Thao and the Get Down Stay Down – We Brave Bee Stings and All | Read the short story review | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD, Vinyl, or MP3
Download “Beat (Health, Life and Fire)” (mp3)
Download “Bag of Hammers” (mp3)
These songs are propelled in Thao’s sultry voice and bolstered by music that is a jazz-infused variety of folk rock. The arrangements include horns, organs, melodica, and banjo added to the intriguing voicings used by the adroit four-piece band. The percussion playing is creative and selective for 4 beat rhythms. As a testament to the catchiness of these songs, nearly all eleven have been caught in my head during some part of this year.
These United States – Crimes | Amazon CD or MP3 | Insound CD
Download “Honor Amongst Thieves” (mp3)
The majority of these songs have an addictive, rollicking feel. This album doesn’t sound sterile. The production – from the intro count-ins and commentary to the sing along style group choruses – gives the album a live quality. With this album and A Picture of Three of Us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden both released this year, These United States demonstrated their diversity and productivity. On Crimes, the folk rock band showcases more of an indie rock sound than their aforementioned debut album.
Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend | Read the short story review | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD, Vinyl, or MP3
Most of the songs on this debut album were self-released by the band in 2007 on CDR. After signing to XL, the album saw massive distribution. It followed with a performance on Saturday Night Live and worldwide festival performances. It became impossible to ignore this band. What elevated the band to such massive popularity was their unique version of indie rock that incorporates chamber pop and Afrobeat qualities.
TV on the Radio – Dear Science | Amazon Deluxe Edition CD, CD, Vinyl, Deluxe Version MP3, or MP3 | Insound Deluxe Edition CD or CD
Rarely can any band seamlessly meld so many divergent genres to make an album that is cohesive, original, and captivating. But that’s exactly what TV on the Radio have done with Dear Science. There are elements of soul, disco, hip hop, indie rock, and punk throughout this cognizant and intelligent, diverse and danceable album. There are enough sonic subtleties in these songs to notice new nuances with each listen while engaging both your body and your mind with the main melodies and rhythms.
Hayes Carll – Trouble In Mind | Read the short story review | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD
Download “She Left Me For Jesus” (mp3)
Hayes Carll has created an alt country album that is functions as both a guilty, melodic, country treasure and the sound of the tortured artist. From the opening song, “Drunken Poet’s Dream” – with a muse who says, “You be the sinner honey, I’ll be the sin” – to the final track, “She Left Me For Jesus,” these songs are full of drinking and misguided love. The album sounds like Steve Earle or Townes Van Zant fronting the Flying Burrito Brothers.
Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster... | Amazon CD or MP3 | Insound CD, Vinyl, or MP3
Download “Death to Los Campesinos!” (mp3)
This is an impressive debut full length album. With the addition of a second full length release this past year (that is nearly as good and also on this list), the productivity of this band is amazing. Los Campesinos! continued the quality combination of abrasion, intelligence, and wit that made their debut EP, Sticking Fingers into Sockets, not only one of the best EPs of 2007, but also one of the best overall albums of that year.
The Cool Kids – The Bake Sale | Amazon CD or MP3 | Insound CD
Download “‘88” (mp3)
It’s good to have a throwback to old school rap and The Cool Kids are exactly that. The beats have distorted bass and the lyrics are about trips to the grocery store, the year 1988, and BMX bikes. As the rap duo christened themselves, they are “the new black version of the Beastie Boys.”
Langhorne Slim – Langhorne Slim | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD or Vinyl
Download “Rebel Side of Heaven” (mp3)
Langhorne Slim is an acoustic-based singer-songwriter. On this album he supported by natural instruments – cello, trombone, piano, upright bass, and drums slapped with brushes. These songs are rooted in folk and country influences, but with a decidedly endearing and conventional trait. Above these traditional arrangements is a voice and melodies that give this album an enthralling and heartfelt sensibility.
Noah and the Whale – Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down | Read the short story review | Amazon CD or MP3 | Insound CD
Download “2 Bodies 1 Heart” (mp3)
Ultimately, Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down is a palpable power pop album. With the utilization of violin, horns, and harmonium, the album has a prodigious chamber pop sound. But rooted in the acoustic guitar picking and sonorous vocals of Charlie Fink, Noah and the Whale have a personal and responsive quality that transcends the well crafted layers of instrumentation.
Lemuria – Get Better | Read the short story review | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD
Download “Pants” (mp3)
Download “Dog” and “Dogs” (mp3)
After releasing a batch of split albums, singles, and EPs, this Buffalo, NY, band finally releases their first full-length album. The indie power trio is equal parts punk and pop without delving too far into the typical qualities of either genre. Guitarist Sheena Ozzela and drummer Alex Kerns share lead vocals and all three members, including bassist Jason Draper, contribute to the songwriting. The outcome is an assemblage of distorted and restless ear candy.
Apollo Sunshine – Shall Noise Upon | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD or Vinyl
Download “666: The Coming of the New World Government” (mp3)
This is one of the most intricate and diverse albums of the year. It moves from mellifluously mellow keyboard driven songs to Beatle-esque guitar pop to noise interludes to experimental blues rock – and that’s just the first five tracks. The band meshes styles and influences to create an appealing album with multiple layers of sounds that makes the pop music border on experimental.
