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Some Devil

Dave Matthews
It wouldn't seem that a solo album from Dave Matthews would be all that different from a Dave Matthews Band album, since he's not only the singer/songwriter/guitarist; he leads the band and gives it its very name. That assumption turns out to be incorrect, since Some Devil sounds and feels much different than any DMB effort. With Some Devil, Matthews has turned in a brooding, moody album that attempts to extend the breakthrough of Busted Stuff, which signaled a considerable leap forward for Matthews as a songwriter and musician, finding him tackling darker territory. Here, he turns up the darkness even more, but loses the fluid musicality that came with DMB's loose-limbed jams. In a way, it's an attempt to shore up his credentials as a singer/songwriter, something that has always been overshadowed by his brood's status as jam-band favorites, and Some Devil certainly feels more at home among modern singer/songwriters from John Mayer to Rufus Wainwright than it does next to the String Cheese Incident. Even though he's cut a lot of fat off his songs, he still favors meandering to directness, which combined with the deliberately somber mood of the album means this often sounds like Automatic for the People as written and performed by Sting. The end results are a bit unwieldy, perhaps, and not always successful, but it is interesting and certainly different than a Dave Matthews Band record. Most importantly, even if it is a rather modest success, Some Devil does showcase a continued growth for Matthews as a songwriter.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

All The Little Lights

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

+

Ed Sheeran
+ is the debut studio album by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, released on 9 September 2011 by Asylum Records and Atlantic Records. The album marks Sheeran's commercial breakthrough, having previously released five EPs independently. Jake Gosling produced the majority of the album, with additional production by American hip hop producer No I.D.. Upon release, + debuted atop of the UK Albums Chart with first-week sales exceeding 102,000 copies The album performed well on the US Billboard 200, peaking at number 5, selling 42,000 copies. The album is the highest debut for a British artist's first studio album in the US since Susan Boyle's I Dreamed a Dream.
Media interest surrounding + was fuelled significantly by its two preceding singles—"The A Team" and "You Need Me, I Don't Need You"—which peaked at number one and number four on the UK Singles Chart respectively. "Lego House" was released on 11 November 2011 as the album's third single and emulated the chart success of its predecessors, peaking at number five in the UK. Three further singles were released throughout the year; "Drunk", "Small Bump" and "Give Me Love", all of which charted within the top 25 of the UK Singles Chart. It was met with generally mixed reviews from music critics.

~ Provided by Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%2B_(album)) under Creative Commons Attribution CC-BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode)

We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.

Jason Mraz

England Keep My Bones [Deluxe Edition]

Frank Turner
England Keep My Bones is the fourth album from former Million Dead vocalist Frank Turner. Produced by Tristan Ivemy -- who also worked on Turner’s Love, Ire & Song -- the album sees Turner continue with his mix of punk-inspired folk, recalling artists such as Billy Bragg and Ryan Adams., Rovi

The World From The Side Of The Moon (Deluxe Edition)

Phillip Phillips
Phillip Phillips' victorious run on American Idol included an abundance of R&B, as the young Georgia vocalist covered tunes by everyone from James Brown to Usher, amid some pop/rock classics. But even then, he displayed a vocal style closer to a cross between Chris Martin and Dave Matthews, and it's that amalgam that he explores on his debut album. Tracks like "Gone, Gone, Gone" and "Hold On" have all the grandeur of Coldplay times ten, while the combination of acoustic axes and anthemic touches on other tracks underlines a Mumford & Sons influence. The disco-tinged "Get Up Get Down" nods to Phillips' funkier side, but for the most part, we hear him trading groove-based moves for grand drama and panoramic pop.

