So this is where you can really make fun of me for having too much time on my hands. I sat and thought about it, and put together my top 50 albums of the year. While I listen to a range of genres, the styles I tend to prefer really tend to reflect in my numbering. This was a hard year because I had no single favourite album and really had to think about it before picking. But, without further ado….
Top 50 Albums of the Year
1. The Besnard Lakes – Are The Dark Horse
Believe me, this was no easy decision. I didn’t even really like this album on first listen, but there was something compelling me to listen to it over and over again. And it was when I bought it on vinyl that it started becoming clearer to me. Infusing retro 60s and 70s sounds with dreamy, almost David Lynch-ian soundscapes, this sounds like saccharine ethereal nightmare music at its best. Also, this is easily one of the best sequenced albums of the year, with each track flowing perfectly into the next.
2. Field Music – Tones of Town
A near-perfect pop album that clocks in at just over a half hour. With quirky off-tempo rhythms, and interesting hooks, it’s hard not to compare these guys to XTC. But then again, that’s not a bad thing; they seem to be the only band around that plays this type of fractured pop, and with each song so short and quick, this album is over before you even know it, highlighted by its stellar closer, ‘She Can Do What She Wants’. Fun, short, and catchy. I couldn’t imagine it any way else.
3. Band of Horses – Cease To Begin
Most of the blogosphere tended to agree that BoH’s previous album was superior to this one, but I’m a firm believer in the opposite. While their previous album might have been more cohesive as a whole, I tend to prefer more of the songs on this one. Or maybe I just started listening to it at the right time where it really got to me. It’s fun, almost alarmingly simple, and catchy as hell. I may not listen to it in a year’s time, but for 2007, it was among my most played.
4. Feist – The Reminder
Like Band of Horses, most people’s general consensus was that the sophomore disc wasn’t as good as the first. But I really, really love this one, far moreso than Let It Die. I think track for track, this one is way more interesting, accessible, and really beautifully performed. Try not to start dancing by the time ‘1 2 3 4’ comes on.
5. The National – Boxer
The National seemed to have toned down their sound a little bit from their previous disc, but I think it benefits them. Highlighted by low-toned and beautifully delivered vocals, along with one of the better indie rock drummers around, this album plays melancholy better than anyone else this year. These guys are only going to get better.
6. Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
Lekman is painfully out of date with his sound, but he knows it and embraces it. Using the baroque pop of the 1960s as a template, he crafts touching and at times humorous pop songs that blend simple songwriting with loops, orchestration, and danceable beats.
7. Tranzmitors – Tranzmitors
One of two albums on here that I wouldn’t have heard if I wasn’t a reviewer for this site. This one ranks so high because quite frankly, it really is that good, and I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to go listen to it right now. There may not be a better power pop band playing right now, and this debut album proves it.
8. Battles – Mirrored
Probably the best indication of where music is going. Blending prog-rock, electronica, and instrumental craftsmanship, Battles is the result of four incredibly talented musicians coming together and putting an explosion of ideas and sound together on one disc. There is without a doubt, no other band like them.
9. The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters
Despite the super-emo band and album name, this Scottish band plays heavy and powerful guitar rock that yes, carries some degree of weighty emotion. But I think what sets them apart is their lead vocalists strong (and heavily accented) vocal delivery, that sounds simultaneously sincere and urgent. A stellar debut that only shows promise of more excellent music.
10. Iron and Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog
I was all ready to call this the album of the year after I heard leadoff single ‘Boy With A Coin’ during the summer. While the rest of the album is strong and enjoyable, it just doesn’t really measure up. It’s more indicative of Sam Beam’s growth as a songwriter and musician, but he really doesn’t transcend musically the way I think I wished he did. Nevertheless, a very exciting album with a continually expansive musical style.
11. Chromeo – Fancy Footwork
It’s hard not to love this album. The tongue-in-cheek 80s synth pop might be seen as a novelty, but there’s a considerable amount of craft used to put it together. It’s also the type of album that makes road trips more fun.
12. Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
I never thought I would enjoy this album; after the first time I heard it, I was really turned off by the whiny vocals and faux-disco sounds. But then a friend played it for me in a different context, and it all made sense to me. It’s like a heavily drugged out dance-pop record that needs to be ingested as a whole, rather than as separate tracks. It gets addictive pretty quickly.
13. Josh Ritter – The Historical Conquests Of…
Don’t get me wrong. Josh Ritter is one of my favourite singer/songwriters still performing, and last year’s The Animal Years was and still is one of my all time favourite albums. But I guess I had astronomical expectations for this one, and when it was delivered, I was slightly disappointed. Not that it was bad by any means, but it didn’t have tracks with the same immediacy as his last one. That’s not to say that there aren’t some great songs here, but I think that I just wanted this one to be incredible and it’s just very good.
14. Justice – t
This was one of my most enjoyable records of the year. It’s pretty simplistic at times, but the catchy synth-dance stuff seemed to really strike a chord with me this year. I got into Daft Punk more than ever before, and I discovered Justice, and I’m thankful I did, because this is a solid album.
15. Burial – Untrue
I’ll admit that I only listened to this album at first because of all of the buzz it was getting. But I think the accolades were merited; there is something unbelievably creepy and dark about this album, with its synth swells, punchy beats, and various vocal loops and mixes. It’s also best listened to late at night.
16. Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
I don’t know if this album is any better than their previous work, but it is by no means any worse. It’s the sign of a solid band putting out more solid work, and it makes for great background music, yet at the same time is almost always very listenable.
17. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
Wilco are one of my all-time favourite bands, and THE best live act performing today. I was a bit underwhelmed by their latest album, not because they sounded like they’re going soft, but because I know that these songs will sound so much better live. There are also a couple of throwaway songs that really make the record slow down a bit in the middle. Still, it’s Wilco, and that alone makes the record pretty dear to me.
18. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
While taking the cake for worst album title, this is further proof that Spoon can’t release a bad album. It might mean that Britt Daniel is some kind of songwriting genius, or just that he has the formula down pat. Whichever one you believe, this album is more proof that sometimes simplicity just plain works.
19. Menomena – Friend and Foe
This album is a lot of fun because it seems to always through change-ups in tempo, instrumentation, and lots of quick and punchy pop hooks. With some of my favourite drumming and some really great songs, I think its biggest problem is that it runs just a bit too long. But otherwise, these guys sound like they’d be incredible live.
20. Okkervil River – The Stage Names/Golden Opportunities Mixtape
While I didn’t love this Okkervil River album as much as their previous one, there’s something so appealing and alluring about Will Sheff’s vocal delivery and his usually clever lyrics. What I think completed my enjoyment of the album was the recently (online) released Golden Opportunities Mixtape, full of some really interesting covers. They show the group’s ability to make other songs into their own.
21. James Blackshaw – The Cloud of Unknowing
22. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
23. Laura Veirs – Saltbreakers
24. Glen Hansard and Marketa Inglova – Once Soundtrack
25. Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
26. Stars – In Our Bedroom After The War
27. Apostle of Hustle – National Anthem of Nowhere
28. Broken Social Scene Presents Keven Drew – Spirit If…
29. The Good, The Bad, and the Queen – The Good, The Bad, and the Queen
30. The Go! Team – Proof of Youth
31. The Broken West – I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On
32. Do Make Say Think – You, You’re A History In Rust
33. Kanye West – Graduation
34. Patrick Wolf – The Magic Position
35. Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger
36. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Living With The Living
37. Jim Bryson – Where the Bungalows Roam
38. Loney, Dear – Loney, Noir
39. The Twang – Love It When It Feels Like This
40. Voxtrot – Voxtrot
41. Buffalo Tom – Three Easy Pieces
42. Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
43. The New Pornographers – Challengers
44. The Clientele – God Save The Clientele
45. Scott Walker – And Who Shall Go The The Ball? And What Shall Go To The Ball?
46. Dirty Projectors – Rise Above
47. The Shins – Wincing The Night Away
48. The WinterKids – Memoirs
49. Dntel – Dumb Luck
50. Bloc Party – A Weekend In The City
That’s all, dog. Questions? Complaints? Please post below and I won’t do anything about them.