Screw just ten...this was an amazing year for music! And with other notable releases coming out soon, 2008 looks pretty awesome as well!
1. SPOON * GA GA GA GA GA
Proof that you don't need to attempt an epic, sprawled out record to make a masterpiece. This sucker clocks in at 10 songs, only a lil' over a half an hour of music, and not a second goes to waste! Simply put, it's not only the best album Spoon has ever made, (and they make reeeeeeeally good albums) but it's easily one of the best albums of the decade! If you haven't listened to them, or want to listen to rock music without the ego and lazy songwriting, BUY THIS ALBUM...NOW!!!
2. BEIRUT * THE FLYING CLUB CUP
This album comes with the good and bad. The good is that it's beautiful and just one of the most unique albums of the year. The bad is that when you play it, bands of gypsies come and gather in your front lawn. Never fails. And to make matters worse, it's the brainchild of a 21 year old!!! God dammit, I'm a tired old man already and I have nothing to offer this world! Luckily he does. Broken organs, percussion all around, you can swim in the sound as it fills your room! I'm telling you, you will not be disapointed in this release.
3. AGAINST ME! * NEW WAVE
Never in a million years did I figure this punk band would make an album this awesome. Perhaps it's because they brought in legendary producer Butch Vig, perhaps it's because they refuse to forget about the social injustice in the world and just write sappy love songs, or perhaps it's because they constantly want to keep their sound fresh...whatever it is, it worked perfectly on New Wave! This was one of those albums that after it's first listen I was like, "Hmmm, that was pretty good" and then after the 20th listen, "Holy shit, this is fantastic!!!" It grows on you and catches you off guard, just prepare yourself.
4. BRIGHT EYES * CASSADAGA
I declared this my "ALBUM OF THE YEAR?!" waaaaay back when it debuted in April. Although that changed as better albums came out in between then and now, it's still very high on my list! This was probably as "straightforward" as Connor has been thus far, and pretty country as well...but I enjoyed songs like "If The Brakeman Turns My Way" and "Coat Check Dream Song" more than I probably should have.
5. NINE INCH NAILS * YEAR ZERO
Seriously focused and raging with emotion, this is everything that With Teeth wasn't. Again, early on I figured that this might hold on to take the top spot, but as you can see, there were A LOT of amazing albums this year. Nothing will help you fight the government or just deal with having a bad day like this though! (Side note, more bands should put as much thought into record promotion and packaging as Trent did. Hypercolor CD that reveals secret messages?! Now we're getting somewhere!!!)
6. WILCO * SKY BLUE SKY
"Maybe the sun will shine today
The clouds will blow away
Maybe I won't feel so afraid
I will try to understand either way"
And with that, "Either Way" begins and the most awe-inspiring album of the year is off and running. You just feel good listening to it. Oh, and it has some amazing guitar work here and there to make sure you don't forget that Wilco can totally rock out as well!
7. RADIOHEAD * IN RAINBOWS
The album is completely awesome and they should be applauded for being able to put out music on their own terms...but this is going to get a slighter lower ranking than I would have given it if they had released a disc version to stores the same time (or maybe a couple weeks later) as they released the digital download. Only because I adore my local record shop and the last thing I ever want is to ONLY buy music in files online. I'd miss the packaging, the smell of walking into the store, the awesome conversations we get to have about our favorite bands! And true, they're releasing a Box Set now and a disc version in early 2008, but it just scares me to think that this is the future of music and the record industry. (maybe I'm just too much of an "old timer" afterall.)
8. RILO KILEY * UNDER THE BLACKLIGHT
Probably would be higher on the list if it wasn't ALWAYS IN MOLLY'S CAR!!! I swear, I try to like the most unknown, crazy shit ever, in hopes that she won't steal them and horde them for herself. But Jenny Lewis knows no bounds. From what I've heard, this album is top notch. Oh, and Jenny Lewis enjoys sex...a lot...
9. EDDIE VEDDER * INTO THE WILD SOUNDTRACK
Again, here's another example of "less is more." Barely scratches 30 minutes, with sparse instrumentals and with most songs less than 2-3 minutes in length...but what it does is package a perfect companion to the film. It's even packaged like a hardcover book, with photos and lyrics. "Guaranteed" might just be the year's best song...and a beautiful tune to fall asleep to as well!
10. CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH * SOME LOUD THUNDER
It's hard making that second album. Those pesky "expectations" add up and you're stuck either trying something new (and failing) or turning in the same old song and dance that got you noticed in the first place. I think Clap Your Hands Say Yeah fared better than Arctic Monkeys, but there still was something missing. I imagine they'll work it all out in time for their third release!
11. LUCINDA WILLIAMS * WEST
A good record, but not her best. She fell into the "let's just repeat the chorus over and over again and call it a song" trap this time around. But, when she puts her mind to it, as she did on "Fancy Funeral" or "Rescue" just stand back and watch a master at work! Plus, she gives hope that we all might look that hott at age 54!
12. BEN HARPER & THE INNOCENT CRIMINALS * LIFELINE
Another one that suffers from lazy writing, although this one was more of an experiment than anything else. They finished their world tour, rented a studio in Paris for a week, wrote all the songs and recorded them without the help of any digital equipment that gave them a very raw and retro sound! I hope they go with the same idea of recording the tracks live, and keeping things minimal, but write the songs ahead of time next time!