Here we go again! This is TC’s top 40 albums of 2007.
It’s hard to believe it’s already time for my 5th year-end countdown. Nevertheless, here we are. Every year since 2003, I’ve been counting down my favorite music of the year, and this year is… well, a little different.
My personal weekly countdown, The TC 10, is no longer with us… it closed out at the end of 2006. In past years, I calculated my favorite singles of the year using statistics from The TC 10. So this year, for the first time, I won’t be counting down my favorite singles. Without the help of The TC 10, how could I ever come up with 120 singles of the year, in order? Impossible, I say.
Although there won’t be a proper singles list, there will definitely be much to come this year. It’ll be another struggle to get it all done by the end of the year. I’ve doubled my list of albums from 20 to 40, and there will be some special features. On the agenda, I’ll start with albums from 2006 that I missed out on until this year, continue with some miscellaneous singles of 2007 (none of which from my top 40 albums), and finally the feature presentation, my top 40 albums of 2007.
So, 2006 was a great year for music, and it was all about Cat Power and Lily Allen at the top. But what about 2007? Will superwomen reign supreme again? You’ll have to stay tuned over the next two weeks and find out, of course. If this year is anything like the others, it’ll be a fun trip. The long road to #1 starts right here, and I hope you’ll be along for the ride with me once again.
The fun really begins now! For the first installment of TC’s top 40 albums of 2007, I’ll continue a trend I started in last year’s countdown. Here are some albums from 2006 that I didn’t discover until this year. For whatever reason, when these albums were released, I completely slept on them. But then 2007 rolled around, I found out about them, and I was like, hey, these albums are really awesome.
Why I chose Inside The Hollow
This album was never even released in the United States. Somebody decided that nobody wanted to hear Lillix and it got shelved. Well, that person is a complete idiot. It’s an amazing pop album from beginning to end, with some real passion, energy, and emotion that you won’t find in a lot of other pop records. I discovered it shortly after 2007 began, and I’m glad I did.
Highlights from Inside The Hollow
• "Just Like You" — I know without you I’ll try to stay calm, strong, beautiful inside my mind
• "Poor Little Girl" — How do you deal with their lies and blues? If you’re feeling down, you’ll always lose
• "Sweet Temptation" — Maybe it’s my conscience calling, what does it mean? Who should I be?
Why I chose The Black Parade
In years past, I was always quick to write off My Chemical Romance as just another generic band that wasn’t worth listening to. But once I finally got around to listening to The Black Parade, that all changed. This album is pretty epic, and the rock out the house track "House Of Wolves" was my clear favorite from the beginning that made me listen to this album again and again.
Highlights from The Black Parade
• "Welcome To The Black Parade" — I’m not a hero, I’m just a boy who had to sing this song, and I don’t care!
• "Teenagers" — If you’re troubled and hurt, what you got under your shirt will make them pay for the things they did
• "House Of Wolves" — Tell me I’m a bad man, kick me like a stray, tell me I’m an angel, take this to my grave
Why I chose Boys And Girls In America
Another one I discovered shortly after the year began. This album is basically one giant story. The lead singer more-or-less talks his way through the entire album, telling the story as it progresses, with the help of some actual singers in the background every now and then. It sounds crazy, and it is, but it works really well.
Highlights from Boys And Girls In America
• "Hot Soft Light" — It started recreational, it ended kinda medical
• "Stuck Between Stations" — Most nights are crystal clear but tonight it’s like we’re stuck between stations on the radio
• "Chillout Tent" — The kids came from miles around to get messed up on the music
Why I chose Corinne Bailey Rae
OK, who hasn’t heard this album? Everyone who visited a Starbucks during 2006 was probably guaranteed to hear it at least once. I knew it existed, too, I just didn’t take the time to listen all the way through until this year. Maybe I thought she was overrated. But once I actually listened, I found out why everybody else loved it so much. The deluxe edition that came out this year added more tracks and made it even better.
Highlights from Corinne Bailey Rae
• "I’d Like To" — I just like to make you see that I desire the simple things
• "Munich" — People are fragile things, you should know by now, be careful what you put them through
• "Put Your Records On" — Tell me your favourite song, you go ahead, let your hair down
So, what the H is this? My list of "miscellaneous" songs of 2007 is basically a bunch of stuff I enjoyed throughout the year, but not quite enough to check out the entire album. None of these songs come from my top 40 albums of 2007, so there will be no repeats. These songs are just some extra stuff I happened to like.
YEE HOO, this song was a great way to kick off the year. Can’t deny how addictive it was.
If you’re not sort of happy after listening to this festival of fun, there’s something wrong with you.
I’m not sure if it was ever a single. Regardless, it’s one of Lily’s meanest songs ever, and it’s hilarious.
For whatever reason, I never really took the time to explore more music by Tokyo Police Club.
Yes, I like a song by Katharine McPhee. Soul patrol! (Wrong person). I played it over and over again.
It’s The Cranberries singer solo, making music that, well, sounds the same. Nothing wrong with that!
k-os is one of those artists I always say I should check out more in-depth, and then I never actually do.
Girl is crazy. When you need someone to supply the straight-up insane, Björk is your go-to artist.
I never got into the full album, but I can’t deny this single was all over my playlists in the spring.
Somebody tell Santi, it’s true! Stephanie McIntosh actually made my list. I played this song a lot.
For years, I’ve been a casual fan of Queens, and well, this year didn’t do much to change that.
Mandy, maybe I’d like you more if you didn’t hate yourself so much. This song is great anyway!
Why should I deny that I listened to "Glamorous" every day for like a month? No shame in that.
So, yeah, Fall Out Boy isn’t bad. What is this, a whole list of guilty pleasures? Might as well be.
Here’s another infectious one that I couldn’t stop playing. Then it got really annoying. Oh well!
Tell that girl to step up to the plate, I wanna pitch… little bitch! How could anyone not love this?
Radio never did this song justice. The album version is a 6-minute rachfest that got me hooked.
Great sample, great video, great collaboration, and really just great all around… R.I.P. Pimp C.
Take infectious whistling and the soothing voice of Victoria Bergsman and a hit you shall make.
