Al Scorch

"Everybody Out"

The combination of alt-country and punk is one of the most fruitful forms of musical cross-pollination, especially when it comes to protest and socially conscious music designed for the everyman. Al Scorch is a perfect case in point, a punk-rock banjo player that draws inspiration from and utilizes a wide range of roots music forms, underpinned with a punk sensibility and rocking beats. Scorch's music possesses blistering energy, smart and insightful lyrics drawing from traditional American string band music, European and American folk. If this all sounds great, I can tell you it truly is and the track "Everybody Out" will have you eagerly awaiting the debut album, Circle Round the Signs, on Bloodshot Records, out next month

Andrew Bird, feat. Fiona Apple

"Left Handed Kisses"

From what I hear, love songs don't come easily to Andrew Bird, and this song is not so much a love song but a song about love songs. Fiona Apple is a terrific foil here, and her voice has a wonderful, raspy (yet tuneful) quality. The song itself has a fresh, unique acoustic arrangement. The violin comes at all the right times — especially during the bridge, when it speeds up and gets buzzy and distorted. Bird comes off as a bit of a younger Richard Thompson, both in his vocal delivery and in the song's off-kilter folk arrangement. A beautiful thing.