December 20th, 2007
I’ll have to make this clear: I don’t listen to everything that’s out there. Just because I’m a freelance critic doesn’t mean I really have a chance to check out every album ever made. This list simply means this is the best stuff I’ve heard among everything else I’ve listened to in this past year. Obviously, if it’s on here, then these CDs are recommended.
(in no particular order)
1 - Khalil Fong - This Love
A second album that proves Khalil Fong is the real deal, the talented R&B musician slowly discovers his style after playing a little too much of everything in his debut. The nickname “soulboy” is definitely fitting after listening to this album.
2 - Juno Mak - Chapel of Dawn
Proof that money may not buy you love, but it’d sure buy you a good album. With impressive production values (a Hungarian orchestra! Japanese rappers!), the dark concept album belongs on this list based on songwriting and production alone. Hong Kong music needs more albums like this.
3 - Shiina Ringo - Heisei Fuzoku
Part-cover album and part-soundtrack, Shiina Ringo’s 4th solo album is a grand piece of work. With every track arranged with a 60-piece orchestra, the album draws its influence from a myriad of musical genres. As I wrote in my review: “It’s not just an album, it’s an experience.”
4 - Pixel Toy - O-oh
In a rarity for Hong Kong musicians, Pixel Toys took two years to produce their second album, and the effort shows. Moving beyond their established electronic pop style, the People Mountain People Sea group tries a bit of ballad and a bit of Brit rock as well, and it actually works rather well. It’s one of the most fun you’ll have on your earphones in 2007 Hong Kong music.
5 - Eason Chan - Listen to Eason Chan
Only an artist who can sell out 10 concerts within an hour and a half has the power to release an album made almost entirely of dance songs. The result is a fun and energetic album that’s unlike any other Eason Chan albums. Too bad for that one ballad in the middle.
Filling in the gap for the now-defunct LMF is a (relatively) healthy duo of young rappers produced by LMF’s DJ Tommy. From Feng Shui to Hong Kong entertainment to the Hong Kong handover, Fama shows the places Cantonese rap can go beyond a silly gimmick.
7 - Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
A Motown songstress with messed up relationships and possibly a bad crack habit, this young modern R&B diva’s second album shows how to do retro right. Blended with modern elements, this homage to classic 60s soul pop is the discovery of the year. I hope Winehouse makes it alive to the next album: This is a talent need saving.
8 - Zarahn Tales EP1
Endy Chow’s band makes a tribute to TIm Burton disguised as an album telling a dark fairy tale. I’m looking forward to part 2 already. Leo Ku and Mark Lui: Check out track 4. That’s more like progressive rock.
Tsai Chin - Concert Hall Golden Voice
Denise Ho - What Really Matters
Chan Fai Yeung - The 12 Faces of Women
Kay Tse - both compilations: Don’t like the remixes, but like the new tracks.
Hacken Lee - My Cup of Tea
That’s it for this year. My goal next year: actually listen to enough to compile a complete top 10.