Pittsburgh's independent music source
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

13 Great Musical Discoveries of 2007, from KEXP

In any ongoing quest for mind-blowing music, each year brings an assortment of new left-field discoveries. Sometimes, you find brand-new bands like Vampire Weekend. Other times, you chance upon artists who have been around a while but went largely unnoticed until now, like The Avett Brothers. Some years, you might even discover or grow an appreciation for an entirely new genre of music. Chances are, you've already heard many of this year's best, including releases from LCD Soundsystem, Feist, Band of Horses, The National, Iron & Wine and Wilco. There's plenty more great music to enjoy, so if any of the albums below slid under your radar in 2007, give them a listen. One of these fine CDs could easily end up being your favorite of the year.

The Avett Brothers

Previous records from this North Carolina acoustic trio were ragged affairs, with punkish bluegrass and folk that brim over with infectious energy. On Emotionalism, the group still plays pretty loose, but it's broadened its sound in the process of making a killer record. The Avett Brothers' members don't play much bluegrass these days -- it's more like acoustic folk-rock, with some of the best moments recalling a rootsy early Beatles. (Listen: "Shame")

Cloud Cult

The latest from Craig Minowa and company is another intensely personal set of expansive songs that blend elements of orchestral pop, folk-rock, psychedelia, electronics and more. At times, it recalls The Flaming Lips, Arcade Fire and even Modest Mouse. (Listen: "Take Your Medicine")


Yeasayer's debut album is a mesmerizing set that combines TV on the Radio's dense prog-rock with Animal Collective's tribal freak-folk, while adding prominent African influences and wonderful harmonizing that ranges from ethereal Beach Boys to more boisterous sing-alongs. (Listen: "Sunrise")

The Budos Band

This New York band adds a bit of cinematic flavor to its excellent second album of Afrobeat-influenced jazz-funk. (Listen: "Budos Rising")

Bishop Allen

The Brooklyn-based band follows last year's string of 12 EPs (one released every month) with its second full-length album of intelligent indie-pop. The album provides an impressive showcase for the group members' growth as songwriters and musicians. (Listen: "Like Castanets")


A rock-solid set of clever indie-pop, Tullycraft's newest will have listeners smiling, dancing and thinking all at the same time. (Listen: "If You Take Away the Make-Up [Then the Vampires They Will Die]")

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

The newest album from this New York-based singer and her amazing band is another confidently executed set of raw, old-school soul and R&B. (Listen: "100 Days, 100 Nights")

Li'l Cap'n Travis

Beautiful, summery, country-fried psych-pop. (Listen: "Fangs in My Mouth")

Explosions in the Sky

These dynamic post-rock instrumentals recall Mogwai, Sigur Ros and even My Bloody Valentine. (Listen: "The Birth and Death of the Day")

The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir

The second album of melancholy chamber-folk from this Chicago band, led by the Welsh-born Elia Einhorn, is mostly dark and sweetly melodic in ways reminiscent of The Smiths and Belle & Sebastian. (Listen: "I Never Thought I Could Feel This Way for a Boy")

Shane Tutmarc

Shane Tutmarc is best known as the man behind the Seattle power-pop project Dolour. Shane Tutmarc & The Traveling Mercies is Tutmarc joined by his brother Brandon on drums and cousin Ryan on bass for this excellent collection of stripped-down, rootsy rock, flavored with gospel, country, blues and rockabilly. This CD is available on their website. (Listen: "Across the River")


The debut full-length from this L.A.-based band is an excellent collection of raw jazz-funk, gritty soul and exuberant '70s dance grooves. (Listen: "Sophisticated Honky")

Vampire Weekend

This Brooklyn band makes its debut with an excellent set of summery, smart, well-crafted indie-pop, some of which conveys an undercurrent of African music. (Listen: "Mansard Roof" This song is available on Amazon)

Copyright 2007 KEXP

Kevin Cole