Lights Out

Ingrid Michaelson

Trouble

Ray LaMontagne
The best songs on Trouble, the debut release from songwriter Ray LaMontagne, draw on deep wells of emotion, and with LaMontagne's sandpapery voice, which recalls a gruffer, more sedate version of Tim Buckley or an American version of Van Morrison, they seem to belie his years. The title tune, "Trouble," is an instant classic, sparse and maudlin (in the best sense), and songs like "Narrow Escape," a ragged, episodic waltz, are equally impressive, with careful, cinematic lyrics that tell believable stories of wounded-hearted refugees on the hard road of life and love. Most of the tracks fall into a midtempo shuffle rhythm, so the words have to carry a lot in order to avert a sort of dull sameness, and when it works, it works big, and when it doesn't, well, LaMontagne is so serious and sincere about his craft that you tend to forgive him instantly. Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek guests on "Hannah" and the sad, somber lullaby "All the Wild Horses," playing fiddle and adding vocals, and producer Ethan Johns adds drums and other touches on most tracks. The sound is measured and sparse, with few frills (a five-piece string section is used on a few tracks, but is never intrusive), all of which supports the emotional urgency of LaMontagne's writing. "How Come" sounds a bit like a rewrite of Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright," and a couple of other cuts seem a bit labored, but overall this is an impressive debut by an extremely special songwriter.

Steve Leggett, 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

Hard Rock Current Top Sellers

Time Travelers & Bonfires

Sevendust

La Gárgola

Chevelle

Unconditional

Memphis May Fire

Going To Hell

The Pretty Reckless

The Joy of Motion

Animals As Leaders

Broken Crown Halo

Lacuna Coil

Restoring Force

Of Mice & Men

Hail to the King

Avenged Sevenfold

Acoustic Sessions (Part 2)

Smith & Myers

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Physical Graffiti

Led Zeppelin

On The Border

Eagles
The Eagles began recording their third album in England with producer Glyn Johns, as they had their first two albums, but abandoned the sessions after completing two acceptable tracks. Johns, it is said, tended to emphasize the group's country elements and its harmonies, while the band, in particular Glenn Frey and Don Henley, wanted to take more of a hard rock direction. They reconvened with a new producer, Bill Szymczyk, who had produced artists like B.B. King and, more significantly, Joe Walsh. But the resulting album is not an outright rock effort by any means. Certainly, Frey and Henley got what they wanted with "Already Gone," the lead-off track, which introduces new bandmember Don Felder as one part of the twin guitar solo that recalls the Allman Brothers Band; "James Dean," a rock & roll song on the order of "Your Mama Don't Dance," and "Good Day in Hell," which is strongly reminiscent of Joe Walsh songs like "Rocky Mountain Way." But the album also features the usual mixture of styles typical of an Eagles album. For example, "Midnight Flyer," sung by Randy Meisner, is modern bluegrass; "My Man" is Bernie Leadon's country-rock tribute to the recently deceased Gram Parsons; and "Ol' 55" is one of the group's well-done covers of a tune by a singer/songwriter labelmate, in this case Tom Waits. The title track, meanwhile, points the band in a new R&B direction that was later pursued more fully. Like most successful groups, the Eagles combined many different elements, and their third album, which looked back to their earlier work and anticipated their later work, was a transitional effort that combined even more styles than most of their records did.

William Ruhlmann, Rovi

Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick
Cheap Trick's eponymous debut is an explosive fusion of Beatlesque melodic hooks, Who-styled power, and a twisted sense of humor partially borrowed from the Move. But that only begins to scratch the surface of what makes Cheap Trick a dynamic record. Guitarist Rick Nielsen has a powerful sense of dynamics and arrangements, which gives the music an extra kick, but he also can write exceptionally melodic and subversive songs. Nothing on Cheap Trick is quite what it seems. While the songs have hooks and attitude that arena rock was sorely lacking in the late '70s, they are also informed by a bizarre sensibility, whether it's the driving "He's a Whore," the dreamy "Mandocello," or the thumping Gary Glitter perversion "ELO Kiddies." "The Ballad of TV Violence" is about mass murder, while "Daddy Should Have Stayed in High School" concerns pedophiles. All of it is told with a sense of humor, but it doesn't come off as cheap or smirking because of the group's hard-rocking drive and Robin Zander's pop-idol vocals. Even "Oh, Candy," apparently a love song on first listen, is an affecting tribute to a friend who committed suicide. In short, Cheap Trick revel in taboo subjects with abandon, devoting themselves to the power of the hook, as well as sheer volume and gut-wrenching rock & roll -- though the record is more musically accomplished than punk rock, it shares the same aesthetic. The combination of off-kilter humor, bizarre subjects, and blissful power pop made Cheap Trick one of the defining albums of its era, as well as one of the most influential. [The 1998 Epic/Legacy reissue of Cheap Trick features a different track sequence than the original and also adds several bonus tracks, many of which are previously unreleased.]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Decade