Best band from Antarctica ever! They performed for Live Earth on a giant fuckin’ sheet of ice.
It took me about a dozen listens before I realized the song is really talking about the apocalypse.
What a happy song! I first heard it on the radio in July and it warmed my soul with smiles and lollipops.
Can’t deny the LP… they know how to put on a show and they know how to crank out the hits.
Man, what an ugly band! This is the prettiest picture of them. Oh and this song ruled this summer.
This one came out of nowhere. Beck was just like, hey I feel like releasing a single, and so it was.
This was released in the summer but blew up in the fall. It was unstoppable, and I’m shameless.
I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a full Jimmy Eat World album, but their singles are great when they pop up.
I’m probably gonna kick myself next year and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga will end up on "Missed from 2007."
Holy shit this is a great picture, where did I find this? That’s beside the point. Addictive as always, V.
Somebody I know praised the juxtaposition of male/female vocals in this song. They were right.
I don’t think I’ve heard many songs that just lay it all out on the table like this one. Amazingly fresh!
Apple’s iPod commercials are pretty much the new hit-makers. Insert song, people will download.
This one never made its way to the U.S., but it made its way to me in the fall, and I fell in love with it.
With the extra stuff out of the way, it’s time to begin for real. The albums everybody but me knew about in 2006 are done, the miscellaneous singles from each season are done, and now we’re set for the feature presentation: TC’s top 40 albums of 2007.
Why I chose X
Kicking off the list in a big way, Kylie’s back in full force… X shows that nothing can slow her down. The experimental big band style revival found on "2 Hearts" is stunning and amazing, and I wish there were more like it on the rest of the album. Nevertheless, there’s some really solid, really enjoyable dance pop here. I’ll enjoy this album for some time to come.
Highlights from X
• "2 Hearts" — Two hearts are beating together, I’m in love, WOO, I’m in love, WOO
• "Like A Drug" — I never had a ride as delicate and fine, you really blow my mind
• "Sensitized" — Can’t hold back, the minute I try, you trip the switch and I’m sensitized
Why I chose My Dear
I don’t really know anything about this band. I downloaded their album upon recommendation from some guy named Jim. What I found was that it’s actually a more than decent album. I think they’re one of those Warped Tour bands; that’s the basic sound we’re talking about here. There’s a female singer, so that drew me in. Nothing too special here but it’s a good listen and worthy of inclusion.
Highlights from My Dear
• "My Sweet Unvalentine" — I get so lost and so confused, I’m just so tired of being used
• "I Was Right" — I was right and you were wrong, it’s not that hard, go on, go on
• "Brilliant Lies" — To begin again is gonna take more than I think I’d ever have to give
Why I chose The Black and White Album
I love The Hives. Their uncompromising "we’ll do whatever we want and like it" style is hilarious, and their ability to make quality music that rocks the house is never compromised either. The first track, "Tick Tick Boom," starts everything off in a huge way and sets the tone for the rest of the album. I wish I could see these guys in concert.
Highlights from The Black and White Album
• "Tick Tick Boom" — Now you come crying to me, but it’s too late! Get your head out the sand, but it’s too late
• "T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S." — You’re looking at black and white, seeing our name in lights
• "It Won’t Be Long" — No bright lights, no big city went to my head, so I won’t stick around in this town
Why I chose Good Girl Gone Bad
I couldn’t make this list without acknowledging the ubiquity of Rihanna this year. Just about everybody came around to like "Umbrella" at some point. You couldn’t avoid it, and most of the time, you didn’t want to. Jay-Z’s useless intro is another story, but some stations were smart enough to edit that out in favor of an instrumental intro. The rest of the album is all over the place, and that’s a good thing. She’s brilliantly seductive on "Shut Up And Drive," mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore on "Breakin’ Dishes," and reflective on the final title track. No mistakes to be made here; Good Girl Gone Bad is quality all over and is one of the best albums of 2007.
Highlights from Good Girl Gone Bad
• "Umbrella" — When the sun shines, we’ll shine together, told you I’ll be here forever, said I’ll always be your friend
• "Shut Up And Drive" — Get you where you wanna go if you know what I mean, got a ride smoother than a limousine
• "Breakin’ Dishes" — I’m breakin’ dishes up in here, ALL NIGHT, uh-HUH, I ain’t gon’ stop until I see police LIGHTS
• "Good Girl Gone Bad" — Easy for a good girl to go bad, and once we gone, best believe we gone forever
Why I chose Yours Truly, Angry Mob
Kaiser Chiefs kept it coming this year with another worthy album. The first single, "Ruby," is one of the most addictive songs of the year; the (almost) title track is pounding and infections and one of the best on the album; "Boxing Champ" is a rare glimpse at a really different type of sound; and the final track, "Retirement," is a humorously honest take on life in general. Great Job!
Highlights from Yours Truly, Angry Mob
• "The Angry Mob" — We are the angry mob, we read the papers every day
• "Ruby" — Due to lack of interest, tomorrow is cancelled, let the clocks be reset and the pendulums held
• "Boxing Champ" — The man I became is a tragic bore, and he’s not a boxing champ anymore
• "Retirement" — Brand new product and a potential buyer, on this next transaction surely I could retire
Why I chose My December
It’s too bad Kelly Clarkson’s experiment wasn’t a better success for her. As someone who comes from American Idol, she’ll probably never be able to fully explore her more eclectic music interests, instead being chained to the formula again for her next record. That’s a shame. My December is a grand example of a pop artist trying something truly different and truly personal. No wonder it didn’t do so well commercially.
Highlights from My December
• "Never Again" — If she really knows the truth, she deserves you… a trophy wife, oh how cute
• "Judas" — Couldn’t believe, how you deceived, I never thought you’d do that to me
• "Haunted" — Just when I found my world, they took you, they broke you, they tore out your heart
Why I chose Fur and Gold
This album is pleasantly haunting from beginning to end, and absolutely chilling at some points. Natasha Khan, the lead singer, is a perfectly mysterious character to front this band. In case you never heard of them, our friends at Wikipedia say "their music has been likened to the work of Björk, Thom Yorke, Cat Power, Tori Amos, and Kate Bush." Sounds good, right? It is. On top of the album itself, the excellent "What’s A Girl To Do?" is one of the most creepy, mystifying, and intriguing music videos of the year.
