I Was on the Moon is the 7th release by Owen Plant, a folk-pop artist from Georgia with a 15 year career. The folk side of Plant takes center stage on his latest release, a melancholy set of laidback, introspective folk songs. The tunes are emotional but not distraught, optimistic but not exuberant, exhibiting small-town charm alongside radio friendly melodies. Overall, the album offers melancholy vibes to put the listener into a peaceful state of mind. The best track on the album is probably "Riverside," a song about finding peace and happiness by living the simple life "down by the riverside," as the chorus sings. "Unfettered Untied" is another fun and upbeat standout, while the slow, deliberate yet thoroughly enjoyable track "Ride With Me" allows Plant to display his considerable vocal talents. The final track on the album is a surreal, mysterious, and nearly pyschadelic take on Bill Withers' classic song "Ain't No Sunshine." For fans of folk artists such as Ben Harper and Amos Lee, I Was on the Moon is definitely an enjoyable and reccommendable listen.
Scott Korinke's blog
The self-titled LP All People is the second full-length release from the independent bandcamp rock group in as many years. Lasting just under a half-hour, the nine tracks hit hard, fast, and with purpose, pulling together emotional themes about mental anxiety and feeling out of place while staying positive and uplifting. The group works very well together, managing to convey their emotions effectively through the inspired combination of pop-punk and dreamy, synth-heavy alternative sounds. The first two tracks on the LP, "Slow" and "Plain Essential Language," are about being unable to sleep and being misunderstood by the world around them, respectively. The two tracks bring to mind Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation album in both theme and sound. "Naught," the third song, is quite the standout, beginning with a funky guitar beat and ending with one of the more memorable choruses, with lead singer Daniel Ray pleadingly asking "Was it all for Naught?"
Goody Bag, released by Houston-based R&B artist Lew Hopson, is the third full-length relase in his short career. The musical spectrum on the album ranges from melodic and thoughtful low-tempo R&B to righteous rockers such as title and lead track "Goody Bag." Lew Hopson's solid but unspectacular vocals anchor the album throughout, while multi-instrumentalist Tom Moncrieff handles the majority of the instrumentation, including the recorded Guitars, Drums, and Horns. Moncrieff also chips in on the writing front, although Hopson pens the majority of the songs. Taken as a whole, the album gives off a laid back and optomistic vibe, especially on the tunes "Best Best Friend" and "Learn to Let Go," both of which are hopeful and insipirational jams. Overall, the album is enjoyable, if not groundbreaking R&B, perfect for a lazy, sunny afternoon, and a welcome addition to an R&B collection.
Yours, Dreamily, the first full-length release from Dan Auerbach's side project The Arcs, finds Auerbach dabbling with Spanish Rock on several dreamy jams full of expirementation. The album kicks of with lead single Outta My Mind, by far the most mainstream tune on the album, with its lyrics conveying Auerbach's life story in the midst of repeating guitar solos. However, the album immediately branches off, replacing guitar solos with fuzzy, dreamlike guitar chords and expiremental melodies far from the mainstream. Much of the lyrics, especially on "Pistol Made of Bones," are full of elaborate imagery that adds to the mysterious vibe. The album clearly has a Latin and Spanish influence, from the album cover to the lyrics. Standout tracks include "The Arc," with sounds most reminiscent of the Black Keys, and "Searching the Blue," the last track and the best example of a psychadelic slow jam on the album. Overall, Yours, Dreamily, is another win for Dan Auerbach, who is slowly but surely cementing himself as a 21st century rock icon.
Over his decades-long career, Davis High School Graduate Michael Franti has spanned a plethora of musical genres, blending hip hop, rock, reggae, funk, and even jazz. On his latest LP, SOULROCKER, Franti adds an electronic dance element to his music, branching out even further from his more acoustic past. This new style comes through best on "We Are All Earthlings," which wouldn't sound out of place at a Miami beach party. The album retains quite an optimistic tone throughout in regards to both the pleasing pop melodies and the inspiring lyrics, especially on relaxed jam "Still Standing" and the upbeat and energetic "My Lord." While this album is defenitely a new direction for Michael Franti and Spearhead, their are clear connections to their older works. "Summertime Is In Our Hands," recalling the hopeful summertime jams the group became famouos for, sounds like it was taken straight from 2010 LP The Sound of Sunshine. "Good To Be Alive Today" blends the political activism of Franti's career with unrelenting optimism on a very inspring mellow hip-hop track, a clear standout on the album.
