Sunday, December 30, 2007

Top 10 Albums of 2007: Blame Canada

There's something special brewing up in the Great White North. Some of the best music in the past few years comes from Canada. This year it was even more apparent while compiling my top 10 list. The best part, in my opinion, is that it's very familial. Everyone is in everyone else's band.

Check this out (names of bands who put out albums in '07 are bolded):

Lonesome American Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse signed Wolf Parade to their record deal. Wolf Parade’s lead singer Spencer Krug also fronts Sunset Rubdown and he’s in the band Swan Lake with Frog Eyes’ lead singer Cary Mercer. Dan Bejar is a member of both Swan Lake and Wolf Parade and, oh yeah, he’s also in a little band called The New Pornographers.

Then, on the other end of Canada, take the band Stars. Owen Pallet who wrote the Arcade Fire’s string movements for their first two albums, helped work on some Stars remixes. Three Stars members are also in Broken Social Scene, whose alumni include Kevin Drew and Leslie Feist (she of the catchy 1,2,3,4 ipod Nano song).

Pretty cool, eh? With limited amounts of adieu, here's my Top 10 of 2007.

#10 Frog Eyes - Tears Of The Valedictorian

There's a good chance I cannot pinpoint one specific lyric from this entire album. Such is Carey Mercer's vocal styling. But he sings in front of swirling, chaotic melodies that together make for some amazing songs.

Key Track: "Bushels". 9 Minutes of insanity that somehow mesh to create some beautiful chaos.

#9 Peter, Bjorn and John - Writer's Block

This album came out in their native Sweden last year, but since it didn't make it stateside (legally) until February of 2007, I'm putting it on the list. All hail technicalities! If you haven't heard anything from this album you probably don't make it out much. Actually, you probably do make it out much seeing as songs from this album get tons of play in countless ads and TV shows. You know that song with all the whistling? That's "Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn and John.

Key Track: 'Up Against The Wall". Alternately referred to as, that song in the Levis commercial.

#8 Vampire Weekend

This is one of those "widely circulated/not yet released" albums. Consider it like a rap mix tape minus Little Wayne. Vampire Weekend is made up of a few hyper literate dudes from Columbia University who play a style of music described as "Upper West Side Sowetto". I have no idea what this means, but I do know they play catchy little ditties, sing about Cape Cod and Boston and their album, when officially released, will probably be in the Top 10 of 2008.

Key Track: "Oxford Comma". I'm a sucker for songs about punctuation.

#7 Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover

A lot of the musical styling I mentioned in reference to Frog Eyes can be appropriated here, although Sunset Rubdown does it with much more flair. I would describe this album as if you were to head to the theater on acid. And, while I'm unfamiliar with both (going to the theater and doing acid) it sounds about right.

Key Track: "The Mending Of The Gown". Indescribable. Might be my favorite song of the year and is most definitely my favorite to sing. I need to find indie rock karaoke.

#6 Stars - In Our Bedroom After The War

Brilliant album, great for, uh, lazing about in your bedroom (wars not necessary). This placement on the list is in no way related to the fact that I know the brother-in-law of Stars' drummer and he has sent me free gear in the mail.

Key Track: "Window Bird". Hard to pick just one as the whole album has a magnificent flow.

#5 The White Stripes - Icky Thump

I'm still harboring ill feelings towards Meg White for canceling out on the Austin City Limits Music Festival. As if her acute anxiety wasn't bad enough, now she has to worry about an anonymous blogger from the intrawebs hating on her. Great album though. Really shocking.

Key Track: "Conquest". A duel between Jack White's guitar and a mariachi trumpeter?! Sign me up!

#4 Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare

Despite all the Canuck love I'm still a sucker for Brit rock. This album took awhile to grow on me, especially being in the shadow of their spectacular debut, but I really do love it. Alex Turner, despite being one of the tiniest men I have ever accidentally bumped into, is still the finest songwriter concerning songs about being in your early 20's.

Key Track: "Brianstorm". Biggest potential diss/compliment to anyone named Brian ever recorded. Also happens to be laden with fantastic riffs.

#3 Radiohead - In Rainbows

I was finally able to download this album at about 2am the night it came out. Suffice it to say, I was up until 4:30am with my headphones in, listening and re-listening to this majestic album. And, I'm stealing this quote from Rolling Stone, many people paid more for a gallon of gas this year than they did to buy this amazing album.

Key Track: "All I Need". Thom Yorke singing over a meandering synth crunch. So good.

#2 Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank

Critics of this album say it's too accessible. What?! Sounds like some upset fanboys, mad that their favorite band made catchier music. This album is heavily nautically themed and features one of the world's most unusual vocalists in Isaac Brock. I love it from start to finish and it's inspired me to listen to every Modest Mouse recording I can get my hands on.

Key Track: "Education". I picked this because it's my favorite demonstration of Brock's unique vocals, though really every track is a winner. "Dashboard" and "Missed The Boat" being two standouts.

#1 Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

Who's surprised? My favorite band, my favorite live act, my favorite album of the year. It all goes together so perfectly. One of the best albums ever recorded, in my opinion, featuring blistering group vocals and swooping orchestral movements. A masterpiece.

Key Track: A tie between "Intervention" and "Keep The Car Running"

Let me know what you think!

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