Sunday, December 19, 2010

Best Albums of 2010

As the year comes to a close it's that interesting time with all of the "best of" lists that are out there. In my opinion this was a very good year for music (except the whole Justin Bieber thing - sorry kids, that kid may be cute but if you actually listen to him sing for real he is NOT GOOD!) and was especially good for those of us who try to help emerging bands - there were a lot of good ones!  So with no further ado this is my first Best of 2010 list - the best ALBUMS of 2010. For the most part I only focus on lesser known artists - this list mostly stays true to that with one exception - Mumford and Sons, who were just nominated for 2 Grammys, but a lot of people still don't know them and their album is SO good that it deserves to be on any and every list.

The list is in alphabetical order (by first name/band name) only - picking between the top albums and songs is like picking favorite children.

1.       Amely – Hello World (
2.       Ben Rector – Into the Morning (
3.       He Is We – My Forever (
4.       Ian Axel – This is the New Year (
5.       Jaron and the Long Road to Love – Getting Dressed in the Dark (
6.       Jennifer Knapp – Letting Go (
7.       Lelia Broussard – Masquerade (
8.       Marc Collis – Louder on the Inside (
9.       Marianas Trench – Masterpiece Theatre (
10.   Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More (
11.   Not Advised – After the Fight (
12.   Pegasus Bridge - While We’re Young (
13.   Ryan Star – 11:59 (
14        Shayna Goldstein – Painted Blue (
15.   The Heyday – Till We See The Sun (
16.   The Rescues – Let Loose The Horses (
17.   The Rocket Summer – Of Men and Angels (
18.   The Scene Aesthetic – Brother (
19.   Tyrone & Eliana – Different As Can Be (
20.   We Are The In Crowd – Guaranteed To Disagree (

 A few things to note about this list....

Ian Axel's album "This is the New Year" was released way back in January but is currently not available. He will be re-releasing it sometime in early 2011 (hopefully) and right now there is a 3 song sampler you can buy on the various download sites. This is the way of the music business as independent artists sign deals, etc. but go ahead and check out what's available now and get ready for more good stuff soon!

Marianas Trench - for those of you who have followed me for over a year you may remember that they appeared on last year's list. But their album wasn't released in the US until 2010 (it was out in Canada in 2009) and it's still SO amazing that I took that opportunity to mention it again on this year's list. There is an extended "director's cut" that includes a few bonus songs and also an AMAZING acoustic/a capella version of Billy Joel's "And So It Goes."

Marc Collis is a quickly rising Australian artist who I hope makes a splash here in the next year. His voice and album are fantastic and I think his songs would take off on US radio, etc. This album has so many good songs that I could have picked almost any of them for my end of the year Best of 2010 Song list.

Ben Rector is my favorite singer-songwriter of the year - his voice is captivating!

Tyrone & Eliana's album is the perfect relationship album. Not a good album if you're in the midst of a break up but a great gift for someone to show them that you care.

The Rescues not only put out one of the best albums of the year but also put on the best live show I've seen!  4 incredibly talented musicians and singers all doing everything throughout the show. They trade lead and backing vocals, they trade instruments, etc. etc. Simply amazing!

Every album on this list has something special about it - so refer back to it and over time please check some of these out and let me know what you think!

I'd love to hear about your favorite albums from this year so please comment on this post and tell me what album and/or artists you couldn't get enough of in 2010!  Happy New Year everyone and as always, enjoy the music!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Give yourself the gift of StageIt!

I am SO excited to share this information with everyone and hope you will go check out this incredible new opportunity to see live music and connect with the artists who make it.

StageIt ( is a relatively new website that was started by Evan Lowenstein (best known for his time in the pop group "Evan and Jaron" ("Crazy for this Girl", etc.).  Evan's goal is to "reignite the romance between artists and fans." He's doing this by creating online opportunities for you to see incredible musicians share their music in real time, intimate settings. The best way I can describe it is "a house concert on your computer."

I've experienced two concerts this past week and enjoyed both very much! The first was with a very talented singer songwriter, Matt Ryzcek ( This online show (which cost $2) included about 20 people and Matt who was performing live from his apartment (or wherever he was). He sang, he shared storied about the songs, and one of the best parts is that he was able to see and respond to the ongoing chat that was happening on the screen just below his performance. Have a request - make it, want to ask a question about a song or an upcoming tour - ask it, want to show your appreciation - tip your performer (yes, you can send a virtual tip which allows an artist to earn a little extra money from the show), etc. etc.  Or just sit back and enjoy the music.

I have to be honest that I wasn't so sure about "going" to an online concert until I tried it out - and now I'm pretty hooked.  This is a great and very inexpensive way to hear live music. For artists, this is an incredible tool to reach your fans without the expense of touring. And for everyone, it is a fantastic opportunity to feel connected. Artists can get instant feedback from the audience - what a great opportunity to try out a new song and have people comment. For fans, this is a chance to be connected to an artist you enjoy. There is nothing quite like having an artist respond to your question or comment that you've posted.

