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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

THIS JUST IN... 2007's Top 20 Albums

1. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

From the opening sounds of “Black Mirror,” you can tell this is going to be a huge album. Now believe me when I say, I understand that there is a lot of hype around this band and nobody wanted to dismiss this album to the sophomore slump pile more than I did, but I’m sorry, this album is amazing. The sound is big and beautiful and it leaves you wanting more from this band. If you have never had the opportunity, please make sure the next time they visit your town, you go and see them. This was my favorite album of the year as well as concert of the year at the Chicago Theatre.

Suggested Tracks: The whole fucking album! But if you have to listen to single tracks try these: Black Mirror, The Well and the Lighthouse, (Antichrist Television Blues), No Cars Go & Neon Bible

2. Radiohead – In Rainbows

The album the world was waiting to buy, or not to buy. That was the option the band gave their fans when the album was released. You got to pick the price you pay and I will tell you this, regardless if you got it for free or paid $1,000, you got your money’s worth. Their best album since OK Computer! From the opening track to the last song, this album plays off of the entire bands talents. You have your rock songs, your art songs, and your mellow chill ones. A very good piece of work that deserves all of the hype it received.

Suggested Tracks: Bodysnatchers, Nude, Faust Arp, Jigsaw Falling Into Place & Videotape

3. Beirut – The Flying Club Cup

Despite barely being able to buy a beer, Zach Condon can really arrange the fuck out of some vocals, horns and strings. The follow up to the acclaimed Gulag Orkestar, the Flying Club Cup is a great mix of melodies, harmonies and intrigue. Even if you do not like the Balkan sounds of this band, do your ears a favor and give it a listen. It is too interesting not to enjoy.

Suggested Tracks: Nantes, The Penalty, Cliquot & Forks and Knives

4. Interpol – Our Love to Admire

This is one of those bands that you look at and you just want to hate. One of those cocky New York poser bands that should really just suck, but you know what? THEY ROCK!!! Immediately after hitting play on your iPod, CD player, Turntable or whatever you use to listen to music these days, you find out that this album is a fantastic piece of work. Our Love to Admire is the third studio album released by Interpol and they just keep getting better.

Suggested Tracks: Pioneer to the Falls, No I in Threesome, The Heinrich Maneuver & Mammoth

5. The National – Boxer

Recommended by a friend, this album has quickly turned into one of my favorites. This is a very dark piece of work, but dark in the way a band like Joy Division can be, dark yet beautiful. Solid percussion work that stands out on its own accompanied by picturesque lyrics and delicate melodies makes this a must own for 2007.

Suggested Tracks: Fake Empire, Mistaken for Strangers, Squalor Victoria & Apartment Story

6. Apples in Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder

Two words to describe the new album: BILL DOSS. That’s right kids, the Bill Doss is a member of the Apples in Stereo. One of my favorite musicians from the Olivia Tremor Control is now playing keys, tambourine and providing sweet harmonies for the Apples. The new album is a quality piece of work ranging from their straight up beach boys pop sounds to their psychedelic beach boys sounds. Basically, Robert Schneider still has a hard on for Brian Wilson, but can you blame him? Not Elijah Wood, that‘s for sure. Yes, that Elijah Wood, the kid who played Frodo and North is a big fan of this band and made them the first group to sign on his new record label.

Suggested Tracks: Can You Feel It?, Energy, 7 Stars & Sun is Out

7. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Baby 81

The follow up to 2005’s Howl, BRMC loses the gospel rock and goes back to what originally made them special, psychedelic noise rock. From the opening notes on the first track, you realize that this album was going to be different then their last. A solid combination of noise and blues, these three guys from San Francisco show why they are one of the best American bands out right now.

Suggested tracks: Took Out A Loan, Weapon of Choice, Not What You Wanted, Need Some Air & All You Do Is Talk

8. Blonde Redhead – 23

Now these guys are just fucking cool! And on top of that, they are great live. Creating another very dark and moody album for the year, Blonde Redhead put together a fantastic group of songs made up of intriguing rhythm sections and soothing vocals. They are just as interesting to listen to as Sonic Youth only not as rocking. Don’t worry, it is still very good.

Suggested Tracks: 23, Dr. Strangeluv, SW & Top Ranking

9. The Good, The Bad & The Queen

This just in… Damon Albarn is a genius. What originally started off as a solo album turned into an unnamed band created by Albarn that includes Simon Tong (the verve), Tony Allen (Afrobeat) and the Clash’s Paul Simonon. Now, how cool is that? The creator of Blur and Gorillaz gets members of the verve, clash and one of the best percussion players in the world to start a band. The music of this band is dark and tells tales about life in London, which I hear is also very dark. The organ and crazy drums give this album sort of a crazed carnival feel. Definitely worth a listen!

Suggested tracks: Hurculean, Northern Whale, Kingdom of Doom, Three Changes & The Good, The Bad & The Queen

10. Band of Horses – Cease to Begin

You knew this album was going to be good before it even came out, because if you pre-ordered the album, they were going to send you a koozy with a dead bird on it that said band of horses. Now what kind of a band creates koozys for their fans? Two kinds, ones that rock and ones that suck. Yes, very scientific, but luckily for these guys they are of the rockin’ category. A great album that combines good old fashioned southern folk music with some straight up rock and roll!

