Friday, January 04, 2008

favorites, 2007 edition

what better way to kick off 2008 than by rehashing 2007? I certainly can't think of any alternative. so. here you go:

Favorite albums of the year:

10) Great Lake Swimmers - Ongiara

Full of sweeping melodies, great instrumentation, and a sound that wouldn't feel out of place in an earlier generation of music. A great band that I'm excited to hear more from in the future.

Video: Great Lake Swimmers - Your Rocky Spine

Mp3: Great Lake Swimmers - I am Part of a Large Family

9) Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha

Andrew Bird is, in my opinion, simply one of the most talented musicians today. We're lucky that he's also a productive guy. ...& the Mysterious Production of Eggs was a fantastic album, and one that surely was going to be a feat to follow up, but Bird came pretty close with this record.

Take Away Show Video: Andrew Bird - Spare-Ohs

Mp3: Andrew Bird - Heretics

8) M.I.A. - Kala

Even as a fan of M.I.A.'s previous work, this album caught me off-guard, mainly because it is much more consistent than I would have expected. Basic breakdown: love 60%, really like 30%, 10% not my thing. Pretty solid, and my favorite hip-hop album of the year.

Mp3: M.I.A. - Bamboo Banga

7) Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

Forget the whole Outback thing, the real news is that Of Montreal put out their best album to date this year. Hissing Fauna... combines the best elements of its predecessors, and you could make a strong case that this album has more lyrical depth than any album prior. Here's hoping that the 2008 follow-up is just as strong.

Mp3: Of Montreal - Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse

6) Le Loup – The Throne Of…

Every year, it seems that there are a handful of terrific surprise albums that pop up. Le Loup's debut was one such record, and is a pretty remarkable work considering that it was recorded by just one person. I've yet to see how the record translates live, but they are one of my most anticipated acts to see at SXSW 2008.

Mp3: Le Loup - We Are Gods! We Are Wolves!

5) Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

So, alright, Funeral was better. Neon Bible is still a fantastic album, and certainly one of the best of this year. Each song that was released in the lead-up to this album surpassed my expectations, and I think it works great as a whole. It's hard to believe that this band has only been around five years or so. Another act I can't wait to see live some day.

Mp3: Arcade Fire - Intervention (Live)

4) Peter Bjorn & John – Writer’s Block

Sometimes when the first song I hear from a band is some great single, I'm a little weary of listening to the rest of the record, since it's hard to live up to that first impression. "Young Folks" definitely grabbed me right off the bat, but once you place that song within the context of the full album, you see that it is only one part of the whole. I'm glad to say I can't decide on a favorite track.

Myspace: Peter Bjorn & John

3) Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

When I first got a hold of this album, the tracks were actually in the reverse order from their final listing. That is the order that I got used to listening to them in, and I actually think the album goes in a better direction this way. Rather than starting on somewhat of a low note and ending on a high note, it goes the opposite direction, which made the songs resonate more with me, since many do have dark themes. This also pushed some of the singles to the back half of the album, and brought some of the dense tracks to the forefront. Give it a shot if you never got fully into this record.

Mp3: Modest Mouse - Spitting Venom

2) Radiohead – In Rainbows

On first listen, I wasn't entirely sure how I felt about this album. A few songs stood out, but it wasn't until I got through the album four or five times before it really started to grow on me. Dozens of listens later, I would say that this is Radiohead's prettiest sounding record. Tracks like "Nude" and "Faust Arp" are just plain brilliant. The bonus disc also includes several outstanding songs, including "Down is the New Up" and "Bangers & Mash." There isn't a single band that I hold to a higher standard than Radiohead, and they managed to put out an album that not only met every expectation, but also did so while taking their sound in a new and interesting direction.

Mp3 - Radiohead - Down is the New Up

1) Okkervil River – The Stage Names

Black Sheep Boy was my first introduction to Okkervil River in 2005, and while I enjoyed the album, it wasn't the clear-cut best album of that year that many of my friends claimed. I thought it was very good, but I also thought that it drifted too much for it to be a truly great record. The Stage Names manages to perfectly place catchy and meaningful songs into a 9-track, truly accessibly, near-perfect album from opening song to ending note. In an interview a short while back, Lou Reed named Okkervil River as one of the best bands around today, and it is hard to argue with him when you hear a record as complete as this one.

Mp3: Okkervil River - Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe

Video: Okkervil River - Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe


Favorite concerts of the year:

5) John Vanderslice/Bishop Allen – Club Downunder, Tallahassee, FL

4) TV on the Radio – Rion Ballroom, Gainesville, FL

3) Okkervil River – Club Downunder, Tallahassee, FL

2) Cat Power – The Moon, Tallahassee, FL

1) The Flaming Lips – Flavet Field, Gainesville, FL

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