Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra - Theatre Is Evil. After raising over a million dollars through her Kickstarter campaign to produce, promote, and tour this album Palmer was thrust into the role of standard bearer for independent music producers. Almost lost amidst all the fuss was the excellence of the resulting album. While she made her name as a quirky and intelligent solo artist, this disc sees her step into the role of front person for a rock and roll band without missing a beat. More musically sophisticated than any of her previous releases, lyrically she's still as insightful and thought provoking as ever. While she's an adherent of the school of rock and roll as theatre, substance never takes a back seat to style. One of today's most exciting and dynamic performers has finally taken centre stage and pop music will never be the same again.
Xavier Rudd - Spirit Bird. Somehow or other Rudd manages to produce record after record of topical material without ever sounding preachy or self-aggrandizing. He makes no apologies for singing about the exploitation of the environment and how it endangers life on the planet. Playing a combination of traditional and modern instruments, his music is the perfect accompaniment to his lyrics. Simple and powerful, his songs work on us both intellectually and emotionally without resorting to manipulation or guilt. He sings about facts, dreams and hope – asking us to join him and others in changing the way things are currently done. A brilliant musician and gifted songwriter, he'll have you rethinking the way you look at the world.