Highlights from Fur and Gold
• "What’s A Girl To Do?" — When your dreams are on, a train to train wreck town, then I ask you now, what’s a girl to do?
• "Sarah" — And when she died, she was going nowhere, nowhere, nowhere
• "Horse And I" — They sang to me, this is yours to wear, you’re the chosen one, there’s no turning back
Why I chose The Mix-Up
One of Beastie Boys’ strengths is their ability to crank out some incredible instrumental tracks. We’ve heard many of them before as interstitials on their previous albums. Now we got ourselves a whole album of them, and it’s awesome. What else is there to say? Just check it out if you haven’t yet. I’m also anxiously awaiting their next record, for which they’ll be back on the MC side of things.
Highlights from The Mix-Up
• "14th St. Break" — You know, when an album is entirely instrumental
• "B For My Name" — It’s kind of hard to pick out my favorite lyrics from each song
• "Off The Grid" — Actually it’s downright impossible, so here’s filler text
Why I chose Wincing The Night Away
The Shins bordered my year nicely. In the beginning of the year, the amazing "Phantom Limb" was a must-listen every day for a pretty long time, and at the end of the year, a good set at KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas inspired me to dust off this album and listen to it a few more times. Can’t go wrong with a little The Shins in your life.
Highlights from Wincing The Night Away
• "Phantom Limb" — Stepping over what now towers to the sky, with no connection
• "Australia" — Dare to be one of us girl, facing the android’s conundrum, you see I felt like I should just cry
• "Turn On Me" — I’ll bow out from the fight, those old pious sisters were right
Why I chose We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
Modest Mouse, or Marrdest Mouse as some have affectionately called their new line-up (how cool is it that The Smiths’ Johnny Marr is actually in the band, by the way?), was at it again this year with another great album. In the first few days of 2007, "Dashboard" got me pumped for what was to come, and it remains my favorite track from the album. Just about every track is solid, though, and I think it’s my favorite album to date from the band.
Highlights from We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
• "Dashboard" — Oh we could’ve been, should’ve been worse than you would ever know
• "We’ve Got Everything" — We’ve done everything like trial by fire, so I guess we’ll stop trying now
• "Invisible" — No matter what consuming sort of mission you’re on, you’re not invisible inside your car
Why I chose New Maps of Hell
Another simply great album from Bad Religion, New Maps of Hell is another set of fantastic songs from beginning to end. This band is an old standby that keeps cranking out good music with a worldly point of view and lots of relevant commentary that not many other bands are willing to put in their music. When a new Bad Religion album comes out, you pretty much know it’s going to be solid before you even listen.
Highlights from New Maps of Hell
• "Fields of Mars" — Maybe we can make it right, someday, I’ll see you high above the fields of Mars
• "Grains of Wrath" — With the grains of wrath blazing a path from sea to shining sea
• "Scrutiny" — It seems like a lifetime of scrutiny, wither the path and whether worth the fee
Why I chose Is Is
So this isn’t really an album, if you will, it’s just an EP. Nevertheless, it’s pretty good stuff, so I think it’s worthy of inclusion on the list. Yeah Yeah Yeahs had a bunch of old songs sitting around, "written amidst one of the most turbulent and emotionally unstable periods" in their history, so they decided to record them and release them. Turned out pretty good!
Highlights from Is Is
• "Rockers to Swallow" — And out of the beats of tomorrow, tell me what beat fills the night
• "Isis" — We’ll throw them to the sea and watch the murder of the wilds to the music of the deep
• "Kiss Kiss" — We’re three we’re three in the dark tonight, oh baby my snake is a shark tonight
Why I chose Disco Romance
You’re probably already like "what the hell is this thing," but I’m telling you right now, open your mind and check this out. Sally Shapiro is the pseudonym of an unknown European singer who put this album together last year. It’s hard to believe it was recorded in 2006, because it sounds like nothing else from the last 20 years. It’s officially known as a revival of Italo disco and ’80s Eurobeat, but I say it’s like a psychedelic trip back to late-night MTV in December 1982 at 4 AM, and you’re snowed in, and the music is sad but the words are happy, and it’s so late you don’t even realize what’s going on. It’s amazing.
Highlights from Disco Romance
• "I’ll Be By Your Side" — When the world is falling all apart, I’ll be by your side, tonight
• "I Know" — I know you’re my love, even though sometimes I believe I will wake up from this dream
• "Find My Soul" — Take my hand and show me you’ll understand
Why I chose Under The Blacklight
Some of the real hardcore indie types would have nothing to do with this record, claiming it’s too mainstream, too shallow, too different from Rilo Kiley’s old stuff. I say to hell with that. It’s an experiment in a different style of music instead of just another album of the same exact stuff, and I think it worked pretty well. The excellent "The Angels Hung Around" is my favorite track.
Highlights from Under The Blacklight
• "The Angels Hung Around" — And the angels hung around as they carried me away
• "Silver Lining" — I never felt so wicked, as when I willed our love to die
• "The Moneymaker" — They showed the money to you, you showed them what you can do
Why I chose Can I Keep This Pen?
Before they released this album, Northern State said, "We have either lost our minds completely or we made the best record of our career. You decide." I think I’m going to go with "both." There’s a lot more singing on this album than their previous ones, and it’s really a big awesome cluster of stuff that you can appreciate if you have the right attitude about it. Plus, I’ve seen them in concert and met them twice, and they’re some of the nicest people out there, so that gives them an instant boost in my book.
Highlights from Can I Keep This Pen?
