Duff’s Favorite Music in 2007

There’s nothing more fun in December than perusing the master list of year-end music lists gathered up by Large-Hearted Boy (he posts a list of the updates each day). And two of my favorite posts in that list are this one (a cheat sheet for indie bloggers) and this one (where he predicts what publications will choose based on their previous picks).

Favorite Albums of 06 Not Bought by Lame-O Me until 07
Ghostface Killah “Fishscale” So damn good.
James Hunter “People Gonna Talk” You’d never believe it was this voice coming out of that body.

Favorite Overall Artists this Year:
Matt Nathanson, who I listened to obsessively for several months after Mariko sent me his (old?) Live album (“At the Point”) and then his new album (“Car Crash“) came out. Witty and sarcastic and lots of fun.

Josh Ritter, whose 06 album (“The Animal Years”) I didn’t get until January and he then put out an 07 album (“The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter“) as well. He’s all over the place style and influence wise, but I NEVER feel the need to hit “forward” when he shows up on the pod.

Ben Harper, whose new album (“Lifeline“) and two live shows were pretty much the highlight of my (late) summer. Like Ritter, he is a man of many musical styles and many musical skills. Listen to “Say You Will” to shake your booty and “Lifeline” to cry yourself to sleep when you wind up going home alone again.

And Griffin House, a ridiculously young (ridiculously hot) dude with a million albums out who sings my current favorite song “The Guy That Says Goodbye to You is Out of His Mind“. He’s got some twang to him but he’s more “songwriter/ storyteller/ folkster” than he is country.

My Favorite Albums of 2007 (other than those by the boys mentioned above)
Note I said “Favorite”. I’m not going to argue the ‘best’ question especially since there are albums that I thought were pretty damn excellent but hey, turned out I didn’t listen to them very much, so they just didn’t wind up being a Favorite. And I don’t listen to ANY techno (or stuff that’s electronic enough that I myself would call it techno and you technoheads would be like Dude! That XX album is NOT Techno!) so that eliminates a LOT of albums I was curious about on other people’s lists. (No wonder I hadn’t heard of them.) Then there’s the issue that the sad solitudinous-sounding (there’s a new word for ya!) albums are always going to rank higher with me than the happy ones… I am who I am.

1. The National “Boxer”
From the first minute I listened to this, I knew it had #1 locked up. The lead’s deep, deep (hypnotic) voice. (Deep like Ian Curtis deep.) The thick thumping rhythms. Really intriguing (and unforgettable) lyrics. I am lame and had never heard them before this year! (I KNOW!) I could lie on the couch/ in my bed/ on the floor with the lights low listening to this for hours on end. They sounded just as wonderful live.
Favorite songs: “Green Gloves” “Slow Show”

2. Band of Horses “Cease to Begin”
Less poppy than the Shins. More quirky than Rogue Wave. Really haunting. Almost to the point of spookiness at times. Cannot get enough.
Favorite songs: “No One’s Gonna Love You” “Detlef Schrempf”

3. Eddie Vedder “Into the Wild”
I don’t know how this happened but whenever ANY of these songs came up on “random” or “shuffle”, I immediately had to stop whatever I was doing and listen to the entire album, start to finish, a few times. Sound Opinions did a hilarious breakdown of some of the lyrics…and I agree…but that doesn’t stop me from just loving the sounds and the mood and the feelings. I really think I can feel Alaska in my mind when I’m listening to this.
Favorite songs: “No Ceiling” “Society”

4. Travis “The Boy With No Name”
So damn good. Love their lyrics, their melodies, their sweetness. Maybe next time they won’t wait so long to put out a new album. And LOVEDLOVEDLOVED them live. One of my favorite live shows EVER, let alone this year.
Favorite songs: “Battleships” “Sailing Away” (that one’s an iTunes bonus track) “My Eyes”

5. Earlimart “Mentor Tormentor”
Subtle sounds for the melancholy melodramatic moper inside me. (Not that it’s either melancholy or melodramatic music, but it works for me. during those times. you know. THOSE TIMES. Of the melancholy. And the melodrama. Do you not know me at all?) Love the boy/girl vocals and the quiet intensity. Why don’t more people know about this band? Why don’t more people LOVE this band?
Favorite songs: “Answers and Questions” (especially the chorus!) “The Little Things”

