Bon Iver – Bon Iver
If you caught Vernon live after For Emma, you gradually saw him putting more and more emphasis on his band, moving Bon Iver from that solitary project into something that felt more like the work of a group. And Bon Iver, with its rich and layered arrangements, extends that development in a striking direction that’s both logical and surprising. Blending natural instrumentation supplied by recruited players– such as string arranger Rob Moose (Antony and the Johnsons, the National, Arcade Fire) and a horn/woodwind section that includes versatile saxophonist Colin Stetson– with an array of electronic and treated sounds, the album combines varied textures in ways that are ambitious and unusual but often subtle enough to miss on first glance. Read the full review on Pitchfork
Jeff The Brotherhood – We are the Champions
For a raw rock combo that in their early days seemed singularly committed simply to sweet riffs and rousing energy, on Champions JEFF prove themselves through a confident embrace of dynamics — stretching the boundaries of their economical ensemble past the brink, with thrilling results.
Sure, the primal, in-your-face energy is still there and potent as ever — the breakneck, jackhammer hi-hat and pummeling power chords of “Cool Out” will transport you to a Trans Am speeding at 90 mph down the darkest of highways while you pass a spliff to your shotgun-rider and rigor mortis begins to overtake the body in your trunk. “Shredder” relentlessly shells the listener with an assailment of head-bangin’, top-shelf Sabbath and Motörhead riffs that more than befits its name. And that’s almost nothing compared to the will-make-you-start-punching-people-uncontrollably-if-you’re-not-careful stoner-rock tour-de-force “Ripper” that follows a few tracks later. Read the full review on Nashville Scene
Tedeschi Trucks Band – Revelator
Here’s another perfect balance: Susan Tedeschi, whose soulful voice can handle blues and ballads with equal, rich ease, and Derek Trucks, her husband and certainly the best slide guitar player on the scene. Both have been leading separate bands during the first ten years of their marriage. But now the couple has joined forces, writing together and melding their groups into a single, 11-piece all-star band. The first recording by the Tedeschi Trucks Band blends wonderful, natural performances with great songs. Ideal balance. Revelator is outstanding in the extreme. Read the full review on PopMatters