PRINT December 2007


Marissa Nadler


1 Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul (Barsuk) Seattle’s Jesse Sykes, a fellow Rhode Island School of Design alum, penned my favorite song this year, “The Air Is Thin.” Anchored by Sykes’s weathered, creepy, and completely breathtaking voice, her new album is sure to become a modern classic.

2 James Blackshaw, The Cloud of Unknowing (Tompkins Square) A gorgeous instrumental guitar record from this strapping twenty-six-year-old Englishman. For those who like John Fahey but want something more lush and ethereal.

3 Martha Wainwright at the Dunkin’ Donuts Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island The mostly conventional—and unfortunately named—Newport festival is not typically my cup of tea, but free tickets let me hear a member of the folk royal family this past summer. The polite crowd didn’t know what to make of Wainwright, since her voice isn’t necessarily pretty—it’s raw and intense. Her performance made up for the whole day, where mediocrity abounded.

4 Sibylle Baier, Colour Green (Orange Twin) This was technically out in 2006 but discovered by me in 2007, so I am counting it. The acoustic songs of Colour Green, unearthed more than thirty years after they were recorded, feature Baier’s haunting voice and observational poetry. Discovered in a basement, dusted off, and given new life and ears, these tunes stand the test of time.

5 Mariee Sioux, Faces in the Rocks (Grass Roots Record Company) Sioux’s strange stream of lyrics and beautiful voice make this a record worth your hard-earned money.

6 Beirut, The Flying Club Cup (Ba Da Bing) An eclectic collection of songs from the very young and talented Brooklyn-based octet whose sounds make traveling seem as easy as playing a CD.

7 Andrew Bird, Armchair Apocrypha (Fat Possum) In the song “Imitosis,” Bird sings that everyone is basically alone. I relate to this sentiment, and it’s rare to hear something so disconsolate being expressed in an indie-pop chorus. He’s also a killer violin player—a refreshing alternative to all the troubadouring guitar boys these days.

8 Tegan and Sara, The Con (Sire) I have a soft spot for girl-led pop-rock outfits, having grown up on bands such as Belly and Mazzy Star. Tegan and Sara are the new Throwing Muses. Their tunes are catchy and fun, but go deeper than the standard pop fare.

9 The Bird and the Bee, The Bird and the Bee (Blue Note) The MySpace profile of this band—whose music is reminiscent of Astrud Gilberto’s bossa nova magic—proclaims their sound as a “futuristic 1960’s American film set in Brazil.” I love their rhythmic sensibility and delicate, whispery vocals.

10 Neko Case & Her Boyfriends, Furnace Room Lullaby (Anti-) One of my favorite records of all time has been reissued this year. Case is one hell of a singer, and she has a powerful stage presence. I’m happy to hear that her earlier albums are being reissued by Anti-, since some of her best work can be found on those recordings.

Marissa Nadler is a musician and artist based in Boston. Her most recent album, Songs III: Bird on the Water, was released this year on Kemado Records.