6. Mr. Hudson & the Library “A Tale of Two Cities”
A gift from MicheleG, this one really snuck up on me. Loved “On the Street Where You Live” immediately, thought the rest was fun…and then found myself queuing it up again and again and again…
Favorite songs: “On the Street Where You Live” “Cover Girl”

7. Midlake “The Trials of Van Occupanther”
The most ’70s sounding disk of the year. Lots of layered vocals. They were spellbinding live. Spellfuckingbinding I tell you. Not really a fan of their old stuff but this album gets me every time.
Favorite songs: “Head Home” “Van Occupanther”

8. Great Lake Swimmers “Ongiara”
Really lovely. Like everything they do. Thick, layered, beautiful. I keep missing their Chicago shows but I swear I will see them before I croak. High hopes that 2008 will be the year!
Favorite songs: “Changing Colours” “There Is a Light”

Runners Up (or “all the albums that tied for 9th and 10th and I could not be bothered to choose between them”):

Rogue Wave “Asleep at Heaven’s Gate”
Like BoH, they are less poppy than the Shins, but not as folk as BoH. Their sound is like…ringing a bell deep down into a well. Very distinctive lead vocals.

Shane Nicholson “Faith & Science”
Following in the Finns’ footsteps, lovely voice, lyrics, etc.. And he’s easy on the eyes, so there’s that.

The Alternate Routes “Good and Reckless and True”
The perfect soundtrack for a roadtrip.

The Magic Numbers “Those the Brokes”
Poppy bubbly fun. I’m a fan of everything they do. Great harmonies.

The Bees (US) “High Society”
Another album of FUN.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club “Baby 81”
Probably the rockingest stuff I listened to this year. Really fell for them live.

Sara Bareilles “Little Voice”
Got this album very very cheap from iTunes, what a bargain. Rachael Yamagata-esque if you need a comparison.

Okkervil River “The Stage Names”
They always seem a bit rougher ’round the edges to me than their peers.

Meiko (self-titled)
Byron recommended a single and I found myself listening to this album a lot. Lovely.

Athlete “Beyond the Neighborhood”
Have been a fan for several years now. Just a matter of time until these guys blow up (US-wise, I’m sure they’re huge in the UK already). Really intimate, excellent live show.

Youth Group “Casino Twilight Dogs”
Aussie rockers. Loved them live.

Favorite Singles of 2007 (that weren’t on albums mentioned above):

  • “Let’s Get Out of This Country” Camera Obscura
  • “I Think I Love You” The Guggenheim Grotto
  • “Please Don’t Pass Me By” Jack Harlan
  • “When I Wake” The Changes
  • “Waterfall” Griffin House
  • “I Remember” Chris Brokaw
  • “Lord Give Me a Sign” DMX (old but I listened to it a lot)
  • “Entering Bootytown” (from Music & Lyrics)
  • “Eyes” Rogue Wave
  • “The Inauguration” Bun B
  • “Life Is Beautiful” Vega4 (sounds like Snow Patrol)
  • “Intervention” Arcade Fire
  • “Communist Love Song” Soltero
  • Don’t You Think It’s Time” Bob Evans
  • “Walk Over Me” Dirtie Blonde
  • “Been There All the Time” Dinosaur Jr (love the plaintive, pleading vocals)
  • “Diamond Ring” Joseph Arthur (Love this song. Love him. Is he single? I’ll be his diamond ring)
  • “Something Violet” Bishop Allen
  • “Find Love (Let Go)” Kyle Andrews
  • “It Never Rains in Southern California” Albert Hammond (old but I listened to it a lot after the VM finale)
  • “Chicago Promenade” Jason Isbell
  • “1 2 3 4” Feist (it’s all over but it’s THAT GOOD)
  • “Take Me to the Riot” Stars
  • “RE: Your Brain” Jonathan Coulton (blame the Nipper! I do!)
  • “Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe” Okkervil River
  • “The Underdog” Spoon
  • “Scar That Never Heals” Jeremy Fisher
  • “Saving Grace” (theme) Everlast
  • “Black Like Me” Spoon
  • “Our Friends Appear Like the Dawn” Bodies of Water
  • “Beloved” Minnie Driver (surprising!)
  • “Sinkin’ Low” Joe Purdy
  • “The Way I Am” Ingrid Michaelson
  • “See These Bones” Nada Surf (over and over!)
  • “George W Told the Nation” Tom Paxton
  • “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love” Jay Z (old but it’s all over the American Gangster trailers)
  • “To Build a Home” The Cinematic Orchestra (sounds like Antony & the Johnsons)
  • “Do You Feel Me” Anthony Hamilton (more American Gangster love)
  • “Bastard of Midnight” The Damnwells
  • “Secret Passed Along” Twin Atlas
  • “No Blue Sky” The Thorns (old, but soooo good)

