Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 5:44 pm
12 min 19 sec
Anthony D'Amato sings and writes in the tradition of Bruce Springsteen or Josh Ritter: His songs sound friendly musically, but they also tackle the difficult and the twisted. Like those great songwriters, D'Amato's work is universal without devolving into moping. There's also a spirit to these songs, as it's easy to imagine a crowd spontaneously backing these his powerful choruses.
The English band alt-J has staked its career on defying expectations, so nervous anticipation surrounding its second album was perfectly understandable — particularly following the departure of bassist and multi-instrumentalist Gwil Sainsbury. But if alt-J felt the pressures of improving upon its beloved, award-winning debut, you wouldn't know it from This Is All Yours.
Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 5:04 pm
When he was 20, Ásgeir Trausti Einarsson released an album in Iceland, sung in Icelandic, with many of the words written by his father. Dýrð í dauðaþögn became the biggest-selling debut in Icelandic music history.
Scottish-born with roots in Italy, Paolo Nutini is still finding his audience in the U.S., but he's already a frequent chart-topper in Europe. The soul singer's third full-length record, Caustic Love, is the fastest-selling album in the U.K. this year, and with good reason. Nutini recently performed some of its songs during his return to KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic.
Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 8:31 am
Every year for the last decade and a half, select groups of hot swing musicians have come from Europe to tour the U.S. The exact lineups change, but they all feature masters of the "gypsy jazz" — or jazz manouche — style pioneered by guitarist Django Reinhardt. In fact, they're billed under the banner of New York's Django Reinhardt Festival.
Ex Hex is already one of Washington, D.C.'s most exciting bands, and not just because of the lightning-strong licks that scream out of Mary Timony's guitar. This is a group that lets itself have as much fun as possible, and that sense of joy is crucial.
Elisa Ambrogio, lead singer of the art-rock heavyweight Magik Markers, usually isn't one to get too sentimental. But her upcoming solo album, The Immoralist, includes some heart-wrenching songs, including its arresting opening track, "Superstitious."
The Bots' members are brothers and bandmates whose playful, catchy songs rock hard. Singer-guitarist Mikaiah Lei is 21 and drummer Anaiah Lei is 17; they made their first album when they were 15 and 12, respectively. Pink Palms is their newest and best.
The Nashville instrumental group Steelism stands out for its ability to blend vintage styles — steel-guitar jazz, surf rock, the cool vibe of 1960s movie soundtracks — in ways that don't feel dated. Steelism's playfulness, embodied in the easy dialogues between guitarists Jeremy Fetzer and Spencer Cullum, Jr., freshens up everything its touches.