Formed in the mid-'90s, when groups like Tribe were doing an NYC take on vintage-vibed rap, Bored Stiff forged a San Francisco way. Early classics like "Explainin'" offer punchy beats and conversational consciousness. The new stuff is every bit as smart and as smooth.
Scott first blew us away with a mix of hip-hop sense, vintage soul singing, and a poet's wisdom. Her latest builds on those themes. As horns blare, Scott belts it out like an earlier generation of soul divas. She no longer recalls them: she's one of them.
Delicately plucked chords cascade around Sam Beam's gentle baritone, leaving pure, perfect songs in their wake. Iron and Wine's personal, sometimes haunting songwriting keeps urban cynicism at bay, unfolding instead with beauty, wonder, and bittersweet joy.
The "8 Diagrams" mixtape whets the appetite for the Wu's first studio LP since 2001 (and its first without the late ODB). These tracks crackle with the pent-up energies of half a decade. They're rugged, raw, brooding, and (if there's such a thing) uniformly eclectic.
Hailing from the flats of Omaha, Neb., Conor Oberst delivers angst-filled songs with a quavering-yet-melodic lyrical style. He has the range to captivate a festival crowd with just his voice and an acoustic guitar as well as engage his dedicated following with a full band.