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.
Artist To Watch November 2007, indie folk-rock starlet Ingrid Michaelson may be compared to artists Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor, but she has definitely staked out her own territory in the music industry.
Ya wanna know what "magic" is? It's what happens to his fans every time Bruce Springsteen releases a new album. From the initial response to this new album - Magic - from these aforementioned fans (yeah, I'm one, too...), it sounds like everybody's satisfied.
After a couple of very fine Neil Young concert releases, we now have a brand new album from the ageless master. Chrome Dreams II represents a return to from, at least from one of the Neil Young's we've been presented with over the years.
Perhaps only the fantasy duo of King Kong and Bambi could be a more bizarre pairing than Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Yet on Raising Sand, their haunting and brilliant collaboration, the Led Zeppelin screamer and Nashville's most hypnotic song whisperer seem made for each other. This, however, is not the howling Plant of "Whole Lotta Love," but a far more precise and softer singer than even the one who emerged with Dreamland (2002).
The brand new Steve Earle album - Washington Square Serenade - is all about New York City. It's also about an established artist combining all of his considerable attributes to create a very un-ironic and enjoyable disc. It's the best thing Earle's done since - oh - I'd say I'm Alright over 10 years ago.
For her new album, Joni Mitchell has chosen to look back upon one of her most interesting musical periods, in my opinion. Shine reminds me a lot of her mid-70's albums like Hejira or Don Juan's Reckless Daughter. Time will tell how well this stands up to her classic material, but it sounds very good so far.
Having already seen these guys live a couple of times, I can attest to the fact that Sea Wolf is a tremendous live act (go see them if you get a chance - you will not be disappointed). On their debut album Leaves In The River, many of the same attributes that make them so interesting live (tension, interesting instrumentation, intensity, etc.) make this a very, very good debut album.
It wasn't easy to successfully follow-up her debut album Eye To The Telescope, but Scottish singer/songwriter K.T. Tunstall has done a pretty fair job on Drastic Fantastic. Her strength on this album - as it was on the debut - is her ability to write engaging pop songs that don't venture too far into the pop song jungle. You don't have to be ashamed to say that you dig K.T. Tunstall.
This album has my vote for best debut album of 2007. Englishman Scott Matthews has put together a very strong, emotional set of tunes for his album Passing Stranger. He's got it all: a great voice, interesting ideas, passion to burn. There's nothing, really, not to like about this album.
For his first album for Lost Highway, Lyle Lovett has refueled his Large Band (36 different members contributed to this album) with some pretty satisfying results. It's Not Big It's Large sounds like classic early Lovett: country, pop, gospel, jazz, rock all fused together with the help of some crafty tunes.
On Lifeline, Ben Harper has gone back to his roots in a major way. Already the king of effortless groove, this album sounds like it was conceived, written and produced in a few weeks... which it was (the whole recording process took just a week, start to finish). That's a very good thing in this instance, because the spontaneity is absolutely refreshing. The songcraft on Lifeline rivals any other Harper release, and Ben and the Innocent Crimminals play the tunes with an uplifting sense of discovery.
Josh Ritter is a prime example of an artist getting better and better as he goes along. We all knew he was super-talented, but even that didn't prepare me for the genius of this new album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. It's a bona fide best of '07 contender, and a completely rewarding listening experience, whether you hear the album from start to finish or hear it a song at a time. Ritter's got it goin' on...
Matt Nathanson's heartfelt pop songs and choirboy-with-an-attitude persona has already meant a healthy fan base, and his new album Some Mad Hope will most certainly satisfy the believers and should attract a few more. The 34 year-old Massachusetts native and San Francisco resident has a knack for tugging at the ol' heartstrings through his songs, and his ability to do that has never been sharper.
For their second album on the Hollywood label, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals certainly spent a fair amount of time concentrating on their craft. Although This Is Somewhere contains many of the same funky characteristics of the XPN hit 2005 album Nothing But The Water, there's a noticable shift in the songwriting. These new songs have way more to offer than groove. The Vermont-based band has a lot to be proud of this go 'round.
For their third album - and their first for a major label - Interpol certainly stretches out musically. Known and beloved for their various, somewhat gloomy Joy Division-esque atmospherics, the New York-based band made an effort to change things around this time, and they have achieved that.
Mark Ronson is a London-born, New York City-raised artist, producer and DJ. His new album Version is - true to its title - a collection of versions of other artists' tunes. This is, of course, an oft-used idea, but few can match the ideas, personnel, and deft production touch that Ronson possesses.
We figured we'd see it sometime... Suzanne Vega has delivered her "New York City album", a collection of 11 tunes that revolve around life in "The Big Apple" where Vega was raised and has lived ever since. It's not a new idea. Lots of artists (Lou Reed, for example on his 1989 New York album) have used this muse before. Vega has done it with a tremendous amount of style, and her first new release in six years is clearly one of her best.
On an album that will please long-time fans and new converts alike, the Texas band Spoon sound comfortable, confident, and on top of their game. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is short and sweet (10 songs, 36 minutes), and its relative brevity only serves to accentuate front man Britt Daniels' and co.'s craftsmanship.
Louisiana rocker Marc Broussard has always had more than a little soul in his rock mix so it makes a lot of sense for him to release an album of mostly R&B and soul music covers. There is one original new song on the album, which is the follow up to Broussard's 2004 breakthrough debut Carencro. While Brousard can certainly rock like the best of them, he is clearly and convincingly at home covering songs like The Staple Singers' "Respect Yourself," "Yes We Can Can" written by Allen Toussaint, Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues," "Love and Happiness" by Al Green, and the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell duet that he sings with Toby Lightman, "If I Could Build My Whole World Around You."