And people say that the music industry is hurting. While that may be true, it’s not the actual music that’s the problem, as this was a very fruitful year with a number of exceptional releases. It was tough to pick a favorite as a few of them were favorites when they first came out. However, some stood the test of time a little better than others. With that said, here are my music picks for 2007.
1. Amy Winehouse Back To Black
If you take away all the tabloid stories and shenanigans and just focus on the music and the lyrics, you’ll hear something pretty special. With her confessional lyrics and songs that brings you back to old Motown, Winehouse has taken something old and created something new with the help of producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi. Chock-full of heartache and soul.
2. Arcade Fire Neon Bible
No sophomore slump here! Pipe organs, big arrangements, lyrics with a bite.
These Canadians made an excellent soundtrack for the state of the world. The best album that Bruce Springsteen didn’t make this year..
3. Feist The Reminder
On first listen, I thought this was a bit scattered and wasn’t sure how I felt about it. However, with one good listen, that all changed. This album has a little bit of everything. Sometimes the records I don’t care for much at first are usually the ones I end up liking the best, and this one definitely fits into that category.
4. Bruce Springsteen Magic
Classic Bruce for the modern day. A lot of the album sounds similar to his old stuff but he still manages to make it sound relevant. The songs may be catchy but don’t let those melodies fool you...he is dealing with some bleak subject matters here.
5. The Shins Wincing The Night Away
The album is full of catchy songs reminescant of The Smiths and The Beach Boys. This record holds up so well from song to song, that by the time it’s over, you just want to play it again.
6. Wilco Sky Blue Sky
Who knew Jeff Tweedy and band would be making such great music after being clean and sober. If this is what sobriety sounds like, sign me up!
7. PJ Harvey White Chalk
A very different album for her. It consists primarily of songs on the piano and Harvey singing falsetto. It’s a beautiful, haunting album with some very dark themes.
8. Radiohead In Rainbows
If you took OK Computer and mixed it with Kid A you would have In Rainbows. Both dreamy and edgy, it has all the necessary ingredients that make up a quintessential Radiohead record.
9. Patty Griffin Children Running Through
Patty does it all here: blues, gospel, rock, folk…and all with the same intensity. And that voice! What can’t she sing?
10. Iron & Wine The Shepherd’s Dog
This is a beautiful album. At times it sounds like vintage Crosby, Stills & Nash but with enough variety to keep things interesting.
11. Spoon Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
These guys are good at making the same type of music, but somehow making it different. This is more of the same and I mean that in a good way.
12. Kristin Mooney Hydroplane
The only truly independent artist on the list. Kristin has been making music for years but this one is her best. Blurring the lines of country, folk and rock and using them as her backdrop, she wraps her sultry vocals around each arrangement. It also contains the best cover this year, “I Say A Little Prayer For You”, which she completely reinvents and makes her own.
13. Blonde Redhead 23
This band has been around for a while but I am fairly new to them. I saw them open for Interpol a few years ago and became a big fan fast. While this may be their most accessible album yet, there is still plenty of eccentricity to make this band unique.
14. Band Of Horses Cease To Begin
A recent purchase and as a result I’ve only listened to this a few times. Similar to three “The” bands: The Flaming Lips, The Shins and The Jayhawks. Who knows where it would have been on the list had I had the chance to really delve into it.
15. Peter Bjorn And John Writer’s Block
These three Swedes made one fun album. It’s fairly diverse but has a very cohesive sound. “Young Folks” has all the makings of a modern rock classic.
16. Eddie Vedder Into The Wild
Eddie goes solo for this Soundtrack to the movie of the same name. Although my two favorite tracks “Hard Sun” & “Society” are the only songs on the album that he didn’t actually write, Eddie delivers, making them his own.
17. Crowded House Time On Earth
The masters of melodies are back...and it’s a welcome return. They made a great album in the face of grief when their drummer Paul Hester committed suicide. But something beautiful came out of it as these are some of Neil Finn’s most heartfelt songs.
18. Beirut The Flying Club Cup
At times this Brooklyn band sounds like a combination of Sufjan Stevens melodies with a mix of Thom Yorke and David Bryne’s vocals. The arrangements are big and the instruments varied (French horns, accordion and organ). It all makes for one compelling sound.
19. Neil Young Chrome Dreams II
On his latest, Neil shows us his softer side with the opener “Beautiful Blackbird” which easily could have been an outtake from “Harvest.” But by the third song, Neil’s in a rockin’ mood with “Ordinary People” which clocks in at eighteen plus minutes. It’s contrasts like these that always work in his favor.
20. (Tie) Rilo Kiley Under The Blacklight
This is a bit of a departure for them as they explore their poppier side. As you’re listening though you realize that it’s yet another break-up album. Who doesn’t like a little sugar with their bitterness?
20. (Tie) Mark Knopfler Kill To Get Crimson
This is one of those subtle albums that doesn’t sound like much on the first listen. Slowly but surely the songs do reveal themselves. A more muted, yet solid effort from the former Dire Straits leader.
The Bird & The Bee “The Bird & The Bee”
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings “100 Days, 100 Nights
Annie Lennox “Songs Of Mass Destruction”
Modest Mouse “We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank”
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss “Raising Sand”
Sigur Rós “Hvarf-Heim”
Tracey Thorn “Out Of The Woods”
Top 10 Live Shows of 2006
1. Annie Lennox - United Palace Theatre - New York, NY
2. PJ Harvey - Beacon Theatre - New York, NY
3. Neil Young - United Palace Theatre - New York, NY
4. Arcade Fire - United Palace Theatre - New York, NY
5. Bruce Springsteen - Madison Square Garden - New York, NY
6. Crowded House - Beacon Theatre - New York, NY
7. Patti Smith - Beacon Theatre - New York, NY
8. Patty Griffin - Beacon Theatre - New York, NY
9. Björk - Radio City Music Hall - New York, NY
10. Sinéad O’Connor - Beacon Theatre - New York, NY