Ray R. — Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago (2007)
Justin Vernon announced that he will finally release his sophomore LP in June, and while he essentially played Robin to Kanye West’s Batman at Coachella last weekend, revisiting his debut LP, For Emma, Forever Ago, is a reminder that Vernon, 29, is one of this generation’s finest folkies. It’s melancholy to its core, but a little introspection goes a long way on a hung-over Monday morning.
Deborah R. — Peter Bjorn and John, Gimme Some (2010)
I listened to Gimme Some right after its release, quickly writing it off as a crappy follow up to Living Thing, which was really just a half-assed attempt to re-capture the magic of Writer's Block. I finally gave it another listen, and when taken out of context from Peter Bjorn and John's older material, it's a pretty solid album. My main complaint is the stylistic inconsistency; most of the album still sounds like they're trying to mimic the success of Writer's Block's, especially "Tomorrow Has to Wait," "Eyes," and "Second Chance." The only song I absolutely hate is the 1980's Caribbean-influenced "Dig a Little Deeper." The real surprise is the hidden gems; two tracks that delve into post-punk, "(Don't Let Them) Cool Off," and "I Know You Don't Love Me." They're both gorgeously dark, yet somehow still catchy, which I absolutely adore.
Joel W. — Foo Fighters
, Wasting Light
Everything you need to know about the seventh Foo Fighters album is packed into the album opener, Bridge Burning.” A big chorus with rich harmonies, shredding guitars, and Dave Grohl’s signature primal scream — still one of the best in rock. The music blogosphere, in concert with Grohl, whipped up quite the narrative in anticipation of Wasting Light
. Grohl boasted of his literal back-to-the-garage approach. Nirvana comparisons were invited more so than usual with Grohl tapping Nevermind
producer Butch Vig and inviting Krist Novoselic and late-period Nirvana guitarist and early Foo Fighter Pat Smear to collaborate. And Wasting Light
absolutely lives up. Some spots in the set that shine exceptionally bright include the raw, punky “White Limo,” the thick basslines in “I Should Have Known,” and Bob Mould’s guest vocals on “Dear Rosemary.” And Wasting Light
closes as big as it opens with the poppy “Walk.” The album’s only flaw is a degree of sameness that reveals itself upon repeated listens. At a time when many say rock music is in a lull, existing in the periphery compared to pop, R&B, or whatever else, Foo Fighters came through with every bit of the huge rock record they led us to believe they would deliver — and it maybe the best album of their career. (4 stars)
Amber — Easy Star All-Stars, First Light (2011)
I've got a heavy spell of spring fever this year and have been using any and all free time to spend whole days by the Gulf of Mexico. The smooth, horn-accented dubby grooves off the first original full-length from Easy Star All-Stars have been providing the perfect sonic vibes to accompany the sunshine and chillaxed beach days that are Tampa Bay life in April.
Infinite Skillz — Yonas, Proven Theory (2011)
Yonas and producer Sean Divine have that classic synergy between artist and producer that is missing in today's a la carte production world. You can tell these two are on the same page musically from the very beginning with the single "I Could." Yonas has a subtle depth to his lyrics that conveys his passion for connecting with the world around him and Divine's production is cinematic.
Nicole K. — Sleepy Vikings, They Will Find You Here (2011, New Granada Records).
Described as "Southern shoegaze," Sleepy Vikings have been attracting attention nationally. They took the time to get their first record done just right and it shows. It's good... real good with catchy layered harmonies, soaring guitars and creative percussion. Come down to their release party on Saturday night (4/30) at Crowbar with Florida Night Heat and Guiltmaker to get an advance copy of the CD (official release date is May 10). While waiting patiently for Saturday to arrive, go ahead and download "Calm" here. Like what you hear? visit Sleepy Viking's Kickstarter page to aid them with PR assistance for this record.