Once again, it's time for me to share 15 worthy new albums that have caught my ear. There's been a spurt or highly anticipated albums released lately, including new ones by Rilo Kiley, The New Pornographers and Architecture in Helsinki, but unfortunately none of these impressed me enough to make the list.
Some highly anticipated releases did make the list, but you will also find a good deal of curveballs, and under-the-radar picks to peruse.
Check out individual tracks, full albums and mini-reviews below.
This new album by Patrick Park walks a line between low-key indie and alt country. A patient, yet far-reaching endeavor that holds your attention for the duration. Everyone's In Everyone creates a potent urge in the listener to put on headphones and settle into a large overstuffed chaise lounge. Give yourself completely to the experience and you will not be disappointed.
Following up the superb 2005 release The Milk of Human Kindness was not an easy task for Dan Snaith's Caribou project. However, Snaith has exceeded even the high bar he has set for himself with the continued development of his Brian Wilson-inspired laptop craftsmanship. It'll work equally well in the context of a chic uptown penthouse party, or around the campfire in the middle of the woods.
The Liars go less "artsy" on their brand new self-titled disc, and instead deliver back-to-basics, rock & roll. Combining big guitars, crisp hooks, hazy production and just enough darkness to keep it cool, Liars is a stand-out release for both this band, and for 2007.
The 1980's revival continues in earnest, and the new LP by New Young Pony Club leaves no doubt to this fact. But Fantastic Playroom does not simply roll around in the mud of nostalgia, but wears it as an accessory to help decorate their adept song crafting skills and youthful energy. This could have been one of the best albums of 1981, but instead it's one of the best of 2007.
The anticipated new album None Shall Pass by the socially conscience Aesop Rock delivers the goods. His "500 words a second" style continues to impress the technically minded, but the beats, production and lyrics dazzle at levels well beyond his underground contemporaries.
The big question on the minds of many after M.I.A.'s critically acclaimed 2005 effort Arular (named after her father) was, "Can she repeat?" Well, as her new record Kala (named after her mother) vividly demonstrates, the answer to that question is "Yes". Kala successfully incorporates world influence into an almost flawless release.
Grammy winning Semisonic member Dan Wilson will be releasing his solo debut Free Life on Rick Rubin's label American this October. The record finds Dan discovering his own voice, far removed from his band projects Semisonic and Trip Shakespeare. Free Life includes help from members of Nickel Creek, The Jayhawks and The Heartbreakers.
8. Numbered Lithograph - John Vanderslice
John Vanderslice's new album Emerald City is a short one at less than 38 minutes, but you won't find filler, or songs rushed to produce product. Instead you'll find an artist who is building upon his excellent Pixel Revolt LP from 2005. Emerald City is crisper without losing it's independent feel, and is chock full of beautifully counterbalanced tension.
The songwriting on The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter has the same strength of purpose that makes Ritter such an irresistible new artist, but here the songs are brittle and delivered with brio. The production is a roughhewn endeavour that provides ballast for a myriad of brilliant arrangements and melodic ideas.
I had not heard of the band "Bat For Lashes", but now that I've discovered them I can promise that I'll be following them from here on out. This all-female outfit, with a singer that sounds eerily reminiscent of Bjork, has produced an album, Fur and Gold, that takes a little bit of work to fully soak in, but it's worth the investme
Gogol Bordello continues with their gypsy punk cabaret show, and despite what Pitchfork says, they have given us another reason to love them in Super Taranta! This is stuff you either "get" or "don't get". And if you don't get it, sucks for you.
Oreskaband are a group of 6 girls who formed a band at their Osaka, Japan middle school. They started high school with a record deal courtesy of Sony Music Japan, and have already made their US debut at SXSW. Although I was hard-pressed to believe their album Oreskaband would be anything worthwhile, the band's talent and energy is undeniable.
Shock Cinema returns to the 80s, but not in the way that many of the current new wave revivalists are doing. Instead they channel the spirit of Siouxsie and the Banshees and the hazy, punk-influenced music that roamed the underbelly of the goth-rock movement during said decade. Our Way Is Revenge is beauty, artfully obscured by fuzzed-up violence.
The newest from Okkervil River is a tumultuous and witty record perfectly offset by a profound adeptness with melody and controlled emotion. The Stage Names is alluringly layered and complex, and when you're through hearing it for the first time, it'll be on your favorites of 2007 list.
15. I Walk The Line (LIVE) - Johnny Cash
The Great Lost Performance was recorded 17 years ago at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, NJ, and contains a stunning 18 tracks, including his biggest hits and several songs he rarely performed live. The recording was found in the vaults of Universal and is the 16th posthumous release by Johnny Cash. A must have.