The Annual Hot List: The 15 Best Albums of 2007

The Hot List - Day One:
TOP ALBUMS #1-15 in no particular order

Spotlighting the best music of the year.
Check out the review, listen and download a track before you buy.
It's 2007 - one record and song at a time!

Starting off with...
the 15 ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE albums of 2007!

Goodbye 2007.... What a phenomenal year for independent music releases, new techniques and return to style artists (flamboyant rock, country-influenced guitar, 1970s style dancehall, re-hashed funk, electronic evolution...) This is a triumphant year for musicians and small labels. It hasn't (as I am sure you are aware) been the best of times for the dinosaur labels - the gluttoned corporate giants are struggling to find their new place in the ever-changing world of music.

A Note on What Follows: These are my top 15 releases of 2007.
Over the next day I will be rounding this list up to the Top 40 Albums of the Year. Within two days, I will be sharing the thoughts of several readers, musicians I have talked with over the year, and slip in the thoughts of people from the promotions companies, the publicists, the folks from the small labels.... This promises to be the very best series of year end posts ever! I look forward to your feedback and we can all share our 2007 Album, Artist, Song and New Band of the Year together!

One further note: You will not find Radiohead's In Rainbows album in my top 15. I really like the album - but thought it was about time somebody else got a chance to shine. Cheer up guys, you are in everybody else's #1 spot, and I still love ya.

Please return in the days that follow to hear about lots more quality music. Happy New Years. The Critic, your humble host and friend - Ryan in Boston

On with the list... The Top 15 Albums of 2007...

The Handsome Furs -
Plague Park.

I put a ton of miles on Plague Park - the debut for The Handsome Furs. Dan Boeckner, Wolf Parade, and Alexei put out this incredible album this year. They got engaged and then got married. Dan's gone back to working with his Wolf Parade comrades but this is a reminder of just how good this dynamic duo can be! An album of the year candidate. The worthy tracks are dark and full of irony. Not sure what to make of that? Here is my favorite:

Here is my write-up on the Incredible Canadian indie rock scene: The Importance of "Being Wolf"
Handsome Furs - Myspace

Pop Levi -
The Return to Form Black Magick Party.

I knew this would be a top ten from the moment I first heard it in April. Meet Jonathan "Pop" Levi - one of the most talented musicians in the States right now. The former bassist for Ladytron, Levi can play several instruments and has a powerful inclination for making catchy music (think Prince but with a Seventies sound!) The Return to Form Black Magick Party is an absolute must have album! Fall in love with Hades Lady:

Pop Levi - Myspace

The National - The Boxer.

I was so damn lucky to see The National twice this year. One show was sold-out and the other was a "secret show" sponsored by a local radio station. The room capacity was less than 250 people. This band was always good - they are just brilliant in 2007. This album slide up on my appreciation scale as the year went on. An absolute must have record.

The National on the RSL
The National - Official Web
The National - Myspace

BONUS MATERIAL (up for a limited time):
The National's "Black Sessions" (live in Paris)

The Editors -
An End Has A Start.

If you didn't know it, Editors are one of the most improved bands in the world in 2007. That's saying something when you consider how good 2006 was to them and the band's audiences. The new album is "An End Has A Start." The lyrics are improved as is frontman Tom Smith's dramatic delivery. Also better these days: The Editors' instrumentation and song structures. Both are richer and far more textured than what we saw on the "Back Room" album. The first single released this year was the impressive "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors" but my favorite is this one:

Editors leave their Mark on Boston: Live Show Review
Editors - Web / Myspace

Kings of Leon -
Because of the Times.

Perhaps the most unexpectedly addictive and fun album released this year came from Kings of Leon. Because of the Times is a more sophisticated album in a sense - the tracks are more developed and the music follows its course. One of the biggest compliments I heard about this album this year is that even people that don't like Kings of Leon couldn't help but fall in love with this release. An easy selection for the top ten of 2007.

Here's my original writeup on the album Kings of Leon - Because of the Times.
Kings of Leon - Web

Delta Spirit -
Ode to Sunshine.

The new album from the Delta Spirit proved to be one of the show stopper releases of the year! I knew the record would be good - but I could not be prepared for just how great the band has become through touring and practice. This album must be owned and listened to front to back!

Here's my original writeup on the album:
Highly Recommended: Delta Spirit's Ode to Sunshine.

Delta Spirit - Web/Myspace.

Modest Mouse -
We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank.

The Rich get richer. Issac Brock and company made a wise decision by extending a hand to guitar genius Johnny Marr. What amazing results. Modest Mouse is now a household name. This album has produced enough hit songs to keep the band touring for years to come.

Here's my original writeup on the "Dashboard" VIDEO and mp3.
Modest Mouse - Myspace

Band of Horses -
Cease to Begin.

