Meaghan Smith -
I wrote briefly about Meaghan Smith several months ago when she released her debut EP, but I thought she was worth bringing up again as she's just dropped her full-length album - The Cricket's Orchestra. I was initially a bit disappointed to find that all of the songs on her EP are also included on the LP, but I'll admit the new record works remarkably well as a whole. And for most of you, that probably won't be an issue at all anyway. Meaghan's music is reminiscent of classic pop/jazz/swing records from ages ago, but somehow feels remarkably modern as well. Highlights from The Cricket's Orchestra include the deceptively cheery "Heartbroken," the pleading "If You Asked Me" and the sweet ballad "A Little Love." Her beautiful voice gives her selection of 11 love songs (well, love-related anyway) a vibrant emotional color which, when combined with the album's stellar musicianship, makes this a debut you need to hear.
Mean Creek -
Mean Creek is a Boston-based quartet that combines boy/girl vocals and indie pop hooks with a gritty Americana/rock 'n' roll approach, creating a unique sound heard on their recently-released sophomore effort - The Sky (Or the Underground). The new album contains songs with a variety of tempos and dynamics, with noisy rockers, spacey ballads, and the occasional folk tune making up the ten tracks. On the louder side of things are highlights like the dark, swirling title track and the urgent anthem "Face of the Earth" which kick off the album, while tunes like "It's Good to Be Back Again" show the band's more gentle side. Many of the songs throw in a little of everything, switching between moments of contemplative calm and intense emotion - resulting in a consistently interesting and impressive rock record that bodes good things for newcomers Mean Creek.
The Sky (Or the Underground) (Zipped MP3)
Light Into Dark (MP3 via Under The Radar)
Orenda Fink -
For her sophomore album - Ask the Night - Orenda Fink only includes 28 minutes of music, but its certainly a case of quality over quantity. The singer/songwriter's melancholy style has a gothic Americana twinge to it (think a slightly less depressed Marissa Nadler) that I find especially appealing and her new LP has quickly become a new favorite of mine in the folk genre. Though her songs generally focus on her soft, emotional voice and acoustic guitar - banjo, accordion, backing vocals and other instruments subtly accentuate and add depth to her music. Favorites from the album include the heartbreaking opener "Why Is the Night Sad," the fiery duet "High Ground," and the slightly countrified "The Garden," all of which contribute to an especially strong first half, though the back half is solid as well. Definitely recommended listening for folk junkies such as myself.
That Certain-Something Spring (MP3 via Paste)