Saturday, December 29, 2007

Best of 2007

10) Scene of the Crime—Bettye Levette
Bettye LeVette is not another pretty voice. She sings in a cracked Bourbon-aged voice that can distill a world of heartbreak and disappointment into a couple of syllables. Backed by the Drive-by Truckers, LeVette crafts another fine album in the Stax/Muscle Shoals tradition.

9) We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank–Modest Mouse
Isaac Brock keeps some of his annoying vocal gimmicks to a minimum and ups the quality of his songwriting.

8) Chalk—PJ Harvey
The story of failed relationship and an abortion are told as a whispery Gothic horror story. Polly Jean shelved her guitar and learned to play the piano for this album, a spooky and atmospheric masterwork.

7) Sky Blue Sky—Wilco
No, it's not Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but it's got some great stuff here. The intertwining guitars on the coda to "Impossible Germany" is a certified Grab-the-wheel-honey-I gotta-play-air-guitar moment

6) Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga—Spoon
After years of wondering what the fuss about Spoon was all about, this album won me over. Thirty-seven minutes of tight toothsome rock.

5) Sound of Silver—LCD Soundsystem
James Murphy and company pull off the hat trick: an album that makes you laugh, makes you think about life's goals and life's fleetingness, and gets you to shake your booty at the same time. "All My Friends" is my song of the year.

4) In Rainbows--Radiohead
Gorgeous and otherwordly. My favorite to listen on late drives with the moon roof open. It feels like you could drift off into the stars with the music.

3) Neon Bible—Arcade Fire
After being anointed the great indie hope, Arcade could be forgiven for folding under the pressure. While "Bible" doesn't have the quirkiness and surprises of "Funeral," the scope is wider.

2) Challengers—The New Pornographers
People who never got past that "Challenger" didn't rock like "Twin Cinema" missed an album with some of the most inventive arrangements, gorgeous harmonies and stellar melodies of the year.

1) Boxer—The National
Every time I slid this album into the CD player, I felt like I wasn't listening as much as eavesdropping. How can these songs be so revealing and enigmatic at the same time? A brilliant and brilliantly original album.

Honorable mentions:
Cold & Kind—The 1900s
Everybody—The Sea & Cake
Chrome Dreams II—Neil Young
I'm Not There—Soundtrack, various artists