Released as a download only in the U.S., Thirteen Senses excel in spacey rock with a pop sensibility. Swooning melodies and choruses intertwine with dreamy strings and orchestral movements to make for a compelling listen. My full review is here.
Released as a download only in the U.S., "Seeds" will see a full re-release in February 2012 now that Hey Rosetta! have been signed to ATO Records. This Canadian powerhouse could not be more deserving. Known as a can't miss live band, which I can confirm after having the honor of seeing them perform at the DIY Festival in Ferndale this past fall, Hey Rosetta! produced another gem in "Seeds". Majestic and moving orchestral and chamber pop that hopefully reaches a wide audience in the States this year. My full review is here.
Far superior to 2008's "Narrow Stairs", Death Cab came back with a release that shines from start to finish. An album alive with what the band does best, with "Home Is A Fire" the highlight. My full review is here.
The Time returned 21 years after their last studio album with a new name thanks to Prince, but all seven original members. And they silenced any doubters with a fun, funky slice of the Minneapolis Sound. You'd be hard pressed to find a better funk/R&B album released in 2011. The reunion may be short-lived however with Jesse Johnson apparently having left the band. It'll be a shame if this good of a comeback is wasted. My full review is here.
Plain and simply one of the best songwriters working today, Matthew Ryan followed up the brilliant "Dear Lover" with another essential album. This time tackling many of the world's ills, Ryan delivers music that moves, inspires, questions and calls you to act. My full review is here.
Moby picked up where "Wait For Me" left off with another album of beautiful, downbeat electronic, but this time there were also enough covert beats and harder edged tracks to lighten things up just a bit. Moby seems to be at a place, far enough removed from the insanity that was "Play", where he knows what he does best, and he delivered it again on "Destroyed". My full review is here.
The Lonely Forest made their major label debut and put out one of 2011's best rock albums. Think of them as a harder edged Death Cab For Cutie, and it's no surprise they were the first signing to Death Cab member Chris Walla's record label. "Arrows" hits hard. My full review is here.
I grew up loving hip-hop in the days of Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Ice-T and so many others, but the genre has long passed me by. How nice it was then to have a hip-hop album in 2011 that took me back to those great days of old. The Beastie Boys are legends and this album is funky, packed with nasty grooves and beats and masterfully produced.
Jeremy Freer cements his reputation as one of the finest composers in Michigan and The Juliets take the crown as the finest pop band coming out of the state right now. This is sheer mastery of pop music with classical and baroque influences. Electric guitar based songs play a bigger role this time around, but Freer also delivers his two finest ballads to date in the title track and the stunning "Ad-Lib". My full review is here.
After opening for Bon Iver in 2011, Oklahoma's Other Lives are set to open for Radiohead during their upcoming 2012 U.S. tour. It's well deserved exposure for a band that is now near the top in the indie world at delivering gorgeous, cinematic folk/rock. Swelling strings, twinkling piano, it's all here and it is not to be missed.