While their sound is familiar, it's not sloppy or dated in any way. It has a grounded feel to it, with just as much passion as before, but with more of the kind of focus that only growing up and having a family can give you.
It's been seven years since Fiona Apple's last album, but a long pause between releases is business as usual for Apple, whose methodical approach to writing music has resulted in a stunning catalog of songs.
In 2012, the artist that is reminding us of what made early rock and roll great is JD McPherson. A former school teacher and punk rocker from Oklahoma, McPherson found his voice when he abandoned punk for the sound of 1958, recording "Signs and Signifiers" in glorious analog.
Brandi Carlile's greatest gift is that she is an exquisite singer. She can be tough and she can be tender with ease. Her vocals are never forced. She is always in her comfort zone, without all the vocal gymnastics of many of today's pop stars.
Coming from 14 years of hard work and dedication to their music and their fans, Metric has a career that stands out against their indie rock peers. Their new album "Synthetica" exposes a darker side of Metric's sound and lyrics.
For me, their talent jumps out of the radio no matter which song off this album that we play. But the true pleasure of this band is found in sitting with the whole album and giving it a deep listen. It rewards your presence -- it is real and authentic.
The collective is back with their sophomore release "Here," and many people will probably listen to it hoping to hear another "Home." There's no way of knowing yet, but what the album does give us is a more introspective Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros digging into their spiritual side.
The Only Place isn't just an improvement on Best Coast's debut; it's a harsh reminder that it's a steep fall from grace when you start out as a darling of the indie music blogs. Like Weezer's "Pinkerton," this album can't and won't be fully appreciated until fans and critics have their chance to deliver some initial hipster backlash.