Top 25 CDs of 2007
Date: Sunday, December 02, 2007 @ 14:06:29 UTC

The only thing harder than digging our way out from under the avalanche of submissions we got in 2007 was trying to pick our Top 25 favorites. Independent artists were on fire this year, sending us rock, jazz, metal, power pop, and all kinds of hybrids, a lot of them sounding way better than anything we heard on the radio. After agonizing and debating, we finally whittled down the list to 25. I'm warning you musicians, if you don't stop sending us such great CDs, next year we'll have to expand the list to the Top 50.

Here they are, and no, they're not in order. They're the best indie releases of 2007. If you're ready for something new, check these out. Also check out our Top 25 MP3s of 2007.

Compiled By the Review Staff at Indie-Music, Jennifer Layton, Editor

Impostor Syndrome: Fresh Air

Impostor Syndrome: Fresh Air
I've reviewed some really well done indie CDs this past year, but this is the one that stands out for me. This four-song EP rocked hard and showed what is really meant by the word PUNK: in your face, hard guitars, slammin' bass and drums AND good lyrics. (Reviewed by Darryl Gregory) Read this review

Scott Alexander: Scott Alexander Makes Friend

Scott Alexander: Scott Alexander Makes Friends
Sometimes it takes more than performing astounding music to be a truly memorable musician. Thanks to his unique method of self promotion and all around sense of humor, Scott Alexander left the most lasting impression on me this year. Here is an artist who appears to genuinely want to make friends with his fans, even going as far to bake some vegan cookies to be given away at each show. With a melodic singer/ songwriter style and songs busting with modern day satire, there's no reason you shouldn't be checking out this CD. Go ahead ... we'll be here when you get back. (Reviewed by Thomas D. Szewc) Read this review

Rhonda Towns: I Wanna Be Loved By You

Rhonda Towns: I Wanna Be Loved By You
There's little music closer to pure country than Rhonda Towns gives us on her debut release. You won't miss the Southern Gospel influence in her singing, but at first listen, you'll not suspect it. Think Natalie Maines (Dixie Chicks) singing with SheDaisy and you'll be close. If we had more African-American country artists like Towns, we would certainly be richer for it. (Reviewed by Kenny Hart) Read this review

