Well folks it's about that time for me to throw in my $.02 and give you my favorite albums of the year. As a point of clarification, I am a music user, not a music critic. I pay for the music I buy through the year, and so there are some records I don't hear either because I never heard about it or I didn't deem it worth spending my hard earned cash on. This list isn't meant to impress anyone, or extol my musical taste. It is merely the 25 records I liked most from 2007 (some are '07 UK or Australian releases that will come out in the US in '08 others are '07 US releases that came out elsewhere in '06, a brother can only spend so much dough on imports.) To take a gander at last years list just click the links: '06 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20 or 21-25
25) The Pipettes - We Are the Pipettes. Great throwback sound on this English girl group. They have gotten a ton of pub for their new/old sound, and I can't get enough of this breath of fresh air. I can hardly resist smiling and tapping my foot along when I listen. Best Tracks: Sex, Pull Shapes, ABC.
24) The Blow - Poor Aim: Love Songs. Yet another in a long line of band name alter egos for one person, in this case Khaela Maricich. Bringing a great combo of Punk, Folk, Pop and Electronic to us from the Pacific Northwest, Maricich simply kicks ass. Many thanks to the College Radio station at my alma mater for hipping me to this. Best Tracks: Hey Boy, "Come On Petunia"
23) Paul Kelly-Stolen Apples. In my eyes Kelly is a god and can do no wrong. Some call him the Australian Bob Dylan, but I simply think of him as an amazing singer/songwriter and storyteller. His latest release contains some more fantastic examples of each of those gifts. Plus, how great was he at Live Earth: Sydney? Best Tracks: The Ballad of Queenie and Rover, Right Outta My Head, You're 39 You're Beautiful and You're Mine.
22) Arctic Monkeys-Favourite Worst Nightmare. These Sheffield boys held the #2 spot on last year's list with their freshman effort, but couldn't place quite that high this time around. That said, to release two records in two years and to have both of them shine like this is almost impossible to do these days. Best Tracks: Teddy Picker, Fluorescent Adolescence, Brainstorm.
21) Paramore-Riot! This is just a good fucking record, and I don't care who want's to make fun of me for liking it as much as I do. Last year the Tennessee group that I fell in love with was Be Your Own Pet, this year it's Paramore. Hayley Williams has the same barely legal rocker chick thing going for her as Jemina Pearl does, and just like byoP, Paramore really rocks. Best Tracks: For a Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic, Hallelujah, That's What You Get,
20) Girl in a Coma - Both Before I'm Gone. This is just a fantastic young, talented group out of Texas. Take away the fact that Nina Diaz is an amazing singer and songwriter and you still have three amazing musicians who are all great on their instruments, which is a rarity these days. I'm so upset they didn't join Morrissey's tour until after we saw him in Philly. Best Tracks: Say, Their Cell, Celibate Now.
19) Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, Angry Mob. Speaking of Morrissey, it's kind of eerie how much Ricky Wilson sounds like Moz on a few of these tracks. I didn't want to like this record when it came out, but I took a flier on in and was more than pleasantly surprised. Best Tracks: Ruby. The Angry Mob, Boxing Champ.
18) Kate Miller-Heidke-Little Eve. First things first: some people will downright loath this Aussie songstress because she has a quirky voice a la Regina Spektor. I, however, love the way her voice sounds almost as much as I love how fun and light her songs are. That's not to say they are throw away tunes, because they are just as deep as most pop music is these days, but they have a fantastic Aussie feel to them. Best Tracks: Make it Last, I Got the Way, Delay.
17) The WAiFS-Sundirtwater. I'll admit that the WAiFS could put out a record a month and I'd buy it, but there was no way I was going to miss the first record from the Aussie threesome in more than 4 years. They spent their time off supporting a live record, having kids and working with other artists, and it sounds like the change of pace did them good. The tracks are fresh and new while also sounding true to their past work. Best Tracks: How Many Miles, Vermilion, Eternity.
16) Arcade Fire - Neon Bible. There is literally nothing I can say about this record that hasn't already been written or blogged about at some point this year. I put off buying it, mainly due to the hype, until I had heard a bunch of the tracks on WXPN out of UPenn. God bless independent radio! Best Tracks: (Antichrist Television Blues), Neon Bible, No Cars Go.
15) Amy Winehouse-Back to Black. I know she the British answer to Britney Spears but I can't help but love her music. I wouldn't pay for a live show anytime soon, and if you don't know why, just check a London newspaper article about her and you'll find out. That said, this is one hell of a great record. Best Tracks: You Know I'm No Good, Rehab, Love is Losing Game.
14) Crowded House-Time On Earth. This record just proves that old rockers don't die, they just take a break. For any of us who saw their live show, we know that Neil and the boys are still just as good now as they were in the 80's. Time On Earth is filled with many new songs that were first planned for a Neil Finn solo record, but he called up Nick and the other boys and put together a stand out record. Best Tracks: Don't Stop Now, She Called Up, Silent House.
13) Stars-In Our Bedroom After The War. Last year I reveled in Amy Millan's solo record, and this year I have been loving Stars newest release. There are so many levels and so much texture to their songs and it makes for a wonderful listening experience. Best Tracks: Bitches in Tokyo, The Ghost of Genova Heights, Today Will Be Better I Swear.