Neil Young

Rumours

Fleetwood Mac
Rumours is the kind of album that transcends its origins and reputation, entering the realm of legend -- it's an album that simply exists outside of criticism and outside of its time, even if it thoroughly captures its era. Prior to this LP, Fleetwood Mac were moderately successful, but here they turned into a full-fledged phenomenon, with Rumours becoming the biggest-selling pop album to date. While its chart success was historic, much of the legend surrounding the record is born from the group's internal turmoil. Unlike most bands, Fleetwood Mac in the mid-'70s were professionally and romantically intertwined, with no less than two couples in the band, but as their professional career took off, the personal side unraveled. Bassist John McVie and his keyboardist/singer wife Christine McVie filed for divorce as guitarist/vocalist Lindsey Buckingham and vocalist Stevie Nicks split, with Stevie running to drummer Mick Fleetwood, unbeknown to the rest of the band. These personal tensions fueled nearly every song on Rumours, which makes listening to the album a nearly voyeuristic experience. You're eavesdropping on the bandmates singing painful truths about each other, spreading nasty lies and rumors and wallowing in their grief, all in the presence of the person who caused the heartache. Everybody loves gawking at a good public breakup, but if that was all that it took to sell a record, Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights would be multi-platinum. No, what made Rumours an unparalleled blockbuster is the quality of the music. Once again masterminded by producer/songwriter/guitarist Buckingham, Rumours is an exceptionally musical piece of work -- he toughens Christine McVie and softens Nicks, adding weird turns to accessibly melodic works, which gives the universal themes of the songs haunting resonance. It also cloaks the raw emotion of the lyrics in deceptively palatable arrangements that made a tune as wrecked and tortured as "Go Your Own Way" an anthemic hit. But that's what makes Rumours such an enduring achievement -- it turns private pain into something universal. Some of these songs may be too familiar, whether through their repeated exposure on FM radio or their use in presidential campaigns, but in the context of the album, each tune, each phrase regains its raw, immediate emotional power -- which is why Rumours touched a nerve upon its 1977 release, and has since transcended its era to be one of the greatest, most compelling pop albums of all time.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight

Richard And Linda Thompson
Recorded over eight days and on the thinnest of shoestring budgets, Richard and Linda Thompson's 1974 debut is a work of accidental charm and scrappy genius. Populated by drunkards, vagabonds and lovable con artists, these songs seethe with the kind of underdog spirit typified in the freewheeling rush of the oft-covered title track. But the album's true brilliance is in its balance. Richard's inimitably knotty guitar work aptly complements Linda's gutsy wail, providing the backbone for music that spans from lithe Irish folk rock to emotionally devastating ballads. And though it would be impossible to improve on the original, the reissued edition comes with three live cuts that include "Together Again," a Buck Owens cover.

Nate Cavalieri, Google Play

Rocks

Aerosmith
Few albums have been so appropriately named as Aerosmith's 1976 classic Rocks. Despite hard drug use escalating among bandmembers, Aerosmith produced a superb follow-up to their masterwork Toys in the Attic, nearly topping it in the process. Many Aero fans will point to Toys as the band's quintessential album (it contained two radio/concert standards after all, "Walk This Way" and "Sweet Emotion"), but out of all their albums, Rocks did the best job of capturing Aerosmith at their most raw and rocking. Like its predecessor, a pair of songs have become their most renowned -- the menacing, hard rock, cowboy-stomper "Back in the Saddle," as well as the downright viscous funk groove of "Last Child." Again, even the lesser-known tracks prove essential to the makeup of the album, such as the stimulated "Rats in the Cellar" (a response of sorts to "Toys in the Attic"), the Stonesy "Combination," and the forgotten riff-rocker "Get the Lead Out." Also included is the apocalyptic "Nobody's Fault," the up-and-coming rock star tale of "Lick and a Promise," and the album-closing ballad "Home Tonight." With Rocks, Aerosmith appeared to be indestructible.

