Night Beds – Country Sleep (Dead Oceans)

I love this album. It is so ambient. The only issue I have is that there are too many songs that start with the singer soloing first, however, when one gets into the song, the band creates a very ethereal yet acoustic sound. If you like the country sound, go for “Borrowed Time.” If you like a chill indie pop sound, go for “Lost Springs.” Definitely put in local rotation, if not primary. – Maralei Bunn

Spoken Nerd – Our Team is Going to Win (Self Release)

This album is incredible. Spoken Nerd has made an incredible catchy rap album that has pop undertones, frank lyrics, and a bouncing, dark humor throughout it. Be sure to check out this great Nashville artist! – Sara Zavaleta

David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love this Giant (4AD)

Being a fan of both artists separately, I expected to love this album. While I do like it, it feels like it’s missing some of the magic that these two produce individually. They originally intended their collaboration to last only for a live performance. The venue lacked a sound system, so St. Vincent suggested adding a brass band, the two realized they could compose original music with the band, and the result is Love this Giant. The two appeared on The Colbert Report, where they mentioned that they mostly worked via email, which I don’t get since they both live in Manhattan, but I think that can account for some of the missing magic. As negative as this review may sound, this really is a good album. It’s funky and creative, and it’ll definitely spice up your playlist.

Various Artists – Khat Thaleth EP (Stronghold Sound)

Khat Thaleth brings together the poetic and musical skills of artists from several regions, including Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Iraq. Several traditional elements are incorporated in these tracks including classical folk tunes and instruments, reinforcing the connection to the regions they are from. Most songs begin with an oriental-sounding backbeat followed by the artists launching into an explosion of lyrics. The lyrics are all in colloquial Arabic, each using a different dialect. This album is an example of the creative ways in which people are using artistic and cultural forms of expression in order to expose the corruption of formal politics. Issues range from crony capitalism to the conspiracies and exploitation of the people by their local rulers. Even if you don’t understand Arabic, you can hear the tone of cynicism towards local and global politics in this music. – Katie Cunningham, April 2013

Jambalaya Brass Band – On the Funky Side

The Jambalaya Brass Band is a New Orleans brass band in the vein of other revivalists like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and they fit the bill very well. This album exudes raw energy, with upbeat solos, tight bass lines, and funky licks abound. K1 is a great overall showcase of the band’s talent, and K6 is nice with its spicy Latin tinge. No one song really stands out as exceptional, but the whole album is great fun. I’d recommend this for rotation, especially given the dearth of jazz records in there currently. – Connor McGowan, 2/19/2013