Paulsen's 2007 Year End Music Review
The big record companies continue to crumble, but there is a ton of good music available. Downsizing is a part of every industry and in the long run it’s usually better for everyone (namely the artists and consumers) that the labels have to cut the fat. Look for musicians to take more of a DIY role as they continue to record, distribute and promote themselves.
Anyway, here’s what I found in 2007 (and I must admit, I’m a little behind):
Top 10 Albums
1. Kings of Leon: Because of the Times
For fans of straight-ahead rock and roll, the first three albums by the Kings of Leon rank right up there with the best three-fers of all time. “Fans” is the song of the year and “Arizona” isn’t far behind. Really, there isn’t a bad track on the disc (or in the band’s oeuvre).
2. Arcade Fire: Neon Bible
Sophomore slump? Nah. Neon Bible is remarkably consistent, but “Keep the Car Running,” “Intervention” and “No Cars Go” are standouts. It looks like Arcade Fire is here to stay.
3. Amy Winehouse: Back to Black
Sure, “Rehab” lost a little street cred when Winehouse actually went to rehab, but Back to Black is jam-packed with edgy lyrics and soulful grooves. The album has a warm, old school feel that complements her unique pipes.
4. Illinois: What the Hell Do I Know?
This album came out of the blue. I saw them open for the Hold Steady and I was hooked. The disc is short (19 minutes) but tantalizingly sweet. “Nosebleed” is a catchy number that was used in an episode of “Weeds” (remember the “brick dance?”) and “One on One” is another highlight. Again, there’s not a bad track on the disc.
5. Super Furry Animals: Hey Venus!
Eight albums in and these Welshmen just keep getting better. Their infectious choruses worm into the brain like it’s a soft, juicy apple. Listen to “The Gift That Keeps Giving” a few times and you’ll see what I mean. This is space pop at its very best.
6. The Fratellis: Costello Music
The Fratellis are more than just an iPod commercial (“Flathead”), as Costello Music is surprisingly packed with good songs. Even though the band is from Glasgow, “Chelsea Dagger” has the best Irish pub chorus since Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping,” and “Everybody Knows You Cried Last Night” has a crafty tempo change and a fun hook.
7. The White Stripes: Icky Thump
Between his work with the Raconteurs and the White Stripes (as well as his role as a producer), I think it’s safe to call Jack White prolific. This isn’t the Stripes’ best album, but it’s still damn good. The title track is beefy while “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues” also stand out.
8. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: Some Loud Thunder
The mix on Thunder was way too hot, but the same type of melody that drove the band’s debut is present. “Emily Jean Stock” is immediate and “Five Easy Pieces” takes more time, but “Satan Said Dance” is just right.
9. Modest Mouse: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
It’s no easy task to follow up a breakthrough, but Modest Mouse does an admirable job here. It’s tough not to like the album after hearing “Dashboard,” “Fire It Up” and “Florida” consecutively a few times.
10. Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Spoon’s latest effort is easily this year’s best album with a bad album name. “The Underdog” features some terrific horns and Britt Daniel’s patented pop sensibilities. Don’t be turned off by the chopsticks-style piano on the second track – the album is quite solid once that’s over.
Wilco: Sky Blue Sky
Rogue Wave: Asleep At Heaven’s Gate
The Bravery: The Sun and the Moon
Bloc Party: Weekend in the City
The New Pornographers: Challengers
The National: Boxer
Arctic Monkeys: Favourite Worst Nightmare
Hard-Fi: Once Upon a Time in the West
The Killers: Sawdust
Top 20 singles not on albums in my top 10:
1. “Hard to Live in the City,” Albert Hammond, Jr.
2. “Flourescent Adolescent,” Arctic Monkeys
3. “No One’s Gonna Love You,” Band of Horses
4. “On,” Bloc Party
5. “Believe,” The Bravery
6. “Soul Singer in a Session Band,” Bright Eyes
7. “Can’t Even Tie Your Own Shoes,” Golden Smog
8. “Charcoal Days and Sterling Nights,” The Ike Reilly Assassination
9. “Ruby,” Kaiser Chiefs
10. “Unlike Me,” Kate Havnevik
11. “Smile,” Lily Allen
12. “If I Never See Your Face Again,” Maroon 5
13. “Start a War,” The National
14. “Failsafe,” The New Pornographers
15. “Sister Rosetta (Capture the Spirit),” Noisettes
16. “Running Away,” Polyphonic Spree
17. “Lake Michigan,” Rogue Wave
18. “Beautiful Girls,” Sean Kingston
19. “Phantom Limb,” The Shins
20. “Same Jeans,” The View
And now, for some random awards:
Three pretty kick-ass covers:
“War Pigs,” CAKE
“Hot in Herre,” Jenny Owen Youngs
“Love Reign O’er Me,” Pearl Jam
Best songs from 2006 that I didn’t hear until 2007:
“Bldg. a Boat from the Boards in Your Eye,” What Made Milwaukee Famous
“Pyrite Pedestal,” Pretty Girls Make Graves
“Small Parts,” The Oohlas
“Back Together,” Citizen Cope
“Crazy Bitch,” Buckcherry
“Could We,” Cat Power
“The Bull and the Goat,” The Annuals
The song from 2006 that makes me want to walk around like a robot:
“Free Radicals,” Flaming Lips