Monday, December 31, 2007

The 2007 Twenty

Neverending Rainbow's 3rd annual rundown of our 20 favorite reasons to have owned a CD player. These are the best CDs of 2007...or more to the point, given the daunting number of recordings released each year...the best CDs that we heard over the course of the year. Your mileage may (and doubtlessly will) vary. In any case, the picks (in alphabetical order by album title):

Back to Black
Amy Winehouse
(At once retro and utterly modern, as fine a soul record as you could ever hope for)

Children Running Through – Patti Griffin
(Passionate, evocative, utterly compelling, an amazing collection of songs and performances)

Finding Forever – Common
(Sly and sassy, romantic and randy, acerbic and hopeful, a seamless album featuring stellar guest turns by Lily Allen and Kanye West and held together by Common’s smooth, peerless flow)

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga – Spoon
(Urbane pop-rock…delightfully melodic with tight playing and solid vocals…that soars and shimmers from beginning to end)

High Steppin’ – The Pimps of Joytime
(A really fine…really funky, really soulful, really rockin’, really jammin’, enormously entertaining…CD.

In Rainbows – Radiohead
(Challenging and accessible in the same moment, an utterly remarkable rock and roll record)

Live in Dublin – Bruce Springsteen with the Sessions Band
(A grand, accomplished, enormously entertaining 2-disc live set combining traditional songs with reworked Springsteen tunes)

Magic – Bruce Springsteen
(The Boss and the E Street Band on a set of rock solid, earnest, cranky, and soaring rock and roll ruminations)

Neon BibleArcade Fire
(Ominously haunting and undeniably rousing at the same time, the full bodied baroque rock and roll of this CD effortlessly gets under your skin and into your head and stays in both places and man is that a cool thing)

100 Days, 100 Nights – Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
(As gritty and old school funky as it wants to be, this CD grooves, growls, and bites with soulful fury as the righteous, gutbucket beauty of Ms. Jones’ voice is ably supported by the sterling musicianship of the Kings)

Raising Sand Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

(What seemed a strange match on paper became a magical, compelling, and heartfelt collaboration when they came together in song trading stunning leads and sharing remarkable harmonies)

River: The Joni Letters – Herbie Hancock
(A graceful and tasty tribute to Joni Mitchell featuring an excellent band and some nice guest vocal turns)

Teknochek Collision – Slavic Soul Party!
(This 9-member ensemble claims to be the “#1 brass band for Balkan-soul-gypsy-funk” and the music…joyous, worldly, full-bodied and, yes, brassy, soulful, and funky…proves the point with potent, irresistible charm)

The Hottest State – Movie Soundtrack
(Judging by critical response, the movie wasn’t so hot but the soundtrack…with songs by Jesse Harris and sublime performances by, among others, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Cat Power, Feist, and Norah Jones…is a cool, evocative gem)

The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster – Ruthie Foster
(An evocative, rocking, soulful CD that more than lives up to its grandiose title)

The Reminder – Feist
(A smart, sparkling collection of slightly offbeat pop tunes)

The Spiritual Kind – Terri Hendrix
(Witty, whimsical, insightful, heartfelt, delightful…a grand country record with all of the soul and twang and none of the glossy pop that too often passes for country music these days)

Under the Blacklight – Rilo Kiley
(Jenny Lewis and the guys embrace their funky edge to very fine effect)

Version – Mark Ronson
(The celebrated DJ and producer serves up a groovy party record filled with covers of British hits sung with gusto by, among others, Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, and Robbie Williams)

We’ll Never Turn Back Mavis Staples

(Righteously soulful and soulfully righteous, a collection of compelling standards delivered by one of the most incomparable voices in pop, soul, and spiritual music)


Jana said...

Awesome list!! Thanks for sharing :)

Daniel @ Garanhuns said...

Is it just me, or does that "Common" cover look a bit like "Bitches Brew"? Not an exact copy, but a "shades of". Almost looks like they paid homage to it.

Michael K. Willis said...

Good call, Daniel. It must be a deliberate homage to Miles' cover.

birdwoman said...

you have the most eclectic taste, hands down, i've ever seen. I have heard about 70% of this stuff, but never on the same "station" if you know what I mean?


Michael K. Willis said...

I know what you mean. I miss the old days (in my case meaning the 70's) of FM radio when a lot of different kinds of music could be heard on the same station. I don't listen to much over-the-air music radio nowadays precisely because it's so fragmented and exclusionary.