Kevn Kinney of Drivin N Cryin and Anton Fier of The Golden Palominos combine the twangy side of their respective rock bands for an album aptly titled A Good Country Mile. Through the '80s rock scene, Kinney and Fier became friends and collaborators, and the trend continues more than 20 years later.
The Soul Rebels could not be more aptly named. Formed in the '90s, the band originated within the New Orleans brass-band scene. Lumar LeBlanc and Derrick Moss gathered jazz musicians from around New Orleans to create a sound based in soul and specific performance styles, but with the capacity to evolve. The result rebels against the rules of soul while paying homage to the genre.
Laura Gibson's new album, La Grande, is built around a surprising musical contrast: Her hushed voice remains as quiet as ever, but her songs are louder and more complex. Although simplicity and lack of volume characterize Gibson's earlier work, her music today feels bigger without sacrificing intimacy: It meditates on mortality, carrying a weight of seriousness without being heavy. It's dark, but dispensed with a light touch.
Harriet blends Americana and electronic music to create a sound that embodies the L.A. rock scene: Its debut EP, Tell the Right Story, sounds like a chillwave re-imagination of Kings of Leon or The National. The group combines hoarse vocals, dramatic riffs and electronic flourishes on its debut — available for free on Harriet's website, though probably not for long.
On Nada Surf's new album, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, the long-running band alternates between infectious optimism and sweet sadness. In spite of countless label changes, the group has remained remarkably consistent in its 20 years together: Blending good-natured affirmations with catchy pop-rock hooks, Nada Surf sounds like a bunch of fresh-faced kids, albeit unusually wise ones.
Formed by four Peruvian high-school friends in 2001, Novalima has been making traditional music sound sultry and modern ever since. In the past decade, the group has grown to a nine-piece band that's helping change the way the world thinks about world music.