with company.

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Salvador Lo-Pan
Small Stone

Author:
SAS

Lo-Pan, also short for Lo-Pandemic, invites your to space out in the heavy-as-hell anti-chaos of the perfect, advanced rhythms and grinding power chords. And when you finally snap to, you'll find that you're looking around the room for some kind of electric guitar that you can rage out on. The aesthetic of the cover art is very electro-street-art, but the sound is 100% metal.

Vocals that could be all too easily compared to those of the band Tool carry you through a dreamscape of waves of distortion and crash symbols, and the high energy lasts all the way through the album. Perhaps the musical inspiration comes from the namesake of the band - a character from the martial arts movie Big Trouble in Little China. The destructive power is all contained in carfully measured kicks and punches in the direction of the drums and strings.

Mighty, Mighty!

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Human Heart Carey Ott
Discover Rock

Author:
SAS

Super-chill pop guy Carey Ott entices you to acknowledge your feelings a bit ("A little more honesty, suddenly, it just occured to me..." he sings) but also to kick your feet up and relax. His strummings, whether accompnaied by keyborad, subtle drums or his chanting, chiming lyrics, sets you at ease whether the message is of love or broken-heartedness or lessons learned.

Falsetto and melody may be some of his tools, but his real goal is an expression and processing of our everyday happenings. And "our" is the keyword. Ott writes, "I knew [with Human Heart] I didn't want to make another recordabout just me and my life." And he doesn't. He's touching on a wide range of experiences here, and it will pay off when listeners can really identify with his music.

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The Holy Coming of the Storm Cahalen Morrison & Eli West
Hearth

Author:
SAS

You'll swear Cahalen Morrison and Eli West is stealing songs from the traditional British Isles folk tradition and redoing them with bluegrass energy. But they're not. They wrote all these songs (except for two) themselves. The Holy Coming of the Storm is warm in production and sweet in tenor. The strings are rich and complicated. The overall impression is of the duo's experience and and intuition for old-time harmonies, old-time sounds. Even a touch of blues graces the album here and there.

You'll hear banjo, bouzouki, mandolin, slide guitar, regular guitar, fiddle, bass - though some songs are sparser than others, setting off the vocals in different ways, all of these instruments are there throughout the album. This is a unique and enjoyable listen, coming to you from one of the only genuine-sounding, yet non-traditional, bluegrass bands out there.

Single of the Week: "Over There"

LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!

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Picturesque Chase Coy
Universal Republic

Author:
SAS

Chase Coy is an emo good-boy with a clear grasp on the emotional tangles facing all of us. The songs may be hopeful, but they all acknowledge the various shades of melencholy. He'll draw out paradoxes of love with clear lyrics and soft backgrounds mainly filled in with acoustic instruments. As for his vocals, they are the basis of the album's pop sensibility, with their soft ordinary charm.

Picturesque is not Coy's first album; in fact he's put out another LP and seleval EPs as well. On this one, he solidifies his universal storytelling style. There's almost a country touch to the love stories. So get out your moon beams, start daydreaming and pop young Chase Coy into your player next time you need background music for your heartache.

Editor's Note: Reached the summit of textural exploration and emotional release.

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Devils & Dust Bruce Springsteen
Columbia /Sony

Author:
SAS

Bruce Springsteen remains one of the most talented songwriters in modern music. He writes story songs, and the earworms of pop aside, stories are going to remains the best way to attract an audience. On the 2005 album Devils & Dust, Spingsteen delivers lyrics that writhe with themes of sex, violence, war and death, over music more mainstream than much of his other stuff. Still, you'll hear the signature harmonica here and there, and his rough voice coveys in his usual emotive way the song themes with strength and desperation.

"I got my finger on the trigger / But I don't know who to trust / When I look into your eyes / There's just devils and dust," he sings in the title song, one that tells the story of a weary soldier in the Middle East at the height of the recent war in Iraq. Most of the songs on Devils & Dust are heartbreaking. But there are a couple of hopeful tracks too. With this album as reference, we can see that Bruce Springsteen kept up a successful career into the new millenium, and may keep writing fantastic material far into the future.