Is there money involved - yes. After you sign up you buy "notes" which can be used to get tickets to shows and to tip performers. But it is very reasonably priced (I saw Jaron and the Long Road to Love (his song "Pray for You" is one of the biggest country hits of the year) for $5) and the shows are not recorded or archived so it truly is a unique experience.  It's worth every penny and then some.

If you like live music I would urge you to check it out. If you are an artist please also check it out and sign up (first sign up as a member and then you have the option to become a performer).  There is a lot to like about this platform and I am eager to see what happens in the months to come. 

If you have any questions about StageIt please post them in the comments for all to see and we'll get answers to you.  Meanwhile go check out and check it out for yourself!

Have a great week and enjoy the music!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bands be good to your Fans!

So this blog entry isn't about any particular new music but rather about the way many bands, perhaps unknowingly, treat their fans. The specific issue I'm concerned about has to do with what happens in preparation for a new album release.

An open letter to bands/musicians,

As a fan of a particular band, I am much more likely to "pre-order" an album than the average listener. I am on the band's email list and get reminder after reminder to "go pre-order the new cd!"  So here are a few scenarios which are just frustrating!

1. I pre-order the CD which is priced comparable to the digital price (approx. $10) and then, because I am such a dedicated fan and want a physical copy of the CD, I pay another few dollars ($2-4) for shipping. But this doesn't get my "express" shipping - just regular. And I don't see the point in spending $7-9 for express shipping. But I feel good because I'm directly supporting the band by ordering from their website!

So what happens, the album is released, it's all over every digital store (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) and I eagerly arrive home to check the mail for my copy. But it doesn't arrive that day, or the next or the next - and finally on Saturday - 5 days later - after I've spent days with friends posting on facebook about how amazing the album is - does it arrive in my mail. 

2. I go to pre-order the CD which is priced at the same $10 - but then when I get to checkout and enter my address it adds in the shipping which is nearly $6!  I've mailed a lot of CDs to people and there is no way it should cost this much to mail a CD. And again, why should I pay almost as much for mailing of a CD as I am for the music itself, and again it will arrive days after it has been released.

3. Finally, I go to the trouble of pre-ordering, etc. etc. and then, on the day of the album release, not only is it cheaper on iTunes, or Amazon but they have included special "iTunes only" exclusive tracks!  Some of these I may be able to download individually and pay the extra .99 but sometimes they are listed as "album only" which means to get 1 song I don't already have I have to buy the entire album.

So bands - please think about this stuff when you are sending your emails out to your best customers, your fans, about your new album. Let us know ahead of time what our options are. Don't save exclusive tracks for digital sites if you want us to buy the album from you! Include those as digital downloads for us too!  And don't ask us to pay $10 for a CD AND another $5 for shipping when the CD will be $8.99 on Amazon on Tuesday - and even more so if you can't get it to us on the release date. 

We are your fans and we want to buy your music and support you as much and as directly as we can.  Please help us do that in a way that doesn't make us feel like we're the idiot for throwing away money simply because we love your music.

Thanks!Sincerely yours,

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New music!

The beginning of October doesn't disappoint with some great new music to enjoy. Check out some of these!

GUSTER - Easy Wonderful
Full disclosure that when asked my top bands of all time Guster is always #1 on that list so I'm simply thrilled to have new music from my favorite band. But this album doesn't disappoint - find out for yourself by going to their facebook page ( where the entire album is streaming for free!

Tyrone & Elina ( are a husband and wife duo who have created an awesome relationship album. Their songs are so true (and often so funny or sweet) and really hit all of those various random and funny things that happen in a relationship.  I didn't expect to like this album nearly as much as I did - it's good!

Gavin Mikhail ( has just released a new acoustic album consisting of some great covers (ranging from Linkin Park to Death Cab for Cutie, to Bruno Mars to Miley Cyrus - woah!) and a few of his own new songs. It's available in a few different formats but the cheapest is Amazon's MP3 site ($8.99).

So start with those and there will be more coming. Fall is always a great time for new music so get ready!

Have a great week and enjoy the music!
Make sure you're part of the Emerge Music Group on facebook to get weekly updates (

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Equinox Rox!

Fall is here and as we pass the Autumnal equinox that means lots of great new music!  Now that people are back at school it's a great time for bands to release new albums, singles and more.  There's lots of great stuff coming up in the next few weeks and here are some highlights of things that are out now!

NEEDMORE ( just released a new single "Lost My Way" which is really good. It's the best $1 you can spend this week!

Andrew Ripp ( has a brand new album out called "She Remains The Same" which is produced by one of my favorite artists Dave Barnes ( - if you don't know Dave go listen to his stuff now - he's got an incredible voice and his songs are amazing.  But in this case it's all about Andrew who has created an outstanding album. I was more and more impressed with each and every song - definitely give it a listen and it's on Amazon's MP3 site for a mere $6.99.

The next two bands don't qualify as "emerging" bands but their new albums are so good I have to comment...
Zac Brown Band ( album "You Get What You Give" is phenomenal. I'm so impressed and even more so considering the incredible pressure this band was under to produce something special considering the huge success of The Foundation.  They've done it in a big, big way and this album is going to be on the charts for a loooong time!

