Death Cab for Cutie is a band that boasts two of the very best artists in all of indie-dom: singer Ben Gibbard, who's blessed with an amazing, natural voice, and guitarist and producer Chris Walla, who has the knack of making everything he touches sound real and epic at the same time. The talent is certainly on display on this new album, Narrow Stairs, but the subject matter is much more suffocating.
On her third full-length album, Canadian Kathleen Edwards has once again proven herself to be among the very best of the young songwriters out there. Combining an interesting worldview with a very honest voice and plenty of attitude, this 29-year-old has stepped up in several ways on this new release, Asking For Flowers.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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...
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.