New Releases

A Dotted Line

Nickel Creek

Resituación

Nacho Vegas

Haul Away!

Liz Green

Armor

Landon Austin

Classic

Landon Austin

The Covers, Vol. 7

Savannah Outen

Zoé

Zoé

A House Is A Home

Ben Harper

Learn It All Again Tomorrow

Ben Harper

Mythmaker

Andy McKee

Private Eyes

Sleeping at Last

Newy Lewis and the Hues: Greatest Hits

Ben Rector

The Fake Headlines

Andrew Bird

Live At the Union Chapel London

Billy Bragg

The Knife

Kyla La Grange

Against the Grain

Temples

Live in Washington DC (Solo)

Johnny Flynn

Empire

HelenaMaria

Well Pleased

Chas & Dave

Greatest Rarities

Chas & Dave

Flying

Chas & Dave

Reunited

Barbara Dickson

Top Albums

A Dotted Line

Nickel Creek

All The Little Lights

Passenger
"All The Little Lights" is the breakthrough album by Passenger, featuring the global hit single 'Let Her Go.'

The Greatest Hits 1970-2002 (Double US CD)

Elton John
Greatest Hits 1970-2002 is a nearly flawless double-disc set commemorating Elton John's three-decade career. Disc one features what may arguably be John's most essential work: Seeing songs such as "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Candle in the Wind," and "Bennie and the Jets" -- not to mention "Your Song," "Rocket Man," and "Tiny Dancer" -- lined up back to back reaffirms just how diverse, and yet universal, his songwriting talent is. Disc two finds this talent maturing gracefully into the '80s, '90s, and beyond, touching on pop gems like "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," "I'm Still Standing," and "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" as well as his Lion King classic "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" and the Aida duet "Written in the Stars" with LeAnn Rimes. The collection also finds room for the highlights of his most recent albums, including Made in England's "Believe" and "Blessed," The Big Picture's "Something About the Way You Look Tonight," and Songs from the West Coast's "This Train Don't Stop Here Anymore." For most casual fans, Greatest Hits 1970-2002 will replace the need for collections such as Greatest Hits, Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, and Greatest Hits, Vol. 3, although these collections are still worthwhile as of-their-time retrospectives of John's work.

Heather Phares, Rovi

In Between Dreams

Jack Johnson
Singer/songwriter Jack Johnson writes songs that just feel good, sticking to an equation that combines his warm, relaxed voice with an acoustic guitar. That cozy formula made him a favorite among American college crowds, so it's no surprise that Johnson sticks with what he does best for his third album, In Between Dreams. Producer Mario Caldato, Jr. is back again, touching up Johnson's summery backdrop for another playful set of songs. The genre-blending charm and sweetness that fueled Brushfire Fairytales and On and On hasn't changed that much, but does it really have to? Johnson, alongside drummer Adam Topol and bassist Merlo Podlewski, makes safe records. While there isn't anything wrong with that, taking a few more risks sonically and lyrically wouldn't work against him. Tender moments such as "If I Could" and "No Other Way" showcase a more reserved side on In Between Dreams. Other highlights include the lullaby-like "Breakdown" and the bossa nova rhythms of "Do You Remember." Whether he's singing about being in love -- which he does quite well on "Better Together" and "Banana Pancakes" -- or reflecting on its hardships, Johnson's laid-back approach is his biggest strength. In Between Dreams is a bit brighter and more upbeat, but his song remains the same.

