Here’s an attempt to share with you some of what I’ve liked this past year, with a few words about each CD. All titles are, or will soon be, available through the Library.
Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest
After 8 years, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings return from the studio with a group of songs that proves to be well worth the wait. Beautiful close harmonies and acoustic interplay perfectly complement the stellar songwriting to be found here.
Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’
An exhilarating blend of vintage and modern R&B. Mr. Saadiq plays most of the instruments and sings like Stevie Wonder. A great dance record!
Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Borrowing heavily from ‘70s guitar pop/rock, the San Francisco duo Girls still manages to sound fresh and immediate. Fun and quickly accessible.
Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers – Starlight Hotel
Leave it to a Seattle band to help us remember what real country music sounds like. Strong mandolin and pedal steel help compliment Zoe’s rootsy voice throughout these heartfelt songs. Are you listening, Nashville?
Danger Mouse and Daniele Lupi – Rome
What happens when an American producer and an Italian film music composer decide to collaborate? An album that evokes the spirit of the European cinema of the cool ‘60s, giving a heavy nod in the direction of Ennio Morricone. With guest vocalists Jack White and Norah Jones!
Tom Waits – Bad As Me
Another solid release from Tom, with the masterful Marc Ribot back on guitar. Waits careens through oddball rockers and shifts down to atmospheric ballads with his usual aplomb.
Drive-By Truckers – Go-Go Boots
Country and soul merge on this, the Truckers 9th studio album. Taking a break from their trademark exploration of Southern rock, the band here creates a hook-filled mix of gritty Americana that often delves into some darker landscapes .
Marianne Faithfull – Horses & High Heels
Iconic pop star Marianne Faithfull has been recording since the 1960’s but continues to produce music both modern and exciting. This, her 18th studio album, is no exception as she gives us some great new originals along with well-chosen covers that seep with her typical melancholy. Recorded in New Orleans with Hal Willner producing.
Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Swedish indie darling Lykke Li presents an album of well crafted Spectorish pop that proves to be boldly infectious. Haunting yet danceable!
Beirut – The Rip Tide
One of the more unusual bands out there, at least as far as instrumentation. Founder Zach Condon plays trumpet, flugelhorn and ukulele and leads the group through tunes that wouldn’t sound out of place at a Hungarian wedding. This is their 3rd release.