Thursday, December 20, 2007

Top 25 Albums of 2007

I thought 2007 was quite a good year for music -- there were plenty of good tunes to hear from a wide variety of artists across a number of genres. Below, my top 25 albums of 2007:

25) Menomena - Friend and Foe
This Oregon-based pop group's sophomore album inches up on you over time, with a number of songs slowly building towards striking hooks that lodge themselves in your brain. It's not the most consistent album, but the first half is strong enough to warrant a listen.
Check out: Menomena - The Pelican

24) The Once Soundtrack
I've never warmed up to The Frames, but there's no denying Glen Hansard is an excellent songwriter. I'm
not sure if the movie Once would have worked at all if the music weren't at once beautiful and moving. By far the year's best soundtrack and hopefully an Oscar winner for best song/score.
Check out: Glen Hansard and Markta Irglov - When Your Mind's Made Up

23) St. Vincent - Marry Me
Apparently the best way to produce great pop music is to come out of some bizarro music collective, a la Feist and Broken Social Scene or, in this case, Annie Clark from Polyphonic Spree. Her debut album is filled with gorgeous melodies, including the title track, one of the best songs of the year.
Check out: St. Vincent - Marry Me

22) Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
It's taken me a long time to appreciate what Sam Beam does, but this is the first Iron & Wine album I've heard that actually contained a good number of melodies I found compelling. It's also his most consistent album to date.
Check out: Iron & Wine - Boy with a Coin

21) Rihanna - Good Girl Gone Bad
For my money, this was the pure dance album of the year, busting with energy and featuring some incredibly catchy beats. Everyone's talking about how great "Umbrella" is, but my favorite song on the album is actually Breakin' Dishes. I have no idea why they didn't make that a single -- the music video practically writes itself (plus it's funny!).
Check out: Rihanna - Breakin' Dishes

20) Bruce Springsteen -Magic
I tend to find most of the songs in the Springsteen oeuvre to be overly maudlin and unnece
ssarily bombastic. Needless to say, I'm not a fan. So it was quite surprising to find this latest album such a joy to listen to. From the opening salvo, "Radio Nowhere", to the Magnetic Fields-esque "Girls in their Summer Clothes", Magic captures that Springsteen energy and makes it accessible for those of us who think "Rosalita" would be a lot better if it were only a 3 minute song.
Check out: Bruce Springsteen - Girls in their Summer Clothes

19) Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer
I'm not one of those folks who dig eccentricity for its own sake, so I've always been a reluctant fan of what Of M
ontreal does. But this latest album is such a fascinating jangle of sounds and melodies that it made me put aside my general distaste for all things psychedelic.
Check out: Of Montreal - Heilmdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse

18) Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover
For me, the key to a good Sunset Rubdown album rests on one question -- how close does it sound to Wolf Parade (lead singer Spencer Krug's other band)? As someone who thought that Wolf Parade's last album was brilliant, the closer to that patented Wolf Parade sound, the better. Random Spirit Lover is the closest that Sunset Rubdown has come yet.
Check out: Sunset Rubdown - The Mending of the Gown

17) Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
There's a lot to the criticism that all Amy Winehouse does is ape retro styles and update them for today's audiences. Still, she does it pretty well. And when the retro music she apes is so good, what's the problem?
Check out: Amy Winehouse - Back to Black

16) Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future
The Mercury Prize winners for this year probably didn't deserve the award given the competit
ion (see Jamie T), but there's no denying the originality of their sound. I don't really get why their songs are characterized as dance music; it's just catchy pop music to my ears.
Check out: Klaxons - Golden Skans

15) Albert Hammond Jr. - Yours to Keep
This debut from Strokes' guitarist Hammond finds success by eschewing garage rock in favor of a much more clean-sounding, economical pop music. It may not reach the heights of the Strokes' best stuff, but it's an impressive departure.
Check out: Albert Hammond Jr - Bright Young Thing

14) The New Pornographers - Challengers
A much more subdued (and less consistent) album than Twin Cinema, but one that continues to reward after multiple listens. The best songs on the album, such as "Myriad Harbor" and "Go Places", fit well within the band's tradition of producing perfectly crafted pop melodies.

