Last week, we brought you the best of the Garden State with New Jersey’s finest. This week, check out the best of Florida!
Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd
This album is, in a nutshell, the Southern Rock album. Lynyrd Skynyrd, more so than any other band of their time, epitomized that sound by bringing together country, blues and rock to make an incredibly authentic blend. For a debut album—or any album—this is a raw and original sound.
One of this album’s strengths is how concise it is – with only eight songs, the band doesn’t waste a moment on anything unnecessary. Instead, each song is incredibly strong. Another bold move was the sheer variety moving through the tracklist. Opening with “I Ain’t the One” and moving on to the sadder, slower “Tuesday’s Gone”, the band moves through sounds and emotions seamlessly.
These pieces alone make this album good, but it’s Skynyrd’s one-of-a-kind sound that makes them great. It takes a great band to blend hard rock, country and blues into one, and that ‘s exactly what this album does. Not only was this album the birth of a great band, it’s the birth of a genre.
Don’t Miss Tracks: “Sweet Home Alabama”, “I Ain’t the One”
Iron & Wine
The Shepherd’s Dog
This album, to put it succinctly, made me an Iron & Wine fan. When it was released, it became the band’s most progressive and unique album to date; the kind of record that takes several listenings to fully appreciate. It’s also a turning point for the band, moving them away from lo-fi recordings towards a fuller sound.
Despite this transition, the album is still rooted in vocals, lyrics and guitar, as on its previous albums. These foundations are rock-solid, and the band builds on them by adding blues, dub and numerous other styles on top. These details, however, are the best part of the album: banjos, steel guitars, and vocal harmonies top off an already solid sound.
This album is a foray into new territory for Iron & Wine, and they executed that transition beautifully. It’s rare that I find a record that I can listen to over and over again, but this lends itself easily to repeat. The attention to detail and beautiful flow of these songs is addictive.
Don’t Miss Tracks: “House by the Sea”, “Love Song of the Buzzard”
The Christmas Attic
Although this album is not exactly currently seasonal, I’m unashamed to admit that Trans-Siberian Orchestra has year-round rotation in my music collection. This album in particular is a favorite of mine—the orchestra showcases its mastery of composition, storytelling, vocals and instrumentation. It’s a captivating album that puts a great twist on classical musical and holiday tunes.
This album shines on its most animated tracks, which are flawlessly executed and brilliantly original. These songs mix traditional Christmas songs, including “’Tis the Season” and “Joy to the World”, with the Orchestra’s trademark touches. The Orchestra incorporates countless instruments, most notably strings and percussion. The real star here, though, is electric guitar, which shines through on tracks like “March of the Kings – Hark the Herald Angel”.
Although this album certainly draws comparisons to the Orchestra’s previous holiday releases, it’s strong enough to stand alone. Despite these comparisons, it’s impossible to overlook how beautiful the instrumentation and vocals are here, and to forget this group’s mastery of both arrangement and storytelling.
Don’t Miss Tracks: “Midnight Christmas Eve”, “The Snow Came Down”