And it's eclectic as ever!! Neo-folk-rockers Iron & Wine, a classic rock comeback from Gregg Allman of The Allman Brothers Band, and blues-rock/neo-soul group JJ Grey and Mofro. Here goes!!
"Hide And Seek" by JJ Grey and Mofro: JJ Grey and Mofro are one of those self-consciously "retro" acts, but the last two tracks I heard from them ("Orange Blossoms" and "The Sweetest Thing") seemed to evoke mid '60s soul with a touch of blues guitar. "Hide And Seek" progresses forward another decade to the '70s with its funk influences. Perhaps the highlight of this song is the keyboard (?) solo in the middle, this side of "Superfreak"! All in all, this is a sleek, funky track to start out the new year!
"Just Another Rider" by Gregg Allman: For those expecting another "Whipping Post", you'll probably be let down. However, this isn't the mellow-ish country-rock Gregg Allman of "Melissa" and "Blue Sky" fame, either. Instead this is more of a jazzy, soul-inflected tune with blues/rock guitar solos in between. This song would probably be perfect to those who like blues with a jazzy flavor (or vice versa), with its minor chord chorus, and its blues-y sounding lyrics ("just another rider on the train to nowhere"). Never would have expected one of The Allman Brothers to come out with one of the first good tracks of the new year, but I guess that means 2011 will have some good stuff up ahead!
"Tree By the River" by Iron & Wine: When I heard earlier on that IAW were going to be "going electric", I expected to hear influences a la Neil Young's "Down By the River". Thankfully, Sam Beam and co have kept the mellow in their music, despite the absence of (fronting) acoustic guitars in "Tree By the River". "Tree" evokes the more calming side of the "psychedelic" era (think early Moody Blues, "Pet Sounds" era Beach Boys, etc.) This being IAW, as well as a fine piece of "neo-folk-rock", "Tree By the River" is probably my fave release so far of the new year!