Soulful singer-songwriter Allen Stone wasn't allowed to listen to secular music as a child. At a young age, he was exposed to religious music growing up in Washington state because his father was a pastor. In his teens, he dropped out of bible college and moved to Seattle to work on music. A veteran of the West Coast club scene, Stone has now released two albums, the second of which was recently reissued after he was picked up by a national label.
The Brooklyn band People Get Ready has been combining music and performance art since 2009, when the group first performed at The Kitchen's Dance and Process series in New York. The band released its self-titled debut earlier this month, and it's a fine collection of harmony-rich pop.
Few artists channel the spirit of '80s new wave as infectiously as George Lewis Jr., better known by the stage name Twin Shadow. Lewis wears his '80s pop influences on his sleeve throughout his recent second album, Confess: The sleek synth-pop vibe of "Five Seconds" recalls Duran Duran, while "Run My Heart" evokes Bruce Springsteen power ballads and Lewis' breathy, straightforward vocals convey the swagger of Prince. Lewis' R&B leanings help give Twin Shadow's sound its own distinct, surprisingly modern identity.
Soul legend Bobby Womack was considered a survivor before he'd started work on his long-awaited comeback album The Bravest Man in the Universe. After overcoming hospitalization with pneumonia and successful treatment of colon cancer while in the midst of recording the album, Womack released his finest work in ages over the summer.
Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 1:26 pm
Alt-J (stylized as ∆) may be the most successful new British band of 2012 — a favorite to win the Mercury Music Prize in November and a Top 20 chart phenomenon in the U.K. The group, which chose its name from the mathematical symbol for change, made a splash with its debut album, An Awesome Wave, which came out in September. The record mixes upbeat indie rock and brooding synths with vocals that sound like no one else's in music today.
The Great American Canyon Band is a Baltimore indie-folk act featuring husband-and-wife duo Paul and Krystal Jean Masson. The pair's first single, "Tumbleweed," is a lovely, dreamy piece of countrified rock, destined for road trips. The rest of the self-titled EP came out in May, and an additional track, "Young Lady," was released on Sept. 5; it's available for download here.
Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 2:31 pm
Grizzly Bear began in 2004 as a bedroom project for Ed Droste. By 2006, Droste had a full band alongside him: Daniel Rossen, Christopher Bear and Chris Taylor. They released Yellow House the same year, but it was 2009's Veckatimest that propelled the group to worldwide fame.
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 6:59 am
Detroit singer-songwriter Rodriguez has finally found the fame that had eluded him for more than four decades. In the early '70s, he achieved cult status in South Africa, while at home, he remained virtually unknown. His public obscurity sparked rumors that he'd killed himself, but while he was alive and well, he'd retreated from music, earning a philosophy degree while working as a demolition man.
Ahmed Janka Nabay was one of the first musicians to take 500-year-old bubu music outside of his homeland of Sierra Leone, where he'd been a rock star. Nabay was forced to flee the country in the midst of that country's civil war, and eventually wound up in Philadelphia in 2003. Nine years later, Nabay's band has released its first album, En Yay Sah, which blends bubu and electronic dance music.