Some time over the last year, perhaps when you were blinking, Band of Horses went from relative unknown to up-and-coming indie rock act to become one of the absolute hottest bands in the world. The band released Cease to Begin this year and it is a must have record to add to your collection. A nearly sold out tour is underway. Boston sold out the band's January appearance in literally no time. I will be there.

There isn't much I can say that the music can't. Go out and buy this album.

The White Stripes -
The Icky Thump.

Stripes by Leibovitz

Jack and Meg White joined forces again this year to produce a powerful new album. There appears to be no way to slow down The White Stripes. The "Icky Thump" is arguably the greatest in the duo's career for a number of reasons. While less loud the songs on the record are more creatively (rather than emotively) driven. This could very well have been the turning point in the band's career. They could have turned back on themselves and continued to make the same records again and again. Instead, to everyone's good fortune, they headed off into new directions. All hail the White Stripes!

Here's my original writeup on the album The Icky Thump.
The White Stripes Storm Boston: Live Show Review!
The White Stripes - Web

Eldridge Rogriguez -
This Conspiracy Against Us.

2007 has seen Boston's own Eldridge Rodriguez (ER) temporarily shed his role as the frontman of The Beatings to pursue this remarkable solo project. The songs here are awash with emotional steel and adventures resulting in love lost. In April I was all over this record and my feelings haven't diminished with time. Rodriguez just released a quality follow-up EP that follows close in this album's tracks. Do yourself a favor and check out his catalog of material available on Midriff Records.

Here's my original writeup on the album This Conspiracy Against Us.
Eldridge Rodriguez - Myspace

LCD Soundsystem -
Sound of Silver.

With a 2007 Grammy Nomination - James Murphy's LCD Soundsystem can't be all that bad! With one foot in a kind of criticism of modernity (social narcissism, if you will..) and another in the far flung future - LCD Soundsystem straddles the door to the party! I was late in getting in on this album, but I have made up for it in time! Listen and learn what put LCD Soundsystem into the top 15 albums of the year:

LCD Soundsystem - Web/ Myspace page.

The Willowz -

The Seventies Sound revival was a common movement in independent rock this year but no one did it better than Southern California's the Willowz. The magic of this record is that it sounds like you driving down a dusty road on a hot summer day while being the perfect record to listen to on your ipod at work. It seems to be just about the perfect listening material... The Willowz (who are great people to talk to) released a totally lovable gem from out of nowhere. You cannot miss with this album! Here is one of the best songs of the year:

Here's my original writeup on the album Chautauqua.
The Willowz played Cambridge: Live Show Review!
The Willowz - Web / Myspace

Georgie James -

Georgie James is the duo of Laura Burhenn and John Davis

This album is worth every single penny. Not a bad song on the album but a few are truly exceptional! Meet Washington D.C.'s Georgie James. If I had to pick a favorite record - this one would be a strong contender. One of the strengths of "Places" is the varied styles and presentations put forth by the band through the album. No two songs are the same. Very creative and very, very good. Highly Recommended!

Here's my original writeup on the album Going Places - "Places".
Georgie James - Web / Myspace

Jesse Malin -
Glitter in the Gutter.

If you are new to the world of Jesse Malin then this one is a great start! What a tremendous album. I pretty much have this one memorized. When I last saw Jesse play (a few weeks back at T.T. the Bears in Cambridge) there was a mass of fans singing along with him. The man grows more popular every day. And for good reason. This album should be owned. There probably isn't much I can say further than what his songs will do for you. Here is one of my favorites from the new album. Check out the review and get to a live Malin show soon.

Here's my original writeup on the album Glitter in the Gutter.
Jesse Malin's incredible Boston performance: Live at Great Scott!
Jesse Malin - Web

Okkervil River -
The Stage Names.

I have been a fan of all things Austin. Okkervil River released a monster (a beautiful monster!) in 2007 with The Stage Names. The band (Will Sheff, Jonathan Meiburg, Zachary Thomas, Travis Nelsen) have become one of the best acts in the states and are still (somehow) an unknown quantity amongst many music fans. The band is now in the Jagjaguwar Records stable (one of the best indie labels in the world right now!) and things look hella promising for 2008. I have included the John Allyn Smith Sails track from Stage Names. Listen for the Sloop John B treatment the band gives it. Excellent!

Okkervil River - Web / Myspace page.


(the list continues!)


Anonymous said…
Amen brother! I agree with most of your list. Band of Horses, Kings of Leon, and Modest Mouse are some of my top choices also.
Anonymous said…
Good choice on Delta Spirit, excellent album
Anonymous said…
Your music is some of the best fucking music i've ever encountered.
it's everything i look for in music, emotive, melodic, powerful, and relatively UNKNOWN.
Thanks man, for real.
i don't know what i would do without your blog. i can't handle a lot of the mainstream shiet we have in our media nowadays, thats why its so refreshing to find a blog dedicated to the music that is ACTUALLY MUSIC.
peace and love my friend.

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