Friday, December 28, 2007

Top 20 (or so) of 2007

I have to say that 2007 was a good year for my ears. I didn't spend a lot of time scouring the pop charts, but there's so much out there that one doesn't have to look very hard to find some good stuff just beneath the surface in just about any genre. (I didn't really stick to 20, because I'd basically be flipping a coin to see who made the list at the bottom. Why should split hairs like that to meet some arbitrary number?)
  1. Frontier Folk Nebraska - The Devil's Tree: Of everything I heard this year, this is the album I came back to the most. "Kentucky Girl" is one of the most touching songs I've ever heard.

  2. Bedouin Soundclash - Street Gospels: There was nothing wrong with Bedouin Soundclash's previous release, but this is a huge step forward. It's the subtleties that took them from good to great. Not only are the songs catchy, but they have a lot of heart that backs them up.

  3. Chuck Ragan - The Blueprint Sessions: The only problem with the album is that it was such a limited release. It seems unfair to keep something this good from the rest of the world.

  4. Various Artists - Down Home Saturday Night: Smithsonian Folkways has an uncanny ability to recognize that the connection between a group of songs is much more than stylistic. This one is an album of old school party music, but unlike today, even the party music had teeth.

  5. De Novo Dahl - Shout: This record could make you get up and celebrate life even if you'd just lost your dog.

  6. Tia Carerra - Heaven/Hell EP and You Are the War 7": Heavy and trippy. No current band is doing fuzzed out psyche better than Tia Carerra. (This is two records, but in their initial release, they came as a package.)

  7. Titan - A Raining Sun of Light and Love for You and You and You: Titan puts the rock in progressive rock, correcting the errors of their predecessors.

  8. Long Distance Calling - Satellite Bay: Whether you like the term post-metal or not, these guys are one of the subgenre's most adventurous bands.

  9. Building the State - Faces in the Architecture: It's as smart as math rock without being too smart for its own good.

  10. Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles - Diamonds in the Dark: Sarah Borges recognizes that the road to the roots of rock n roll isn't the express train back to Hank Williams.

  11. Pomegranates - Two Eyes: This off-kilter indie pop EP is both gentle and jarring at the same time.

  12. Thrice - The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II: Fire & Water: Concept albums can be scary, but Thrice not only nails the concept, but stretches out musically and fulfills their early potential.

  13. Avett Brothers - Emotionalism: The Avett Brothers get lumped in with a thousand other Americana bands, but it's their eclecticism that makes them stands out.

  14. Hanoi Rocks - Street Poetry: After watching the genre they pioneered implode on itself and then make a mockery of anything that was good in its heart, Hanoi Rocks return to show not only that they were one of the few great glam bands from the 80s, but that they can actually play in that decimated genre with heart.

  15. The New Dress - Where Our Failures Are: Billy Bragg is clearly an influence on their music, but also on their hearts.

  16. Papermoons - 7" EP: This is a short one, but the songs were so perfect and moving.

  17. Awake and Alert - Devil in a Lambskin Suit: Maya Peart's voice is amazing and behind it is music that's every bit as good.

  18. Papertrigger - Riot Lovers: Papertrigger make their dark, seedy cabaret tunes rock in the truest sense of the word.

  19. Towers of Hanoi - Paranoia for the New Year: They're as challenging as the best post-hardcore, yet as accessible as a hard rock band.

  20. 31 Knots - The Days and Nights of Everything Anywhere: Despite being almost completely devoid of hooks, this album walks the fine line between pop and insanity.

  21. White Stripes - Icky Thump: What amazes me about the White Stripes is that they keep finding things that work and then push on to something new. They're never satisfied and yet they never fail to please.

  22. Paschall Brothers - On the Right Road Now: This Gospel album isn't just R&B that sees the Light, it's a conversion experience.