Greg Prato, Rovi

Sticky Fingers

The Rolling Stones
Pieced together from outtakes and much-labored-over songs, Sticky Fingers has a loose, ramshackle ambience that belies both its origins and the dark undercurrents of the songs. Apart from the classic opener, "Brown Sugar," the long workout "Can't You Hear Me Knocking," and the mean-spirited "Bitch," Sticky Fingers is a slow, bluesy affair, with a few country touches thrown in for good measure. The laid-back tone of the album gives ample room for new lead guitarist Mick Taylor to stretch out, but the key to the album isn't the instrumental interplay -- it's the soulfulness of the songs. With its offhand mixture of decadence, roots music, and outright malevolence, Sticky Fingers set the tone for the rest of the decade for the Stones.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Selling England By The Pound

Genesis
Genesis proved that they could rock on Foxtrot but on its follow-up Selling England by the Pound they didn't follow this route, they returned to the English eccentricity of their first records, which wasn't so much a retreat as a consolidation of powers. For even if this eight-track album has no one song that hits as hard as "Watcher of the Skies," Genesis hasn't sacrificed the newfound immediacy of Foxtrot: they've married it to their eccentricity, finding ways to infuse it into the delicate whimsy that's been their calling card since the beginning. This, combined with many overt literary allusions -- the Tolkeinisms of the title of "The Battle of Epping Forest" only being the most apparent -- gives this album a storybook quality. It plays as a collection of short stories, fables, and fairy tales, and it is also a rock record, which naturally makes it quite extraordinary as a collection, but also as a set of individual songs. Genesis has never been as direct as they've been on the fanciful yet hook-driven "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)" -- apart from the fluttering flutes in the fade-out, it could easily be mistaken for a glam single -- or as achingly fragile as on "More Fool Me," sung by Phil Collins. It's this delicate balance and how the album showcases the band's narrative force on a small scale as well as large that makes this their arguable high-water mark.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Grateful Dead [Skull & Roses] [Live]

Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead's second live release was an eponymously titled double LP whose cover bears the striking skull-and-roses visual motif that would become instantly recognizable and an indelibly linked trademark of the band. As opposed to their debut concert recording, Live/Dead (1969), this hour and ten minutes concentrates on newer material, which consisted of shorter self-contained originals and covers. Coming off of the quantum-leap success of the studio country-rock efforts Workingman's Dead (1969) and American Beauty, Grateful Dead offers up a pair of new Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter compositions -- "Bertha" and "Wharf Rat" -- both of which garnered a permanent place within the band's live catalog. However, "The Other One" -- joined in progress just as Billy Kreutzmann fires up a blazing percussion solo -- sprawls as the album's centerpiece. The Dead also begin incorporating several traditional folk, blues, and R&B cover tunes, such as Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried," Kris Kristofferson's "Me & Bobby McGee," as well as a few that had been in their songbook for several years, including John Phillips' "Me & My Uncle" and "Big Boss Man," a blues standard popularized by Jimmy Reed. Their formidable improvisational chops have begun to take on new facets of lean intricacy as Mickey Hart (percussion) and Tom Constanten (keyboards) were no longer in the band. Additionally, the arrival of Keith Godchaux (organ) and his wife, Donna Godchaux (vocals), had yet to occur. As such, the Grateful Dead spent the spring and summer of 1971 in their original five-piece configuration -- which is when these recordings were documented. The Golden Road (1965-1973) (2001) box set features a remastered version of Grateful Dead and includes two additional covers -- Buddy Holly's "Oh, Boy!" as well as Leiber & Stoller's "(I'm A) Hog for You" -- plus an unmarked vintage radio spot for the album. Enthusiasts should note that this era is likewise represented on the four-CD Ladies and Gentlemen...The Grateful Dead (2000) archival release.

Lindsay Planer, Rovi