There have been so many great albums released lately that volume 3 of our "15 Must Have New Albums" playlist series includes 17 albums. And we left out a bunch that could have easily made the list!
Check out individual tracks, full albums and mini-reviews below.
Sam Beam has completed the transformation from lo-fi bedroom recluse to full-blown composer, arranger and producer. The more polished and mature sound found on The Shepherd's Dog only adds to Beam's previously proven song crafting acumen. The best Iron & Wine record to date.
RichardHawley has been a supporting musician for a long, long time. And thefact that not many people know his name will hopefully change with therelease of his new album Lady's Bridge. The album combines thebest of alt/indie and reflective crooning into a warm, bright bubble ofcomfort, complete with 60's strings and female sci-fi backing.
Therehas not been a classic soul album released this good since the late1960s, early 1970s. Sharon Jones' incredible voice is supportedperfectly by the analog and accurate Dap Kings on this latest release titled 100 Days, 100 Nights. This title track is a killer, so don't miss it.
IfI was a bookie giving odds on whether an artist's next album would be aflop, PJ Harvey would have terrible odds. Her consistency withproducing worthy albums is superhuman. White Chalk is no exception, and belongs in your collection.
Do you dig Gotan Project? If you answered Yes, skip straight to this track by Federico Aubele. His new album is title Panamericanabecause he mixes the sounds of South and North America into a beautifulcross-border stew that will sit well with both traditionalists andhipsters alike.
Youwon't find me praising too many mainstream adult alternative acts thesedays. The genre has morphed into the next generation of plastic-coveredcorporate pop. But I just can't resist Back Flipping Forward by Will Dailey. Hisvoice is especially stunning, and I'm a straight man.
Thrill Jockey recently released the new Tunng album Good Arrows, andat the moment, it may be my favorite record. Artsy folk music with theperfect amount of electronic highlights and British-accented vocals.It's like having a warm cup of hot chocolate, naked, in the mist, aftersex.
Okay, so the new Pinback album with the cool cover art and poetic title may not be a classic 5-star release as Summer in Abaddon was, but it's a dang strong 4-star. This breezy, well thought out, and tightly produced record will be a favorite among Pinback fans and an attractor of newcomers.
Rolling Stone Magazine critic David Fricke has given Bruce Springsteen's new album Magic a5-star review. And although Rolling Stone lost most of it's credibilitydecades ago, I must agree with this one. The Boss comes through big andlike Dylan, continues to show the world what "legend" really means.
I'm a Steve Earle fan, so I freely admit my bias. And although I have other Steve Earle albums that I rate higher that Washington Square Serenade, this new album is still lightyears ahead of 98% of what's out there today.
Thankfully for CCR fans, Revivalproves that John Fogerty remembers well where his talents lie. Thisself-awareness has helped him craft a record of happy pop tunes thatsit perfectly in that comfortable space between classic rock and popradio. A place that, in this case, works both artistically andcommercially.
Thisone came out a while ago, but White Rabbits wedgedthemselves into a corner of my brain after an appearance on a late night talkshow. After spending some time with Fort Nightly, it has grownon me slowly to the point where I find myself popping it in much moreoften than most CDs. The true measure of a good record.
Me'ShellNdegeocello new album The World Has Made Me The Man Of My Dreams is all over the map, but her daring paysdividends with it's unique stretches and willingness to combine assets.This seventh studio full-length is filled with more politics, sex andreligion, and the music is just as diverse as the words are.
Although Baby Elephant's Turn My Teeth Up! meandersa bit and is hard to swallow at times, it feels free and unrushed,leaving space for each individual contributor to shine, and it'sstylistic diversity is a strength. Prince Paul's humor and wit areweaved throughout, and border on strange, much like Worrel's funked-upspace jams, which appear here in abundance.
Thispsychedelic freak-out is like an indie version of The Doors, only witha good deal more drugs pumping through their system. The SanFrancisco-based foursome with the misspelled name will either put youinto a blissful trance or bore you half to death. Luckily for me, Ifind myself in the blissfully tranced camp.
Joni Mitchell created her very own nook in the music business decadesago, and she continues to stun critics with her nuanced and uniquesound. Shine is no exception as the myriad of positive reviews floating around highlight.
I had to end the list with the soothing croon of Mr. Tony Bennett whopersonally selected his favorite standards from three distinct decadesof his career. Tony Bennett Sings The Ultimate covers the 1950s, 1960s and 1980s. A fine collection for younew Tony Bennett fans.