Rivers in the Wasteland/Atlantic Records
This Southern rock trio has made an album filled with hope and energy—seemingly with the intention of easing the weight of life’s challenges. Rock and soul numbers like “State I’m In” and “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” corner the market on encouragement, while the swelling folk pop track “Rise Again” inspires letting go with lines like, “Set my sights on where I’m going/And my goodbyes on where I’ve been.” The acoustic opener “Wasteland” posits that a small ray of hope in the dark is better than none at all, and on the other end of the spectrum, the roiling rocker “Oh Carolina” burns with the passion of lovers apart too long. In its entirety, the album is like a refresh button for the soul.
Light Me Up/7-11 Records
Nick Pollock’s newest EP is an emotional experience. On cuts like “The Best I’ll Ever Do,” Pollock combines true love with a sound reminiscent of Hoobastank’s “The Reason,” and on the folk rock number “Paying for Pain,” he highlights the irony in killing ourselves slowly while chasing pointless pursuits. “Wide Awake” is a charming tune about relationships, and Pollock explodes—both vocally and sonically—on the soulful rocker “Hey Havana,” which is one of those rock ‘n’ roll songs that makes you dance your butt off. “Ride On (The Ballad of Billy G.)” remembers a close friend who has been lost, and the closer “Spend My Money” is another chunky rock track that is bound to be a favorite at live shows. The album deftly explores the highs, lows, joy, and pain of everything that lights you up in life.
Shatter Me/Lindseystomp Music
It’s not every day that you come across someone who makes visionary music. Violinist Lindsey Stirling—whom you might recall from the splash she made on season five of “America’s Got Talent”—is one such artist, and her latest album is proof. Shatter Me combines Stirling’s lively violin with all manner of dance sensibilities. Whether it’s the sweeping, operatic feel of the club track that marries with her violin on “Mirror Haus,” or her frenetic playing accompanied by wobbling bass, dubstep beats, and heavenly vocals on “Beyond the Veil,” Stirling knows how to get your attention. “Roundtable Rival” adds a raucous guitar solo, while Lzzy Hale and Dia Frampton respectively deliver guest vocal turns on the title track and “We Are Giants.” This album overflows with electricity and the prodigious talent of Stirling on her instrument.