36. KATE HAVNEVIK — "Melankton"
This Norwegian singer gained some notice when her song "Grace" was featured on "Gray's Anatomy." That song isn't here, but what is here is compelling. If you like Imogen Heap or Bjork, you'll like this too. The Imogen Heap comparison is particularly interesting, considering that some of the songs on here were co-written by Heap's Frou Frou bandmate Guy Sigsworth.
37. BEASTIE BOYS — "The Mix Up"
When the Beastie Boys' instrumental album "The Mix Up" came out, it was painfully obvious to distinguish the true hipsters from the poseurs. The poseurs were the ones who pretended they had been Beastie Boys fans all along and then said things like, "Get this. They actually play instruments on this record!" The hipsters knew that the Beasties were not merely rappers. After all, they began as a hardcore punk group in 1982, and then slowly morphed into the rap-trio we met four years later of "Licensed To Ill." (Trivia fact ? Their original drummer was Kate Shellenbach who was later a member of Luscious Jackson.) Anyone who listened to the Beasties' nineties output would know that there were three sides to their sound: The hip-hip side, the hardcore side and the instrumental funk side. "The Mix Up" is all about the instrumental funk. With longtime keyboardist Money Mark by their side, they rip through a groovy 12 song set. Yes, it's not the tightest sounding record, but is that always important. "Suco de Tangerina" sounds like Henry Mancini on a pseudo-Latin side-trip, and "The Gala Event" is both ominous and cool. All the naysayers should keep quiet. It's cool that this record even exists. Name another group who would take such a bold chance and test their range like this. This is a great soundtrack for relaxing on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
"Suco de Tangerina"
"The Gala Event"
"B For My Name"
38. KEREN ANN — "Keren Ann"
Keren Ann is a New York based singer-songwriter with Dutch and Israeli roots. She became a success as a singer in Paris. This self titled album is her second album completely recorded in English. (Her last album, "Nolita" was part in English and part in French.) As an album, "Keren Ann" is sort of hazy, moody nine song set. It's as woozy and chilled as it is hip. "Lay Your Head Down" is the obvious hit, while the folky "Between The Flatlands And The Caspian Sea" is downright Dylan-esque. Another arty, moody, magically atmospheric record.
"Lay Your Head Down"
"Between The Flatlands And The Caspian Sea"
"Where No Endings End"
39. NEW PORNOGRAPHERS — "Challengers"
Considering their name, the New Pornographers are somewhat of an innocent band, doing first class power-pop. "Challengers" is their most mellow record to date, but they are still at the top of their game. The Canadian ensemble includes alt-country star Neko Case and respected songwriter A.C. Newman among others. A major highlight is the Case-sung title track.
"All The Things That Go To Make Heaven And Earth"
"Mutiny, I Promise You"
40. CROWDED HOUSE — "Time On Earth"