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Spin the Globe/SoundRoots
2007 Favorite World Music Albums

Like Spin the Globe's monthly Top 10, our year-end favorites are a highly subjective ranking based on on-air spins, listener requests, and our own fickle tastes. The prize? Public recognition, positive vibes, and radio airplay. If you have other favorites, you're welcome to let us know or to make your own list and submit it to SoundRoots.



The Top 10

Kobo Town: Independence
It may have come out in 2006, but I discovered this in 2007 and can't pry my ears away from it. Great, catchy songs with conscious lyrics. Solid throughout, it's easily one of my favorite albums of the year. Can't wait to hear more from this talented Toronto-based crew. (more info)

Forro in the Dark: Bonfires of Sao Joao
Globalized Brazilian folk music may be the best way to describe what NYC-based Forro in the Dark do, taking forro beats and flutes, grinding them through a modern mesh, and sprinkling with a dash of David Byrne. (more info)

Andy Palacio: Watina
It is isn't necessary to be entranced by the story of the Garifuna people to enjoy the music of Andy Palacio. The rhythms and melodies give hints of Afropop, yet the swing and the maraca infuse a distinctly Latin-Caribbean flavor. Along with Aurelio Martinez (who was our favorite new artist of 2005), Palacio is spearheading a resurgence of interest in Garifuna culture, a good thing for all of us. (more info)

Gipsy.cz: Romano Hip Hop
Czech rapper Radoslav Banga, aka Gipsy, brings together a panoply of musical styles and creates a new, unique form of Roma music, brimming with newfound cultural pride. (more info)

Autorickshaw: So the Journey Goes
Along with original Indian-fusion tunes, Autorickshaw's sophomore album includes adaptations of Bengali and Tamil folk tunes, an effective 7-beat version of Leonard Cohen's "Bird on a Wire," and a Bollywood offering penned by the legendary RD Burman. (more info)

Don't Be a Stranger: One
From Dutch composer/producer Onno Krijn comes this global mix of styles from Africa (Senegal, Ethiopia), Iraq, Asia (India, Tibet, Indonesia) Scotland, the USA, and the Netherlands that has reviewers using words like brilliant, hypnotic, and astounding. I can't disagree. (more info)

Mercan Dede: 800
It's rare for a musician who's sold hundreds of thousands of albums to bow out so abruptly. Heck, it's rare for a "world music" musician to get popular enough to sell so many albums in the first place! Dede's music seems to have found a balance that appeals to both the club/dance set and the traditional world music fans. Mercan Dede's final offering, this album pays tribut to Persian/Sufi poet Rumi, born 800 years ago. (more info)

Lo'Jo: Tu Connais Lo'Jo?
Even if you can't tell what they're singing, you can appreciate Denis Péan's dark growl, the unique vocal harmonies of sisters Yamina and Nadia Nid El Mourid, and the tight sound of Lo'Jo collective of musicians. A wonderful introduction for Lo'Jo newbies, that also has plenty to please long-time fans. (more info)

Sola Akingbola: Routes to Roots
The best-recorded Yoruba drumming we've heard in some time, a fantastic sonic voyage into the spiritual and musical roots of so much music from West Africa to Latin America to modern blues and rock. Sample: Olokumi (more info)

Justin Adams: Soul Science
Justin Adams (who has been called the British Ry Cooder) teams up with Gambian master musician Juldeh Camara to create a musical dialogue that Adams refers to as "the ancient Soul Science of music," but I just call rip-roaring great.. (more info)

Favorite 2007 compilation:
Si, Para Usted - Funky Beats Of Revolutionary Cuba

While the story (told in the liner notes) of nationalization, censorship, and creativity is fascinating, one can be blissfully ignorant of the politics and still enjoy the Afro-Cuban-Soul-Funk sounds of bands both well known (Irakere, Los Van Van) and obscure (Grupo Los Yoyi). (more info)

10 more great albums, 'cause I just can't help myself:

Tastes, of course, are personal. So please consider this list as a jumping-off point for further explorations in world music. I've left off a lot of great music; what I've listed are the albums to which I've returned again and again. Albums that, to me, have an enduring charm and appeal. I expect you may agree with some, and disagree with others. I'd love to know how your own favorites from the past year differ from mine, so keep in touch.

©2007 Scott Allan Stevens, Earball Media


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