Otis Taylor Double V (Telarc)
Otis Taylor is the most relevant blues artist working today, bar none. His 2003 release, Truth is Not Fiction, turned the blues on its ear with stripped-down acoustic songs that are swollen with emotion and spine-tingling urgency. With Double V, Taylor continues his journey into the darkest corners of American history, telling chilling stories of the struggle for civil rights, social unrest and spiritual longing atop perfectly hewn melodies that mine the rich traditions of African folk, African American spirituals, latter-day acoustic blues and roiling blues rock. Taylor's unconventional instrumentation and approach takes no prisoners.
The Dirty Novels The Dirty Novels (self-released)
On their new six-song, self-titled EP, the Dirty Novels offer straightforward garage pop that strikes an almost perfect balance of Stooges-esque trashiness and the sugar pop simplicty of the Archies, all bathed in a vat full of classic Stones and even a little Zombies. In that sense, you could call this Dirty Novels EP derivative, but the band have cultivated their own, unique swagger and delivery system (jangly AM guitars, sultry FM vocals and Romantics beats) that prevents them from sounding like every other third-wave garage band. These rock solid tracks kick ass!
Killswitch Engage The End of Heartache (Roadrunner)
Post-Korn heavy metal is about to separate the men from the babies, and Killswitch Engage are helping to lead the assault in a big way. The End of Heartache features new vocalist Howard Jones and an electrifying mix of blast furnace riffs, classic thrash and extreme hardcore. Add “inventive melodies” to the prescription and you've found the cure for the nü metal virus. Killswitch Engage aren't the heaviest band out there, but they're one of the most intelligent and original, with songwriting expertise that rivals that of any band in any genre.