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MaxwellBLACKsummersnight The interceding eight years since the bedroom-voiced soul sensations last album have been strange, in that for the most part, the singer who was lauded as the next Marvin Gaye simply disappeared. Following the success of his debut Maxwells Urban Hang Suite, the singer plumbed the depths of neo-soul, but when neither of his following two efforts failed to connect, Maxwell vanished from the charts. It could have been that the now-36-year-old former sex symbol was orchestrating his comeback in the form of a trilogy of albums, with the first set for release today. First single Pretty Wings is about meeting the right girl at the wrong time, the singer said, and the album sees Maxwell exploring the soul genre with more imaginative tools than the slick instrumentation and near-crass lyricism that categorizes it today. Tiny VipersLife On Earth Since singer Jesy Fortino released her debut in 2007, shes given her sound a complete overhaul. Where most musicians would look to further simplify in the hopes of finding a friend in radio, the former pop-esque tunes the Seattle singer was writing have gone deeper and darker, but are no less beautiful. Stranger than pop and weirder than folk, Life On Earth is riddled with seemingly outmoded beliefs, mysticism and tales of yore, set against the stark musical backdrop Fortino creates with her unorthodox guitar techniques. While Fortino might seem from another time (or even another world, as her sophomore albums title suggests), shes very much concerned with this one, so much so that shes developed a full-proof way to get audiences listening.We Were Promised JetpacksThese Four Walls Though they may have been discovered through pals Frightened Rabbits MySpace page, this quartet from Edinburgh will not be accused of riding on anyones coattails. Until recently, the bands biggest claim to fame was sweeping their high schools Battle of the Bands competition, but thats all changed with the release of their debut. With its distinct post-punk leanings, the band is destined for Bloc Party comparisons, but theres also the pop melodies of their fellow countrymen Franz Ferdinand, as well as the occasional straight-up dissonance of forebears like Gang of Four. Though their name does elicit a chuckle, this is a band to take seriously.
30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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