In terms of gallons of ink spilled, this year's most notable musicians were a bunch of former teen pop stars, overwrought American Idols and some model turned "singer" named Paris Hilton. But quietly, outside the headlines, plenty of real musicians were releasing terrific CDs. Here are the 10 best discs of the year.
We Shall Overcome: The Seeger
What could have been a dour tribute CD turned into a rowdy campfire jam as the Boss and his band recast Pete Seeger's tunes into punky roots-rock. Their live debut in New Orleans was the high point of Jazzfest.
Freak funk meets squirrelly hip-hop in this collection of twisted (and sometimes poignant) soul gems.
Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
The River in Reverse
Everyone knows what happened to New Orleans after Katrina, but no one's captured the rage and sadness as well as this odd pairing of a Brit rocker and a Louisiana R&B legend.
Broken Boy Soldiers
Temporarily free of his ex-wife (and their goofy white-and-red wardrobe), Jack White teams up with three buddies for a crazy trip through bubble grunge and psychedelic prog-rock.
On his first album in a decade, the Fort Worth-born jazz pioneer is as dazzling as ever. He's 76, but he refuses to mellow with age.
The "King of Rock and Soul" goes country with stunning results on a disc produced by guitar ace Buddy Miller.
Ali Farka Toure
A stirring farewell from the late Malian singer-guitarist, who died of bone cancer in March. His prickly guitar riffs never sounded more hypnotic.
T Bone Burnett
The True False Identity
The Fort Worth-born producer ("O Brother, Where Art Thou?") emerges from behind the mixing board for his first solo disc in 14 years: It's creepy and cryptic - but guaranteed to get your foot thumping.
No sophomore slump from the Grammy champ. At his best, the suave soul singer recalls a young Stevie Wonder.
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
10. Her side job with the New Pornographers is more fun, but this brooding disc of country noir is her best CD yet.
Forget about emo and screamo and neo-new wave synth-punk. The first rock trend of '07 may be the return of old-fashioned guitar pop. The year kicks off with long-overdue CDs by the Shins and Apples in Stereo. Also, Fountains releases a new CD in March.