Sugar & the Hi-Lows are Nashville singer-songwriters Trent Dobbs and Amy Stroup, whose previous duets have been featured on Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill, Bones, Private Practice and Parenthood. The duo’s self-titled debut won’t be released until February 14th, 2012, otherwise it would be a last minute addition to my best of the year list. This brilliant collection of songs beautifully marries modern indie-pop with retro rockabilly and soul. The sound is Sun Records meets Raising Sand.
My personal favorite tracks are “Two Day High,” “I’ve Got You Covered” and “Skip the Line,” but the whole album is catchy, melodic and absolutely fantastic.
I’m still torn on whether I really like Kate Bush’s new album, 50 Words for Snow, or not. My opinion of the music seems to depend more on external factors, such as the day, location, and even weather, rather than my mood or the actual artistic merit of the songs. Listening to the CD in my car on a sunny day was morose and tedious, yet playing it at home on a cold, snowy evening was an atmospheric and lovely experience. It’s definitely not an album I will listen to often, but there is a certain charm to it. All the tracks flow together to create one seamless mood, which prevents any one track from standing out and/or lifting the album up from its quiet melancholy. So I would recommend it for fans of Kate Bush, Air and Radiohead, but those who prefer more drama and variety may be unimpressed.
Goapele’s new album, Break of Dawn, will be released in October. Her label is making the album’s first single, “Play” available as a SoundCloud stream, which you can hear below. If you wonder where you’ve heard Goapele before, her song “Closer” was featured on So You Think You Can Dancein 2006. Her music often blends soul with a New Age sound, but this new song is more Neo-Soul. Whatever you call it, it’s good.
UK singer-songwriter Shona Foster is a piano siren who has been likened to Fiona Apple. I personally think Shannon Wright may be a more appropriate comparison for music on Shona’s new album, The Moon & You. Songs like the opener “No. 34,” “Queens,” and “Dancing Leaves” are moody piano melodies with subtle instrumental and vocal flourishes. There are occasional hints at My Brightest Diamond‘s dramatic eccentricity, but there’s a visceral element lacking in the arrangements on The Moon & You to make the songs stand out as individuals. Still, I quite like the album and suspect it’ll grow on me more over time.
London trio Belleruche recently released their new album, 270 Stories, and are offering a free, legal audio stream via SoundCloud of their new single. “3 Amp Fuse” follows up the trippy genre-hopping sound of 2007’s Turntable Soul Music.