Suggested tracks: Is There A Ghost, Ode To LRC, No One’s Gonna Love You & Island On the Coast

11. Broken Social Scene PRESENTS… Kevin Drew – Spirit if…

Some may say this is a solo album for Kevin Drew and for the most part it is, but considering that just about every member of the scene was on this album and the fact that album sounds exactly like a broken social scene album, I will consider this their new album. All of the ingredients are there. You have the slow intros orchestrated by the brass section, great melodies and guitar riffs, beautiful harmonies and amazing percussion. Sounds like another victory for the broken social scene.

Suggested Tracks: Farewell to the Pressure Kids, Lucky Ones, Safety Bricks & Bodhi Sappy Weekend

12. The Shins – Wincing the Night Away

Probably their most commercial album to date, Wincing the Night Away plays well for the traditional fans and opens up a new audience with such singles as Australia and Phantom Limb. Highly recommended and a great listen for anyone who needs a nice pick me up

Suggested Tracks – Sleeping Lessons, Australia, Phantom Limb, Sea Legs & Turn On Me

13. Albert Hammond Jr. – Yours to Keep

I picked up this album because of my allegiance to the strokes and to be honest, I had very low expectations for it, but after just one listen I was very impressed. In all honesty, as a strokes fan it is hard not to like this album. Why? Because it sounds just like the strokes, minus the major commercial rock song and the angry singing. So I guess it can best be described as a strokes album minus the “edge,” but either way a very good album.

Suggested Tracks: In Transit, Call an Ambulance, 101 & Hard to Live in the City

14. Feist – The Reminder

Wanna buy an iPod? Just ask Fiest, she has been selling them with her single “1 2 3 4” all over the world. Despite being overheard and seen every 20 minutes on the TV, this is a very good piece of work. Someone should ask her if she rents or owns those wings, because she has the voice of an angel. She has amazing range that can be used for jazz, pop or rock music and has done that on this album as well as her work with Broken Social Scene.

Suggested Tracks: I Feel It All, My Moon My Man, See Lion Woman, Past In Present & 1 2 3 4

15. Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare

OK, I really hate to say this, but I actually like these guys. I mean kids. I think the oldest might be 23, but if you can write good songs, does it really matter how old you are (see Beirut for example)? This album is a nice mix for the band and you can really hear how they are influenced by such bands as the jam, the kinks, oasis, the clash and the smiths.

Suggested Tracks: If You Were There, Beware, Teddy Picker, D is for Dangerous, The Bad Thing & Fluorescent Adolescent

16. Travis – The Boy With No Name

Back in the late 90’s early 00’s, this was one of my favorite bands on the planet. I had seen them about 7 times during those years, but it seemed over time their music became extremely boring and adult contemporary, which is a shame for a band with great talent and whose opening track on their first album was called “all I wanna do is rock.” Despite the rock still not being there (and that’s ok), this album should have been the follow up to “the Man Who,” because it seems to pick up where that album left off. This is a great listen for anyone who at one time was or is a Travis fan.

Suggested Tracks: 3 Times and You Lose, Selfish Jean, Colder, Big Chair & My Eyes

17. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver

OK, this is one of those “it” bands that I tend to write off because they are all hype with little to no substance, however after seeing these guys at Lollapalooza this year, I decided to give the album a chance, and I am glad I did. This upbeat groovy New York group makes you want to sing and dance. Albeit in the hipster dork-robot way of dancing, but still dancing nonetheless.

Suggested Tracks: All My Friends, Time To Get Away, North American Scum & Someone Great

18. The Polyphonic Spree – The Fragile Army

After their last album, I thought this band had worn off on me, but after seeing them perform live at Lollapalooza, I remembered why I liked them. Their sound is big and full of energy and because of that, they rarely disappoint me. Because of that, this album exceeded expectations and because of that, it squeezed into my list.

Suggested Tracks: Guaranteed Nightlife, Running Away, Watch Us Explode & The Fragile Army

19. Kings of Leon – Because of the Times

The third album from the band that was labeled as “the southern strokes” comes off a bit different than their other albums. Why? Because they are taking that “we’re getting older,” “we’re more mature,” “we don’t need to rock as much” approach with this album. Now don’t get me wrong, the songs that do rock on this album will kick you in the chest with the distortion pedal of god, but then again there are others that will only hit you like a slap bracelet.

Suggested Tracks: Knocked Up, Fans, On Call, Camaro, Arizona & McFearless

20. I’m From Barcelona – Let Me Introduce My Friends

The only reason this album is not higher on my list is because it was on my list last year. Yeah, I could have put another album on here to close out the 20, but this album is still the feel good album of the year. First, the reason it made both lists is because it was released in the states this past March and second, you cannot listen to this album and not clap your hands, stomp your feet of bob your head. It’s just fun! Just sit back, relax and let those crazy Swedes take you away to land filled with great pop music.

Suggested Tracks: Oversleeping, Collection of Stamps, We’re From Barcelona, Treehouse & Barcelona Loves You

Other notables (in no order)
• White Stripes – Icky Thump
• The Thrills – Teenager
• The Sea and Cake – Everybody
• The New Pornographers - Challengers
• Bjork – Volta
• The Hives – The Black and White Album

Disappointments (in no order)
• Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, are you the destroyer?
• Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
• Jarvis – Jarvis
• Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Some Loud Thunder
• Wilco – Sky Blue Sky


Leslie said...

I've been unable to stop listening to "Boxer," myself. Very Nick Cave, but with a little less crazy (or genius ... but still pretty amazing).

Jeff said...

Very nice reviews Jon. Quit wasting your time with those reps.

I'm also on the Boxer bandwagon now.

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