St. Germain, the stage name for french musician Ludovic Navarre, has been recording music since the early 1990s, but his latest, self-titled work is only his 4th full-length LP to be released, and his first in 15 years. While St. Germain's earlier album blended jazz and pop, his latest album brings Afro-pop sounds into the mix with a plethora of exotic instruments while still maintaining clean and high quality production. Several tracks on the album utilize the staccatto sounds of the N'goni and Kora instruments, while multiple others have African vocalists on the few non-instrumental tracks. However, it is the instrumental tracks where Navarre's skill as a producer really stand out, building towards choruses with several layers of melodies, from the steady drums to the meandering string solos. The standout instrumental track is "Hanky Panky," a funky tune that illustrates St. Germain at the top of their game. In the end, St. Germain is nothing if not original, full of new sounds and daring writing and production.
My Way Home is the fifth full-length LP for Soulful R&B artist Eli "Paperboy" Reed, and his return to indie labels following a brief stint with Warner Brothers. In contrast with his last effort, the glitzy and glamorous Nights Like This, Reed's latest is less produced but more organic, soulful, and artistic. Reed's background in church gospel really comes through, with his voice crooning emotionally about life, love, and religion, with songs like "Eyes on You" and the impressive second track "Your Sins Will Find You Out" using religion as a major theme. The album has several fun and frenetic tracks bound to get audiences grooving, especially lead single "Hold Out" and the frantic "The Strangest Thing," both of which see Reed stretch his vocal chords to the very limit of human capacity. Title Track "My Way Home" is one of the more laidback and rythymic songs on the album, with Reed crooning about his long journey home. Lastly, the second to last track on the 11-song LP, "A Few Days More," is quite a standout, with a fantastically funky rythym reminiscent of a bluessy Alabama Shakes single finishing the album on quite a high note.
The King of Swamp Rock, Tony Joe White, has returned for his 19th studio LP over his illustrious 50 year career, and the haunting guitars and deep voice that have defined both White's sound and the genre are still as mysterious and engaging as ever. During his many years of work, Tony Joe has worked with artists as varied as Eric Clapton, Tina Turner and the Foo Fighters and toured with Steppenwolf, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Roger Waters, but on Rain Crow, it feels as if White never left his native Louisiana swamps.
Gon' Boogaloo is the third original album from Australian blues artist C.W. Stoneking. Record in only two days, the albums sound hearkens back to the swing and blues music of the 1950s, including artists like Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly. The production is refreshingly straightforward, refusing to complicate itself with fancy or exprimental production techniques, allowing Stoneking's gravelly voice and blues guitar to standout with none of the cluttered and overproduced sound that haunts much of contemporary music. Part of the album's appeal is the refusal to be trendy, instead being unapologetically and uncompromisingly original and old fashioned. Standout tracks on the album include the frantic and energetic "The Jungle Swing" and "Tomorrow Gon' Be Too Late," a relaxed and introspective blues tune. Overall, C.W. Stoneking continues to impress with his blues skill and sensibility, making music that will delight fans of old school blues and roots music.
Groove! is the first studio album by Boulevards, following his self-titled debut EP released only last year. Boulevards (the stage name for singer/songwriter Jamil Rashad) is a funk artist that updates the classic sounds from legends like Rick James and Prince for a new generation. The production merges modern synths with old-school bass lines in a generation-spanning mix of sounds and styles, while the lyrics evoke images of romance on the dance floor, especially on the seductive "Tender." The aptly named Groove! is full of tracks designed to get people moving, from the energetic "Move & Shout" to the hypnotic "Got to Go," a holdover from Boulevards debut EP. In addition to funk, hip hop makes an appearance on "The Spot" as well as "Patience," an irrisestibly funky beat and defenitely the standout track on the album. Overall, while the album isn't groundbreaking, it feels fresh and fun, with enough contagious beats and delightful grooves to warrant a listen. For funk fans, Groove is a welcome callback to classic funk that updates the genre in interesting and exciting ways.