Annual time for both celebration and wringing of hands. The latter first: There are many deserving causes whose latest offerings did not hit the review pages of the NI (guilty mentions to Nick Cave, Ani DiFranco, Oi Va Voi, Cat Power, Nina Nastasia and Erin Mckeown) just because their CDs came at the wrong time. Of those that did make it, Mariza’s Fado Curvo (EMI/Virgin, NI 362) is a lovely pointer to the future of Portuguese music, while Victor Gama’s ambitious Odantalan.02 (Pangeiart, NI 357) is an excavation for its roots in Africa. And Robert Wyatt’s Cuckooland (Hermana, NI 363) was well worth the wait. But CD of the year? Singing Bones (Loose, NI 362) by The Handsome Family. Aching vocals, country music that reverberates with the depths of its long roots and strange, strange songs.