The Script ( also has a brand new album out called "Science and Faith" and I was ready to be disappointed. I was really concerned that the pressure from their label and their rise to super-stardom was going to make it hard for them to make a great second album - but they've done it. Tons of great songs on here as well so give them a listen!

Lots more to come so keep checking out the Emerge Music Group on facebook, twitter, Ping and of course here!

Enjoy the music!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Three's Company

Three great artists for you to check out this week - each with their own sound/style so hopefully something for everyone!

Justin Jones ( is an incredible singer-songwriter who has that classic blue collar sound that reminds me of Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp. His brand new Little Fox EP was released by 9:30 Records - a label started for the sole purpose of releasing and promoting Justin's music. It's great stuff!

The Best Week Ever ( has a big name to live up to - but they do a great job of getting your heart rate going and putting a smile on your face. Be sure to check out "Unforgettable" which is my favorite. I also really like "You Don't Wanna Know" which features piano - fairly rare in this genre of music.  They are currently releasing one song at a time but each one is worth checking out.

View From An Airplane ( - aside from being a cool name for a band - has just released a free 3 song acoustic EP that you can download from the link above. All 3 songs are great (and you can't beat the price) and it shows just how talented these guys are.  While you're there check out their other songs too - great stuff!

As always, feel free to comment on these bands and share what new stuff you've been listening to as well!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Music for September 7

One of the great things about a blog is I don't feel so restricted in terms of length. One of the things I hope to do regularly is feature new releases whether albums, EPs or singles.  This week there are a few that I think are worthy of your time, ears and money.

The album I'm most excited about this week is the brand new Jukebox the Ghost album "Everything Under the Sun." This band started in DC - I believe they went to George Washington University together - and has evolved very nicely into a great indie band that got to play on the David Letterman show last week and will soon be all over the airwaves (I think/hope). Their first single from the new album is called "Empire" and it is awesome.  From it's opening moments it is enchanting and the catchy chorus is fantastic.  The whole album is really good as well and definitely worth checking out. You can listen to a few songs here:

Green River Ordinance has a new 6 song EP that is gorgeous. It's called "The Morning Passengers" and it's a stripped down and just great.  If you don't know this band you should - they create great pop/rock songs and have started to get more radio play (especially on XM). Very talented band with a very difficult band name.

And I just came across a great new song from an artist called "Plug In Stereo."  It's one of these "I'm really just a guy but I came up with a band name to seem cool" - and he is.  This is a 17 year old kid from Oregon and he's just released a great song called "Oh Darling" that features the vocals of Cady Groves (who I came across recently and I really love her voice). You can listen to the whole song on (

It's a truly adorable and also catchy love song and worth every penny of the 99 cents it takes to own it.

Hope you take some time to check out these great new releases and thanks for reading!

If you've got something new that you've been loving - please comment and let me and others know!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Do you ever feel like someone is following you??

So iTunes has release version 10 and with it comes Ping - another way to "follow" others - I think in this case the idea is to find out about music - what people are listening to, enjoying, recommending, etc. Seems to make sense for me so I signed up - you can "follow me" by searching for Emerge Music.

I do find it kind of funny this whole idea of following people - "follow me on twitter" "follow my blog" "follow me on ping" - it could make someone a bit paranoid don't you think?  But since I'm known to enjoy sharing music - and especially new music - with people - I'll give it a shot.  I'm not sure how many different social networking type sites people have time to follow -and I don't know how many I have time to keep with up myself - but we'll give it a go!

So if you've downloaded the new version of iTunes and want to play along - Ping me - or something like that. In the meantime, I suggest checking out The Weepies brand new album "Be My Thrill" which is excellent.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stars - The Five Ghosts

Not sure how many people have heard of Paste Magazine but it's a great (mostly) music magazine (also features on books, arts, culture, etc.)  Each month's magazine comes with a sampler and the bands range from very well known to totally out there. I just got the most recent copy in the mail yesterday and the one track that really stood out on the sampler was a song called "Dead Hearts" by Stars.  Having checked out most of their album "The Five Ghosts" I can see that the one song was NOT a fluke. This is a cool sounding band - male and female vocals (which is a very quickly growing trend) and a very mellow (but not sleepy) sound. Definitely recommend checking them out and the album is available on Amazon's MP3 site for only $5. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

And so it begins...

Welcome to the Emerge Music Group blog! You may already be familiar with our Facebook Group of the same name.  That will continue as I strive to share one new band with you each and every week as I've done for over 3 years.  This blog will mimic that but will also include much more.  The blog will give you updates on bands we've featured before, share exciting new releases from Emerge worth bands, etc.  I've created some rules for the facebook group - I only post once a week and I don't feature a band more than once. This blog will NOT follow those rules so keep checking back and get ready for some great new music and reminders about bands that deserve a second listen.

Hope you enjoy and I'd appreciate you sharing this with your music loving friends! 

And as always, have a great week and enjoy the music!