MacKenzie Wilson, Rovi

The Blessed Unrest

Sara Bareilles

Greatest Hits

Neil Young
It may be hard to believe, but 2004's Greatest Hits is not only the first retrospective Neil Young has released since 1977's Decade, it's the first ever single-disc collection of his best-known songs. That's a span of 27 years separating the two collections, which is an awful long time to resist a Greatest Hits disc -- many of his peers succumbed, offering countless comps during those years -- and such a resistance to a compilation may not be much a surprise from the legendarily prickly Young, but what is a surprise is that 11 of the 16 songs on Greatest Hits were also on Decade. Of the five songs that were not on Decade, only two date from after the '70s -- 1989's "Rockin' in the Free World" and 1992's "Harvest Moon" -- while one of the remaining three (1970's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart") comes from the time chronicled on Decade; the other two, 1978's "Comes a Time" and 1979's "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)," arrived in the two years of the '70s not covered on the 1977 compilation. All this means is that Greatest Hits offers the basic canon, with no frills and none of Neil's trademark idiosyncrasy. Some may miss that cantankerous spirit, pointing out that this contains nothing from his towering twin masterpieces of dark introspection -- Tonight's the Night and On the Beach -- or that there's nothing from Buffalo Springfield (which was covered on Decade) and that noteworthy songs like "Powderfinger," "Cortez the Killer," "Lotta Love," and "Long May You Run" are missing. Ultimately, that doesn't matter much, because Greatest Hits has all the songs that every Neil Young fan, from the devoted to the casual listener, agrees are his biggest and best: "Down by the River," "Cinnamon Girl," "Helpless," "After the Gold Rush," "Southern Man," "Ohio," "The Needle and the Damage Done," "Old Man," "Heart of Gold," "Like a Hurricane." And that's why it works as an all-business introduction for the uninitiated and as a concise summary for those not willing to travel down all the long, winding roads Young has traveled over the years. In other words, it's as good a compilation as it could have been. [Greatest Hits was released in several editions. In addition to the basic single CD, there was a limited edition containing a DVD video with the promo clips for "Rockin' in the Free World" and "Harvest Moon." There was another limited edition with a bonus 7" record. Finally, it was also released as a high-resolution DVD Audio disc.]

lovestrong.

Christina Perri
Philadelphia-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Christina Perri found herself bearing the complex weight of a surprise platinum-selling hit in 2010 with the bare-bones break-up ballad “Jar of Hearts.” Her performance of the track on the Fox show "So You Think You Can Dance" landed her a contract with Atlantic Records, and with that, the pressures of eking out a quality, full-length debut in time to capitalize on her overnight success (listeners who picked up the rushed, 2010 Ocean Way Sessions EP will find most of the cuts here in attendance). Luckily, the tracks that make up Lovestrong, are cut from the same cloth as her signature hit. Songs like “Bluebird,” “Arms,” “Sad Song,” and “Black + Blue,” the latter of which feels like an update on events post-“Jar of Hearts,” find Perri in her comfort zone, trading barbs with past lovers over melodies spawned from countless hours listening to Brandi Carlile's “The Story,” Radiohead's “Creep,” and Jewel’s “Who Will Save Your Soul?” It’s a formula she rarely deviates from, and at 15 cuts, the endless soul searching and constant barrage of wine glass-gazing, post-relationship, magnetic poetry can get a bit thin, but her pleasant, even-handed voice and gifts for using familiar melodies in new and surprising ways (witness the countless YouTube mash-ups of "Jar of Hearts" and Beyonce's "Halo") helps to keep Lovestrong from sinking itself, no matter how much its author wishes for the cold comfort of deep waters.

From Here To Now To You

Jack Johnson

Graceland - 25th Anniversary Edition

Paul Simon
Paul Simon's dazzling mix of American roots music, South African pop and highly personal songcraft instantly became one of the key albums of the 1980s and is now internationally considered among the greatest of all time. The zydeco rush of "Boy in the Bubble" and the autobiographical title track both offer musical comfort to confusing, sometimes deadly, modern landscapes, while the transcendent "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" brings magical realism to gritty urban streets.

-- Nick Dedina, Google Play

O.C.M.S.

Old Crow Medicine Show

Lungs

Florence & The Machine
Precocious Brit Florence Welch fired a bullet into the head of the U.K. music scene in 2008 with the single "Kiss with a Fist," a punk-infused, perfectly juvenile summer anthem that had critics wiping the names Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse, and Kate Nash from their vocabularies and replacing them with Florence + the Machine. While the comparisons were apt at the time, "Kiss with a Fist" turned out to be a red herring in the wake of the release of Lungs, one of the most musically mature and emotionally mesmerizing albums of 2009. With an arsenal of weaponry that included the daring musicality of Kate Bush, the fearless delivery of Sinéad O'Connor, and the dark, unhinged vulnerability of Fiona Apple, the London native crafted a debut that not only lived up to the machine-gun spray of buzz that heralded her arrival, but easily surpassed it. Like Kate Bush, Welch has little interest (for the most part) in traditional pop structures, and her songs are at their best when they see something sparkle in the woods and veer off of the main trail in pursuit. "Kiss with a Fist," as good as it is, pales in comparison to standout cuts like "Dog Days Are Over," "Hurricane Drunk," "Drumming Song," "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)," and "Cosmic Love," all of which are anchored to the earth by Welch's knockout voice, a truly impressive and intuitive trio of producers, and a backing band that sounds as intimate with the material as its creator. [Lungs was also released in a Deluxe Edition that included Lungs: The B-Sides, a bonus disc featuring studio tracks like “Swimming,” “Falling,” and “Heavy in Your Arms,” the latter of which appeared on the soundtrack for Twilight Saga: Eclipse, as well as live cuts (“You've Got the Dirtee Love"), demos (“Ghosts”), and remixes (the "Yeasayer Remix" of “Dog Days Are Over").]

