11. Peter Bjorn and John – Writers Block
This album was released over seas last year while I was writing my Best of 2006 list. I wanted to include it, but knew it was going to be in the states soon, so it would have to wait for ’07. At that time, I was hard pressed to think that I would find an album that would surpass it in 2007. Unfortunately, my prediction was wrong, as this was a great year for music. That doesn’t change the fact that this album is astonishing. It probably has the best opener of all the albums on this list. “Detects on my Affection” was my anthem when I first moved to Seattle. The chorus was on the same level as my mind was at that point in time. It is amazing in the fact that if it were any other song, it would have been worn out completely. I can’t count the number of times I have heard it. Yet every time I do I go crazy like it was the first time. I wish the whole album was like that, but when you can’t flip through the stations or browse the internet without hearing the contagious whistling of “Young Folks”, it makes it hard not to get sick of it. I gotta give it to the Swedish trio for making a song that catchy though. As a whole, this album has a lot of gems including my favorite “Up Against the Wall”. If you haven’t heard of any of the tracks I listed off in this review, check out any one of them for guaranteed enjoyment.
12. The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour
Though nearly invisible on the American radar, this Canadian 4-piece is anything but in their home country. The band is making a huge name for themselves with their latest release, having the #1 single on CBC radio this year. For me, I can’t get enough. Once the album grabs you, and it will grab you right off the bat with “Civil Twilight”, it doesn’t let go. The story telling is near flawless, and its packed with enough quotes to keep my away messages booked solid for a month. An overall great listen if you’re so inclined.
13. Radiohead – In Rainbows
Radiohead is like a retired car mechanic. Every album, starting with Pablo Honey on, has slowly and carefully taken the alternative sound apart and put it back together. But they don’t put it back together they way the found it. They add their own fixings, their own ideas, until they get a finished product that is improved on the original. I’m not saying that every Radiohead album has gotten progressively better, but their sound has morphed into so many shapes, combined so many ideas, infused so many sounds, that it is hard to classify their music anymore. In Rainbows is keeping with the routine. It definitely sinks into a more emotionally reaching pop sound than their other albums. However I feel it was the unique release strategies of the band and not the music that is giving this album all the attention (maybe, just maybe, its also because its fucking Radiohead) The album was released online. The price? Whatever you wanted it to be. Leave it to Radiohead. I love the idea. I think Thom Yorke is always thinking on his feet. One moment, the world had no idea when the album was getting out of the studio. 10 days later, it’s on everyone’s computer at no cost (unless you were admirable and paid something for it). The problem I have is I feel the attention the album is getting (the 4 or 5 star ratings from every magazine and music source) is a little exaggerated. I know, it’s hard to give a band like Radiohead a mediocre rating when every other work of art they have produced has been nothing less than stellar. But in In Rainbow’s case, we should look past the name, past the middle finger it gave to the music business (which, let me take a moment to say, was pure genius. This is going to change the face of the record business forever) and we should judge In Rainbows by its music alone. It is a great album. I loved it. The beats are delivered very dramatically, the album flows very smoothly, and it’s even pretty at times. I would say it’s their smoothest record to date. Though it is good enough to make my list, Radiohead has set the bar at a jaw dropping level, and In Rainbows is not jaw dropping.
14. Iron and Wine – Shepherds dog
The best Iron & Wine album I’ve ever heard. That’s saying something.
15. Kings of Leon – Because of the Times
A lot of bands on this list had killer albums they attempted to follow up with this year. This one took some getting used to for me. Once it hit though, it hit hard and I was almost as pleased as I was when I heard Aha Shake Heartbreak. They rock this album out. I think Aha is more initially appealing than Times, but I gotta give it up to KOL for making another album worthy of multiple listens. Granted, the first few were hell for me. But I was a trooper, and even though I had many other choices, I kept slipping this one in. In the end, it paid off. I notice a lot of similarities between them both which, if you know Aha, is a recipe that can not disappoint. Both Times and Aha stick in your head for a long period of time. For my money, I gotta go with Aha, but this album is definitely worth a pick up.
16. White Stripes – Icky Thump
100% honesty… I am sick of writing about The White Stripes. Just fucking listen to them already.
17. Holy Fuck
18. Apples in Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder
The first release under Elijah Wood’s new record label and the first for Apples in Stereo in 5 years, New Magnetic Wonder is perfect Apples in Stereo. They were part of the eclectic group Elephant 6, a group of 4 hometown friends that grew up together in Denver, started separate bands like Apples and the indie kings Neutral Milk Hotel, and put them out on the same label back in the 90’s. This release keeps with their 60’s pop sound better than ever. Super catchy, extremely fun, this album is sure to hit a button for someone. Here is my review from a year ago https://alittlefurtherdowntheriver.wordpress.com/2007/01/31/the-apples-in-stereo-new-magnetic-wonder/
19. Sigur Ros – Hvarf Heim
A double album with a few new songs but mostly just different versions of old favorites. One cd is alternative takes and the other acoustic versions. If you are new to the band, start with another album. If you already love them, pick it up.
20. The Avett Brothers – Emotionalism
These guys have great voices. Their lyrical matter is both pertinent and creative. The folk sound is genuine, rarely boring and always refreshing. Not a glamorous release, but I would recommend it to anyone looking to take a break from the indie alternative sound.
21. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
I have grown to respect Bret Daniel a lot the past 2 years. The man grabs hold of his projects and dives head first into them. It’s really inspiring. However this project didn’t make me want to pick up and guitar like Spoons previous album
22. Feist – The Reminder
I find it ironic that the poster girl for the ipod nano wrote a song 2 years ago with Broken Social Scene that says “You used to be one of the rotten ones and I liked you for that/now you’re all gone, got your makeup on and you’re not coming back”. However hypocritical it may seem, her music is still great.
23. The Shins – Wincing the Night Away
Rather disappointing when compared to their older work, but this is still worthy of listen. Their first release since Zach Braff turned them into indie gods. James Mercer can really create some catchy melodies. Unfortunately, these ones are not as catchy as usual. Still good for most fans, but I was slightly disappointed. In all fairness though, I was expecting the earth to rattle from all the cute melodies, but still…sub par.
24. Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
I didn’t think Jens would make my list. His latest release, Night Falls Over Kortedala, is a little too Rufus Wainwright meets Morrisey meets Austin Powers for my taste. However, its loving melodies are simply too catchy to ignore.
25. Architecture in Helsinki – Places Like This
I just had to squeeze these guys on here. A much more produced sound than their 2005 release, but the mission is the same: make as many different sounds as possible. And do it in a way that makes the listener dance. A slight disappointment from In Case We Die, but a very good record. “Heart it Races” just might have been the catchiest single of the year. Note to aspiring musicians around the world, you can NEVER go wrong with the steel drum.
For the curious, here is what got the quick nip. The list was longer, but these almost made it.
26. Blonde Redhead
28. Rilo kiley
29. Shout Out Louds
30. Rogue Wave