There were many other releases that also deserve mention. Grayceon's self-titled album created prog that was oddly full of emotion. Magnet School's Tonight We Drink... expanded U2's "Bullet the Blue Sky" into a whole album without seeming like some music geek experiment. The Chesterfield Kings' Psychedelic Sunrise and Len Price 3's Rentacrowd both revived the 60s garage sound without being stuck in nostalgia. A self-titled 7" from Street Smart Cyclist picked up where the Minutemen left off. Picastro created a friend for the sad times with Whore Luck. The beautiful dissonance of Thrushes' Sun Come Undone was a strong contender as well. Even the Gypsy Pistoleros, a band working in the long played out glam genre, made quite a splash with their Latin-flavored sleaze rock. All in all, I'd say it was a fine year for anyone willing to look beneath the surface and find the other stuff that's out there.

Check out some other Best of 2007 lists:
Bring Back Glam
Hard Rock Hideout
Heavy Metal Addiction
Heavy Metal Time Machine
Imagine Echoes
Layla’s Classic Rock Faves
Metal Minute
Raise your Fists
Rock of Ages

This one's a little different, because it's not made up of albums that came out this year, just ones Chuck reviewed this year:
Pratt Songs



Blogger taotechuck said...

Wow. I actually agree with a fair amount of your list. Not necessarily as the best I've heard this year, but I can see why nearly everything here earned your respect.

Chuck Ragan probably didn't do a wide release of The Blueprint Sessions because it's too rare.

I was listening to Sarah Borges last night, and I'm amazed at how she can simultaneously remind me of Patsy Cline and the Go Gos.

Long Distance Calling might have the dumbest band name of the year, but their album is pretty great. And that's coming from a guy who thinks prog is the worst thing to happen to the world since the plague.

(Digression: there's some show on Animal Planet, and a giant hornet just kicked a praying mantis' ass. It was like pro wrestling, but not fake.)

There's a lot of stuff on here that you told me to listen to, but I never did. I'll work on correcting that in the next few weeks.

Anyhow, my Pratt Songs best-of is now posted.

12:27 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

We only two the same on our lists, but then again I have only heard three of the albums from your list. I actually did like the White Stripes album, but only had a chance to hear the whole thing once. You need to check out Middian though. It's like stoner, doom, progressive and other metal sub-genres mixed in. It's just a very large sound yet somehow subtle as well.

10:53 AM  
Blogger rock_of_ages said...

Nope, nothing in common this year Bob! Somewhat surprising given how much old music we agree on. In honesty the only album you mention that I've heard is the Mayday Parade one and that wasn't really up my street!

all the best for 2008 mate

2:54 PM  
Blogger Allyson said...

I'll admit, I'm surprised Hanoi Rocks made your list. That means we share a choice in common.

Allyson B. Crawford

3:03 PM  
Blogger Hard Rock Hideout said...

I have to admit, that the only disc on your list that I know is Hanoi Rocks Street Poetry. This almost made my top 15, but there are other discs that I have listened to more.

I have always heard good things about the White Stripes. I don't know the rest of them though.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Barbara (aka Layla) said...

Bob, you forgot "Magic", I'm sure it was just a simple oversite.


4:29 PM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

Chuck - That's okay, because there's a lot of stuff you asked me to listen to that I didn't get to yet.

Mark - The White Stripes never cease to amaze me. It'd be worth checking that out again as well as listening to some of their older releases.

Bill - We don't have any in common, but I know there was some good stuff on your list and some others that I'd like to hear. As far as my list goes, I'd be pretty surprised if many people agreed with everything I picked.

Allyson - I was really impressed with Street Poetry. Unlike a lot of the glam stuff, I thought there was real substance in there. It wasn't just a silly party record.

Rob - You might like the White Stripes. They're one of the best rock bands out there right now and they keep challenging themselves. Unlike most of the participants in our group posting, my list really stretches across the spectrum of rock music. My lack of focus on a single genre I think keeps me from developing a consistent readership (at least that's what I tell myself to convince myself that people don't just dislike my writing!). Like I said above, I doubt many people would like everything on my list.

Barbara - Yeah, it was an oversite. Seriously, Magic was a good album and perhaps Springsteen's best in some time, but it wasn't knocking on the door of my year's best.

12:17 AM  

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