Friday, January 18, 2008

Year in Review: The Top 20 Albums of 2007

Another year has come and gone, and with it, some extraordinary music. From new bands with killer debuts to old favorites with a fresh sound, it has truly been one to remember. As so, I felt it only right to highlight some of the best of the best. May I present to you the most highly regarded, widely spoken of, quintessential collection around.

20. Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
Can't really do a best of compilation of the year without putting this soulful singer/trainwreck on the list somewhere. Highlights: You Know I'm No Good, Back to Black, Tears Dry On Their Own

19. Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
As if Float On wasn't catchy enough, they decide to write a song like Dashboard, and get every one to tap their feet in unison to the beat. Highlights: Dashboard, Parting of the Sensory, Little Motel

18. Feist – The Reminder
1...2...3...4...I've never loved a Canuck before. Wait a sec. Nix that... Highlights: I Feel It All, My Moon My Man, One Two Three Four

17. Battles – Mirrored
Don't know what they're saying, and don't really care. Give me more of that slap happy beat! Highlights: Atlas, Tonto, Leyendecker

16. Thrice – The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II: Fire and Water
Who knew a genre like post-hardcore could actually be progressive and artistically beautiful at the same? Way to go change eveyone's view of rock. Highlights: Firebreather, Digital Sea, The Whaler

15. The White Stripes – Icky Thump
Jack and Meg did it again, this time taking it up a notch with enough horns, bagpipes, falsettos and rhythms to make them a full-flavored, unstoppable duo. Highlights: Icky Thump, Conquest, A Martyr For My Love For You

14. Dax Riggs – We Sing of Only Blood or Love
The former lead singer of Deadboy & the Elephantmen breaks out on his own, and brings the entire raw, dirty South blues with him each time he opens his mouth. Highlights: Demon Tied to a Chair In My Brain, Radiation Blues, Dethbryte

13. The Shins – Wincing the Night Away
One listen, and you're just as hooked as the first time Natalie Portman put those headphones on your head and changed your life. I'm not the only one, right? Highlights: Australia, Phantom Limb, Sea Legs

12. The Black Lips – Good Bad Not Evil
It's about time a band brought back the surfer, garage punk rock of the 60's back into the world. Side note: Do not miss these guys live. Ever. Highlights: O Katrina!, Navajo, Bad Kids

11. The National – Boxer
Probably the best single band out there that no one is listening to. The craftsmanship of their songs is undeniably top-notch. Highlights: Fake Empire, Start a War, Racing Like a Pro

10. Kanye West – Graduation
This man may talk a lot of smack, but damnit if he doesn't back it up with one of the most kick ass hip-hop albums out there. Take that, Fiddy. Highlights: Stronger, Flashing Lights, Homecoming

9. Okkervil River – The Stage Names
This Austin band just keeps getting better and better with each album. Indie rock at it's finest. Highlights: Unless It Kicks, Plus Ones, You Can't Hold the Hand of a Rock and Roll Man

8. Band of Horses – Cease to Begin
BOH brings with them a sound that only a roadtrip through the Carolinas could possibly approach. Highlights: Is There A Ghost, No One's Gonna Love You, Marry Song

7. Rocky Votolato – The Brag & Cuss
Awesome singer/songwriter weaves stories with the best of them. This man's soulful, powerful sound just screams "Set me up a shot of whiskey and leave me be." Highlights: Postcard From Kentucky, The Wrong Side of Reno, Whiskey Straight

6. The Clientele – God Save the Clientele
Holy crap, did I just travel back in time to the sounds of early 60's era pop? Beautiful harmonies make this an awesome listen. Highlights: I Hope I Know You, Winter On Victoria Street, Somebody Changed

5. St. Vincent – Marry Me
Her album's title says it all for me. She can serenade me to sleep each and every night. Highlights: Jesus Saves, I Spend, Your Lips Are Red, Paris Is Burning

4. Beirut – The Flying Club Cup
Who knew a 21 year-old could craft one of the most original, beautiful, old-world inspired albums this year out of his home? Highlights: Nantes, Cliquot, Forks and Knives

3. Iron & Wine – The Shephard's Dog
When it comes to fluent music and pristine storytelling, Sam Beam is the man. He's completely outdone himself on this one, experimenting with different rhythms and sounds. Highlights: Lovesong of the Buzzard, Resurrection Fern, Boy With a Coin

2. The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Giant harmonies and haunting vocals abound in this one. If you can listen to My Body is a Cage without feeling something, then you don't have a soul. Highlights: Keep the Car Running, Intervention, My Body Is a Cage

1. Radiohead – In Rainbows
The masters of influential, groundbreaking rock are back, with an album that not only showcases their artistic brllliance, but also gave a royal "up-yours" to the recording industry by initially releasing the album strictly online for download. Mr. Yorke and crew, we salute you. Highlights: Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, Reckoner, House of Cards

And there you have it. I probably could have thrown in about 20 more, considering the breadth of awesome tunes this year. If you haven't heard of some of these bands, I highly suggest checking them out and giving them a spin. Looking forward to what the new year has in store for us.

Happy listening.

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