12.10.2007

B-Side Music Presents: Best Albums of 2007

The start of something new requires the recognition of that which was. So, as B-Side Music officially launches, we start with our Best Album of 2007 Retrospective. There will be a whole slew of new features, polls, and new fangled things in the year to come, but what better place to start than with a look back at an impressive year of music. Feel free to comment or add your own “Album of the Year." Also, be sure to check out our new partnership with Suite101.com. See the banner above.

1. Neon Bible – Arcade Fire
This is what a pop record should sound like. Montreal's Arcade Fire exceeds all expectations with their second album. With orchestral arrangements, weird sounds, and plaintive vocals, "Neon Bible" is full of both grungy garage band mistakes and meticulously orchestrated woodwinds. Processed strings and mandolin. Quiet rumbles and loud rumbles. But mostly just eleven songs that are just really good.

2. The Reminder – Feist
Despite many referring to the single “1234” as that “one iPod song”, this sophomore effort from Canadian songstress Lelie Feist with its blend of electronica, folk, and delicate inviting vibrato. The Reminder is as appealing in its simplicity as it is charming


3. This is Ryan Shaw – Ryan Shaw
This is the latest album on the list. Apart from John Legend, Ryan Shaw may be the only person who can save R&B/Soul music. Shades of Otis, Marvin, and Stevie with piercing horns, passionate imploring phrasing make this the finest soul album in years.

4. The Distant Future* – Flight of the Conchords
This is the only album that is actually an EP on the list, but the third best folk parody band in New Zealand proves that it is possible to make great music and couple it with a sense of humor. As dour as some of their peers can be, Jemaine and Brett make music fun to listen to again.

5. The Challengers – The New Pornographers
Produced by Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla this album is infinitely listenable. Neko Case’s few tracks showcase her sublime voice, at once delicate and strong. There are layers upon sonic layer to enjoy with interesting and surprising instrumentation throughout.

6. Dan in Real Life (Soundtrack) – Sondre Lerche
With the inclusion of a soundtrack on the “Best of…” list, one might come to the conclusion that this was a weak year for music but the inclusion of this album over records such as Wilco’s newest is a testament to how remarkable this album is. Sondre Lerche has once again used his folksy acoustical blend of jazz guitar and quirky lyric to capture moments of longing, yearning, and love for a lifetime.

7. Armchair Apocrypha – Andrew Bird
Brilliant Prose + Ingenious instrumentation + whistling = Andrew Bird’s tenth album Armchair Apocrypha. Tales of plane crashes, characters like the kings of Macedonia set this album apart by themselves but when Bird adds unobtrusive acoustics, Wurlitzer and Moog, and his championship whistling his songs become his most distinct, unrestrained, and inventive yet.

8. Tegan and Sara – The Con
While darker and quirkier than So Jealous, The Con is still power pop packed with instant hooks and the lyrics that stray from the typical pop. Sonic treats belie measured emotion as in "Nobody likes to but I really like to cry" or "I felt you in my legs before I ever met you." Honest lyrics that add an emotional depth rarely heard on the radio.

9. Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger
There has never been a better, stronger or more coherent Ryan Adams than Easy Tiger. Tiger has just the right blue-eyed, steely soul with a faint shade of country courtesy of the ubiquitous slide guitar. The stunning melodies, tightly focused lyrics and tracks all too brief leave the feeling of melancholy calm which is a departure from previous efforts. A slow, intentional listen rewards the audience.

10. Bright Eyes – Cassadaga
On their sixth and most straightforward album, Bright Eyes once again incorporates a revolving cast, this time including Rachael Yamagata, M. Ward, and Gillian Welch. Frontman Conor Oberst, whose voice quakes and wanders through each track, has followed 2005's I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning with a proficient and accessible ensemble of unreserved pop orchestration and lavish folk that chronicle he navigates the American political and cultural landscape.

1 comment:

Jason - Po' Safe Beats said...

Though I don't think I have heard any of the music on my list, I still nominate Little Brother "GetBack" as the best (or at least my favorite) album of the year.

-Jason