Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Top 10 albums of 2007

1. Graduation by Kanye West
Who knew Mr. West would become an albums artist in the singles-heavy genre of rap? Graduation, his third record, is arguably his best — more personal, more boastful and more joyous than his previous dazzling discs. This is Kanye at the top of his game. (Previously reviewed here.)
Kanye West ft. T-Pain: Good Life (mp3) (zip)

2. In Our Bedroom After the War by Stars
It’s no Set Yourself on Fire (a nominee for best album ever), but In Our Bedroom After the War is a worthy follow-up, adding an extra layer of hope to Stars’ complex and often dark emotional pastiche. (Previously reviewed here.)
Stars: Barricade (mp3) (zip)

3. In Rainbows by Radiohead
Or the album where Thom Yorke shows he has soul. Softer and sparser than ever, Radiohead again shows why they’re a few steps ahead of everyone else. (Previously reviewed here.)
Radiohead: Reckoner (mp3) (zip)

4. Once: Music from the Motion Picture by Glen Hansard (with Marketa Irglova)
A brilliant singer-songwriter toiling away in obscurity performs in a movie about a brilliant singer-songwriter toiling away in obscurity. Hansard’s a great find and his touching, penetrating songs demand repeat play.
Glen Hansard: Leave (mp3) (zip)

5. Let’s Stay Friends by Les Savy Fav
It’s clear veteran indie rockers Les Savy Fav have listened to their share of Pixies songs, but this is not a bad thing. Rock songs with equal parts bombast, melody and weirdness, and a reminder to the new kids how to do things right.
Les Savy Fav: The Year Before the Year 2000 (mp3) (zip)

6. Plague Park by Handsome Furs
Will Dan Boeckner get his due? First he contributed, as co-lead vocalist and guitarist, to Wolf Parade’s fantastic yet forgotten 2005 disc Apologies to the Queen Mary. And now he and wife Alexei Perry have out-Rental-ed the Rentals, with side project Handsome Furs. Don’t sleep on this.
Handsome Furs: Sing! Captain (mp3) (zip)

7. Reunion Tour by The Weakerthans
The Weakerthans may never be Pitchfork faves (Reunion Tour has yet to be reviewed by the online tastemakers), but they’ve grown into one of Canada’s best bands on the strength of John K. Samson’s highly listenable, lyrically astute songs. (Previously reviewed here.)
The Weakerthans: Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure (mp3) (zip)

8. Challengers by The New Pornographers
Never short of talent, The New Pornographers hit some solid musical blows on their latest CD, aided by the one-two shot of songwriters A.C. Newman and Dan Bejar. In a year when other Brian Wilson-influenced acts grabbed the critical spotlight (Animal Collective, Of Montreal), the hook-filled Challengers provided the biggest wallop. (Previously reviewed here.)
The New Pornographers: Challengers (mp3) (zip)

9. Magic by Bruce Springsteen
The Boss’s return to his poppier, Born-in-the-U.S.A. sound masked a darker, deeper lyrical tone, giving his fans the best of both sides of Springsteen. (Previously reviewed here.)
Bruce Springsteen: I’ll Work For Your Love (mp3) (zip)

10. Writer’s Block by Peter, Bjorn and John
Released in Europe last year, Writer’s Block made it to North American shores (or iTunes, at least) in early 2007 and gave listeners a very good idea of the musical quality currently coming out of their native Sweden. Imagine the pop sensibilities of Crowded House mixed with the genre-busting playfulness of Beck and you get an idea of PB&J’s musical treats. Includes my No. 1 song of 2006, the ubiquitous “Young Folks.”
Peter, Bjorn and John: Objects of My Affection (mp3) (zip)

Honourable mentions:
Asleep at Heaven’s Gate by Rogue Wave
The End of History by Fionn Regan
A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation by The Wombats
Because of the Times by Kings of Leon
Finding Forever by Common

2 comments:

Unapologetic Winnipegger said...

Interesting choices. 2007 marked a return to form by two 80's stalwarts as well.

The slow crawl out of hell, madness and despair now has a soundtrack with Nikki Sixx's Heroin Diaries. While we were previously granted respite from the seedy side of LA by flippant songs such as Smokin In the Boys Room, there is no such reprieve on this album. But even knee-deep in brimstone, hope springs eternal...

Dave Gahan's Hourglass also is a refreshing return to form. Is this a markedly different departure for the artist who brought us Music for the Masses or Violator? One can't help but think of another British franchise called James Bond that simultaneously managed to pack a refreshing wallop while still treading into familiar territory.

I have to admit that the whole lure of Kanye West is lost on me. I have tried in earnest to see the poetic scribe that apparently differentiates him from his Fiddy-esque brethren. And much like some sort of Magic Eye puzzle, I don't get it. The whole Kanye vs. Fiddy thing was a lot more original back in the day when it was Tupac, Biggie and the East vs. West coasts. Rap/Hip Hop reminds me of hair metal circa '93 - it needs something new and fresh to put it out of its misery. When Winners & HomeSense start selling Pimp Cups, you know the jig is up for this genre.

Have a great Christmas!

J e f f r e y G e o f f r e y said...

and a belated merry Christmas to you too! thanks for being a loyal reader :)