Born in Pittsburgh and a longtime resident of New York City, Amy Rigby was songwriter, singer and rhythm guitarist for cowpunk pioneers Last Roundup and folk-pop trio The Shams before 1996's Diary of a Mod Housewife got the attention of critics and music fans. Amy's first solo album combined reality-based lyrics and transcendent melodies with a passionate music fan's collection of pop, rock and country influences. Mod Housewife showed up on many of that year's Top 10 lists and even in a few women's studies courses. She was profiled on All Things Considered, CNN, Fresh Air and MSNBC. SPIN magazine dubbed her Songwriter of the Year, and the album was voted No. 8 in the 1997 Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics' poll. Rigby's second album, Middlescence, was another critical success and led to tours with Warren Zevon, Bob Mould and Billy Bragg as well as a spot on the 1998 Lilith Fair. Amy's subsequent move to Nashville contributed to the clarity and broader perspective of The Sugar Tree (2000). The album received outstanding reviews, and Rigby performed on Late Night With Conan O'Brien and Mountain Stages' syndicated radio and television programs. She successfully toured the U.K., was a panelist and performer at the 2000 Rockrgrl convention in Seattle and was selected as a featured composer for the Donne in Musica: ControCanto festival in Rome in 2001. Amy Rigby continues to write and sing from the trenches of rock, romance and reality. Her most recent release, 'Til the Wheels Fall Off, may be her clearest missive yet.
Josh Rouse, singer-songwriter? Josh Rouse, "Cosmic American Music" artist? Josh Rouse, '80s-influenced, folk-leaning, pop-rock guy? Put away all those old labelsyou won't need them this time around. With his latest album, 1972, it doesn't take a Hardy Boy to figure out what Rouse is all about. Rife with "ghetto flutes" yanked from blaxploitation soundtracks, bass lines pulled from Al Green classics, and Steely Dan guitar solos and background vocals that would make the Sweat Hogs grin, 1972 has all the trappings of the best aesthetic apparatus the era has to offer. But what will diehard fans think when they hear their favorite master of melancholy melody singing sincerely about "feeling sexual"? Rouse fans from Robert Plant (who name-checked Rouse in a MOJO interview) to director Cameron Crowe (who used the song "Directions" in Vanilla Sky) to Kathleen Edwards (who drove eight hours across Ontario to see Josh on one of his Canadian tours) to the Saddle Creek set have all embraced Josh's style and sound. In his 30th year, Rouse has taken a turn at an artistic fork in the road that should solidify him once and for all as an artist of depth and distinction.
Born in Chester, Pa., in 1971. Nine years later, Matthew Ryan discovered his parents' vinyl collection and the rest is music history:
1990-1992Ryan's first basement band escapes from the cellar.
1993Ryan quits school and moves to Nashville.
1994-95Ryan hears Bob Dylan's version of "Moonshiner" for the first time. As a result, he forms The Caustics. Major labels come knocking and things go south.
Late 1995Ryan puts together a new backing band called The Fisher Kings and lands his first publishing deal.
1996Ryan proudly signs with A&M Records.
1997-1998May Day is released. While touring in support of the album, Ryan appears on David Letterman and Conan O'Brien and also embarks upon his first tour of America and Europe.
1999A&M merges with Interscope Records, and Ryan parts ways with the label.
Late 2000-2001Ryan begins work on new songs that will become Concussion. After the album's release in 2001, Ryan records "Be Thou My Vision" for Ed Burns' movie Ash Wednesday.
2003-2004Regret Over Wires is recorded and released in fall 2003. Visceral, elegant and honest, Matthew Ryan's first collection for Hybrid Recordings highlights a newfound vigor and commitment to the union of an often violent rock 'n' roll with beauty, insight and humor. Supporting dates continue.
Contemporary singer-songwriter Mindy Smith knows who she is and what she wants. She's struggled against adversity for most of her lifeshe even has a song about it, "Fighting for It All." Despite the barriers she's had to cross, she has never opted for an easy road. And despite all the hardships she's enduredor maybe because of themshe's always trusted her instincts and her own vision for what she could do. In the end, that clarity comes through on One Moment More. Adopted at birth by a minister and his wife, a church music director, Smith grew up in Smithtown, Long Island. Her biggest supporter, her adoptive mother, died from cancer when Mindy was 19. Encouraged by her late mother's support, Mindy decided to pursue her musical interests. While attending college in Cincinnati, she became the lead singer in a band and co-wrote songs with her bandmates. When her father moved to Knoxville, she moved there too. But when her father remarried and moved to North Carolina, Smith decided she was ready for the next stepmoving to Nashville. Struggling through low-paying jobs and difficult writer's nights, she persevered, signing with Big Yellow Dog Music and finally with Vanguard Records. Smith's debut for the label is a stunningly powerful document of a brave songwriter and innately expressive singer tackling life's biggest issues with unfettered honesty. Personal in tone, yet universal in reach, Smith's songs delve resolutely yet delicately into the most tender aspects of relationships, spirituality, loss and perseverance.
Honest, literate, incisive lyrics, a gift for melody and a sturdy grasp on songcraft: this is what sets Jason White apart. Both his standout debut, Shades of Gray, and his latest effort, Tonight's Top Story, are blessed with a level of songcraft too rarely heard from today's up-and-coming artists. Concerned with neither easy fame nor slick production, White writes songs from the gutsongs that ask questions, that explore, that raise debate. Whether they take place in smoky taverns, speeding cars or the solemn quiet of late-night contemplation, his songs play out like novels distilled to their most primal emotionscharacters grasping for love, for oblivion, for acceptance, for a way out. White's musical background informs his complexity as a writer. He dropped out of college in Vermont to form a power-pop band called The Janglers that was based in Cleveland for eight years. After two CDs, the band broke up at the end of '93. From there, White went on to found Jason White and The Dying Breed, who quickly signed with Universal Records and made a record that was never released. White got out of the deal, took the money the label gave him and made Shades of Gray with Viktor Krauss. Jason White combines the pop know-how of Neil Finn with the gritty outlook of Tom Waits or John Hiatt and the gorgeous melodic sensibilities of the genre's greatest. He crafts songs that blur the lines between pop music and artsongs that are unafraid to ask questions, to indict and to revel in their own seamy, sexy madness. Songs that are exactly what we need today, honest and unflinching.
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