David Ullman: Deja Vu David Ullman: Deja Vu
A solid EP full of thoughtful words and quality musicianship, Ohio's David Ullman is a self proclaimed "sad bastard singer-songwriter." He's got enough hope in his soul to make this album a well-rounded listening experience, though, and delivers it in a true folk vein. (Reviewed by Jana Pochop) Read this review
Karen Jacobsen: Kissing Someone Else Karen Jacobsen: Kissing Someone Else
Jacobsen's voice is always flawless and pure, and this time she's even more straightforward in her songwriting than she's been on previous efforts. She's introspective without wallowing in self-obsession and brave in dealing with what she discovers. And I mention it a thousand times when I review her albums, but my God, that voice ... crystalline and heavenly. I could die. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
Lee Rogers: Drawing Clocks Lee Rogers: Drawing Clocks
This CD could honestly be rediscovered in 10 years, leaving people to ask themselves how something this eloquent was overlooked so easily. Track for track, Rogers holds his own against a younger David Gray and most of Ireland's rising stars. Should the right person finally hear this there is no doubt the word "indie" will never be associated with such a wonderful, underrated talent again. Drawing Clocks has the potential for mass appeal, and for the sake of all needy listeners, let's hope that its time comes sooner rather than later. (Reviewed by Derek Blackmon) Read this review
Elana Arian: How To Stand In The Rain Elana Arian: How To Stand In The Rain
Don't miss this singer/songwriter who has grown tremendously since her first album - which was also wonderful. Sung with a refreshing blend of confidence, gentleness and sincerity, this CD sparkles. Elana has a strong voice and the lyrics are as interesting as the album title. This is the perfect album to play while contemplating the world out the window on a rainy day. (Reviewed by Catherine Tully) Read this review
Monica Herzig Acoustic Project: What Have You Gone and Done Monika Herzig Acoustic Project: What Have You Gone and Done
Instrumental melodic jazz centered around her expertly played piano - this isn't elevator music, folks, this is smooth and beautiful, with a dead-on band that breathes together. Features songs by the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Cole Porter and more, plus five originals. (Reviewed by Jamie Anderson) Read this review
Shimmerplanet: For the One Who Kills Tomrrow Shimmerplanet: For the One Who Kills Tomorrow
Lyrically honest and musically experimental, just managing not to jump over that line into pretentiousness. (It's hard to get pretentious when one of the instruments you're playing is a toy piano.) The lyrics are intelligent and often sardonic, and the music runs the gamut from R&B to straight classical. This is the most fun you'll ever have getting your mind expanded. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
Danan Healy: The Other Side Danan Healy: The Other Side
Slammin' rock and ska plus thoughtful ballads - all solidly written and arranged - it doesn't get better than this. Some cuts should be fist-in-the air classic rock while others show a more sensitive side. And have I mentioned her sexy voice? Yeah well, I joke about making her my bride but I suspect the line is too long. (Reviewed by Jamie Anderson) Read this review
KC Booker: Self-Titled KC Booker: Self-Titled
Frantic, funky, electric, and a hell of a lot of fun. Blues mixed with experimental funk mixed with raunchy attitude. KC Booker's music trashed my apartment, emptied my fridge, gave me the thrill of my life, swiped $20 out of my wallet, and promised to call me the next day. I still wait breathlessly by the phone. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
Don Everett Pearce: Hope and Anchor EP Don Everett Pearce: Hope and Anchor EP
The bluesy troubadour may live in California, but his soul still strides through the streets of New York City at 1 AM, strumming, watching, singing. Deep poetry and dry humor, characters who spring to life from the stereo, and a vibe that you'll never want to shake off. He's promising a new album for 2008. I'm breaking out the denim and fedora and praying for rainy weather in anticipation. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
Lucas Kellison: Rise Lucas Kellison: Rise
This CD matches crystal clear production values with passionate songs. He reminds me of Stevie Wonder in his 70s prime, and when it comes to evaluating soul music, there is no higher praise than that. (Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh) Read this review
Jazz Explorers: Jazz My Soul Jazz Explorers: Jazz My Soul
This CD brings together some of the finest jazz musicians I have ever heard. Some of the notable musicians which appear are Carmen Lundy, who adds awesome jazz vocals, and George Cables on piano. (As a pianist myself, I find what Cables is able to do on this project phenomenal.) Even though this CD release is considered indie, this CD rates in the top 5 of my all-time jazz CD favorites. (Reviewed by Denise Squier) Read this review
The Pigs: Oink! The Pigs: Oink!
A fun band who brought a sense of joie-de-vivre back to music this year, their music is infectious, witty and the kind of songs you can dance to from Hicksville to Buckingham Palace. Hell, even Paris Hilton was reputed to be dancing to this in her jail cell! PS - The preceding statement may contain one small discrepancy ... (Reviewed by Danny Brown) Read this review
Threshold: Sum Blues Threshold: Sum Blues
The most remarkable thing about this record is how it definitely sounds like a band rather than a project, even though it was a coming-together of an array of seasoned session veterans. All the flourishes are in all the right places, making for seamless arrangements. R&B in the richest sense of the term. (Reviewed by Barney Quick) Read this review
Breech: Tarnish and Undress Breech: Tarnish and Undress
With the hundreds of alternative music CDs released just this year, it would be criminal if Tarnish and Undress by Breech gets lost in that crowd. This band exposes dirt underneath the well-manicured fingernails of the Los Angeles elite. That may not always be a pretty picture, but it's nevertheless deadly accurate. Led by vocalist Missy Gibson, who stops you in your tracks and makes you pay attention to her every word, this is an album sure to be treasured by all who discover it. (Reviewed by Dan Macintosh) Read this review
Julie Anne: Hey, Daddy! Julie Anne: Hey, Daddy!
This CD is an excellent rendition of great classic jazz tunes - great vocals, wonderful instrumentation, and strong band arrangements. This project is reminiscent of the great days of big band jazz. And, if this is any sign about how good this CD is: I will definitely add this project to my iPod. (Reviewed by Denise Squier) Read this review
Beverly Ritz: By Rowdy Creek Beverly Ritz: By Rowdy Creek
Ritz's take on her own music is that she "takes the listener on a journey through the wiles of wildlife nestled next to the Pacific" and "to create tranquility, to help people find peace", and I must concur with Ritz. I can sum up her project in one word: awesome. I am honored to have visited Rowdy Creek. (Reviewed by Denise Squier) Read this review
The Freddie Long Band: Strangers and Friends The Freddie Long Band: Strangers and Friends
This year, the Freddie Long Band showed us that they're here to play. With catchy hooks, meaningful lyrics, and tight musicianship, the Freddie Long Band is one of the best new bands of 2007. Not only that, but Strangers And Friends is one of the best albums of 2007. Pick it up and be prepared to wear a smile on your face. (Reviewed by Nathan Olson) Read this review
The Renders: Hi-Res The Renders: Hi-Res
The Renders have come up with a refreshingly smart combination that draws from the best influences of the past. Reminiscent of the Go-Go's or The Bangles (though don't let that comparison influence you too much), these girls take three chords, mix them with intelligent lyrics, crank up the reverb, and ''render'' a good jolt of high-energy indie rock. (Reviewed by Kenny Hart) Read this review
Acoustic Serenade: Firedance Acoustic Serenade: Firedance
Alive, passionate, vibrant instrumental guitar music. The strings seduce, sing, dance, and hint at danger. They even get sassy in the standout track "Southern Belle," which is less the lady-with-parasol-drinking-mint-juleps and more steely broad throwing back shots, paying the tab herself, and leaving them all swooning in her wake. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
Buick Audra: Rose Ink Buick Audra: Rose Ink
This Brooklyn artist is a vocal bombshell. Tough and aggressive on one track, delicate and childlike on the next. This CD is just her and her guitar, but sometimes I could swear I was hearing a whole rock band. She's soulful, artistic, passionate, and easily one of the best voices I heard in 2007. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
Razzor Dixxon: Self-Titled Razzor Dixxon: Self-Titled
Fiddlin' and strummin', whoopin' and hollerin'. This CD left boot heels on my kitchen floor and almost got me kicked out of my apartment. If you love bluegrass and Southern rock, you'll love it when it's mixed with gospel vibes and details of a road trip across Texas. Best served with a beer chaser. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review
Connor Desai: Self-Titled Connor Desai: Self-Titled
This smoky-voiced jazz/pop siren stayed in my CD player for months. My toes melted into the floor each time I heard that croon drift out of my speakers. She gets edgy and raw sometimes, not adverse to dropping an F bomb here and there, but she can also slide into Radio-Friendly Land without compromising that spirited attitude. A must for anyone with a soul. (Reviewed by Jennifer Layton) Read this review

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