24) School of Seven Bells - Disconnect From Desire. When Benjamin Curtis quit his post as guitarist for Secret Machines, I was disappointed. I mean, the band was pretty near perfect, and a change was definitely not required. But that band has soldiered on without him. With his new band, he is taking a very different approach. With his two band mates, identical twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, Curtis creates a much more ethereal and dreamy sound. According to interviews I've read, the band writes the lyrics first, and then tries to find the appropriate sounds to match. Kind of reminds me of My Bloody Valentine mixed with Cocteau Twins.
23) The New Pornographers - Together. The indie pop supergroup (featuring Carl A.C. Newman and Neko Case, among others) returns with its fifth album, and as usual, it is a real treat for those giving multiple listens. By now, you know the basic formula for the NP's, and they don't really stray from it on Together. But if you like well written and produced pop songs with thoughtful lyrics, The New Pornographers deliver another gem.
22) Neil Young - Le Noise. On what must be his 40th album or so, Neil Young has, once again, created an original, fresh sounding record while still maintaining the elements of what has made him so successful since the 1960s. Le Noise is a collaboration with producer Daniel Lanois (Bob Dylan, U2), and the only instrumentation is Young's guitar and some sonic experiments from Lanois. It's hard to believe, but after nearly 50 years in the music business, Neil Young can still create new sounds and make records more compelling than nearly anyone else out there.
21) The Bird and the Bee - Interpreting the Masters Volume One: A Tribute to Darryl Hall and John Oates. For their third album, the electro-jazz duo known as The Bird and the Bee have decided to honor one of their musical influences, Hall and Oates. The album has made me come to terms with something about myself that I have not always been open to admitting...I like Hall and Oates. Most of the hits are represented ("I Can't Go For That" "Maneater" "Rich Girl"), and singer Imogen Heap's voice gives the tunes a fresh, updated feel. There is Volume One in the title, so that implies there will be others. Can't wait to see what comes next.