Blitzen Trapper – Furr | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD, Vinyl, or MP3
Download “Furr” (mp3)
Following the acclamation of Wild Mountain Nation, Blitzen Trapper has released their first album for Sub Pop. Furr was self-produced, as were their band’s three previous albums. This release consists of near haunting folk rock. The melodies and production of the album sound familiar, but the descriptive lyrics give the record a heighten quality.
Mountain Goats – Heretic Pride | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD, Vinyl, or MP3
Download “Sax Rohmer #1” (mp3)
The past few Mountain Goats’ albums have consisted of more personal material from John Darnielle. With this album, John Darnielle returns to less introspective, but still highly intelligent, lyrics. At the same time, the band continues the strong production style of his recent albums. The songwriting style combined with the production of Tiny Telephone’s John Vanderslice and Scott Solter makes Heretic Pride the best Mountain Goats release in a few years.
Slant – Nothin’ Left But Me | Read the Better Than The Chili post
Download “Ba Ba Ba” (mp3)
Slant is fronted by Michelle Korn, who has the vocal drawl of a younger Lucinda Williams. There’s a slight rasp in the soothing and well-controlled voice, which shows a surprising amount of range. The music mixes some folk rock with guitar driven sound of alternative/indie rock. Overall, Nothin’ Left But Me is a catchy and endearing release.
Okkervil River – The Stand Ins | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD, Vinyl, or MP3
Download “Lost Coastlines” (mp3)
When Okkervil River recorded The Stage Names (TWSIS’s favorite album of 2007), Will Sheff said they had enough songs to release a double album. The Stand Ins constitutes the second part of that double album. Both a companion piece and a stand alone album, it continues the aural perfection of Okkervil River’s catalog. While this album is not as cohesive as The Stage Names, it still contains some of the best individual tracks of the year.
Neil Halstead – Oh! Mighty Engine | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD or Vinyl
Download “Paint A Face” (mp3)
This is a folk album from the member of the dream pop band Mojave 3 and former Slowdive shoegazer. The songs have minimalist accompaniments layered around Halstead’s acoustic guitar. These tracks are mellow and soothing with breathy but deep vocals.
Los Campesinos! – We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed | Amazon CD/DVD or MP3 | Insound CD, Vinyl, or MP3
Download “Miserabilia” (mp3)
By releasing their first 2 full length albums this year, Los Campesinos! have shown they are not only prolific. They have demonstrated that they are consistent and appreciative. They intended to record some B-sides for their first full length album, Now Hold On, Youngster…, but realized they had 10 tracks that impeccably displayed their rambunctious indie rock. To add to a second release in the year, Los Campesinos! announced there will be no additional printings of the album, but the release is accompanied with a documentary DVD, poster, and 30 page ‘zine) while you can.
The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Open | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD, Vinyl, or MP3
Download “Keep Your Eyes Ahead” (mp3)
On Keep Your Eyes Open, The Helio Sequence creates a sound that links the loosened emotions Band of Horses and swelling diversity Modest Mouse with electronic qualities. The two-piece band layers resounding guitars, swooping keyboards and reverberation, and dexterous rhythms. Beneath those tiers, the acoustic roots of the tunes can be subtly heard, especially on the final few songs. From the more electronically textured to more stripped down tracks, the melodies and diverse production are captivating.
Connie Price & The Keystones – Tell Me Something | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD
Connie Price and the Keystones are a soul revue with funk influences. Their previous release was an instrumental album. The live band of drums, keyboards, guitar, bass, and horns creates some tight tracks of deep funk. On Tell Me Something, they add 8 MCs and vocalists. This album is a diverse and intelligent hip hop album. The music accompaniments are of such high quality that the album was released as 2 discs – one with the vocals and one as just the instrumental tracks.
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Real Emotional Trash | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD, Vinyl, or MP3
Download “Cold Son” (mp3)
Download “Baltimore” (mp3)
Stephen Malkmus is known for his literate and idiosyncratic lyrics and searing guitar playing. On this album, he has near perfect support from bassist Joanna Bolme, guitarist/keyboardist Mike Clark, and the newest Jick, drummer Janet Weiss. As the best solo album from this former Pavement member Real Emotional Trash has a balance of indie pop songs and extended jams.
Anathallo – Canopy Glow | Amazon CD or MP3 | Insound CD or MP3
The Baseball Project – Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails | Amazon CD or MP3 | Insound CD or MP3
Bonnie “Prince” Billy – Lie Down In The Light | Amazon CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD or Vinyl
Bob Dylan – Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8 | Amazon CD, Deluxe Edition CD, Vinyl, or MP3 | Insound CD, Deluxe Edition CD, or Vinyl
Adam Green – Sixes & Sevens | Amazon CD or MP3 | Insound CD, Vinyl, or MP3
Port O’Brien – All We Could Do Was Sing | Amazon CD or MP3 | Insound CD, Vinyl, or MP3
Jay Reatard – Matador Singles ’08 | Amazon CD Vinyl MP3 | Insound CD Vinyl MP3
Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson | Amazon CD MP3 | Insound CD
Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea | Amazon CD LP MP3 | Insound CD LP
Spiritualized – Songs In A&E | Amazon CD MP3 | Insound CD
These United States – A Picture Of Three Of Us At The Gate To The Garden Of Eden | Amazon CD or MP3 | Insound CD MP3
Vetiver – Thing Of The Past | Amazon CD LP MP3 | Insound CD LP MP3
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