William Helms

Anna Rose : Tammany Hall, New York, NY 1/13/12

When I first saw Anna Rose open for local legend, Edward Rogers sometime last year, she had more of a pop singer/songwriter sound. But in that year Anna Rose has gone through a remarkable transformation sonically and visually – still diminutive (which would never change), she’s noticeably mature, wiser and womanly. In other words, she’s confident, knowing, brash, even playful but still awkward.

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Heartless Bastards: The Mountain

Because of The Mountain's emotional depth and Erika Wennerstrom’s amazing voice, this album is a rare and a very beautiful work, reminiscent of the old time blues that inspired Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and countless others.

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Keane: Perfect Symmetry

Keane, much like several other contemporary British acts have the terrible luck of getting record deals around the time Coldplay and David Gray became world-renowned acts – and unfortunately to the untrained, American ear, there’s almost very little sonic difference between Keane, South and others.

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Great Northern: Trading Daylight for Twilight

With the release of their debut album, Trading Daylight for Twilight, the Los Angeles-based quintet, Great Northern has created a unique brand of intimate modern pop music consisting of ethereal and expansive melodies.

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Kaiser Chiefs: Yours Truly, Angry Mob

Stateside, the Kaiser Chiefs are known for their highly infectious pop punk smash, “I Predict a Riot,” from their first album, Employment. And with the release of Yours Truly, Angry Mob,the Leeds-based quintet of Ricky Wilson (vocals), Simon Nix (bass), Nick Baines (keyboards), Andrew White (guitar) and Nick Hodgson (drums and backing vocals) all have the hopes of winning over American fans.

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Black Rebel Motorcyle Club: Baby 81

With the return of drummer Nick Jago to their lineup after a prolonged battle with drug and alcohol addiction, the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s latest album Baby 81 should be considered a return to their previous form in the likes of their first two albums: BRMC: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Take Them On, On Your Own.

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Harlem Shakes: Burning Birthdays

On the Harlem Shakes’ self-released debut EP Burning Birthdays, the Brooklyn band shows an adept ability to write and play catchy, indie-rock, pop songs. Certainly, with their DIY ethos, this particularly lo-fi recording will probably remind the most ardent indie-rock fan of a harder rocking Shins.

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PJ Harvey: The Peel Sessions 1991-2004

[rating=4.00] With The Peel Sessions, PJ Harvey releases what is perhaps one her most personal and intimately recorded album yet, and it serves as a fitting personal tribute to BBC

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The Game: Doctor’s Advocate

With 16 songs clocking in well over an hour – including the final track which is over nine minutes long – it becomes fairly obvious that there’s a lack of economizing thought. Along the way, the constant name dropping of rappers The Game idolized gets a bit tiring. Those moments throughout seemed contrived, if not plain silly, but the beats are damn good enough to keep one coming back for more Game.

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