5.) The Insyderz - The Sinner's Songbook
4.) Showbread - Cancer
3.) Joshua James - From the Top of Willamette Mountain
Joshua James writes from a place of enlightenment, even if most of his musings are uncertain or full of mystery. His beautiful folk rock melodies and impassioned breathy vocal delivery transport my soul to the mountain valley in Utah where he lives and from where he crafts his stories, recounts his love, and paints his heart into songs. I can't pick out album highlights because each song is a work of art, with harmonies that round out the sound, slide guitar that gives them that hint of country, and a plucked and weathered acoustic guitar that has seen many concerts as its seen lonely nights hoping for home. I'm listening to this album right now, and I really don't know how to say it properly. I just feel a peace in this set of songs that transcends this place, this skin, and all the hurt that this world has sometimes. "From the Top of Willamette Mountain" swells with a beauty, richness, and realness that is often unseen in music today. I hope to see Joshua James soon, and wish him well on his musical quest of life.
2.) mewithoutYou - Ten Stories
For people who know me, they know that I have a very deep love for mewithoutYou. "Ten Stories" is immaculate, spinning fables of destined circus animals that scatter (or don't) after a train wreck in Montana in the late 19th century. The premise may seem strange, but the truths hold weight for us all, concealed just beneath the surface of these analogy-filled songs. Shout singer turned folk poet extraordinaire Aaron Weiss crafts riddles and pours humanity into his fated tigers, bears, foxes, walruses, rabbits, peacocks, and owls. Each listen, I find a slice of myself in their wandering tales, as they encounter love, loss, death, sacrifice, and redemption. And if you spin "Ten Stories" and think it isn't as spiritually driven as previous mwY releases, grab a dictionary for the long words and commit yourself to delving into the lyrics and purpose of each song. The music is also crafted with elegance and purposeful flow, one song spilling into the next. The Philadelphia post/folk rock band pulled together their entire sonic range for a cohesive amalgam. I hear strong ties to their surprisingly different release, 2009's "It's All Crazy..." but with definite leanings toward the passionate yelps of "Catch For Us The Foxes" (2004) and my favorite "Brother Sister" (2006). In all, this is the best of mewithoutYou, the whole shebang on full display. Also, don't neglect the two b-sides. While they may not have fit into the album's story, "Julian the Onion" is one of the most earnest use of puns I've ever heard, and "Four Fire" is easily one of my favorite songs by mwY already.
1.) Lost in the Trees - A Church That Fits Our Needs
DOWNLOAD ONE SONG FROM EACH OF THE TOP TEN ALBUMS HERE!
And do remember to support the artists if you like what you hear! They put a lot of hard work and dedication into their craft. Don't make their art dispensable!