Editor's Note: Bruce has captured the long nightmare of American betrayals, from Vietnam to Obama, driven by punk-rock screams and Max Weinberg's even angrier drums. Bruce was the true working-class hero.

Single of the Week: "All I'm Thinkin' About"

POLITICAL ALBUM OF THE WEEK!

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Georgia Clay Josh Kelley
MCA NashvilleUniversal

Author:
SAS

There's always a moment of doubt when a musician is crossing genres, and with Georgia Clay, Josh Kelley has made the switch from pop music to country twang. He's doing alright in the transition, from the plunking piano, fiddling swagger and soft background vocals, but he has been criticized by others for not quite shaking off the adult contempotary sound enough to sound like a genuine country guy. The touches of blues should definitely stay, but the jazzy remainents of his last life must either be transformed or be left at the wayside next time.

But you can hear that his heart is in the songs, that he really enjoys this genre of music, so while Georgia Clay is getting some popularity, don't be shocked if in Kelley's next country album he has learned to let go of his poppy tidyness and really cuts the Georgia feeling in more strongly.

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Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds
Modern Vintage

Author:
SAS

Arleigh Kincheloe, aka Sister Sparrow, has a truly amazing voice. In fact, she, her two brothers, and the rest of their 9-piece are something to pay attention to right now. From the soulful singing to the smashing harmonica to the huge, impeccably in-tune brass phrases, you won't be able to turn it off. Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds have been classified as a jam band, but don't let that fool you. All the songs are carefully thought out, with nary a lagging moment or spaced-out 5-minute solo.

The only creepy thing about this Brooklyn-based band is that, well they are all white, but they sound black, from the vocals to the instruments to the harmonica to the lyrics. Your cultural appropriation alarm will go off like crazy. But it's hard to complain, since they deliver so well, especially, ironically, when they pull out their special blend of 1950s soul, dub and jazz. If you're getting into the New Orleans brass band sound that's so hot these days, you don't want to miss these hipster hippies. This was good. Really good. And this is only their debut.

Editor's Note: They capture the sound of a spiritually charged spectacle of tens of thousands of people wrapped around the band in a giant circle of reflection and joy, radiant with "the moment of surrender."

Single of the Week: "Boom Boom"

DEBUT ALBUM OF THE WEEK!

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Undercover: Live From New York Maiysha
Eusonia

Author:
SAS

Part of the new soul movement, Brooklyn native Maiysha, shows us how the power of musical intution works for a singer as well as the force behind her hollers. Maiysha, on her sophomore effort, Undercover, seems to have a talent not just for picking the right songs to sing (you'll hear both covers and originals) but also for picking the right note to sing at any given moment.

Undercover is a live album, and you get all the benefits that go along with any successful live album. The passion of the stage fills the sound of not just Maiysha's voice, but also the instrumentalists' playing. Musical climaxes are thick, and the jams are absolutely satifsying. Hearing how Maiysha switches from funk to sheer Hendrix-inspired rock and roll is exciting and gives us something to look forward to in the future of soul music.

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Gathering Mercury Colin Hay
Compass

Author:
SAS

Gathering Mercury is a quality pop album from Colin Hay, front man from the 1980s band Men at Work. He mixes Latin, rock, country, folk and even Pacific Island inspirations into an album where the hooks are catchy and the riffs truly enjoyable. He really goes all over the place musically, tending to give us particular songs that are partial to each genre. And it works. There even an instrumental track with a British Isles feel, appropriate since he is a Scottish Australian.

The musical arrangements and range of instruments and sounds on the album (electrified, electronic and 100 percent acoustic) back up his philosophies, sometimes uplifting and other times melancholy, but never naive. The album is part of his processing the loss of his father, so the themes range far beyond that of romantic love. Gathering Mercury is generally a refreshing release from an old hand with simple lyrics expressing complex ideas that we can all relate to. It's the kind of album you'll sing along to.

Editor's Note: As always, Colin Hay mixes engaging lyrics and solid music. Playing with melodic synth-pop and a touch of horns proves, as always that he still has a winning combinaiton.

