The bright side of music today

In light of my recent bit of music criticism, I thought it would be worth pointing to some of my favorite contemporary acts, lest you think that I only exist in the 1960’s and 70’s. As much as I idolize and idealize that time period, there are in fact recent artists who are just as capable. Here is a wide range:


Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming has an inexhaustible amount of imagination. I don’t need to add to what has already been said about this magnificent double-disc album. Certainly a fan favorite is “Raconte – Moi Une Histoire,” the life of a frog. If that doesn’t make you happy, you have no soul.

The Joy Formidable

Their Atlantic debut, The Big Roar, is about the most addicting album in recent memory, with its unique brew of shoegaze and 90’s alt-rock. They have an extensive YouTube presence; check-out “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade” and “I Don’t Want to See You Like This.”


I posted some videos of her Sing Sing sessions here. That should be enough proof that you need her presence in your life. The debut album is Vows.

Ryan Bingham

I don’t know what to make of his most recent album, Tomorrowland. I suppose every artist needs a departure, to test the waters; and after three albums of near perfection, we can cut him some slack. Mescalito and Roadhouse Sun should be in everyone’s car. Listen/watch his first single, “Southside of Heaven,” to get an introduction.

Justin Townes Earle

Here is another fine example of folk-country Americana. I would pick his 2010 album, Harlem River Blues, as a good place to start. I will close this post with his performance of the title track on Letterman:



  1. Hello Kevin, we’ve a common friend in Lance Muir. I’ve enjoyed your posts and thought you might be ready kick it up a notch. This video is from Seattle Folkways recordings from years ago. I assume you’ve had some exposure to Son House. Here he is talking about his faith and his music (with a little intro from Taj Mahal). There’s also a bonus of Bukka White.

    Randy Benson

    • Thanks a lot, Randy. Yes, I’m a bit familiar with Son House. I’ve done some modest study/research into early blues (Blind Willie Johnson and such).

  2. Do you have Spotify? You should have a look, or rather a listen, at the Turnpike Troubadours. Try “Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead” and “Good Lord Lorrie” off their new album; and “7&7,” “The Funeral,” and “Evangeline” off their previous. I’ve been living in Austin for a few months now and often hear them in the evenings, when KVET’s Roadhouse features locally popular artists (Ryan Bingham among them).

    • I wish we had a radio station in Charlotte that played Bingham. We have two equally horrendous country music stations: pop-country, party country, top 40 format.

      I don’t have Spotify, but I’ll check it out and those artists. I use Grooveshark a lot, where you pick the songs (like Napster of old, but without the ability to download). is good too for some artists.

  3. Have you heard My Darling Clementine? They’re a British husband-wife duo who recently debuted with a good authentic country album. Would probably be right up your alley.

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