Singing Loudly: 2007 -- A Year in Music

Singing Loudly

Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 -- A Year in Music

I think that this was a pretty good year in music with a lot of fun music coming through. It was exciting because of a lot of international styles of music coming into the picture. I'm going to run down some of my favorites and some of my least favorites from the year.

Biggest Surprise of the Year:

Flight of the Conchords. This was my favorite surprise of the year -- hands down. I love both the television show and the album. Not only are the lyrics fresh and funny but the music is good folk songs. Recently they went back to New Zealand to write some more music.

Biggest Let Down of the Year:

White Stripes. I liked their songs when they were first making it but I haven't heard anything as cool as Fell In Love with a Girl or anything like that. The lyrics and the songs just aren't what they used to be. At this point, I would rather pick up a Led Zepplin album than play this cd. I guess that they are more of a live band.

Top Ten Records:

10. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver. This band does a fabulous job of making great rock by borrowing from electronica. Songs like North American Scum show their often hilarious songwriting skills.

9. Panda Bear - Person Pitch. Their music is akin to the experience I get looking at a Van Goth painting. It's vibrant, ethereal and explosive all at once. The song Bros is one of my favorites of the year.

8. Iron & Wine - The Shepard's Dog Sam Beam makes some amazingly simple music that is so complex with the delivery. It helps that he has the assistance of a few able-bodied members of Calexico. The lyrics are something else and will keep you coming back for more.

7. M.I.A. - Kala. This is the best rap album of the year without a doubt. It helps that Maya, an anglo-Sri Lankan doesn't rap in conventional ways and uses beats from DJ collaborators around the world. It also helps that she has grown up and matured a lot since her last album. Paper Planes features gunshots and cash registers as a part of the beat.

6. Amy Winehouse - Back to Black. Maybe what I find annoying about her public life is what allows her to make such great sultry music. Her agony comes through in her deep lows and sultry note twists as her voice melts the lyrics together into a real treat. The Dap-Kings back her up with an impressive bed of music to match her voice.

5. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky. I don't know if I could omit Wilco from any of my top ten lists in years they release albums. Some people might have wanted a little more alt country rock out of Wilco, but I'm glad they softened it a little. This is an album you can put on in the background and not be embarrassed when you start to listen closely to it because it's great either way.

4. Over the Rhine - The Trumpet Child. This is probably one of the best albums Over the Rhine has put out in their already impressive catalog of music. I'm a little sad that they don't receive more accolades than they do because they are a band that deserves it. This is one of their happier albums and they do it with style and grace.

3. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible I don't think this album was as good as Funeral but it's very impressive. As Sasha Frere-Jones (of the New Yorker) says there is little about this band that is not big. The single, "Keep the Car Running" begins with a charging D chord and continues with tall lyrics. All of it comes to what could lead the charge up a hill but they just stop. This was a surprise as this band is known for their brilliant crescendos. It's worth listening to all the surprises this band brings.

2. The New Pornographers - Challengers. This is the best album the New Pornographers have made. They bring together their music into this tight, cohesive sound that was missing before. I enjoy how melodic this band is.

1. Radiohead - In Rainbows. It's not because of their marketing campaign that I select this album but because it's beautiful and brilliant. I like most of their music, but I haven't loved one of their albums since the Bends and OK Computer. To me, this album was a return to the sound I love in Radiohead. Instead of burying themselves in their inspired wall of sounds, they flow in and out of the sound and make something that is at times breathtaking.

Other Places to See:

You should check out the various lists on the internet if you want to see what others think. A few good ones, you can find some good stuff at NPR All Songs Considered, The AV Club has their very useful least essential albums of the year list, and Pitchfork Media has their way too large top 50 albums of the year list.




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