Nathan Rodriguez

Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors: Good Light

Good Light succeeds in flashes of minimalistic beauty, but falls short of delivering a knockout punch. The simplest explanation is the lyrics leave little to the imagination (See “I love you, I do”). By avoiding imagery and metaphor almost entirely, Holcomb does a fine job describing where he’s at, but falls short of transcending a particular context. This saccharine, heart-on-the-sleeve style of songwriting is kind of like a stick of gum: nice, kinda refreshing, but of fleeting resonance.

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Atlas Genius: When It Was Now

While there are moments that it’s convenient to say “Hey, this kinda sounds like _____,” enough counterexamples emerge to acclaim the quartet on their own accord. These guys can write a catchy tune with meaningful lyrics while keeping the music interesting—no small feat.  If Atlas Genius qualifies as pop music in 2013, bring it on.

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Mountains: Centralia

Centralia is mood music, perhaps enjoyed best as a palate cleanser in a music library shuffle, or in certain settings—with a nice pair of headphones, during a yoga or meditation session, or as a soundtrack to the television during a 3am post-party.

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Moon Taxi: Cabaret

With a name like Moon Taxi, the casual music fan might expect an electronica untz-fest that sounds better after midnight. Being so wrong rarely feels so right.

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Booker T. Jones: The Road From Memphis

Following  Booker T Jones' 2009 Anti- release Potato Hole which won the Grammy for “Best Pop Instrumental Album,” the B-3  legend returns with The Road From Memphis. Produced by Jones with The Roots' ?uestlove and Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliot Smith), Memphis was recorded by Daptone Records mastermind Gabriel Roth with backing by The Roots.

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Garage a Trois: Always Be Happy But Stay Evil

With its fifth release, Garage a Trois has crafted an album destined to go down as one of the best instrumental releases of the last couple decades. That may sound a tad hyperbolic, but Always Be Happy but Stay Evil showcases the extraordinary range of four musicians at the top of their respective games. 

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Bob Marley & The Wailers: Live Forever

Live Forever is the 40th posthumous Bob Marley-related release.  Fortunately, it’s one of the better efforts, thanks to generally pristine audio quality and the significance of the show itself – Marley’s final concert, in which nearly all his utterances seem imbued with a prophetic quality.

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Wax – Next Great White Rapper

He’s cultivating legions of fans through word of mouth and a reservoir of replay-worthy YouTube clips.  Glide goes overtime with unsigned phenomenon Wax, whose third album dropped in May.In Good to Great:  Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t, Jim Collins discusses what he terms the Flywheel Effect to explain traits of successful businesses.  In essence, it’s a blend of common sense and karma where equity from solid decisions accumulates over time – a classic case of the whole exceeding the sum of its parts.  At a certain point the momentum becomes a self-sustaining cycle and success is cemented.  It seems like Wax is nearing that sweet spot where escalating word of mouth yields enough traction to get a foothold in the music industry.  After his six-piece band dissolved a few years back, the Dunkirk, Maryland, native sat in his Nissan Sentra, flipped on a video camera and jumpstarted his solo career.

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