Sounding rested and refreshed, Joe Jackson's new stripped-down album Rain harkens back to the Night And Day era. Always a talented tunesmith, Jackson has given us an album that plays to his strengths.
Combining a healthy dose of Afro-pop with the kinetic energy of Talking Heads and a decisively modern world-view, New York City's Vampire Weekend has created a debut album that sounds nothing like anything else out there.
World Cafe with David Dye has just polished off the track list for the 25th Volume in its incredible series of live recordings from XPN's signature program. Artists including Suzanne Vega, Josh Ritter, Martin Sexton, Sea Wolf and many others have contributed to this stellar collection.
It's hard not to compare Ryan Bingham to some other Texas troubadour heavyweights. Hints of Joe Ely, Steve Earle and - most notably - Townes Van Zant permeate his Lost Highway records debut Mescalito. This is not to say that he hasn't already developed his own voice, but these songs are just as dusty and heartfelt as his predecessors.
First of all, major kudos to Radiohead for doing things their way. After their record contract expired, the band made In Rainbows available as a download on their personal website back in October on a pay-what-you-want basis with pretty stellar financial results. The physicalCD is coming out in America on the A.T.O. records imprint T.B.D. Records.
Soulsavers - the British duo of Rick Machin and Ian Glover - have given us a fine year-end album with the new It's Not How Far You Fall, It's the Way You Land. This may very well be the most haunting sonic listen of '07.
Long-time fan of Gov't Mule will not be surprised by this collection of reggae-spiced tunes, because reggae jams have long been a part of their repertoire. The best thing about Mighty High is that you need not be a Mule fan to enjoy the groove.
The Killers' new b-side / rarities collection stands up a lot better than most discs of the same type. Sawdust showcases a group with spirit, imagination and good ideas, a rare feat for a group with only two proper studio albums to their credit.
Dan Wilson has a rich musical history. He played with Trip Shakespeare and later Semisonic, and has produced some impressive discs such as Mike Doughty's Haughty Melodic and the controversial Dixie Chicks album Taking the Long Way (he also co-wrote the album's big hit "Not Ready To Make Nice"). On his new solo album - the self-produced Free Life - Wilson seems to have utilized all of his considerable artistic attributes.
Perhaps the most pleasant musical surprise of '07, Carbon/Silicon's The Last Post is chock full of powerful, somewhat snarling rock & roll. Led by Mick Jones (The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite) and Tony James (Generation X, Sigue Sigue Sputnik), there's really nothing not to like about the whole project.