3 years ago, if you would have told me that I would be writing a 2007 Best of List that didn't include a rap/hip-hop album, I would have probably spit beer in your face. I could go into a whole rant on why the current state of Hip-Hop didn't allow me to praise the genre, but I've already done that. Instead here is a short list of the great, new music I've discovered this year. Some of my opinions have changed from previous reviews, but that is bound to happen after repeated listening sessions.
#10 Georgie James Places
After a late 2007 release, Georgie James crept into heavy rotation with their fetching album Places. The album has enough addictive indie rock to arm Impact89FM playlists for months with james like "Need Your Needs", "More Lights", and "Look Me Up".
#9 The Rosebuds Night of the Furies
Raleigh, North Carolina's The Rosebuds added a risky electronic touch to their 3rd disc, Night of the Furies and it paid off. I was hooked by the dark, yet danceable "Get Up And Get Out", while "I Better Run" and "Hold Onto This Coat" made for a solid album.
#8 Tegan and Sara The Con
Though the Quinn sisters caught some flack from fans for a more commercial sound, The Con featured some of my favorite songs to date by the twins. The title track and "Back In Your Head" are particularly cathy, but "Knife Going In" and "Dark Come Soon" showcase the duo's unique story-telling abilties.
#7 Band of Horses Cease to Begin
Although I was late to jump on the Band of Horses hype machine, I soon found Cease to Begin was a near perfect fall album. Spectral sounds and loud riffs on "Is There A Ghost?", "Detlef Schrempf", "Marry Song", and "No One's Gonna Love You" made for a bright album in the dark months ahead.
#6 Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Terribly titled, but Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is Spoon's six album and could easily be the band's best. "You've Got Your Cherry Bomb" and "The Underdog" were infectious enough to grace my i-pod countless times this year. "Don't You Evah" and "Don't Make Me A Target" were breezy, indie rock gems that rounded out the album's upbeat sound.
#5 Amy Winehouse Back to Black
As if teleporting from the past, Amy Winehouse burst onto playlists everywhere with the retro-infused album, Back to Black. While her troublesome offstage antics caught the attention of many, her soul & jazz influenced album won over critics and bloggers most. "Rehab" burned up the pop charts, while "You No I'm No Good", the title track, and "Love Is A Losing Game" gave a feel of '60s Motown nostalgia.
#4 The Bees (Band of Bees) Octopus
One of my earliest reviews was of The Bee's (or Band of Bees in the US) stand out album, Octopus. 8 months later, my opinion hasn't changed. The Bees' eclectic musical offerings from the '60s rock stylings of "Love In The Harbor" to jazzier fare on "Got To Let Go" made for an amazing album. The musings on "Who Cares What The Question Is?" could easily make for the best bluegrass impressions of the year.
#3 The New Pornographers Challengers
Canada's "super group", The New Pornographers jumped the front of the list with Challengers. With that many great musicians contributing, how could the results not be amazing? "Mutiny I Promise You" and "My Right Versus Yours" dropped light political messages, while the title track, "All The Old Showstoppers", and "Go Places" were simply great indie rock.
#2 Feist The Reminder
Leslie Feist crafted an impressive indie pop breakthrough with The Reminder. While Apple and Verizon capitaled on the sounds of "1,2,3,4" and "My Moon My Man" for marketing campaigns, "I Feel It All" and "The Water" were equally ear pleasing. I was lucky enough to see her genius in Ann Arbor this fall and The Reminder was just as perfect live.
#1 Arcade Fire Neon Bible
In 2007, Win Butler and company crafted a hauntingly good follow-up to The Funeral. Chilling vocals and an eerie pipe organ made songs like "Intervention" and "My Body Is A Cage" creepy in a good way, allowing "Keep The Car Running" and "No Cars Go" to light up the album with '80s-esque energy. Neon Bible blessed more ear drums than any other album this year. Let's hope the band's recent success and sightings with Bruce Springsteen fuel more inspiration for another smash album.
Honorable Mention: Bright Eyes Cassadega, K-OS Atlantis: Hymns For Disco (US Release in 2007), Arctic Monkeys Favourite Worst Nightmare, Jay-Z American Gangster, Modest Mouse We Were Dead Before The Ship Was Sinking, Kanye West Graduation, Bloc Party A Weekend In The City, Editors An End Has A Start, Maximo Park Our Earthly Pleasures, Winterpills The Light Divides