London-raised, New York-based singer and songwriter Cariad Harmon comes into her own on the sparkling and soulful ballad "Like You," a love song meant for clapping and humming along to, if ever there was one.
Tailor made for indian summer, "September Fields" stretches out with an easy-going soul groove -- dig the horns, dig the B3, dig the responsive harmonies -- and Frazey Ford's expressive, trilling voice. Like a warm fall day, you wish it would last forever.
"There's no hope for myself trying to be a good pearl," sings Arum Rae on the brooding "2001." "Tried to walk the line and see the light/But as the sun sets, the lonelier I get." Backed by grimy electro-blues and with her voice filtered as if through a cistern, she doesn't just sound haunted. She sounds like she has personal hellhounds on her trail.
Ben Cassorla has been a go-to helping hand for bands like Washed Out and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, but he also dabbles in solo work as Cassorla. The new single, "The Right Way," is pure digital bedroom pop for guitar riff-loving people.
Putting a contemporary, jazzy spin on the driving bluegrass sound, Blue Canyon Boys will appeal to fans of dyed-in-the-wool old-time country and lovers of acoustic music in general. The honky-tonkin' "Heartaches Welcome" is the Colorado band at its pickin' and harmonizin' best.
Among up-and-coming old-time and Americana artists, Betse Ellis is surely one of the most versatile. A deft songwriter, accomplished fiddler and a moving singer, Ellis draws on influences ranging from John Hartford to the Clash. "Golden Road," from her 2013 album "High Moon Order," finds the Kansas City-based musician in a reflective, lush, pedal steel-dappled mood.
Hailing from Masaya, Nicaragua, Milly Majuc fuses ska, reggae, Latin music and contemporary rock in ways that few bands would dare, let alone imagine. Just try to keep from dancing along to the track "Giovana."
With the fizzy, spacey "Never the Same," DoublePlusGood, led by Portland, Oregon's Erik Carlson, combines melancholy '80s pop with contemporary electronic elegance.