Rocker's 2007 Year End Music Review
For better or worse, I find myself humming Cinderella’s “The More Things Change” as I begin compiling my favorite albums of this calendar year. No, not because the teased up Lords of Lipstick themselves were anywhere to be found this year, but because the more my own age changes, the more my tastes stay -- you got it -- the same.
Case in point: my “Best of 2007” reeks of the same end-of-year lists I drafted in 2006, 2005 and even 2004. By way of mainstays Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters and Ryan Adams, as well as relative newcomers Kings of Leon and Deadstring Brothers, there is a very predictable thread woven through this year’s Top 10. It’s like a recurring chorus line that’s so imbedded in my brain, not to mention so damn catchy, it’s impossible to move beyond.
At least I’m not alone in my preferences this year. Many critics and even Springsteen novices gravitated to the incredible Magic release this fall, as The Boss corralled the mighty E Street Band to do an entire album for the first time in more than 20 years. The result is aptly titled, to say the least. Ryan Adams piled another treasure on his mounting résumé, with the Cardinals-enhanced Easy Tiger, while the ragamuffin-looking Kings of Leon continue to fly inexplicably beneath most radar, which is tragic.
And so without further ado, I give you the 10 most vital albums to hit my stack this year (as always, in no certain order, although 2007 will forever be known as the Magic year).
1. Bruce Springsteen: Magic
The Boss is back with The E Street Band in tow for the first time (on album) in more than 20 years. It ain’t nostalgia that brought them back together. It’s Magic!
Son Volt: The Search
As Jay Farrar’s post-Uncle Tupelo endeavor continues to gain as much momentum as Jeff Tweedy’s Wilco, the notion of these guys ever burying the hatchet and reuniting for old time’s sake is essentially a wish for Santa.
Kings of Leon: Because of the Times
The first two albums from these brothers plus a cousin were as ragged and under-produced as the band itself. With success, however, comes a certain obligation to clean things up and add some shine. Thankfully, Times doesn’t lose any appeal in the car wash.
Jack Ingram: This Is It
Ingram’s been busting his ass for years, playing crappy clubs and grinding through sub-par record deals. He finally graduated to a national stage in 2007. A nicer country boy you won’t soon find.
Foo Fighters: Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Not a clue on that title, but rest assured the formula hasn’t been shaken. The younger generation of head bangers needs to thank whatever god they believe in that Dave Grohl endured when Nirvana didn’t. This would be one wimpy world had he not.
Ryan Adams: Easy Tiger
For some reason, Adams continues to snub his oh-so-accomplished backing band, The Cardinals, on the album cover. It doesn’t keep them from playing their asses off on arguably their finest band record to date.
Fountains of Wayne: Traffic and Weather
The kings of geek rock prove they can move beyond the blessing and the curse that was “Stacy’s Mom” and register their most complete and well-balanced effort yet. If the kids don’t approve, then all the better.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Baby 81
If not for Kings of Leon, this San Francisco treat would own the award for most unappreciated band in America. Their fourth album is louder and more bombastic than anything they did before. And that’s a good thing.
Deadstring Brothers: Silver Mountain
So much for a sophomore jinx! Deadstring Brothers return big time, with a revamped, heavy-on-the-rhythm-section lineup that gives new meaning to the term “full band accompaniment.”
Warm in the Wake: Gold Dust Trail
Logging this year’s true sky-faller, the Atlanta-based four-piece seems poised to hang around. Their follow-up arrived later in the year, aided by a production team who worked previously with Paul McCartney and Wilco, to name-drop a couple.
Random shout-outs and not-so-honorable mentions:
The album that everyone missed, including me:
Buffalo Roam: The Gerry Record
The album I won’t hear because I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart:
The Eagles: Long Road Out of Eden
The cover I didn’t think would work, but did:
“You Shook Me All Night Long,” Big & Rich
The greatest concert value under $100:
Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band
The greatest concert value under $25:
Kings of Leon
The coolest song on an otherwise lackluster album:
“Rehab” Amy Winehouse
The greatest hits album that shouldn’t be ignored:
The Very Best of Mick Jagger