James Christopher Monger, Rovi

For Emma, Forever Ago

Bon Iver
Bon Iver is the work of Justin Vernon. He isolated himself in a remote cabin in Wisconsin for almost four months, writing, and recording the songs on For Emma, Forever Ago, his haunting debut album. A few parts (horns, drums, and backing vocals) were added in a North Carolina studio, but for the majority of the time it's just Vernon, his utterly disarming voice, and his enchanting songs. The voice is the first thing you notice. Vernon's falsetto soars like a hawk and when he adds harmonies and massed backing vocals, it can truly be breathtaking. "The Wolves (Acts I & II)" truly shows what Vernon can do as he croons, swoops, and cajoles his way through an erratic and enchanting melody like Marvin Gaye after a couple trips to the backyard still. "Skinny Love" shows more of his range as he climbs down from the heights of falsetto and shouts out the angry and heartachey words quite convincingly. Framing his voice are suitably subdued arrangements built around acoustic guitars and filled out with subtle electric guitars, the occasional light drums, and slide guitar. Vernon has a steady grasp of dynamics too; the ebb and flow of "Creature Fear" is powerfully dramatic and when the chorus hits it's hard not to be swept away by the flood of tattered emotion. Almost every song has a moment where the emotion peaks and hearts begin to weaken and bend: the beauty of that voice is what pulls you through every time. For Emma captures the sound of broken and quiet isolation, wraps it in a beautiful package, and delivers it to your door with a beating, bruised heart. It's quite an achievement for a debut and the promise of greatness in the future is high. Oh, and because you have to mention it, Iron & Wine. Also, Little Wings. Most of all, though, Bon Iver.

Tim Sendra, Rovi

Brushfire Fairytales (Bonus Version)

Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson, the multi-talented American guy who likes to surf and play music, makes an honest impression on his debut album, Brushfire Fairytales. He's not focused on any genre in particular, but stays close to acoustic simplicities. Ben Harper's producer, J.P. Plunier, lends a hand and perfects Johnson's basic songwriting into a charming and inviting soundscape of songs most personal to Johnson. It's poetically abrasive, especially on tracks like "Sexy Plexi" and "Fortunate Fool." He's a bit of a lovesucker, but Brushfire Fairytales isn't necessarily constructed to be on that target. Jack Johnson is a regular guy and his most natural feelings are indeed candid. "Inaudible Melodies" is a bluesy mix of lazy harmonies and acoustical twitching, whereas "Flake" is an easy flow of American trad rock, quite similar to Dave Matthews, but echoing steel drums and Harper's blistering lap steel guitar make for an outstanding rock & roll romp. Johnson's voice, which is hauntingly like Wes Cunningham, makes Brushfire Fairytales a decent record. He's not noisy or gregarious; he's content with his new creative finding. He might chase waves in his other life, but his songwriting ways do make for something quite charming. [The Japanese version includes a live version of "Inaudible Melodies."]

Photographs & Memories: His Greatest Hits

Jim Croce
Though Jim Croce produced a handful of hit singles before his death, one can nonetheless argue that Croce was and is a rather underrated songwriter. This is especially evident in listening to his album tracks, many of which are remarkably potent and arguably could have been hits themselves. The numerous double-disc collections that have been released echo this factor, but for casual fans who merely want the radio favorites, the single-disc Photographs & Memories will suffice. All of Croce's biggest singles are here, including "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," "Time in a Bottle," and "Operator," as well as overlooked album tracks such as "New York's Not My Home" and "Lover's Cross." This is far from a perfect compilation; the album barely clocks in over 40 minutes, leaving time for numerous tracks that could have easily been added onto the same disc during the record's move from vinyl to CD. Still, it's hard to argue with what's here. While Croce's more devoted followers would prefer the double-disc 50th Anniversary Collection, casual listeners merely in search of Croce's well-known songs would be best suited with Photographs & Memories.

