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As the managing editor of Acoustic Guitar, I’m lucky to get the opportunity to wade through hundreds of new CDs every month. Some of those albums find their way into our Playlist section, others are reviewed in the AG Notes: Reviews and Players Edition e-mail newsletter (if you haven’t signed up for it, go to Like any true music junkie, I am happiest when I get to geek out with other music fans. So here’s what I’ve been spinning recently (and what I’m looking forward to):

The Avett Brothers: I first stumbled on this trio’s old-time indie folk with its 2007 release, Emotionalism, and the group’s latest, The Gleam II, shows why this band is one of the most exciting acoustic groups out there. Word has it that the band will be recording a follow-up with Rick Rubin, the producer who has worked with everyone from Johnny Cash to Slayer to Neil Diamond. Considering that the Avett Brothers’ songs have been on repeat in my MP3 player, it’s safe to say that I’m pretty excited about the band’s next offering. Look for an Acoustic Guitar feature on these gentlemen in 2009.

Joan Baez: What happens when you take a folk icon and throw her into a Nashville studio with Steve Earle as producer? Good things happen, that’s what. It bears the unmistakable mark of Earle, who released a stellar record of his own late in 2007 (Washington Square Serenade). Baez’s voice is deeper and more worn than in her days as the queen of folk, but that lends a sense of dignity and gravitas to great compositions by Earle, Tom Waits, Patty Griffin, and Elvis Costello. Definitely worth checking out. And Acoustic Guitar recently interviewed Baez, so be ready for an illuminating feature in the coming months.

New releases on deck: The always-great Lucinda Williams; Taj Mahal; Dar Williams; Keller Williams; Brett Dennen; Old Crow Medicine Show; and many, many more.

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