12) The Good the Bad & The Queen-Self Titled. While I love the Clash, I've never really been a huge Blur or Gorillaz fan. So when the Clash's Paul Simonon teamed up with Damon Albarn I didn't know if I would like the result. Well, I did. This record is great from start to finish, and is easy to listen to over and over again. Best Tracks: Northern Whale, History Song, The Bunting Song.
11) Rilo Kiley-Under the Blacklight. Last year Jenny Lewis was in my top 5 with her solo effort and with one or two more top notch songs Rilo Kiley's fourth record would have been there too. I loved 7/8 of this record and play those parts to death. I can never get enough of Jenny's singing and even enjoyed Blake's vocal contributions. Best Tracks: 15, The Moneymaker, Silver Lining, Give a Little Love.
10) Foo Fighters-Echos, Silence, Patience, Grace. There's hardly a more solid band in the world, and this record is every bit as good as their past work. I sometimes marvel at how well this band has held up over a decade, but alas they are just as good now as ever... and a million times better then what Nirvana would have been at this point. Best Tracks: Let it Die, The Pretender, Statues.
9) Augie March-Moo, You Bloody Choir. This is one of those '06 foreign releases that I didn't get my hands on until early '07, but it was released in the states this year so I'm putting it on the list. It contains one of the two or three best songs of the year, and one that may be one of my favorite songs of all time when it's all said and done. If you've never heard this Aussie group you are missing out. They are a must download! Best Tracks: One Crowded Hour, Victoria's Secrets, Thin Captains Crackers, The Cold Acre.
8) The Fratellis-Costello Music. The iTunes ad may have made them famous here but they were already kicking but before that. I can't think of a much better group to serve as the house band at the best bar party ever. Their songs are like the audible manifestation of a drunkin good time. Best Tracks: Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night, Chelsea Dagger, Flathead, and really all the rest too.
7) Sara Bareilles-Little Voice. This woman has one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard, and is also an amazing writer to boot. Most of the songs on this record were on Careful Confessions which came out back in '04, but they are still wonderful. I still have no idea why the title track isn't on the record, but only available via iTunes download. Best Tracks: Love Song, One Sweet Love, Vegas, Many the Miles...
6) Son Volt-The Search. Goddamn this is one hot record. Son Volt are one of my favorite bands of all time, and I have been OK with some of the changes in the sound over the years. On The Search, it's like going back to 1995's Trace. Jay sounds just as good as ever and the new lineup backs him very well to complete an amazing sound. Now, if only I could look as much like I did in '95 that would be great. Best Tracks: The Picture, Methamphetamine, The Search.
5) Various Artists-Cannot Buy My Soul. Were it not for this being compilation of covers I might have made it #1, because it really is an amazing collection of work. The songs of Aboriginal singer and songwriter Kev Carmody are powerful and insightful works and they find new legs when sung by some of Australia's best. Quite simply: these songs are storytelling through music at it's absolute best. Best Tracks: Droving Woman, Comrade Jesus Christ, Blood Red Rose, I've Been Moved, Images of London, Darkside, From Little Things Big Things Grow...
4) The Shins-Wincing the Night Away. This is another album that I resisted at first due to it's overwhelming hype. But, since I've liked the Shins past work, I picked it up and really fell in love with it. Although each of the songs are strong on their own, it is really best enjoyed when listened to all the way through. James Mercer is the prototypical Indie Rock frontman and he makes you buy into his performance. Best Tracks: Australia, Phantom Limb, Sea Legs, Girl Sailor.
3) Feist-The Reminder. Feist is like liver and onions, you either love her or hate her but you rarely have no opinion. I, for one, loved this record and have worn it the fuck out. It got most of it's pub for 1234, thanks again to iTunes, but the best of the record can be found in the other tracks, and when listened to straight through. She just makes you want to dance, or for us dancing challenged, wish we could dance. Best Tracks: I Feel it All, 1234, Brandy Alexander, My Moon My Man, So Sorry.
2) Ted Leo & the Pharmisists-Living With the Living. It's been a few years since Ted Leo graced us with a record, and it sounds as if he was saving up a lot of great material. Living is 58 amazing minutes of music where the foot never comes off the acelorator. This CD has been in my car since March and I don't think I'll be taking it out anytime soon. Best Tracks: Son's of Cain, Bomb Repeet Bomb, La Costa Brava, Colleen, Bottle of Buckie.
1) Missy Higgins-On a Clear Night. Among all the wonderful things I discovered on my last trip to Australia, Missy Higgins ranks right at the top. She is a masterful writer, who seems to be able to take deep and involved topics and craft the emotion into incredibly moving songs. In addition to being a gifted writer, she has a simply beautiful singing voice, made even more authentic by the presence of her Australia accent. This record is filled with songs I had already heard at live shows and on the internet, but that didn't lessen it's impact on me when I finally got my hot little hands on it. Some artists just speak to you, and I can't believe there are too many people out there who can't take one, if not all, of her songs to heart. THE BEST! Best Tracks: Going North, Secret, Steer, Where I Stood, Forgive Me.