Barry Weber, Rovi

Car Wheels On A Gravel Road

Lucinda Williams
It isn't surprising that Lucinda Williams' level of craft takes time to assemble, but the six-year wait between Sweet Old World and its 1998 follow-up, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, still raised eyebrows. The delay stemmed both from label difficulties and Williams' meticulous perfectionism, the latter reportedly over a too-produced sound and her own vocals. Listening to the record, one can understand why both might have concerned Williams. Car Wheels is far and away her most produced album to date, which is something of a mixed blessing. Its surfaces are clean and contemporary, with something in the timbres of the instruments (especially the drums) sounding extremely typical of a late-'90s major-label roots-rock album. While that might subtly alter the timeless qualities of Williams' writing, there's also no denying that her sound is punchier and livelier. The production also throws Williams' idiosyncratic voice into sharp relief, to the point where it's noticeably separate from the band. As a result, every inflection and slight tonal alteration is captured, and it would hardly be surprising if Williams did obsess over those small details. But whether or not you miss the earthiness of Car Wheels' predecessors, it's ultimately the material that matters, and Williams' songwriting is as captivating as ever. Intentionally or not, the album's common thread seems to be its strongly grounded sense of place -- specifically, the Deep South, conveyed through images and numerous references to specific towns. Many songs are set, in some way, in the middle or aftermath of not-quite-resolved love affairs, as Williams meditates on the complexities of human passion. Even her simplest songs have more going on under the surface than their poetic structures might indicate. In the end, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road is Williams' third straight winner; although she might not be the most prolific songwriter of the '90s, she's certainly one of the most brilliant.

Steve Huey, Rovi

The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars

Birdy

Birdy
On the face of it, the self-titled debut from 15-year-old Birdy, aka Jasmine van den Bogaerde, doesn't seem any different from the hastily assembled cash-in covers albums released every year by the various "X Factor" alumni. But although its 11 renditions of mostly contemporary songs, many of which could be passed off as originals due to their previous lack of exposure, stick to the tried-and-tested talent show formula, that's where the comparisons end. Indeed, you won't find any karaoke standards or renditions of Miley Cyrus songs here, as this stripped-back collection of lesser-known hits and album tracks reads like a who's who of lo-fi hipster indie rock. The likes of the National's "Terrible Love" and Francis & the Lights' "I'll Never Forget You" offer little deviation from the source material, but for the most part, producers Rich Costey (Muse), James Ford (Arctic Monkeys), and Jim Abiss (Adele) strip the songs down to their bare bones, turning Cherry Ghost's everyman anthem "People Hold the People" into a tender torch song with its stately piano chords and mournful cello, toning down the aggression of the Naked & Famous' synth pop hit "Young Blood" with some muted beats and ethereal twinkling electronica, while somehow turning the already sparse "Shelter" from the xx's Mercury Music Prize winner into an even more skeletal and ghostly affair. As clever and subtle as these reworkings are, it's Birdy's youthful and fragile voice that steals the show, whether it's replicating the multi-layered harmonies of Fleet Foxes' "White Winter Hymnal," providing a poignancy to Bon Iver's "Skinny Love," or showcasing her scale-gliding abilities on the Postal Service's "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight." The gospel-tinged cover of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain," the only track to sound more expansive than the original, feels slightly out of place, while the unremarkable balladry of the only original composition, "Without a Word," suggests she might have to work a little harder on her songwriting skills if she's to avoid becoming a one-trick pony. The whole idea of Birdy sounds like a transparent attempt to court a more credible audience, but thanks to her haunting tones and a tasteful yet compelling production, it impressively avoids being the try-hard affair you'd expect.