• "Better Already" — We’re getting better already, the truth be told, you know we’re better already
• "Mother May I" — Complex times call for complex rhymes, a lime to a lemon said a lemon to a lime
• "I Luv It When Ya" — My girlfriend knows how I like to rock it, we lock in rhythm right in the pocket
Why I chose Zeitgeist
Billy Corgan and friend(s) returned this year with a new album as Smashing Pumpkins, and well, the name "Smashing Pumpkins" is what sold it. It’s not a bad album, either. Back when "Tarantula" was released, it got me excited for this album in a big way, and it remains one of my favorite singles of 2007. There’s a lot of other greatness on this album too, like the powerhouse that is "Doomsday Clock." The largest blunder on Corgan’s part was assuming that people actually wanted to take 10 minutes to listen to them open their concerts with the drawn-out, epic but too "look at us we’re being epic" track, "United States." It was especially ridiculous at Live Earth, for which their entire set was only 20-25 minutes in the first place. Beyond that, the rest of Zeitgeist is good, and my top 40 albums of 2007 would be incomplete without it.
Highlights from Zeitgeist
• "Tarantula" — If it’s a white hot soul they want, then a black heart they’ll get
• "Doomsday Clock" — These lonely days, when will they ever stop, this ticking in my heart, is everyone afraid?
• "Come On, Let’s Go" — It’s all the same, they cannot wait, their love spells hate
Why I chose Kala
Back in 2005, when M.I.A. released Arular, it seemed pretty nuts. That was nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. In terms of straight-up insanity, Kala blows it out of the water. You’ll listen to this album and either think it’s an incoherent mess or a work of genius. Either way, M.I.A. is doing what no one else will. Just look at the damn album cover; if anything sums up how insane this piece of work is, that’ll do it. When I listen to this album, I feel transported to some other time and place like my mind is completely gone. That’s pretty cool. I love the "Blue Monday" music and Pixies references in "20 Dollar." The unparalled emotion in "Jimmy" is a nice touch. And of course, who can deny the greatness of the close-out track, "Paper Planes."
Highlights from Kala
• "Paper Planes" — All I wanna do is [BANG BANG BANG BANG] and [KA-CHING!] and take your money
• "20 Dollar" — Your head’ll collapse when there’s nothing in it, and you’ll ask yourself, where is my mind?
• "Jimmy" — You tell me that you’re busy, I know that you hear me, start acting like you want me
Why I chose In Rainbows
Everybody knows the deal already so I don’t need to explain it in-depth. Radiohead subverted the system by letting you order this album directly from them, without the help of a label, and you could pay whatever you wanted for it. The model was a very interesting experiment, and it wouldn’t work for every band, but I think it worked in this case. Anything to make some progress against the old ways is a step in the right direction. As for the album itself, it’s another solid release from Radiohead, and we get treated to some "real" instruments this time. A winner all around.
Highlights from In Rainbows
• "Bodysnatchers" — Make a sound, move back home, a pale imitation with the edges sawn off
• "House of Cards" — Forget about your house of cards, and I’ll do mine; fall off the table, and get swept under
• "All I Need" — You are all I need, I’m in the middle of your picture, lying in the reeds
Why I chose Cease to Begin
Before this year, I never really took the time to explore music by Band of Horses. The excellent "Is There A Ghost" changed all of that. Turns out the rest of the album is excellent as well. It walks the line between subdued and rocking the H out the house. It’s a balance that can’t be achieved successfully by many bands, but Band of Horses does it well. And what the hell kind of name is that, Band of Horses? I love it.
Highlights from Cease to Begin
• "Is There A Ghost" — I could sleep… when I lived alone, is there a ghost in my house?
• "Ode To LRC" — I see everyone before me, yeah, there was birthday sex and sleep
• "Cigarettes, Wedding Bands" — Failure, he said, times two breeds contempt
Why I chose Not Too Late
Some people hated on this album. Eff ’em all. Norah Jones returned this year with another fully amazing record. "Thinking About You" got things started off late last year with an incredible video and sweet sound, and when the rest of the album followed, it just got better. "The Sun Doesn’t Like You" and "Broken" are some of my favorite tracks to listen to over and over, and the metaphor-packed "My Dear Country" is a surprisingly great commentary on the current state of affairs. I love Norah and I hope she’s around for many years to come.
Highlights from Not Too Late
• "Thinking About You" — My cold hands needed a warm, warm touch, and I was thinking about you
• "The Sun Doesn’t Like You" — And time won’t pass you by… and I won’t tell you lies
• "Broken" — He’s got a broken voice and a twisted smile, guess he’s been that way for quite awhile
• "My Dear Country" — Three days later ’twas clear to all that nothing is as scary as election day
Why I chose Kismet
What the hell kind of name is that, Jesca Hoop? I love it. This one really came out of nowhere. I found out about Jesca Hoop thanks to a random post of her album that I randomly discovered, and people were commenting and saying how different and great it was. So I checked it out for myself. Her songs are extremely abstract and hypnotic. How else to explain it? Tom Waits says, "Her music is like going swimming in a lake at night." Alright! The quirky, fun, and absurd track "Intelligentactile 101" is my favorite. Overall, this is one you really have to hear for yourself, so go and listen.
Highlights from Kismet
• "Intelligentactile 101" — I’m gonna study ’em with my tongue, I want some intelligentactile 101
• "Money" — Time has turned and all the books have burned, but the lyrics remain
• "Seed of Wonder" — Once that wish did land like a star in my hand, it burned and it burned and it burrowed in
Why I chose Drastic Fantastic
Back with another great album this year is the always lovable KT Tunstall. Last year, Eye To The Telescope took the #13 spot on my top 20 albums of 2006, largely due to the fact I saw her in concert earlier that year and it was amazing. Now, KT is back for more. I especially enjoy the more up-tempo tracks on this record, and I think she’s at her best when she explores the more active and rock-ish side of things. Luckily, there’s plenty of that to be had here. The deceptively critical "Funnyman" is my favorite track off of the whole thing. Great stuff all around!
Highlights from Drastic Fantastic
• "Funnyman" — Funnyman’s got a plan to be something wonderful
• "Saving My Face" — But everything’s here all out of place, losing my memory and saving my face
• "Hold On" — Hold on ’cause the world will turn if you’re ready or not
Why I chose As I Am
I loved Miss Alicia Keys back in the Songs In A Minor days, then lost track for whatever reason, but now I’m back on the Keys train. You can’t deny she has a killer voice, solid talent, and endearing originality. It just keeps getting better and better. Now, on As I Am, she explores a surprising amount of up-tempo music as well, and I think it works excellently. That said, some of the lower-tempo tracks are also stunning, like the charming "Superwoman," as well as her collaboration with John Mayer. Nevertheless, my favorite off the whole album is the final track, "Sure Looks Good To Me," which is so uplifting and near perfect. Gosh, such a great album.
