The country-rocking outfit from North Carolina does it again with their second terrific album in a row. The banjo driven "Live and Die" couldn't be more catchy if it tried and you really need to listen to the great power-pop treat, "I Never Knew You." Most of the album is country music with a rock attitude. Great arrangements, songs, and vocals are everywhere. Rick Rubin has really turned the brothers into stars. Details here.
Carlile's always mature song-writing blooms into full adulthood on this, her fourth, full length, studio album. Reflecting on her childhood and sometimes demonstrating a spiritual side she never displayed before the young singer-songwriter and her ever-present cohorts, the Hanseroth twins, gave us a top notch set of inward looking, philosophical songs. The ballads are sweeter than ever and the rockers are punchier than in the past. Read more here.
Who would have believed that Brian Wilson would still generate magic with his old band one last time? He, originals Mike Love and Alan Jardine, along with David Marks, and long time member Bruce Johnston, prove they can still compete with the best harmonizers the world has ever heard. Best of all, Wilson closed the album out with a wonderful suite of tunes that take us back to the days of Pet Sounds and Sunflower. For a lengthy discussion of this very nice epilogue to the California group's very long and storied career read the full review.
Charlie Phillips is strictly a local musician who works out of the Philadelphia suburbs but he deserves a much wider audience. The folk-rocker writes great songs, interacts well with his band, and has a small but devoted following. The singer-songwriters of the 70s form the bedrock for all of his music. He's also a lover of rock's supreme royalty, those loveable guys from Liverpool, England. The opening track, "Grace of God," is outstanding. Here's the complete, original review.
McPherson is a 50s throwback who has famously said he doesn't like any music after 1957. He might be a little closed-minded but that didn't stop him from using all of the best ingredients from many of rock's early forefathers like Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, and Larry Williams and mix them into a big stew with outstanding results. The Oklahoman might be fixed in his ways but if he is going to do only one thing he may as well do it right. Here, on his debut disc, he most certainly does. See more on this fine album.
HONORABLE MENTIONS (in no particular order)
Mumford & Sons – Babel (Aggressive British folk-rock)
Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball (The Boss still has the goods)
Bonnie Raitt – Slipstream (Her best album in a long, long, time)
Every once in awhile music fans are fortunate enough to stumble upon an old record that they didn't know existed and in 2012 I happily visited a very small, local, used record store while the owner happened to be playing an old Peter Green LP from 1979. Impressed, I quickly added the record to my collection. The long-troubled Fleetwood Mac founder really showed us what he was capable of on this fine album, In the Skies.