Monday, January 7, 2008

My Belated, But Obligatory, Top 14 Album List For 2007

Here it is a week into the new year and I'm just getting around to posting my favorites of 2007 (Good thing that procrastination wasn't part of my New Years resolutions). But alas, sometimes, life gets in the way of everything. Anyway, for anyone who cares, here is my Top 25 20 15 14 Albums of 2007!

José González - In Our Nature

The latest from the Swedish singer/songwriter was another collection of stark beautiful emotions set to songs.

How Low (mp3)

Down the Line (mp3)

13. Against Me! - New Wave

A polished, but not glossy, set of songs sure to split long-time fans down the middle. Let them have their tired arguments, and just enjoy one of the best mixes of punk, folk, & pop out there delivered with emotion and conviction.

Thrash Unreal (mp3)

Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart (mp3)

12. Les Savy Fav - Let's Stay Friends

Another great post-punk record that will split long-time fans with its polish. The Jawbox & Fugazi are still unmissable at times, but the rawness of past records has given way to more melodies and more diversity in style.

Pots & Pans (mp3)

Patty Lee (mp3)

11. Steve Earle - Washington Square Serenade

Purists shuddered when news leaked that John King, half of The Dust Brothers team, would be producing this record. While the fingerprints are there, the only crime was that some wouldn't give this record it's due. Serenade is much more contemplative, and much less overtly political than the last few records Earle has released. Nashville never quite fit, and so this record finds Earle embarking for New York, but not without the Texas-to-Tennessee baggage he's been lugging around for years.

Tennessee Blues

Oxycontin Blues (mp3)

10. Glossary - The Better Angels of Our Nature
Weeks before multi-millionaires, Radiohead, kicked the music industry in it's collective ass by allowing fans to name their price to download the band's new album, this relatively unknown Southern rock band put their new album, The Better Angels of Our Nature on their website to download for free. The album is a collection of bluesy rock songs and moving ballads that pushes the band away from the alt-country label and into the realm of simply damn good southern rock. The album also has my nomination for best album cover of the year.

Only Time Will Tell (mp3)

Blood on the Knobs (mp3)

9. Intramural - This is a Landslide

An album four years in the making, Denver Dalley brought together a different vocalist for each track on his debut under the Intramural flag. Featuring vocals from fellow Nashvillian Matt Friction (Pink Spiders) to the unmistakable and unmatched, Greg Dulli, of former Afghan Whigs and current Twilight Singers fame. Dalley assembles a great pop album that remains seemless and spectacular despite the rotating vocals.

My, My, Tennessee (mp3)

This is a Landslide (mp3)

8. Okkervil River - The Stage Names

The hype surrounding Okkervil River's latest album had been building since the release and growing popularity of the band's last album, Black Sheep Boy, and was almost tangible. The band, led by singer/songwriter Will Sheff, had begun to make a name for itself outside the lo-fi indie crowd, and a lot was expected from their latest release. And with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the release, the band delivered it's tightest and most focused record yet. Sheff talents are undeniable from beginning to end. As if, the record itself wasn't enough, an initial limited release included an extra disc featuring the stripped down acoustic demos of each song recorded by Sheff himself. Personally, as much as I love the album, I prefer the songs in the context of the solo acoustic disc even more.

Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe (mp3)

John Allyn Smith Sails (mp3)

7. Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

Modest Mouse broke through the indie ceiling with their last album. For a band that had indie street cred to spare, they had to do something to top their mainstream breakthrough. So they added the legendary Johnny Marr, and proceeded to record another album full of quirky songs delivered with all the intensity and emotion we have come to expect and without compromising the sound that had made them an underground favorite long before "Float On," was heard on the O.C.

Spitting Venom (mp3)

Parting of the Sensory (mp3)

6. Soulsavers - It's Not How Far You Fall, It's the Way You Land

The second album from this British electronica duo is an ethereal array of gospel and rock. Another dimension is added by the smooth growl of Mark Lanegan. Combined, they create albums worth of dark and languid songs that any tormented soul can take to heart, and even you regular folk as well.

Revival (mp3)

Paper Money (mp3)

5. Grinderman - Grinderman

The ever changing Nick Cave returned in 2007 with a new band (name) and a sound that hearkened back to his days fronting the legendary Birthday Party. The album is a raucous piece of gutter rock and a complete blast. Nick Cave is able to shed his dark and foreboding image for a dark but playful one. The album is exactly what it was supposed to be, a garage band effort fronted by Nick Cave, which in this case is a very good thing.

Get It On (mp3)

Electric Alice (mp3)

4. Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

An absolute epic post-rock instrumental album, intense in nature and at the same time, soothing to listen to. The album is a sonic journey through the quiet calm serene to controlled chaos. Really, there is nothing more I can say except, you should take a listen at least once before dismissing the album just because it is an instrumental.

The Birth and Death of the Day (mp3)

Catastrophe and the Cure (mp3)

3. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

There is a reason why it is on so many year end lists. The sophomore effort the Canadian clan is a more than worthy follow-up to their über-successful debut and one that delighted both critics and fans alike. There really aren't any new praises I can heap on the band or the record.

Ocean of Noise (mp3)

My Body is a Cage (mp3)

2. The National - Boxer

This album could easily get lost in the shuffle of a bunch of great releases this past year. Beautiful melodies and heart wrenching lyrics make this a riveting album. Rock inspired Joy Division at its best.

Fake Empire (mp3)

Start a War (mp3)

1. Band of Horses - Cease to Begin

So this band forms in Seattle, signs with Sub-Pop and puts out an outstanding debut, then loses one of its founding members, moves to South Carolina and releases one of the best southern rock albums in ages. Every song on the album feels authentic and emotive. From the sentimental ballads to the searing rock, there was not a better album in my opinion.

No One's Gonna Love You (mp3)

Marry Song (mp3)

Cigarettes, Wedding Bands (mp3)

And so there it is, my top 14 of 2007. Agree? Disagree? Probably a bit of both so feel free to slander my name or praise my impeccable taste below. But more importantly, if you like any of the above and haven't bought the record, then do so at your local independent music store or from any of the following sites.

Buy it at Insound! Apple iTunes