Highlights from As I Am
• "Sure Looks Good To Me" — It’s a complex situation, so live, love, lie, give love, ’cause who are we anyway?
• "Superwoman" — Even when I’m a mess, I still put on a vest with an S on my chest, oh yes
• "No One" — People keep talking, they can say what they like, but all I know is everything’s gonna be alright
• "Go Ahead" — If you think I’ma fall for this anymore, everybody say no, no, no, no, no
Why I chose Version
One day, the Ronson family will take over the world. It’s the truth. Mark Ronson came out of left field this year with the excellent Version, a compilation of covers, adapted songs, and instrumentals with that Ronson touch that you can recognize right away. From his amazing blend of The Smiths and The Supremes with Daniel Merriweather on vocals, to the cover of classic Radiohead with Phantom Planet’s lead singer, to Amy Winehouse’s take on "Valerie," to the instrumental horn section version of Coldplay’s "God Put A Smile Upon Your Face," to everything else and in between, this album is really one of a kind.
Highlights from Version
• "Stop Me" — You don’t really love me, no, no, no, you just keep me hangin’ on
• "Just" — You’ve changed the locks three times, he still comes reeling through the door
• "Valerie" — Stop making a fool out of me, why don’t you come on over, Valerie?
Why I chose Proof of Youth
If you want to have fun, be happy, and dance and rock out the house at the same time, The Go! Team is the band for you. Much like M.I.A.’s Kala, the album cover for Proof of Youth is strangely enough a pretty accurate representation of how insane this album is. Songs like "Grip Like A Vice" bring an unprecedented amount of energy and the sheer number of instruments all going at once is nothing short of nuts. Meanwhile, "Flashlight Fight" packs in the same crazy energy with some political commentary by the always-willing Chuck D, and tracks like "My World" let us take a chill pill and focus on a softer instrumental recording. Put it all together and you’ve got quite the experience. I’d love to see this band live.
Highlights from Proof of Youth
• "Flashlight Fight" — One of the best parts of this song is actually the unintelligible chorus
• "Grip Like A Vice" — Sophisticated queen M.C., yes of course that’s me, mistress of ceremony
• "My World" — Hey guess what, this song is completely instrumental, so, no words!
Why I chose Fantastic Playroom
This album is basically a dance party from beginning to end. It is indeed a fantastic playroom. New Young Pony Club specialize in the electronic but sort of rock-ish danceable music. Some of the songs have a more subdued style, like the excellent and hypnotic "Talking, Talking," while others build up to straight up dance on the roof and off the top of your building and fly away dancing like a superstar, like the incredible "The Bomb," the best track on the album. Go listen to this!
Highlights from Fantastic Playroom
• "The Bomb" — You’re no faker, love and peacemaker, come take a moment with your enemy
• "Ice Cream" — I can be the sauce you crave, I can spell what you can’t say
• "Talking, Talking" — I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna wanna wanna, I don’t wanna talk about it
• "Tight Fit" — To take the half of me would wreck the symmetry
Why I chose What If Leaving Is A Loving Thing?
Alright where the hell did this come from? I don’t even remember. Completely unknown to the U.S., What If Leaving Is A Loving Thing? is the latest release from the Swedish power pop group, Sahara Hotnights. I’ve loved these girls since 2002’s "Alright, Alright," so I was glad to hear a new album from them. What surprised me was a matured, refined, and softer sound throughout the whole album. This is definitely a huge step forward and I hope they keep making music like this. The unstoppably great "Neon Lights" is my favorite all-around track, while the saxophone on "Getting Away With Murder" absolutely kills it. Pun intended, sadly.
Highlights from What If Leaving Is A Loving Thing?
• "Neon Lights" — Never take me back to the neon lights, I was on the wrong track, help me get on right
• "Getting Away With Murder" — And if I’ll ever be found, I’ll say I’m not who you’re looking for
• "Salty Lips" — Give us some more of those sweet lies, will you? Tell us what’s not for our ears
• "Cheek To Cheek" — Trying your best to hide, and you count down ten to one, because when on zero you can smile
Why I chose Fears In The Water
Another release that sort of came out of nowhere and not many people know about (other than you FUSE viewers and maybe a few Warped Tour-goers), Fears In The Water is a surprisingly great album by little-known band The Vincent Black Shadow. Lurking in the shadows on the Bodog record label (seriously, a casino record label… they have a picture of the band in front of a slot machine), not too many know about them. So what does it sound like? OK, imagine a mix of ’90s No Doubt and Garbage, but transported back a ’40s cabaret setting, with a mysterious feel and all kinds of strange instruments on board. It’s really quite the experience, and it’s one of the most original musical concepts I’ve heard. Check them out!
Highlights from Fears In The Water
• "Dream" — They say I’m late by half a century, he died in 1943
• "The House Of Tasteful Men" — I like when you burn me for the bad things that I do to you
• "Metro" — You said I’m crazy, I know, all I can say is that the drugs don’t work no more
• "This Road Is Going Nowhere" — Another round, another round, some other town that’s going nowhere
• "Bullet On The Tracks" — Don’t call me bad, you’re the worst I’ve ever had
Why I chose Graduation
Could it be Kanye’s best work to date? Possibly. Either way, it should be no surprise that the album everybody recognized this year also made its way onto my list. He’s basically an unstoppable superstar at this point, and Graduation solidifies that status. There are some really great tracks on this album. My favorites include the Chris Martin collaboration "Homecoming," the somewhat hard-hitting and personal "Everything I Am," and the massive hit of the year, the incredibly addictive Daft Punk-backed "Stronger." But the best track on here is "Can’t Tell Me Nothing," which just gets better with time.