Jon O'Brien, Rovi

16 Biggest Hits

John Denver
RCA\Legacy's 16 Biggest Hits collects (you guessed it) 16 classic cuts from the legendary singer/songwriter, including "Back Home Again," "Rocky Mountain High," "Take Me Home, Country Roads," and "Annie's Song." Notable omissions such as "Calypso," "Grandma's Feather Bed," and "Perhaps Love" keep this skimpy overview from providing any real cultural impact, but there is enough here to recommended it if it arrives as the result of charity.

James Christopher Monger, Rovi

Wild Youth EP

Daughter

Heart Beats

JOHNNYSWIM

Tea For The Tillerman

Cat Stevens
Mona Bone Jakon only began Cat Stevens' comeback. Seven months later, he returned with Tea for the Tillerman, an album in the same chamber-group style, employing the same musicians and producer, but with a far more confident tone. Mona Bone Jakon had been full of references to death, but Tea for the Tillerman was not about dying; it was about living in the modern world while rejecting it in favor of spiritual fulfillment. It began with a statement of purpose, "Where Do the Children Play?," in which Stevens questioned the value of technology and progress. "Wild World" found the singer being dumped by a girl, but making the novel suggestion that she should stay with him because she was incapable of handling things without him. "Sad Lisa" might have been about the same girl after she tried and failed to make her way; now, she seemed depressed to the point of psychosis. The rest of the album veered between two themes: the conflict between the young and the old, and religion as an answer to life's questions. Tea for the Tillerman was the story of a young man's search for spiritual meaning in a soulless class society he found abhorrent. He hadn't yet reached his destination, but he was confident he was going in the right direction, traveling at his own, unhurried pace. The album's rejection of contemporary life and its yearning for something more struck a chord with listeners in an era in which traditional verities had been shaken. It didn't hurt, of course, that Stevens had lost none of his ability to craft a catchy pop melody; the album may have been full of angst, but it wasn't hard to sing along to. As a result, Tea for the Tillerman became a big seller and, for the second time in four years, its creator became a pop star.

William Ruhlmann, Rovi

Running On Empty

Jackson Browne
Having acknowledged a certain creative desperation on The Pretender, Jackson Browne lowered his sights (and raised his commercial appeal) considerably with Running on Empty, which was more a concept album about the road than an actual live album, even though its songs were sometimes recorded on-stage (and sometimes on the bus or in the hotel). Unlike most live albums, though, it consisted of previously unrecorded songs. Browne had less creative participation on this album than on any he ever made, solely composing only two songs, co-writing four others, and covering another four. And he had less to say -- the title song and leadoff track neatly conjoined his artistic and escapist themes. Figuratively and creatively, he was out of gas, but like "the pretender," he still had to make a living. The songs covered all aspects of touring, from Danny O'Keefe's "The Road," which detailed romantic encounters, and "Rosie" (co-written by Browne and his manager Donald Miller), in which a soundman pays tribute to auto-eroticism, to, well, "Cocaine," to the travails of being a roadie ("The Load-Out"). Audience noises, humorous asides, loose playing -- they were all part of a rough-around-the-edges musical evocation of the rock & roll touring life. It was not what fans had come to expect from Browne, of course, but the disaffected were more than outnumbered by the newly converted. (It didn't hurt that "Running on Empty" and "The Load-Out"/"Stay" both became Top 40 hits.) As a result, Browne's least ambitious, but perhaps most accessible, album ironically became his biggest seller. But it is not characteristic of his other work: for many, it will be the only Browne album they will want to own, just as others always will regard it disdainfully as "Jackson Browne lite."

William Ruhlmann, Rovi

Top Songs

Let Her Go

Passenger

human

christina perri

Brave

Sara Bareilles

A Thousand Years

Christina Perri

I Choose You

Sara Bareilles

jar of hearts

Christina Perri

Home

Phillip Phillips

The A Team

Ed Sheeran

Give Me Love

Ed Sheeran

Skinny Love

Birdy

Dog Days Are Over

Florence & The Machine

When You Say Nothing At All

Alison Krauss

Change of Time

Josh Ritter

Wagon Wheel

Old Crow Medicine Show

I Never Told You

Colbie Caillat

Fast Car

Tracy Chapman

Skinny Love

Bon Iver

Not over You

Gavin DeGraw

Love Song

Sara Bareilles

Stay With Me

Savannah Outen

Cosmic Love

Florence & The Machine

Into The Mystic

Van Morrison

Cats In The Cradle

Harry Chapin