Single of the Week: "Dear Father"

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Fading Parade Papercuts
Sub Pop

Author:
SAS

Dream-induced space-state takes over as life pounds on by and Papercuts croon into your hand. You'l never really know what it's like to rest on the wave of organ music, autoharp and guitar like an organized wind-chime band until you've heard Fading Parade. This is one of those modern psychedelic bands that bring the peace of the trip into the picture more than the chaotic fuzz. The result is peaceful, soothing - beautiful, even.

Jason Quever is the only permanent member of the band, and he's been at this project since 2004. You may not have heard of them before, but the Papercuts really have that old-fashionedy, warm-produced sound down pat. The lyrics, discernable somewhere behind the layers of reverb, and they stream poetic and sweet. Fading Parade is going to be the soundtrack to your next rainy afternoon.

SO NICE GOTTA DO IT UP TWICE! (created by the original NYC D.J., Jocko, 1955)

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Bossa, Jazz 'n' Samba Patty Ascher
Zoho / Allegro

Author:
SAS

The heat of Brazil with the coolness of a sweet voice, Patty Ascher and her band are pop-ready and not trying to push us over the edge, but rather just wrap us in their open bossa, jazz and samba style. The laid back tracks on this album are ready for any season of love, but draw their inspiration from the turning of the seasons themselves. Springtime, summer and winter are all components of the themes, as well as the sun and the sunrise.

The music on Bossa, Jazz 'n' Samba was co-written by Patty Ascher and Marco Pontes, one of the several musicians on the album. They write for her voice, but also for sax, flute, guitar, piano and a whole string section. Patty Asher and her band sound like they'd be playing in some tropical club on the beach to a roomful of mellow revelers and some enthusiastic dancing couples. So play this one next time you wish you were shmoozing in Brazil.

Single of the Week: "The Summer Knows"

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Chicken & Biscuits Colt Ford
Average Joe's /Full Scope

Author:
SAS

The music is charming and sweet, and often a little raucous, but that doesn't prepare you for what is store when track three hits. Chicks and Chicken, that describes what's on ol' Colt Ford's mind most of the time, at least as far as you can tell at first. Country-rock usually includes a banjo these days, and this time it's every big as fun to hear that acoustic-electric fusion. High energy music combined with lyrics like "Lord Have Mercy, I love her kisses / And I can't get enough, kinda like chicken and biscuits" means fun.

But what is in store is hilarity and more of this growing trend of country music adding hip-hop to its repertoire of styles. On "Diggin'," Ford thrusts us into a world where you are drunk and high, riding in your digger down the bar, with tinted windows, being chaced by the "po-po." W-w-what?? This is a little different that what Coldwater Creek Band gives us in the way of hip-hop. It's still hilarious, but somehow more self-conscious, or more in line with the spirit of hip-hop, while Coldwater Creek is sort of making fun of it. In a contest, Colt Ford would clearly win. He's less of a conservative asshole and way more witty.

The song "Ride On, Ride Out" is the one to keep an eye on. It features DMC, and some sweet-ass beats. What more could you ask for: "Ride On, Ride Out / From New York City to the Dirty South!"

Single of the Week: "Hip-Hop in a Honky Tonk" feat. Kevin Fowler

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Every Mother Counts Various Artists
Starbucks

Author:
SAS

Artists including Martha Wainwright, Angelique Kidjo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Ani DiFranco, the Dixie Chicks, Sheryl Crow, Jennifer Lopez and Sinead O'Connor all on the same album? Every Mother Counts is a compilation CD made largely by mothers, about mothers, and for mothers. There are lullabies and songs about pain, originals and covers.

The album is being sold to raise funds for health relief efforts for mothers around the world. Check it out if you are a mama, love your mama or just want to support mamas whose life may be in unneccessary danger. It's another Starbucks release, so you know it's going to be a cafe-worthy listen, easy on the ears and overall an uplifting experience.

Single of the Week: "Lullaby" by the Dixie Chicks


IF YOU LOVE MUSIC, YOU'LL LOVE THIS!

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