BRC Executive Director, Boldaslove.us contributor and Black Rock Vol. 1 author Earl Douglas offers his best of list.  What’s good about Earl is that he also delivers spot-on comments on each album.  For example:

Suspicious Package – Earl Greyhound: The long-awaited full length follow-up to Soft Targets displayed a new depth and maturity in terms of the songwriting, musicianship and styles.  It doesn’t let up from start to finish and you don’t want it to end.  The sessions from the album also spawned two additional releases.  Ancient Futures is a three song EP containing more monster, yet slightly more experimental tracks from the Suspicious Package sessions.  Live At The Calhoun School was cut at the prestigious arts school that captures the band unveiling tracks from Suspicious Package in a semi-stripped down form.  To hear the songs so fresh and raw, yet undeniably powerful, blew me away.  Why this New York City based power trio isn’t the biggest band in the world is a complete mystery to me.

Death Don’t Have No Mercy – Dean Bowman: One of the best vocalists in the world gets back to his gospel roots and soars on this solo a capella CD.  Think of this as the Black version of The Great American Songbook.

Wake Up! – John Legend & The Roots: The best group in hip-hop teams up with one of R&B’s better singers to re-interpret socially-conscious (remember those?) from the 60′s and 70′s to great effect.  An near-epic reading of Bill Withers ‘I Can’t Write Left-Handed’ alone is worth checking out this CD.  The Roots also put out the best hip hop album of the year with How I Got Over.

Read all of Earl’s picks–which include Bettye LaVette, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Buddy Guy, Elew and others–here.

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