Highlights from Graduation
• "Can’t Tell Me Nothing" — Excuse me, is you saying something? Nuh-uh, you can’t tell me nothing
• "Stronger" — Th-that don’t kill me can only make me stronger, I need you to hurry up now, I can’t wait much longer
• "Homecoming" — Do you think about me now and then, ’cause I’m coming home again, coming home again
• "Everything I Am" — People talk shit, but when shit hits the fan, everything I’m not made me everything I am
Why I chose Sound of Silver
James Murphy, otherwise known as LCD Soundsystem, went at it again this year, pretty much proving he’s a straight-up genius. Sound of Silver is the best work from LCD Soundsystem to date. It’s a really tight album all the way through; I don’t think there’s a bad track on the whole thing. My favorite is the hilarious "North American Scum," a tongue-in-cheek comparison of us North American types to those across the pond. There’s a lot of other greatness to be had here as well, including "Someone Great," which borrows some music from Murphy’s "45:33" workout track that he assembled for the Nike iPod thing. Even though it leaked last December, it stayed strong all year long, enough to earn its way to #11 on my list.
Highlights from Sound of Silver
• "North American Scum" — When our young kids get to read it in your magazines… we don’t have those
• "Someone Great" — I wish that we could talk about it, but there, that’s the problem
• "Sound of Silver" — Until you remember the feelings of a real live emotional teenager, then you think again
• "Us v. Them" — It’s just us v. them, over and over and over and over again
Why I chose Dignity
Ah, Hilary Duff, how I love you so. She is wonderful all around. Who would’ve seen this coming? This year, Dignity came out of nowhere and proved itself to be one of the best albums of the year. It’s a dance party from start to finish, with all kinds of electronic influences and instruments I’ve never heard on a Duff record before, that’s for sure. It’s just so easily listenable, I had a hard time putting it down when it first came out. I listened to it again, again, and again, and it never got old. Almost every track is great. I don’t think it’s too much of an overstatement to say this is a work of pop genius. As for its sales, I don’t care! Sales don’t determine a good album. This is pure quality, and to leave it out of the top ten would be a foolish move.
Highlights from Dignity
• "Stranger" — There’s no kindness in your eyes; the way you look at me, it’s just not right
• "Dignity" — Where’s your, where’s your, where’s your dignity? I think you lost it in the Hollywood hills
• "Play With Fire" — Burn into the sky, love me love me, burn into the sky, if you want me
• "Gypsy Woman" — Try to run away with the gypsy woman, here today then gone for good
• "Between You and Me" — My love’s not up for negotiation, "hello" doesn’t mean an open invitation
• "Happy" — I’m happy and I can thank myself; if it were up to you, I’d be in my bed crying
• "I Wish" — I wish that you could make my world feel better and take away the hurt so I won’t be so far gone
Why I chose Riot!
Here I go again with another female-fronted band that came out this year with a surprisingly great album. There’s something irresistible about Paramore. This band pretty much is the lead singer, Hayley Williams. She’s not a sex symbol. She’s not a rebel. She’s just a sweet little girl with an amazing voice and the ability to make great songs out of otherwise generic music. She also brings an unprecedented amount of energy and happiness to their live shows. I feel like once you really sit down and listen to them, you can’t not like this band. They really did well for themselves this year. Rock on, rag-tag bunch of high school kids!
Highlights from Riot!
• "Fences" — It’s obvious that you’re dying, dying, just living proof that the camera’s lying
• "Crushcrushcrush" — They taped over your mouth, scribbled out the truth with their lies, your little spies
• "Born For This" — Alright, so you think you’re ready? OK, then you say this with me, go! We were born for this!
• "Misery Business" — Second chances they don’t ever matter, people never change
Why I chose Icky Thump
Jack and Meg hit it out of the park this time. Discarding any attempt at being radio friendly (though "Icky Thump" still did well thanks to the White Stripes name), they pretty much decided to do whatever the hell they want, and the result is their best album in years and years. Beyond the title track, some of my favorites include the fun "Rag & Bone," the near perfect "You Don’t Know What Love Is," the sharp-witted "Effect & Cause," and the repetitious "Little Cream Soda." Add it all up and this album is hard to beat.
Highlights from Icky Thump
• "Icky Thump" — Americans, what, nothing better to do? Why don’t you kick yourself out, you’re an immigrant too!
• "Little Cream Soda" — All I wanted was my ice cream colder and little cream soda, oh well oh well
• "Effect & Cause" — I ain’t the reason that you gave me no reason to return your call
• "You Don’t Know What Love Is" — No you don’t know what love is, you just do as you’re told
• "Rag & Bone" — Can’t you hear we’re selling rag and bone? Bring out your junk and we’ll give it a home
Why I chose The Good, The Bad & The Queen
First things first: Who are The Good, The Bad & The Queen? The project is a collaboration between Damon Albarn from Blur and Gorillaz, Paul Simonon from The Clash, Simon Tong from The Verve, and Tony Allen from Fela Kuti. Look at all that star power. This album is pretty subdued, not rocking out much except for the final self-titled track. Now, what is this album like? Let’s get some help from a certain online encyclopedia to explain. It’s more-or-less a concept album, as its songs are all themed around modern life in London. Damon Albarn described it as "a song cycle that’s also a mystery play about London." Most of it is pretty ominous if you pay attention to the lyrics. Some people said it was disappointing, but I couldn’t disagree more. It’s one of my favorite albums of the year. Hence, it’s here at #7!
Highlights from The Good, The Bad & The Queen
• "Herculean" — The medicine man is here 24/7, you can get it fast in armageddon
• "Kingdom of Doom" — Friday night in the kingdom of doom, ravens fly across the moon
• "History Song" — Come the day, you see the sun, hit the arch, a history song
• "The Good, The Bad & The Queen" — It’s a blessed routine for the good, the bad, and the queen
• "Three Changes" — Everything’s jolly, tunning up the hill on a stroppy little island of mixed up people
Why I chose Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
You can always count on Foo Fighters to rach out the house and down the street and around the block and then some. I was there for their limited acoustic tour last year, and it was so amazing. It secured their status as my favorite band. Now, two years after the excellent double-disc In Your Honor, the Foos are back in more traditional form on this record. It’s not anything that’s gonna change and shape the history of music as we know it, but it’s solid all around. The lead single, "The Pretender," has dominated rock radio for the longest time now. Some of the other tracks, including the epic "Let It Die" and "Summer’s End" are also great. My favorite, though, is "Long Road To Ruin," complete with a hilarious video that includes the Foos in classic comical form. Put it all together and you’ve got my #6 album of the year from my favorite band!
