Classical and Beyond: The Year's Best CDs

fromWNYC

Few radio personalities openly embrace as much music as WNYC's John Schaefer, longtime host of New Sounds — a program that, Schaefer says, "provides a place for your left and right brain to unwind at the end of the day." Hit "shuffle" on Schaefer's iPod, and you could hear Silesian chants, concertos, punk, rap and nearly everything in between.

His choices for the best music of 2007 range from a potty-mouthed 20-year-old South Londoner named Jamie T to experimental guitarist James Blackshaw. But Schaefer's pick for classical record of the year is Oceana, music by Osvaldo Golijov performed by the Atlanta Symphony.

10. Simone Dinnerstein

dinnerstein

Bach: Goldberg Variations

After Glenn Gould's famous recordings, the question was, "Do we really need another piano version of this Bach classic?" Surprisingly, the answer turns out to be yes. Even more surprisingly, a previously unknown Brooklyn mom does the job, and deservedly tops the charts in the process.

9. James Blackshaw

blackshaw

The Cloud of Unknowing

This English guitarist channels the late John Fahey, alludes to medieval Christian mysticism, and sets off on epic six-string meditations that, like the music of Steve Reich, hide a still, solid core underneath a surface of interwoven textures.

8. The Real Tuesday Weld

weld

The London Book of the Dead

One-man band Stephen Coates and a rotating cast of friends create a moody, theatrical set of subtly modern pop songs that borrow from the Great American Songbook, Duke Ellington and mid-20th-century radio plays.

7. Beirut

beirut

Flying Club Cup

Barely old enough to drink legally, Zach Condon and his crew sound like an indie-rock band trying to blend Balkan brass bands, Parisian pop and Rufus Wainwright-ish vocals. Mainly because that's what they're doing.

6. The National

national

Boxer

Each album by this Brooklyn-based indie-rock band has been better than the last. This one stretches the palette to include strings and occasional horns, with evocative, elliptical, gloomy vocals ably supported by intricate yet hook-laden guitars.

5. Osvaldo Golijov

oceana

Oceana

One of the classical world's most important composers presents a major work inspired by the poetry of Pablo Neruda, Yoruba mythology and world music, with fetching works for string quartet and string ensemble that gleefully borrow from Eastern European gypsy music, rock and more.

4. John Doe

doe

Year in the Wilderness

The former frontman of the punk band X finds a winning blend of alt-country and rock, with songs of love, love lost, heartbreak and a chilling tale of murder. You're never actually told what happens in "The Meanest Man in the World," but it's an awful song nonetheless, and a brilliant one, too. Greg Leisz ends the record with one of the greatest, most emotive guitar solos since "Layla."

3. Okkervil River

okkervil

The Stage Names

Austin indie-rock trailblazers return with their literate, most accessible record yet. Full of black humor, constant allusions to pop-music history and beautiful singing by Will Sheff.

2. The New Pornographers

pornographers

Challengers

The Canadian-American all-stars run true to form on much of this record: Verses with inexplicable metaphors burst into unexpectedly beautiful choruses. But Carl Newman's anthems cover more stylistic ground, and second songwriter Dan Bejar contributes one of the great New York songs of this or any other recent year with his "Myriad Harbour."

1. Jamie T.

jamie

Panic Prevention

This potty-mouthed 20-year-old from South London sounds like a cross between English punk/folk balladeer Billy Bragg and U.K. rapper The Streets. An infectious, intricately layered mix of rap, rock and reggae supports unblinking but sympathetic and sometimes funny portraits of drinking, looking for girls and general bad behavior on the part of similarly young, potty-mouthed South Londoners.

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Bach: Goldberg Variations, Bwv 988

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Album
Bach: Goldberg Variations, Bwv 988
Artist
Simone Dinnerstein
Label
Telarc
Released
2007

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Cloud of Unknowing

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Album
Cloud of Unknowing
Artist
James Blackshaw
Label
Tompkins Square
Released
2007

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London Book of The Dead

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Album
London Book of The Dead
Artist
The Real Tuesday Weld
Label
Six Degrees
Released
2007

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Flying Club Cup

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Album
Flying Club Cup
Artist
Beirut
Label
Ba Da Bing!
Released
2007

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Boxer

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Album
Boxer
Artist
The National

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Osvaldo Golijov: Oceana

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Album
Osvaldo Golijov: Oceana
Artist
Various
Label
Deutsche Grammophon
Released
2007

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Year in the Wilderness

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Album
Year in the Wilderness
Artist
John Doe
Label
Yep Roc
Released
2007

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The Stage Names

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Album
The Stage Names
Artist
Okkervil River
Label
Jagjaguwar

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Challengers

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Album
Challengers
Artist
The New Pornographers
Label
Matador
Released
2007

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Panic Prevention

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Album
Panic Prevention
Artist
Jamie T.
Label
Car
Released
2007

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