2007 was a much better year for music than it was for movies. Let's face it, we at ART OF FUNCTION live and breath our iPods, so many movies and many albums fly across our radar on a weekly basis. I want to go on record and state that every record on our list and every record listened to this year, was purchased and not stolen off of a Bit Torrent or Peer To Peer network. I will also go on record as stating I do not approve of pirating music or movies. However, many artist these days elect to offer music for free or for whatever you want to pay (Radiohead). We purchased the majority of our music from two locations, iTunes and Amoeba Records. I believe that many albums on this list are not new revelations if you have been checking in on any music critics year end reviews. However, we love them and you should too.
I had to leave off a few albums from the Top 10 . I also discovered a few new artists I had not been turned on to this year, so I will distribute a few supplemental awards before we hit our top 10 list!
The Bravery - "The Sun and The Moon" - This album is just good solid indie rock without much pretense. These guys feel a little like Modest Mouse, but probably a little more streamlined and simple. I found the album however rock solid.
Best Compilations Album
Various Artist - "Indoor Picnic Music" (iTunes Exclusive) - This a great compilation of soft Indie Rock bands and Singer Song Writer types, and some old favorites are on the list, like the Barenaked Ladies and Jars of Clay. The best part about this album is you get 19 tracks for only $3.99. And that is just freaking amazing!
Best Artist Re-Discovered
This is a tie. Both of these artists did not release any album in 2007, but I did not Re-Discover them until this last year, and I have to say, I am really glad I did. I purchased two albums each from them and listened to them a ton. I could not put them on the TOP 10 for 2007, but I had to mention them. They are Mike Doughty (former lead singer of Soul Coughing) and R.L. Burnside (the Blues Virtuoso). I recommend Doughty's Haughty Melodic and pretty much any album by Burnside if you are a fan of The Blues. His voice is like gravel and filled with wisdom and passion. Do yourself a favor and pick up an album.
So, here is the list!
10. Cold War Kids - "Saint John" - This one I first heard off of a co-workers iPod, and I was hooked. I went out and downloaded it as soon as I returned to Casa De Montgomery. The entire album is one of the most diverse and risky albums I listened to this year, with some tracks failures but the majority of them are resounding successes. Indie Rock done well!
9. Barenaked Ladies - "The Barenaked Ladies Are Men" - The Canadian Pop Rock institution followed up last year's "The Barenaked Ladies Are Me" with this companion album that is just as fun and whimiscal as their previous efforts. It is a solid "Make you Feel Good" album.
8. Peter Bjorn and John - "Writers Block" - Storming out of Sweden with wonder in their hearts and in their musical instruments, Writers Block will tickle you while you sleep. I often find myself whistling their music as I ready myself for bed. This album is excellent, but a few tracks do fall flat, but as a whole very solid.
7. Bloc Party - "Weekend in the City" - This album is simply awesome. If you love a great drummer, then this is the album for you. I love this album in the car late at night as I am driving home from work or after a show.
6. Arcade Fire - "Neon Bible" - Powerful is the best word to describe the Arcade Fire's 2007 effort. This one was highly anticipated, and it did in fact deliver. Part funeral dirge, part working man's anthem, The Arcade Fire deliver their signature sound with poignancy and adept skill. The only reason the "Neon Bible" is not higher on the list is due to the fact that I find a few of the tracks indulgent.
5. The National - "Boxer" - This one will haunt you. It just makes you sad. I have always been a big fan of Nick Cave, and this album reminded me a lot of the Bad Seeds. It reminds me of dreary Thursday mornings driving to work.... simply gorgeous.
4. Eddie Vedder - "Into the Wild: Motion Picture Soundtrack" - Mr. Vedder left his fellow Pearl Jammers in Seattle to record his second effort involving Sean Penn. The first was a few wonderful tracks on the "Dead Man Walking" Sound track. Here Mr. Vedder delivers powerful folksy rhythms mixed with his tell tale lyrical style. I look forward to his Oscar Nomination and subsequent performance.
3. Various Artist - "Once: Motion Picture Soundtrack" - Okay, I will preface the following top 3 with a NOTE. Any one of these albums could have been my numero uno. However I had to pick one, so I did, and I put the ONCE sound track at number three because it has been with me the least... only a few days... but after about a dozen runs on my iPod, I thoroughly love it. I wish I enjoyed the movie as much as I enjoyed the songs from it. But this modern Musical is incredible and really turned me on to Glen Hansard, and I look forward to exploring his own band "The Frames" more in 2008. It's mix of melodic vocals with Celtic inspired folks songs and a little indie rock is almost perfection. Almost.
2. Amy Winehouse - "Back to Black" - Before she became a tabloid train wreck, Ms Winehouse put out what may have been one of the best albums in ten years. Back to Black is awesome, nostalgic and original all in one. Her voice on the album is spectacular and unique, both warm and abrasive. She turns in a performance that future vocalists seeking to mimic her jazz nouveau sound will have to measure up to.
1. Silversun Pick Ups - "Carnavas" - At the end of the day, I love Rock. This album characterized my musical journey this year where I really began to seek out bands with a different sound and attitude. The Silver Sun Pick Ups album "Carnavas" fell into my hands in January of 2007, and it has consistently stayed on my rotation all year long. It is moving and seething and stretches you while consoling your ID. I often summerize a year of my life by one album. In 1992, it was Pearl Jam's "Ten", in 2000 it was Shifting Skin by On, and this album fits that category. It will forever remind me of a time in my life. Truly excellent work, and deserving of someone No. 1 for 2007. It is mine.
So, 2007 was a great year for music. Really creative and really inspired stuff. Let us hope that 2008 brings in even better music.