The Art of Walking, The Art of Walking
This music is so unobtrusive it's hard to find something to say about it, other than simply that I liked it. One could safely say that Brian Malvey, who is The Art of Walking, makes excellent use of the studio in creating settings for his appealingly reticent songs with their often winning melodies. But that doesn't tell you what they sound like. Let's leave it at this: somewhere between Death Cab for Cutie and Sufjan Stevens, you'll perhaps find The Art of Walking, treading on soft feet.
Red Wanting Blue, These Magnificent Miles
Listen to the first couple of bars of "Gravity," the opening song of Red Wanting Blue's eighth (yes, eighth) album, and if you were new to the band you'd be tempted to say, "Oh, no - another Pearl Jam clone - didn't that go out of style around the turn of the century?" You'd soon be proven wrong, though - Scott Terry's throaty baritone turns out to be its own thing, and so is this band's music.
Based in Athens, Ohio, the group certainly has the earnest heartland-rock sensibility that you can't avoid when you traipse through the Midwest. ("The road's paved the same way for sinners and saints.") But they vary the moods well. Try to resist the elemental rock of "New Cool." And with solid songwriting, superior musicianship, and their own slant on the basics of rock, they carve out their own niche, with crashing symbols and ringing guitars framing catchy tunes and socially conscious lyrics.
A final note: if you decide to pick up this album, consider spending the extra few bucks for the physical CD. It's one of the more impressive artistic packages you'll find on an indie release.