Farley's 2007 Year End Music Review
Best Albums of 2007
1. The Silver Seas: High Society
This album basically came out of nowhere. I had to visit a publicist’s website to find a press release on another band I was reviewing, and they had the Silver Seas’ “The Country Life” playing while I surfed. And it was like that moment when you see her across the room, you make eye contact and you just know. Love at first listen. I begged the publicist for a copy, and learned some interesting things about them. This is the band that was formerly called the Bees (not to be confused with the UK band called the Bees), and they are based here in my hometown of Nashville. The album was just coming out, so I was catching the wave at the right time. Anyway, imagine a mix of Jackson Browne, Van Morrison and The Beach Boys – a throwback set of songs that are bouncy, melodic and will have you singing along after one and a half listens. It’s just good pop music the way it was meant to be.
Best track: “The Country Life”
2. Ari Hest: The Break-In
Mr. Hest was toiling away on the guy-with-guitar-in-the-trunk-of-his-car circuit just a few years ago, until Columbia Records realized that they’d better sign him before someone else does. But last I checked, Hest (and about 99 percent of all signed artists) wasn’t selling as many records as he would like to, so he’s just not getting the label support he should. Well, I’m here to tell you that you should buy this record. Not because you should help the cause, but because it’s one of the best damn albums by a singer/songwriter, ever. Hest has a low yet very compelling voice, and his songs and arrangements are on the fringe of brilliant.
Best track: “When to Quit”
3. KT Tunstall: Drastic Fantastic
KT was an overnight success with her first release last year, and that’s because she’s another artist who simply writes great songs. Well, her follow-up, Drastic Fantastic, is full of catchy yet very diverse pop/rock. And she oozes cool while still remaining humble. I know, because I interviewed her. Artists like that who are mega-talented usually succeed, and this album should continue to fuel Tunstall’s success.
Best track: “If Only”
4. Rogue Wave: Asleep at Heaven’s Gate
Rogue Wave is one of those indie, just barely under-the-radar bands that doesn’t necessarily need a big hit because their music is, well, really good. And just when you think a band like this can’t top a previous effort, they do. Rogue Wave’s Descended like Vultures was a stunning alt-rock album, but alas, Asleep at Heaven’s Gate surpasses that with songs that follow the same formula but add a bit more pop sensibility.
Best track: “Chicago X 12”
5. Cary Brothers: Who You Are
If Cary Brothers was a band and not a dude, he would be Snow Patrol or Keane. He’s not British, but sings with that mouth-barely-open style of brooding, and his songs have that AAA radio format mentality – that is, easy to listen to but super-cool. Brothers cut his industry teeth after landing a song on the “Garden State” soundtrack a few years ago, but this album is loaded with his best work to date.
Best song: “Honestly”
6. Jill Cunniff: City Beach
The former lead singer of Luscious Jackson had a baby and lived life for a few years. Lucky for all of us, she never stopped writing music, and Cunniff came back early this year with a solo effort that trumps anything her band ever did. If you can imagine a cross between Courtney Love and the Spice Girls, that’s pretty much Jill Cunniff in a nutshell, and it was a pleasant surprise as 2007 releases go.
Best track: “Eye Candy”
7. The Blakes: The Blakes
Have you ever looked at an album cover, saw the band’s name, and just knew they were just going to kick ass? That’s what happened when I saw this one by the Blakes. The Seattle-based band delivers an album that will remind you a lot of the Plimsouls’ Everywhere At Once – the kind of raunchy yet melodic rock that can make even the worst dancers start jumping around.
Best track: “Don’t Bother Me”
8. Jesse Harris: Feel
He is responsible for writing or co-writing some of Norah Jones’ biggest hits. But he’s also had a pretty decent, if under-the-radar, solo career. If you’re a fan of Harris’ work, Feel is going to please you as usual. But if you’re not familiar with his solo stuff, this album might simply blow you away. And trust me, the more you listen, the more it grows on you. Like a fungus.
Best track: “The Wind”
9. Feist: The Reminder
Okay, now that the cat is out of the bag thanks to an iPodcommercial, many of you now know who Feist is. But this is her second album and it’s pretty much a continuation of her amazing 2004 effort, Let It Die. Feist has one of those special voices that soothes and entertains you at the same time.
Best track: “I Feel It All”
10. Ingram Hill: Cold in California
This is classic guitar-driven pop, and Memphis band Ingram Hill is another of those acts that might fall into that throwback category when rock and pop were neighbors on the charts. Cold in California is the follow-up to 2004’s June Picture Show, and the songs are even better this time around.
Best track: “What You Want”
James Morrison: Undiscovered
Amy Winehouse: Back to Black
The Click Five: Modern Minds and Pastimes
Matthew Good: Hospital Music
The Fratellis: Costello Music
Saving Jane: One Girl Revolution
Magnet: The Simple Life
Andy Davis: Let the Woman
The Milwaukees: American Anthems Vol. 1
Random Great Songs from 2007, Not on the List Above
“Honey Please,” Dan Wilson (Free Life)
“Wasted Time,” Fuel (Angels and Devils)
“Even a Child,” Crowded House (Time on Earth)
“Everything I Do,” Whiskeytown (Friday Night Lights Soundtrack)
“La Costa Brava,” Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (Living with the Living)
“I’m on Fire,” Swati (Small Gods)
“Nobody Understands,” The Midway State (Met a Man On Top of the Hill EP)
“Italian Dry Ice,” Josh Rouse (Country Mouse, City House)
“Take Me Home,” Joseph Arthur & the Lonely Astronauts (Let’s Just Be)
“Down The Line,” Jose Gonzalez (In Our Nature)
“Friend to a Stranger,” Emerson Hart (Cigarettes & Gasoline)