13) Panda Bear - Person Pitch
Probably the most inventive album to come out in 2007, Panda Bear filters the sunny pop of the Beach Boys through the mishmash of sounds and instruments that has become the trademark of his other band, Animal Collective. "Bros", another great song of the year, may be the only 10 minute song I've enjoyed from beginning to end.
Check out: Panda Bear - Bros

12) Jamie T - Panic Prevention
The best hip-hop album of the year, if it can even be classified in that genre. Jamie T's spare melodies are propelled by his distinctive rapping/singing voice, and taken together the combination is addictive.

11) Feist - The Reminder
What's there to say that everyone doesn't already know -- these songs are too catchy not to love. Plus extra credit for the choreography involved in that "1,2,3,4" video.
10) Tegan & Sara - The Con
The year's most underrated album, The Con was more produced and polished than any of Tegan and Sara's previous albums,and yet maintained the band's penchant for writing songs of startling intimacy. You can expect half these songs to end up on shows on the CW next year.

9) Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
This man can do no wrong in my book, largely because he keeps surpassing himself. The latest from this singer/songwriter/guitarist/violinist/whistler contains some wonderfully intricate melodies, like "Plasticities".
Check out: Andrew Bird - Plasticities

8) Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
Josh Ritter is my music discovery of the year, as I hadn't heard of him before this album started winning accolades. I'm glad I found him, since his style of folk pop is utterly compelling and completely infectious.
Check out: Josh Ritter - Real Long Distance

7) Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga
If you had asked me what to add to the beat-driven rock sound that Spoon has been perfecting over the years, my first response would not have been trombones. But the horns make all the difference on some of the best tracks on this album, a more conventional record than their previous ones but no less satisfying.
Check out: Spoon - You Got Your Cherry Bomb

6) Okkervil River - The Stage Names
A whole record devoted to he process of making a record is a concept that should get tedious, but in the hands of Will Sheff and Okkervil River, it makes for surprisingly vibrant music. Following Black Sheep Boy, this is the band's second majestic achievement in a row. It makes me excited to hear what comes next.
Check out: Okkervil River - Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe

5) Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Following up an album like Funeral would be a daunting task for any band, but Arcade Fire faced the challenge head on and came back with some gloriously immense rock songs. No band harnesses the power of rock better.
Check out: Arcade Fire - Black Mirror

4) Radiohead - In Rainbows
Radiohead's latest album is not only one of its most accessible, it's also one of the band's best. It's exciting to hear Thom Yorke's vocals and the band's melodies for what they are, instead of drowned in noise as they often were on Hail to the Thief and Amnesiac. Extra points for attempting to change the whole music purchase paradigm with the pay what you want system.
Check out: Radiohead - Nude

3) Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
Jens Lekman's brand of pop music is gorgeous, affecting, and often very funny. That's always been the case, but this is his first album where his effortless songwriting is in peak form from beginning to end.
Check out: Jens Lekman - Postcard to Nina

2) The National - Boxer
I've always had a soft spot for The National because of their Cincinnati roots, but even setting aside their association with the 'nati, these guys have proven themselves to be a rock band working at the top of their game. This follow-up to their stellar Alligator is filled with songs that run the gamut from intricate melodies like "Fake Empire" to heart-pounders like "Mistaken for Strangers". It's a practically flawless album.
Check out:
The National - Apartment Story

1) LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
I never would have anticipated putting a dance-rock album at the top of my list, but LCD Soundsystem's latest wasn't only the most thrilling of the year, it was also the most poignant. James Murphy turns out to be an excellent singer, and when he turns his attentions to the challenges of aging and loss, the results are mesmerizing. Hence the two best songs of the year, "Someone Great" and "All My Friends." The others on the album are quite good too (particularly "North American Scum"), but those two songs are enough to make this the album of the year.
Check out: LCD Soundsystem - Someone Great

1 comment:

  1. I'm so with you on all of these albums, except Amy Winehouse - she's an anorexic hoe. I just discovered "Someone Great" the other day and am now obsessed. Song of 2007, for sure.

    Merry Xmas & New Years!