January 3, 2008

The Top Ten Albums of 2007

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The following list was at times very, very hard to come up with, while at other times was very easy. Early on, I knew what my top album of the year was from when I heard the first song on it, as was the second and third picks. The rest required quite a bit of deliberation.
There was a lot of good music this year. I added 2257 new songs to my music library this year, 6.3 days and 12.63 gigabites. That's a lot of music. I found a lot of new albums that I'd never heard, rediscovered some old music and generally immersed myself in everything. Along the way, I came across a lot of good music, and some bad music.

Here's ten albums that I really liked, but they just didn't crack the top ten:

20 - Say No To Being Cool, Yes To Being Happy, The Softlightes
- I loved these guys sound all the way through, great first album.

19 - The Flying Cup Club, Beirut
- They've followed up their first with more Balkan-flavored sounds.

18 - The Reminder, Feist
-1,2,3,4 was stuck in my head for much of the summer and fall. There are plenty of worse songs out there, so I'm fortunate for that.

17 - In Our Nature, Jose Gonzalez
-Jose Gonzales followed up his fantastic first album with a fantastic second album - another cool cover and more acoustic rock goodness.

16 - Good and Reckless and True, The Alternate Routes
- Ryan Adams fans might like this one. It's an all around solid rock album.

15 - Kismet,Jesca Hoop
- Hoop brought a fanastic, unique sound that really was pretty cool.

14 - Dylan, Bob Dylan
- This compilation of Dylan's music pulled together a fantastic set of his entire career. A must.

13 - Neon Bible, Arcade Fire
- These guys had some really good cuts off of this album - it's tight, together and really well done all around. Canadians were on fire this year.

12 - Little Voice, Sara Bareilles
- This first album really impressed me from her first song Love Song, but overall, the entire thing did really well, and was really solid.

11 - Who You Are, Cary Brothers
- Cary Brother's first album was a long anticipated one from me - I don't think that there was a track on here that I didn't like. From the fantastic Who You Are to Blue Eyes, this is another guy who's going to have a good career ahead of him.

Here are the albums that I loved:

This was an earlier album in the year that's come up and down on my list before settling here at number ten. I've been a fan of The Shins for a while now (Yes, I found them when the rest of the world did with Garden State), but I loved both of their earlier albums. This one didn't disappoint, with the fantastic Phantom Limb, Sea Legs, Australia and Girl Sailor. They brought along their fantastic sound and even better songwriting skills for a third fantastic time.

This album showed me that not all country is bad, and more importantly, reinforced that country songs are really storytelling songs, and that they can be really good at it. Here is a fantastic concept album of the use of horses in warfare throughout history. The title track blew me away, and as a historian, really impressed me with some of the songs.

Spoon was a band that took a bit of time to grow on me, but I was incredibly impressed with Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, their latest independent album, which is at best described as minimalist, with some fantastic new songs from them, such as Underdog, Don't Make Me A Target, and Rhythm and Soul. It's a great addition to their already really good repertoire.

Brandi Carlile's follow up to her first album really surprised me this time around - my first impressions of her was lukewarm, but right from the start, this album really impressed me, and after seeing her live in concert, her energy and sound completely blew me away.

One In the Sea impressed me from the start A Fine Frenzy's voice. It's delicate and powerful at the same time, and coupled with her songwriting, was an incredible first effort. Her songs are both light and somber, especially with Ashes & Wine, Rangers, Hope For The Hopeless and most of the others on there. Seeing her perform with Brandi Carlile this year was a big highlight here.

This was apparently one of the most anticipated albums of the year, and for good reason. Rilo Kiley pulled out a fantastic effort here, bringing a sound that reminded me a bit of Fleetwood Mac, but with an angry indie-rock singer edge to it.

Dreamworld - Rilo Kiley

I caught Josh Ritter opening for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals earlier this summer, and really had a fun time - their latest album, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter is a marvel of storytelling and a nice bridge of country-folk and rock music. There's some really cool stuff here musically, and their song writing skills are certainly sharp from some of the songs here.

Rumors - Josh Ritter

I first was introduced to Ferraby Lionheart with Vermont Avenue, which sort of lurked at the back of my head for a couple of months while I heard more and more from him over the summer. Quickly, his unique sound won me over with some really great songs from this album. Like A Fine Frenzy, this is a fantastic debut album from a newcomer that I'll be looking forward to hearing more about.

Before We're Dead - Ferraby Lionheart

This was almost #1. It's really, really close, because I love Sam Beam's sound, and to hear this album compared to his other ones is a huge jump. The sound became rich, with lots of peripheral instruments, while not loosing one bit of the fantastic sound and style that he employed for his first two albums. He's no longer a guy playing acoustic guitar in a closet, he's out there and brought a wonderful album with him. I can't wait to see what's next.

Innocent Bones - Iron & Wine

This is Somewhere was easily my most anticipated album of 2007, from the beginning of the year when I first learned that the Nocturnals were putting out their first studio album. I loved it from the beginning, and not because they're from Vermont. It's because they've got an incredible sound, and have moved to a somewhat more mainstream rock sounds that really works with Grace's vocals and the band's talents. Their first two albums were fantastic, don't get me wrong, but this album just plain rocked. And in person, these guys were like nothing else I've really seen, with an incredible amount of energy. Easily my favorite album of the year.

Mastermind - Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

Tomorrow, the best songs of 2007.