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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.

Here's a new album from the Irish band that always sound as if they're eternally drenched in California sunshine. Teenager, the brand new album from The Thrills, is full of stylish pop hooks and the unique vocal stylings of Conor Deasy. What's different about this third release from the band is its overall consistency. There's no one song that pops out at you and screams "Radio Single!," but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

For the soundtrack for Todd Haynes' strange Bob Dylan biopic, the producers have assembled a very interesting cast of important, talented, mostly left-of-the-dial performers. The results are - well - strange but satisfying overall.

He's indie rock's answer to Tom Petty... he keeps the loose, Stones-y vibe alive... he's the one and only Chuck Prophet, and he's just released another collection of cool tunes called Soap & Water.

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