"It's hard to pick a favorite song. When you put this Irish songwriters album into your cd player you'll take a journey through a collection of beautiful songs. Here's a couple of picks: 'Amie,' 'I Remember,' 'Cold Water,' 'Cannonball' and (the cut featured here) 'Volcano.'"
-- Morning Becomes Eclectic host Nic Harcourt
"For all the reasons to pick an album in the age of the downloaded song. It's coherent, has amazing emotional depth in every breath and when you are finished listening you immediately want to hear it again, but not too soon because you don't want to wear it out."
"Being from Seattle, you don't get a lot of great pop records coming out every year, but THIS record proves Seattle has it in her. Deep, thoughtful and brilliant, Death Cab For Cutie is the best independent band in the country and this is one of the finest releases to ever come from the Pacific Northwest."-- KEXP morning music host John Richards
You Are Free "is a beautifully sad recording about lost souls and soul loss that somehow wrestles itself into optimism, making the latter sentiment seem very earned. And I love the song 'Free,' because 1) it sort of sounds like something from Nirvana Unplugged, and 2) it tells us (I think) that the emotions triggered in us by art are ultimately more important than the artist or even the art -- a radical and refreshing thought in these celebrity-obsessed days."
"If ever there was a song that implored you to turn off your tv, get off the couch, and get the hell out of the house, this is it. It's all guitar loops and synths and Jason Lytle's wavering alto suggesting a future caught in the past -- like the confusion of modernity is nothing more than a rusting appliance out somewhere in a field of wheat."
"I didn't pay much attention to their first album, so this one really hit me. It has such a gentle sound that it's actually jarring. And without getting grossly new age about it, it's an organic-sounding record. It really feels homegrown, like the music is just sort of naturally springing from of these amazing women."
"An achingly beautiful album, a wonderful marriage of intellect and emotion. Deliberate, sensitive, stately and quietly passionate. A stunning debut from a gifted pianist and promising composer from Oslo, Norway."
"This 3-day music extravaganza in the dunes north of Timbuktu was extraordinary in every way, but the music on this CD alone conveys the most essential element-the grandeur and elegance of desert music. There are wailing voices, deeply sensual grooves, hypnotic string music (including lots of guitar), and palpable echoes of ancient blues history. The sampling here includes some international names, but mostly, the focus stays on the music of Mali's desert north, often neglected in all the buzz over Malian music."
"Recorded late at night, in Juana Molina's home studio, Segundo represents a major step for Latin electronica -- it strikes an arresting balance between incessant chugging rhythm and languid, inward-looking vocals. This year it seemed many records, even the good ones, revealed their gifts within the first few spins; Segundo kept getting better and weirder each time I went back to it."
Allegro from Concerto in e minor, Opus 4, No. 2 (Vivaldi)
from Vivaldi: La Stravaganza
by Rachel Podger
"Rachel Podger is dancing this year with that light-stepping Italian Antonio Vivaldi. Vivaldi has always gotten a bad rap from the musical establishment for being a lightweight.' Well, Vivaldi's music may at times seem light, but that's the point. He was Italian, after all. And these spirited tracks from Ms. Podger and her Polish friends 'Arte Dei Suonatori' (yes, they play like Italians, but come from Poland!) makes for my favorite CD of the year. The key to Podger's Vivaldi isn't in her fingers (though she's nimble as ever with those magic digits!) but in her feet! Even the slow movements sound like she's stepping to the Baroque dance rhythms on which so much of the music from that era (1600-1750) is based. Podger dancing again beyond time and ego. Thank you, Rachel."