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1. Anouar Brahem - Le Voyage de Sahar
Is it classical? World? Jazz? Ambient? None of these terms accurately describe this music, which is probably why this album so unfortunately is nowhere to be seen on any critics lists this year. Tunisian Anouar Brahem and his trio's compositions might on the surface sound as easy listening music, and indeed it can be heard that way. However, this is definitely a dynamic and astonishing work. Slowly evolving lines emerge from silence, each player walks to the middle of a composition, steps back and reenters. Melancholy at its very best, this would have been a perfect soundtrack for Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Three Colours".
2. Beirut - Gulag Orkestar
If "Le Voyage de Sahar" could have been music for "Three Colours", this sounds like an Emir Kusturica soundtrack. And it sounds fantastic. Someone said about the album that "I can't decide if this is happy music that sounds sad, or sad music that sounds happy" I love that sentence, it's one definition of when music truly 'works'. It also summarizes "Gulag Orkestar" very well.
The fact that "Gulag Orkestar" is actually the project of the 19-year old American Zach Condon does no harm. Rather, it makes this year's most admirable project.
3. Destroyer - Destroyer's Rubies
Although the lyrics are central in these songs, I'm usually just humming along, picking up a phrase here and there. It works great that way. The 9:25 long "Rubies" is an odd beginning of the album, but what follows is a string of wonderfully crafted pop songs.
4. Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere
Hit music for people who don't like hit music. But the real success of this record lies in that people who like hit music finally get some good stuff through their ears.
5. Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
Has synth pop ever been more elegantly produced? And the hints of Blue Nile (especially on "First Time" and "So This Is Goodbye") prove that this music has soul too.
6. Thom Yorke - The Eraser
(Almost) as good as the Radiohead albums.
7. The Knife - Silent Shout
OK, you've already read everywhere about this album from the Swedish brother/sister duo. So instead, I'm using this space to push for The Knife's 2003 album "Deep Cuts", with its sharp and direct electro pop. "Heartbeats", "Pass This On" and "Take My Breath Away" are still the best three singles to come out from an album in the 00's.
Listen to "Deep Cuts"
8. Regina Spektor - Begin to Hope
Amazing variety here. Why did the critics forget about this record at the end of the year?
9. Ebba Forsberg - Ebba Forsberg
Ahh, Swedish melancholy. Look out for the release outside Sweden in 2007 or listen to the songs today at
http://cdbaby.com/cd/ebbaforsberg or http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=77261547
10. Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche: Outtakes & Extras from the Illinois Album
Even when releasing B-material, Sufjan is ahead of almost everyone else...
Great list, Henrik. Very good taste.
Henrik, if you like Balkans music (the basis of Beirut's album) I recommend strongly Goran Bregovic, especially his soundtrack “Underground” for Emir Kusturica. It’s very difficult to find it (legally, I mean) so you can try the “Ederlezi” compilation. But probably you’ve heard it yet.
Congratulations and happy new year for you and all AM’s posters.
It's great that you (and hopefully other Balkan/East European longtime listeners) let us newbies know about the "real" stuff. This is the effect of Beirut's success that I was hoping for.
the knife's 2003 album. how can you forget "you make me like charity"!!! one of the best songs on the album!