To begin with, do not sleep on KT Tunstall's moody, atmospheric Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon. Venturing to the Arizona desert to work with producer and roots-rock icon Howe Gelb of Giant Sand fame, the Scottish singer-songwriter has created the best album of her career (thus far, obviously). Now, as for the rest of our Top 20 for August, in addition to Ms. Tunstall, it contains adult alternative fare from Matt Nathanson and Michael Franti, both of whom hail from the Bay Area (though only the latter rocks dreads). Slightly more indie is the sophomore effort from nü folkies Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. The group certainly possesses mainstream appeal, and in a way that jibes quite well with the KT Tunstalls and Matt Nathansons of the world. All of them are ultimately rooted in acoustic-based singer-songwriter fare, after all.
But don't fret all ye who crave the hard stuff -- there's plenty of that, too. Maybe more so, actually. Easily one of America's biggest bands at this point, Five Finger Death Punch recently unleashed Volume 1 of their two-part The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell. It's hellish fun, which is always the case with these troublemakers. Also key are Chimaira's Crown of Phantoms (a huge album for them) and Black Tusk's muddy, sludgy Tend No Wounds EP. Now get listenin'!