Monday, December 31, 2007

Top 15 albums of the year

That's right, my top 15 albums of the year. I couldn't pick 10. I kept getting further and further up the list, so I decided, 15 is a good solid number instead. It's gonna be long, it's gonna be good. So sit back and enjoy. And remember, we still have movies to go through, as well as some big disappointments this year in music and movies. These lists are all opinion-based, so open your ears and just listen.

So let's start at the end:

15. The Good, the Bad and the Queen : Self-titled

A fantastic first album from Damon Albarn of Blur and gorillaz fame with the likes of Simon Tong and numerous other British musicians, under the production of Danger Mouse, one of the most clever producers in recent years. The album is slow, drawling, and utterly amazing. Northern Whale is one of the best songs of the year, and I tempt you to try and get it out of your head. Damon scores another hit in his paranoid notch of music domination.

14. Justice : Cross

The best dance album of the year. Listed on Wikipedia as a French electro house duo or dance-punk. This band came to me while reading up on MSTRKRFT and CSS and Justice opened more musical avenues toward Chromeo and Digitalism. Put this record in if you want to move. If you want to shake. And don't look at the cover and think this is a Christian Rock-Pop group. I made that mistake. Twice.

13. VHS or Beta : Bring on the Comets

Part of 2007's indie-rock explosion on the scenes of my musical tastes. I'd listened to VHS or Beta previously because of good friends, and Bring on the Comets was just a beautiful treat to fall into. Listen to the title track and you'll go right back to the mid-80s with bands like Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen or listen to the more pop/radio friendly song Love in My Pocket and just beat around the house. Equal parts Modest Mouse and Flaming Lips, one of my favorite bands to follow.

12. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: Raising Sand

Wow. A folk/country/alt-rock/blues album on my list. There's another one higher up the list, but this was a complete surprise. I've loved Robert Plant since the first time my dad played me a Zeppelin song, and it wasn't until recently listening to 90.9 the Bridge that I even remembered this album came out. Gone Gone Gone completely blew me away in the way that it just hits you and feels like an old friend calling after many years away. Listen to Robert Plant and you'll hear where Jack White gets his singing voice from. It's astounding, and Alison Krauss is a name you'd never expect with him, but it works so damn well.

11. Electric Six: I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being the Master

This album gets a special award for having the longest title of one of my favorite albums of the year. Good lord. It seems like they put out an album every year, and every year, they'll make this list. Down at McDonaldz, a rap dance song, is ridiculous and fun and just a shake your ass beat. Dick Valentine has my vote for best lead singer for a band that makes no sense in its awesomeness, but they'll get me to keep coming back every single time.

10. Modest Mouse: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
Sunset Rubdown : Random Spirit Lover

This was a tie. It was too close to call. There is one more tie later on, so don't get all pissy with me. Modest Mouse and Sunset Rubdown (and all bands tied to each of these acts) seems to have a way with moving me. With beautiful guitar work and dreamy melodies, they take me back to a simpler summertime when I didn't have to worry so much about work and/or school. I could just live. And that makes them worth it to me.

9. Bloc Party: A Weekend in the City

Just wow. When Bloc Party gets pushed to number 9, there are some strong contenders ahead. Hunting for Witches has inspired me to write 2 screenplays. The ideas behind their songs open up your imagination to a strange world that exists underneath the exterior of London. A world that you've only ever dreamed of. Bloc Party has yet another great record out, but if you purchase it, only buy the special edition with the two extra songs. Number 13 is worth the price of admission alone.

8. Puscifer: V is for Vagina

Maynard James Keenan releases another version of himself in this album. The mellow, the cool, calm and collected, older and wiser Maynard who has grown angry with record labels and wants to move ahead in his life. But is still able to hold a grudge. Sour Grapes is a wonderful tribute to anyone who believes in something so vehemently that they'll hate another person for having a different opinion. And the new version of The Undertaker makes me want to move to Arizona and open a vineyard, for fear the vampires may find me and tear me to pieces.

7. Nine Inch Nails: Year Zero

The Beginning of the End to Another Version of the Truth, Trent Reznor did it again. He threw everything into this album. Soundtracks for old movies. Sound effects from Sony video games. Explosions. His hatred of the governmental powers leading the world to destruction. 2 studio albums in 2 years is an amazing feat for the man who usually puts out an album every 4+. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if there is one good thing to come from the presidency of George W. Bush, it's that Trent Reznor found his voice and a reason to continue making more music with a message behind it.

6. White Stripes: Icky Thump

The album that topped numerous top ten lists, it still manages a high footing in mine. It was a great year for the old-stylings of Jack and Meg White, and this blues influenced album hits all the high notes, but misses on a few beats. It almost feels like Jack may be holding some things back for another Raconteur album in the way of new songs, and just throwing everything but the kitchen sink in on the songs (bagpipes, acoustics thrown together with electric randomly, etc.). Still an amazing record, probably made even moreso by an amazing live show.

5. Reel Big Fish: Monkeys for Nothin' and the Chimps for Free

17 songs of pure ska glory. I love this band forever and always, and will continue to listen to them until I am dead. The only reason this is low on the list? The first 11 songs are new, and the last 6 are all redone versions, remixed and remastered new versions of songs from their very first album, Everything Sucks. Still a fun time to be had and go and see their live show. It is one of the best things to be seen, and a pure joy every time they come to town.

4. The Hives: Black and White Album

The album formerly known as the World's First Perfect Album. The album that threw the Hives right back into the forefront of American culture by being featured in Nike ads, Finish Line ads, and even a song that was used as a Cartoon Network theme song (a strange but awesome song called Fall is Just Something Grownups Invented). One of the top 5 live shows I've ever seen and will ever see, they did not disappoint with the new album. Check out Tick Tick Boom or T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S. and you might just get sucked in as well.

3. Editors: An End Has A Start
Interpol: Our Love to Admire
Arcade Fire: Neon Bible

A 3-way tie? Am I the devil? Not really. I was torn between all three of these albums. All three, very indie-rock. All three, very beautiful. All three, inspired me in my writing and made me want to strive to be a better writer. And all three, still, to this day, play in my car. What a lovely way to pick number 3, huh?

2. Queens of the Stone Age: Era Vulgaris

Who would have thought I'd have a QOTSA album on my list? For shame. Queens' most recent record is ridiculous. Each new record adds more layers to their takeover of modern Rock. With songs like Misfit Love (the song used for when my wife and I walked out after the wedding ceremony) to Sick, Sick, Sick, right on down to Run,Pig, Run, this is a band that loves commas as well as rock music. They make me love being alive and love being able to rock. And they make my beard cool.

And my number one album of the year, featuring what was considered my favorite single of 2006

1. Kenna: Make Sure They See My Face

Not a single song on this record disappointed me. Not a single one. It was 4 years in between this and his last album, and Kenna makes me wish I was a musician. From dance-pop to rock to electro and everything in between, he hits all the notes. Taking cues from the likes of Chad Hugo from the Neptunes, Kenna does things that normal mainstream thinks only Justin Timberlake can do. He makes dance music akin to early 80s Michael Jackson that make you want to be a part of it. He is an amazing talent and a very different musician, and I cannot wait to hear more from him. The one album that inspired me more than any others this year, he has put out an album at two very big events in my life, right around my wedding, and the first album came out right around the time I was breaking up with my first long-term girlfriend. And each time, his music helps me through a stressful situation.

And I am all the happier because of it.


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