When Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys invites you to his Nashville studio Easy Eye Sound, you know you've got talent. The Grammy Award winner met with Niger-native Omar Moctar to speak the language of rock and roll, eventually producing Moctar's third studio album, which landed at #1 on the Billboard World Music chart in its debut week.
Sean Tillmann's Har Mar Superstar has long retained a rabid fanbase eager to see his on-stage schtick: stripping down to his undies accompanied by retro beats from his MiniDisc player. In the past several years, Har Mar's profile has continued to rise, especially with the support of well-regarded musicians and actors. Now he's pulling a 180 and going the funk and soul direction for his best album yet.
Glasgow group CHVRCHES is making well-deserved waves amongst electro-pop music buffs. Last March they crossed the Atlantic for their first US performance at the massive South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX. They've been compared to Purity Ring, which isn't a surprise considering their synth-heavy sound and leading lady Lauren Mayberry's melodious, ethereal vocals.
Taj Raj are changing their tune. Formed out of a hardcore punk background, their debut "Your Thief" was a rocking affair. But now they're going the alt-country route for new EP "Fine Hearts Alive." Their first release since 2011 sees added instrumentation, lush arrangements and an affinity for soundscapes.
When Enemy Planes comes up in conversation, the same thing is always said: "What happened to Pictures Of Then?" That band essentially disappeared as Enemy Planes came into existence, leading many to think that they had split up. In reality, they're still together, but Enemy Planes explores a new direction, one that's heavily atmospheric, moody and laden with their most complex instrumentation yet.
Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has had a long, varied and celebrated career that has garnered him an avid and devoted fanbase. From his intricate, lovely lyricism to his iconoclastic, proud gay persona to his gifts as a pianist and composer, Wainwright has carved out a path as a uniquely vital artist.
South Minneapolis rapper Greg Grease knew he had to get his debut album "Cornbread, Pearl and G" out to the masses before the end of 2012. If anything, it would be a good holiday gift to family and friends. What he didn't know was that the record would end up making just about every best album list from local critics.
Portland indie band the Thermals, now a trio, have spent over a decade on the scene crafting urgently catchy, punk-influenced anthems. Now, they've signed to Conor Oberst's Saddle Creek records for their new album Desperate Ground, which came out last month.