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Josh Groban
Illuminations
WBR
 
On Illuminations, Groban worked with veteran producer Rick Rubin, known for his critically acclaimed work with Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, and Dixie Chicks among many others. Groban co-wrote the majority of the songs, including 'Hidden Away,' which he wrote with Dan Wilson - former leader of the band Semisonic and co-writer of several cuts on the Dixie Chicks' 'Not Ready to Make Nice.' 'Hidden Away' was recorded live with Groban singing and playing piano, Matt Sweeney and Smokey Hormel on acoustic guitars, and veteran R&B icon Spooner Oldham on organ, with a striking orchestral arrangement by David Campbell added later. The opening piano chords and the unfolding melody evoke a timeless Americana, a thread from Stephen Foster through Aaron Copland through Paul Simon and Randy Newman, as Groban makes a heartfelt plea not to hide true love or one's true self. Illuminations finds both Groban and Rubin stepping out of each one's respective zone and creating an entirely new zone. The bracing result fulfills Rubin's vision of a 'fine art' Groban record, marrying the warmth of the sweeping American roots of Groban's writing and the grandeur of classical settings by matching the live, one-take performances by Groban and the intimate, core acoustic band with colorful orchestral arrangements by David Campbell and James Newton Howard.
 
T.I.
No Mercy
Atlantic
 
If there’s one thing you should know about T.I. it’s this: Never underestimate the man. After all, this is an artist who got dropped for only selling 270,000 copies of his debut only to start his own label sell millions. Put him under house arrest and he’ll just use the time to write another hit. If there are two things you have to know about T.I. then it’s that he is, if I may quote the man himself, “the shit on every level”. Songs about the latter are only part of the focus of his new album, No Mercy, which features lyrics that were half written on the page and half off the top of his dome. Though No Mercy finds T.I. keeping his focus on his rhymes, the beats are dutifully handled by big guns such as Kanye West (who produces 6 tracks) and Timbaland. Eminem, Kid Cudi, Trey Songs, and Drake are among the guests.
The Damned Things
Ironiclast
Mercury Records
 
With members, Anthrax (Scott Ian, Rob Caggiano), Every Time I Die (Keith Buckley) and Fall Out Boy (Joe Trohman, Andy Hurley), The Damned Things are undoubtedly a musical force to be reckoned with. While each individual in the band has experienced their own successes, The Damned Things' Ironiclast -- which combines the band's love of classic rock anthems and powerful melodies with heavy metal intensity -- turns out to be much more than the sum of the separate parts. Once you hear songs like "We've Got a Situation Here" ("I've been waiting patiently/For the crowd to gather... I don't ask for much/But I want what I can't afford"), "Black Heart," a laid-back break beat rhythm with a prog-rock tinged bridge, and "A Great Reckoning" (A song Ian says "reminds me everyday why I got into Rock music in the first place."), it's hard to believe The Damned Things haven't been playing together most of their lives.
 
Cee Lo Green
The Lady Killer
Atlantic

 
Cee Lo Green (The Soul Machine) got his start as a member of Atlanta’s weird rap pioneers, Goodie Mob, but most of the world got their first taste of this gigantic talent when he and Danger Mouse formed Gnarls Barkley and stealthily unleashed “Crazy” -- without a doubt one of best pop songs of the 21st Century. Cee Lo’s best moments seem utilize the element of surprise -- e.g. his latest single (and internet phenomenon) “F**k You.” Now the listening public has received a record that provides the ultimate proof, the final, irrefutable evidence, of Cee Lo’s importance as a 21st-century recording artist: The Lady Killer -- the album Cee Lo was destined to make. The Lady Killer is the album that will Cee Lo’s rep: Not only as a writer, producer and performer of unrivalled pizzazz, chutzpah, inventiveness and genius; but as a singer whose voice can nail an emotion -- be it pain, yearning, anger, sarcasm, love, lust, frustration -- like no other. It is proof that Cee Lo Green stands alone.
Los Angeles' majestic septet Shadow Shadow Shade (formerly known as Afternoons) are prepping the release of their eagerly awaited, self-titled debut release. Those who have seen their acclaimed live show know what to expect: a lush sound that is both grand in spectacle and remarkably intimate. The group has created a stirring pastiche of sounds that takes cues from traditions such as psychedelia, orchestral music, shoegaze, opera, and indie rock among others. Their enigmatic lyrics seem to have been plucked from a classic, timeless novel that hasn't been written yet, and every song they compose builds towards a thrilling catharsis. With seven members that often sing in unison, the group's haunting melodies sculpt an ethereal, choir-like effect. Shadow Shadow Shade will be released through the group's own label, Public Records and will be available exclusively at indie record stores just like this!

Shadow Shadow Shade -
Shadow Shadow Shade

Public Records
moremusic

The Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS) is a group of some of the best independent music stores in America. CIMS was founded in 1995; its current membership is made up of 29 accounts that handle 47 stores in 21 states. Many of the accounts have been recognized by the music industry and their local communities for their outstanding dedication to customer service and developing artist support.

Each member is bound by its shared love of music, a reputation for great selection and customer service in its community, yet each CIMS account is as unique as the market it represents. Most importantly, CIMS member stores continually seek to challenge the jaded, color-by-numbers advertising and marketing of other retailers.

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