Jade Tree - 2002 - 42 minutes
If this record had come out of England you'd probably never hear the end of it. But while Virginian quartet Denali may be victims of geography, their debut suggests in spades that their name will be known on this side of the pond very soon.
Produced by Sparklehorse duo Mark Linkous and Alan Weatherhead and driven by the soaring vocals of singer Maura Davis, Denali constantly shift between chilling and seductive, always making you question whether Davis is broken hearted or just about to break yours.
In the US press, they've found themselves compared to everyone from Portishead to Sigur Ros, but while the sound is familiar, Davis' voice guides them to their very own kind of blue. As the sparse beauty of the two closing tracks, 'Function' and 'Where I Landed', leave the rest of the album behind, you'll be only too willing to agree that you've just witnessed the graduation of an immensely talented bunch of sad song alumni.
Guaranteed to put a frown on your face.
Tracklisting: French Mistake - You File - Lose Me - Everybody Knows - Prozac - Relief - Time Away - Gunnner - Function - Where I Landed