By Liz Tracy
By David Rolland
By Alex Rendon
By Terrence McCoy
By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
By Liz Tracy
By Chris Joseph
Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad
"That's a bad-ass album. She's crushing it right now. That song 'Umbrella' is sick. I don't know who wrote that song, but it's great... The whole album is good."
Young Jeezy, The Inspiration
"He's holding it down, man. He's got the Midas touch right now: All of his songs are like gold."
Jay-Z, American Gangster
"This album is just ridiculous. Everybody in the world knows that Jay-Z is the hottest rap act in the world right now. He owns hip-hop — and since Biggie and Tupac are gone, somebody's gotta own it."
Jon Wilkins has had a whirlwind year. A guitarist for South Florida indie darlings the Postmarks, he was on the road for most of '07 pushing his band's self-titled debut album. Lucky for Wilkins, his steady road work also means he finds lots of under-the-radar releases. "Most of my picks are from the various tours I've been on this year, exploring new record stores and meeting other musicians with great recommendations," he says. "The Jonny Greenwood mix for Trojan is my favorite. And I've been a big fan of Mavis Staples and all the women of soul. As for pop music, it was an amazing year, most notably the Clientele record. Touring with the Apples [in Stereo] really got me into their latest and also turned me on to Aqueduct, both incredibly great records and the nicest people you'd ever want to meet. And I can't help but put John Ralston's record on there... I really do listen to it, and it will always be special to me."
Trojan Records, Jonny Greenwood Is the Controller
Mavis Staples, We'll Never Turn Back
John Ralston, Sorry Vampire
The Clientele, God Save the Clientele
The Apples in Stereo, New Magnetic Wonder
Aqueduct, Or Give Me Death
Sondre Lerche, Phantom Punch
Jason Falkner, I'm OK, You're OK
The High Llamas, Can Cladders
Josh Rouse, Country Mouse, City House
When it came time to compile these year-end lists, the first name that came to mind was hometown indie hero Chris Carrabba. But news came back that Carrabba was on tour promoting his stellar new record The Shade of Poison Trees (with John Ralston, above) and would not be available. Bummer. Then from the heavens came an email with Carrabba's top ten albums of the year:
John Ralston, Sorry Vampire
Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Bruce Springsteen, Magic
Say Anything, In Defense of the Genre
Against Me!, New Wave
Kanye West, Graduation
Motion City Soundtrack, Even If It Kills Me
Minus The Bear, Planet of Ice
Chuck Ragan, Los Feliz
Albert Hammond Jr., Yours to Keep
Born in Montreal as Andrew Yeomanson, internationally acclaimed DJ Le Spam has become a South Florida legend by spinning rare grooves and Latin soul cookers. One of the best salsa-fusion DJs in the country, Le Spam always keeps an ear cocked for quality compilations and danceable reissues. Besides his monthly residence with the Spam Allstars at famed New York club S.O.B.'s and garnering write-ups in all the right places, from Rolling Stone to the New York Times, Le Spam was tapped by Fania, the label that once was home to Hector Lavoe and Willie Colón, to record Fania Live 02, released in November.
Various artists, Florida Funk: Funk 45s From the Alligator State
"This is a great sampling of rare, early-'70s funk 45s from around the state. It goes a little deeper than the Miami Sound compilation from Soul Jazz a few years back. All of these 45s are obscure gems."
Various artists, The Outskirts of Deep City: Eccentric Soul
"Here's another great compilation of rare soul 45s from Miami's legendary Deep City label. This is the second Deep City comp that the Numero label has put out; they do an excellent job of researching and remastering their reissues."
The Budos Band, The Budos Band II
"Great second album from this band in the Daptone stable. Daptone is recording soul, funk, and groove music the right way and has been one of my favorite labels for years. Get it on vinyl!"
Azucar pa' Ti (Sugar for You)
Recorded Live at Sing Sing With Harlem River Drive
"Here are three essential Eddie Palmieri albums reissued in the past 12 months by the Fania label, who are remastering many long-unavailable albums from their huge catalog. Live at Sing Sing is like a funky Latin version of Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison — crazy bottled-up energy on that recording. I know most of these are older recordings, but that's what I listen to!"AZ ACTION FROM PHOENIX America's Idol keeps Phoenix's mercury rising
Arizona native Jordin Sparks has the distinction of being the youngest American Idol winner in the show's history. The 17-year-old, whose father, Phillippi Sparks, played for the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, says, "If you could see my iPod, it's the craziest mix of stuff ever. I like post-hardcore, country, rock, hip-hop, '80s music — I'm all over the place." Even though she spent most of her summer listening to songs from her new album, she still managed to quickly name some other stuff that's been in her heavy rotation this year: