Producer: Cole Burris, J.J. Plasencio
Label: Cole Burris
Release: August 19, 2011
Rating: 5.8 RockRolls
Texan-native Cole Burris is no stranger to the Austin music scene. Cole has been seen around the capital of the Lone Star State as a performer, composer, songwriter, and has been featured by other songwriting competitions and was most recently among the top featured bands in Converse's Get Out Of The Garage contest. Now, with his debut album, Cole has stepped out into the recording world with his self-produced (with some help), independently released premiere, Changes. Using the power of social media and word-of-mouth, Cole has promoted the album on his own and released it without the backing of even an established, independent label. The DIY approach to any album from any artist is extreme, but in a city as independent and unique as the live music capital of the world, Cole may be in just the place where a business model based on going at it on your own can thrive.
Album: What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?
Producer: Dan Grech
Release: March 14,2011 UK, May 31, 2011
Rating: 7.1 RockRolls
Thrust from relative obscurity into recording 2011's most anticipated album, Brit-rockers "The Vaccines" have a lot of industry hype to live up to with their debut "What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?" Considering their near overnight success in London it's possible the title was selected to be able to withstand a knockout record or commercial failure. Fortunately for these garage rock revivalists, they won't have to be hanging up their hats just yet.
Album: Goodbye Lullaby
Producer: Deryck Whibley, Max Martin, Shellback, et al.
Release: March 2,2011
Rating: 3.6 RockRolls
It's been three years since we've even seen a release from Canadian pop-rocker Avril Lavigne, and four years since her last full length studio album. Met with static between the label and artist, the current album was stretched into a two-and-a-half year effort wherein Avril attempted to release the record with her version of a stripped down effort. After negotiations, Goodbye Lullaby was released at a healthy 51 minutes (16 more minutes on the extended and Japanese releases). In interviews, Avril stated that they had recorded enough material for a second album, perhaps an EP or follow-up will follow in the near future.
Album: Ukulele Songs
Producer: Adam Kasper, Eddie Vedder
Release: May 31, 2011
Rating: 7.4 RockRolls
Eddie Vedder welcomes fans of Pearl Jam and of his solo work for Into The Wild to relax, sit around the fire, and enjoy the simple tunes of Ukulele Songs. Vedder's second solo album, Ukulele Songs pulls no punches and hosts no gimmicks in it's name. It is openly and honestly an album of songs on ukulele. And as counter-counter-culture or anti-traditional-Pearl Jam that may seem, Vedder seems to mesh the instruments of his voice and impeccably strummed ukulele beautifully.
Album: Darwin Deez
Producer: Darwin Deez
Label: Lucky Number
Release: May 23, 2011
Rating: 6.2 RockRolls
Following a three month delay, Darwin Deez' self-titled debut album finally made its US release. Formerly only available as an international import, the New York-based indie rockers return home (at least digitally as they are preparing to kick off their tour in Europ this week) to their awaiting fans with a more accesible version of their album. The art rock group plan to make it back to the US themselves in early July.
Album: Born This Way
Producer: Paul Blair, DJ Snake, Fernando Garibay, et al.
Label: Streamline, Interscope, Kon Live
Release: May 23, 2011
Rating: 7.0 RockRolls
Born This Way is a departure from what you might expect following Lady Gaga's previous offerings. The shock pop star hasn't backed down any from her usual themes, target fanbase or social activism, but her second full-length studio album boasts a style unique to the New York-based artist, while varied and separate from 2008's The Fame. More dance than anti-pop, Born This Way boasts an impressivley eclectic track list (even for Gaga) that charges on full steam ahead from the opening note to the last beat.
Album: Chamber Music Society
Producer: Gil Goldstein
Label: Heads Up International
Release: August 17, 2010
Rating: 8.5 RockRolls
Just who is Esperanza Spalding? It's easy to say that a significant majority of the 26.6 million people watching the 53rd Grammy Awards asked that very question to themselves. Or bombarded Twitter with static concerning the veritable upset of the Beliebers' great idol. While she may have been the dark horse of this year's awards, she is most certainly not unknown in and out of the jazz community. She set the online community on fire following her performance on Austin City Limits in 2010 and performed at that year's BET awards alongside Patti LaBelle and Alicia Keys in a tribute to Prince. She was hand-selected the previous December by U.S. President Barack Obama to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize concert and has been heralded as one of the greatest new talents on the current jazz scene; and now she's been awarded the title of the Best New Artist of 2010 by NARAS. Despite having two studio albums under her belt and having played all throughout her teen and young adult career, it is this last year in which NARAS has declared Esperanza Spalding's name to have represented her public identity as an artist making her eligible for the award. Her third solo album, Chamber Music Society, was released during her period of eligibility and no doubt helped rocket her persona from popular obscurity to music business headlines.
Album: The Greatest Story Never Told
Producer: Just Blaze, Jay-Z, Kanye West, et al.
Label: Suburban Noize
Release: February 15, 2011
Rating: 7.0 RockRolls
Following a storied career of mixtapes and street albums, The Greatest Story Never Told was the much anticipated debut album for Saigon nearly five years ago. After a number of setbacks as a result of marketing issues and pending release from his former label, Saigon was finally able to complete and release the album, but without the momentum he had collected in the past. However, die hard fans and rap aficionados point to this release as being a major turning point in Brian Daniel Carenard's musical career as well as an important addition to the grand collective of rap music. And after six years of frustration and anticipation, we are all curious to hear what Sai-Gitty has to say.
Album: Mondo Amore
Producer: Phil Palazzolo
Label: Razor & Tie
Release: February 8, 2011
Rating: 8.4 RockRolls
It's been a little over 2 years since we've seen a studio release from New Jersey-native Nicole Atikins, but the singer-songwriter has been letting her latest release ferment on the back burner as she's broadened her musical horizons. Mondo Amore is a turn from Nicole's past releases like Neptune City or Bleeding Diamonds, but the album always feels genuine. Emotionally, the album feels like her single "The Way It Is," but stronger and deeper, if you can believe that.
Album: Destruction Manual
Producer: J. Robbins
Label: Hardline Entertainment
Release: February 8, 2011
Rating: 6.1 RockRolls
For Maryland-based Lionize, being understated is just part of the business. Such is the fate of a band with such a DIY-perspective on their recording and promotion. Despite an impressive number of North American tour dates lined up for 2011, including a stint with the Vans' Warped Tour, Lionize's third album and fourth studio release, Destruction Manual, is likely to just creep out as a small blip on the radar. However, despite the band's premature self-glorification through it's moniker, this gem of reggae-frat-rock may prove successful under Kenneth Seaton's Hardline Entertainment label.