Jon Foreman - Fall
Jon Foreman is the lead singer and guitarist of the Grammy-nominated alternative rock (Christian?) outfit Switchfoot. He has four EP's scheduled for release as a solo artist and the first one, Fall, is available now on Rhapsody and YMU. It will be followed by the Winter, Spring and Summer EPs. Fall/Winter was released as a two disc set with packaging that can be connected to the dual Spring/Summer release. I'm not a big fan of Switchfoot so I was taken aback when the opening track from Fall, "The Cure For Pain," instantly sucked me in with it's beautiful acoustic guitar, horns and low-key vocals. It sounds more like Red House Painters than Switchfoot, and that's a very good thing. I must highly recommend Fall/Winter with high hopes for the final two installments of this EP series.
Hammer No More The Fingers - Hammer No More The Fingers
This Durham/Chapel Hill, NC trio with the strange name has built quite a following on their stunning live shows. This self-titled debut certainly does support their reputation. The quirky, yet technically competent indie pop found on the disc will appeal to you if you're a fan of fellow Chapel Hill bands like Superchunk, Archers of Loaf or Polvo. So, if you appreciate any of these bands don't miss HNMTF. Even though they wear their 90s influences on their sleeve, they do so extremely well.
Sia - Some People Have REAL Problems
This could be the album that launches the smoky-voiced nightingale Sia into the realm of the household name here in the US. In fact, I saw this album at the local Starbucks today, which is a good sign for mass recognition and consumption. She's done quite well in the UK and in her home country of Australia, but in the US her exposure has been limited to inclusion on the hit shows Six Feet Under, Grey's Anatomy and others. Sia is also known for her work with the London downtempo duo Zero 7. But, resume aside, Some People Have REAL Problems speaks for itself and it's her most developed release to date.
Sleep Station - The Pride Of Chester James
One man superband Sleep Station is the work of New Jersey native David Debiak. He has been writing, performing and recording concept albums for a while, but The Pride Of Chester James finds him reaching for the stars and succeeding. This is not a record that can be easily labeled. It has powerful and well executed arena rock leanings, stripped down emotional intuition, notable melody and spot-on production that's especially impressive considering the record was recorded in a basement. As far as the concept goes, Debiak keeps it on the periphery, which is always a good idea when it comes to concept albums.
The Buddyrevelles - Don't Quit
Here's a great record I missed in 2007, but have finally gotten to. The Buddyrevelles returned in 2007 with Don't Quit over 9 years distant from their debut, September, November. This new record is short, at 32 minutes, but it's packed with a frizzy pop goodness that's hard to resist, and is a must-listen record for fans of Built To Spill. The disc features electric rhythm guitar that's loose to the point of being almost twangy, melodic guitar lines throughout, a tight, but free rhythm section and vocals that are perfect within the context of the music. The Buddyrevelles did not get the props they deserve last year for this fine album, and I too am late to the party. But better late than never.