Highlights from Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
• "Long Road To Ruin" — Long road to ruin, fear in your eyes, under the cold street lights
• "The Pretender" — We are not permanent, we’re temporary, temporary, same old story!
• "Summer’s End" — Just keep staring at the sun, pray for summer’s end
• "Cheer Up, Boys (Your Make-Up Is Running)" — Tell me lies or tell me when, tear me up again
• "Let It Die" — In too deep and out of time, why’d you have to go and let it die?
Why I chose Neon Bible
It’s not a perfect album, but it comes pretty close. The Arcade Fire bring the awesomeness once again on Neon Bible. The lead-up to this album was pretty nuts with all the hype scattered around the Internet and the leak of "Intervention." Once the whole album came around, we got treated to something great. They kind of tease us throughout the whole album before finally giving us the masterpiece "No Cars Go" near the end. My only question is, why throw in "My Body Is A Cage" after that? It’s a great track, but "No Cars Go" needs to be the last one. I’m just nitpicking. Otherwise, Neon Bible is fantastic, enough to earn its spot as my #5 album of 2007.
Highlights from Neon Bible
• "No Cars Go" — Women and children, let’s go! Old folks, let’s go! Don’t know where we’re goin’!
• "Keep The Car Running" — There’s a fear I keep so deep, I knew its name since before I could speak
• "Intervention" — And when you finally disappear, we’ll just say you were never here
• "Black Wave / Bad Vibrations" — There’s a great black wave in the middle of the sea
• "My Body Is A Cage" — My body is a cage that keeps me from dancing with the one I love, but my mind holds the key
Why I chose Back to Black
Amy Winehouse has had quite the year, so I won’t even begin to try summarizing it. Let’s look beyond her wacky existence and focus on the main point, which is this unbelievably excellent album, Back to Black. I first heard of Amy late last year with the track "Rehab," and her strong, powerful, almost scruffy voice took a while to grow on me. Once it did, it just got better and better. This album is wonderful, from the all too foreshadow-rrific "Rehab" and "Addicted," to the excellent and nearly unbeatable "You Know I’m No Good," to the sample of "Ain’t No Mountain High Enough" driving the best song off of the whole thing, "Tears Dry On Their Own." I hope Amy gets her act together and keeps putting out great music for a long time to come. The excellent Back to Black is my #4 album of 2007.
Highlights from Back to Black
• "Tears Dry On Their Own" — He walks away the sun goes down, he takes the day but I am grown
• "You Know I’m No Good" — I cheated myself like I knew I would, I told ya I was trouble, you know that I’m no good
• "Back to Black" — We only said goodbye with words, I died 100 times, you go back to her, and I go back to… black…
• "Addicted" — You gotta call the green man, so I can get mine and you get yours
• "Rehab" — Yes, I’ve been black, but when I come back, you’ll know, know, know
• "He Can Only Hold Her" — So he tries to pacify her ’cause what’s inside her never dies
Why I chose Year Zero
Trent Reznor deserves some kind of medal. When it comes to the state of music today and dealing with the record industry, he’s my hero. When it comes to making great music, he’s just damn good at it. I loved 2005’s With Teeth, but I must say, Year Zero blows it out of the water. This is over an hour of near-flawless music, beginning with the instrumental "showdown music" as my friend described it, "Hyperpower!," and continuing all the way through no holds barred just killing it again and again and again, including the infectious "Vessel" and "God Given," and the clever "Capital G." Some more of my favorite tracks are listed below. It all ends with what has to be one of the best and most fitting close-out tracks I’ve heard in a long time, "Zero-Sum." I mean, Jesus fuck, this is an incredible album. I love that Trent made much of it available in GarageBand format, so regular folks like me can play around with the tracks and remix them. It doesn’t get much better than this! Year Zero is my #3 album of 2007.
Highlights from Year Zero
• "Zero-Sum" — Shame on us, doomed from the start, may god have mercy on our dirty little hearts; shame on us, for all we have done, and all we ever were, just zeroes and ones
• "My Violent Heart" — Can you hear it now? On hands and knees, we crawl! You can not stop us all!
• "Survivalism" — I got my propaganda, I got revisionism, I got my violence in hi-def ultra-realism!
• "God Given" — Everything you know is wrong, come on, sing along everybody now, god given!
• "Vessel" — My god, can we go any faster? Oh my god, i don’t think I can last here
• "Capital G" — Now I’m on my hands and knees, trading in my god for this one, and he signs his name with a capital G
• "The Beginning of The End" — We face no consequence, this is the beginning of the end
Why I chose The Reminder
This has been the year of Feist, more-or-less. She went from a virtual unknown to being everywhere, and it’s mostly thanks to that iPod commercial. Luckily, I had already known about her for years. "Mushaboom" and "One Evening" are two wonderful tracks from her last album that you should check out. When The Reminder first leaked early this year, I fell in love with it right away. I knew this was gonna be one of the best albums of the year. It’s easily Feist’s best to date, and she deserves all the success she’s received, and then some. I hope she continues to find more and more success as she continues her career. Let’s see, with the individual tracks, where do I start? So many tracks are so good. "The Limit To Your Love" is the best of the slower ones. "One Two Three Four" is this year’s anthem. "Sea Lion Woman" is unstoppable greatness. Together, The Reminder is so, so good, and it’s my #2 album of 2007.
