Esperanza Spalding – Chamber Music Society

On February 26, 2011, in Jazz, Vocal Jazz, by Miguel Rodriguez
Artist: Esperanza Spalding
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.
(Esperanza Spalding - Chamber Music Society)
 

Saigon – The Greatest Story Never Told

On February 17, 2011, in Gangsta Rap, Hip Hop, Rap, Review, by Miguel Rodriguez
Artist: Saigon
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.
(Saigon - The Greatest Story Never Told)
 
Artist: Nicole Atkins
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.
(Nicole Atkins - Mondo Amore)
 

Lionize – Destruction Manual

On February 8, 2011, in Frat Rock, Funk, Reggae, Review, Rock, Rocksteady, Ska, Stoner Rock, by Miguel Rodriguez
Artist: Lionize
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.
(Lionize - Destruction Manual)