Mark Bryan

End of the Front

(Artist Garage/Fontana)

“Glad to Be Alive”
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From the bombastic power chords of lead-off song “Only an Original” to the subtle acoustic guitar plucking of “Oh Charlie,” singer/guitarist Mark Bryan’s new one is impressive. Recorded at his home studio near Awendaw, End of the Front steps away from the thicker, stiffer, more processed sound of his main band, Hootie & The Blowfish. Bryan completed a tour with a newly-assembled group in support of the collection. Many Hootie fans will surely be pleasantly surprised by the upbeat variety of musical styles. There’s a touch of John Cougar-style snappy/clappy (from the old hit “Jack & Diane”) in “Everybody’s Heart,” a bit of pop-punkiness in the fast-paced “Glad to Be Alive,” and a syrupy romantic folk-pop vibe in “I Want to Grow Old with You.” Another highlight is the smooth vocal harmony between Bryan and guitarist Danielle Howle (a veteran songwriter from Columbia who collaborated with Bryan on her latest solo album) on “Fork in the Road.” (www.markbryanmusic.com) —T. Ballard Lesemann

Hootie & The Blowfish perform their sixth annual “Homegrown Concert” at the Family Circle Cup Stadium on Fri. Aug. 15.


Edwin McCain

Nobody’s Fault but Mine

(Saguaro Road)

“You Don’t Know What You Mean to Me”
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Singer/guitarist Edwin McCain’s new album of vintage soul and blues songs (released by the newly established Saguaro Road label on June 24) goes back to the basics. The setlist features age-old R&B favorites as well as southern soul songs that were popular during the ’60s. Drastically different from some of his more popular singles such as “I’ll Be,” “I Could Not Ask For More,” and “Solitude,” McCain’s versions of these oldies have a recognizable classic feel. Even if fans are unfamiliar these R&B tunes, they’ll detect that they’re renditions of something from way back. However, contrary to negative opinions about recycling music, Nobody’s Fault But Mine provides an hour’s worth of feel good tunes. Cover albums don’t usually define an artist or show their true colors, but McCain comes extremely close with this one. (www.edwin.com) —Caitlin Baker

The Edwin McCain Band performs at the Bele Chere Festival in Asheville, N.C., on Fri. July 25, and at the Music Farm on Sat. July 26.