Highlights from The Reminder
• "Sea Lion Woman" — Sea Lion woman, she drinks coffee, she drinks tea, and we’re so cold
• "One Two Three Four" — One, two, three, four, five, six, nine, or ten, money can’t buy you back the love you had then
• "Past In Present" — So much present inside my present, and so, so much past inside my present
• "The Limit To Your Love" — There’s a limit to your love, like a waterfall in slow motion, like a map with no ocean
• "My Moon My Man" — My moon, my man, so changeable and auch a loveable lamb to me
• "I Feel It All" — I feel it all, I feel it all, the wings are wide, wild card in sight
• "Brandy Alexander" — I’m his Brandy Alexander, always get him into trouble, I hide that I am flattered
• "The Water" — The water… the water… the water came to realize its dangerous size
Why I chose The Con
I discovered Tegan and Sara about 5 years ago, and it was the greatest discovery of a band that I’ve made this decade, easily. They’ve slowly gone from just another cool artist to one of my favorite bands, hands down. I’ve followed them from 2003’s If It Was You through 2004’s So Jealous and now to 2007’s The Con. This album leaked in pretty mediocre quality in June, and I really had to fight the urge to listen to it, but I finally gave in about a week before the proper release in July. It blew me away from the first listen. I’m just so happy with this album, I think that’s the only way I can describe it. I love every track, and I love every track Tegan and Sara have ever recorded. I got to see them in concert in November, and it was so amazing, I can’t even begin to explain. I love them so much. The show was fantastic. They did a lot of songs from The Con as well as my favorite classic, "Monday Monday Monday." I’ll say it again because I don’t know what else to say. I love Tegan and Sara. I love this album. The Con is my #1 album of 2007.
Highlights from The Con
• "The Con" — Nobody likes to but I really like to cry, nobody likes me, maybe if I cry
• "Relief Next To Me" — But I promise this, I won’t go my whole life telling you I don’t need
• "Hop A Plane" — You can’t just hop a plane and come and visit me again
• "I Was Married" — I married in the sun against the stone of buildings built before
• "Like O, Like H" — S.O.S. to my mother, take the hinges off the door, oh, oh, sugar spell it out
• "Floorplan" — I want to draw you a floorplan of my head and heart, I want to give directions, helpful hints
• "Back In Your Head" — When I get a little scared, when I get a little, run run run, run!
• "Nineteen" — I need to lay down beside you and tell you, I feel you in my heart
• "Soil, Soil" — I’m feeling directionless yes, but that’s to be expected, and I know that best
• "Are You Ten Years Ago" — If you’re taken I am yours, I’m up and doing circles
• "Dark Come Soon" — Dark, you can’t come soon enough for me, saved, from one more day of misery
• "Knife Going In" — I feel the knife going in, I’m feeling anxious, not enough to kill me
• "Burn Your Life Down" — Nothing will be lost in the end, when you burn, burn, burn your life down
• "Call It Off" — Every day, there’s a chance that I’ll start to wonder if this was the thing to do
MISSED FROM 2006
Lillix – Inside The Hollow
My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade
The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls In America
Corinne Bailey Rae – Corinne Bailey Rae
Gwen Stefani – “The Sweet Escape”
Matt and Kim – “Yea Yeah”
Lily Allen – “Nan You’re A Window Shopper”
Tokyo Police Club – “Nature Of The Experiment”
Katherine McPhee – “Dangerous”
Dolores O’Riordan – “Ordinary Day”
K-Os – “Sunday Morning”
Björk – “Earth Intruders”
Justin Timberlake – “What Goes Around Comes Around”
Stephanie McIntosh – “So Do I Say Sorry First?”
Queens Of The Stone Age – “3’s & 7’s”
Mandy Moore – “Extraordinary”
Fergie – “Glamorous”
Fall Out Boy – “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs”
Maroon 5 – “Makes Me Wonder”
Miranda Lambert – “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”
Silversun Pickups – “Lazy Eye”
UGK f/ Outkast – “International Players Anthem”
Peter Bjorn & John – “Young Folks”
Nunatak – “How Many People”
Matchbox Twenty – “How Far We’ve Come”
Colbie Caillat – “Bubbly”
Linkin Park – “What I’ve Done”
Flyleaf – “All Around Me”
Beck – “Timebomb”
Timbaland f/ Keri Hilson – “The Way I Are”
Jimmy Eat World – “Big Casino”
Spoon – “The Underdog”
Vanessa Carlton – “Nolita Fairytale”
Shiny Toy Guns – “You Are The One”
Kate Nash – “Foundations”
Amerie – “Gotta Work”
TOP 40 ALBUMS
40. Kylie Minogue – X
39. New Years Day – My Dear
38. The Hives – The Black and White Album
37. Rihanna – Good Girl Gone Bad
36. Kaiser Chiefs – Yours Truly, Angry Mob
35. Kelly Clarkson – My December
34. Bat for Lashes – Fur and Gold
33. Beastie Boys – The Mix-Up
32. The Shins – Wincing The Night Away
31. Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
30. Bad Religion – New Maps Of Hell
29. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Is Is
28. Sally Shapiro – Disco Romance
27. Rilo Kiley – Under The Blacklight
26. Northern State – Can I Keep This Pen?
25. Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist
24. M.I.A. – Kala
23. Radiohead – In Rainbows
22. Band of Horses – Cease To Begin
21. Norah Jones – Not Too Late
20. Jesca Hoop – Kismet
19. KT Tunstall – Drastic Fantastic
18. Alicia Keys – As I Am
17. Mark Ronson – Version
16. The Go! Team – Proof of Youth
15. New Young Pony Club – Fantastic Playroom
14. Sahara Hotnights – What If Leaving Is A Loving Thing?
13. The Vincent Black Shadow – Fears In The Water
12. Kanye West – Graduation
11. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
10. Hilary Duff – Dignity
9. Paramore – Riot!
8. The White Stripes – Icky Thump
7. The Good, The Bad & The Queen – The Good, The Bad & The Queen
6. Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
5. The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
4. Amy Winehouse – Back To Black
3. Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero
2. Feist – The Reminder
1. Tegan and Sara – The Con
It’s true, superwomen have reigned supreme again, just like they did last year! Thank you so much for reading and commenting on my top 40 albums of 2007. It has been a blast. It’s been really fun to count everything down for the last 5 years. Once again, thanks for being a part of this. It was a wonderful year of music!