Things I am obsessively listening to in December and would be in my Top 10 except I just got them a week or so ago:
Bat for Lashes “Fur and Gold” Really lovely. Quirky and hypnotic.
Sea Wolf “Leaves in the River” Sometimes fast & happy, sometimes sad & slow. Just lke me!

Favorite Covers (I got) in 2007 (they may not have come out this year)

  • “Forever Young” Youth Group (Rod Stewart?)
  • “The Heart of the Matter” India.Arie (Henley/Eagles)
  • “You’re the One that I Want” Beck (grease sdtrk)
  • “Romeo & Juliet” Matt Nathanson (??) (Have you ever heard the Indigo Girls do this live? it’s awesome)
  • “Build Me Up, Buttercup” Rhymefest & ODB (old )
  • “Waiting for a Superman” Brooke (The Flaming Lips) (via Everybody Cares)
  • “I Will Follow” Waz (U2) (via Fuel/Friends)
  • “Goin’ to Acapulco” Jim James & Calexico (Dylan)
  • “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” Antony & the Johnsons (Dylan)
  • “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” Glen Hansard & Market Irglova (Dylan)
  • “Streets of Philadelphia” David Gray (Springsteen, right?)
  • “On the Street Where You Live” Mr. Hudson & the Library (My Fair Lady)
  • “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” Saint Etienne (Neil Young) (Everlast also does a great cover of this!)
  • “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” Greg Laswell (the sad, slow, depressing version. I’m not kiddin’.)
  • “Papa Don’t Preach” Picturehouse (Madonna)
  • “Raining in Baltimore” Brandi Carlile (Counting Crows) (via Fuel/Friends)
  • “I’m on Fire” Bat for Lashes (Springsteen?)

Liked But Didn’t Love or Just Didn’t Wind Up Listening to That Much:
There were LOTS of good albums put out this year by artists I have loved in the past…and many of them I do indeed think are GOOD albums, they just weren’t my favorites. It’s the luck of the draw as well, as you have to be a better album earlier in the year to maintain your place in the favorites than you do at the end, don’t you?

Arcade Fire “Neon Bible” (love some singles, don’t love the whole thing); Crowded House “Time on Earth” (love their old stuff, this is good, just not great.); Shins “Wincing the Night Away” (good but just never listened to it that often); Fall Out Boy “Infinity on High” (fun but I didn’t listen to it much after the first month); White Stripes “Icky Thump” (their albums always take awhile to grow on me, I’ll probably listen to it obsessively next spring sometime); Ryan Adams “Easy Tiger” (as good as his old stuff. but I’m kinda ‘over’ him you know? he used to be in my top 10 EVERY YEAR and I would rush to buy him the first day of release. now I have a more laidback attitude about when I get to his stuff, how much I focus on it, etc.); Kanye West “Graduation” (good but not as good as the previous. not as joyful); The Thrills “Teenager” (like it but not a departure from their previous stuff); Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings “100 Days, 100 Nights” (I lovelovelove their previous album. This one just doesn’t measure up to that one, to my ear.).

Other Albums I Liked a Lot This Year:
January: The Long Blondes “Someone to Drive You Home”, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. “The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager”

February: Music & Lyrics soundtrack (I can listen to this thing over and over!), The Essex Green “Cannibal Sea”

March: The Fratellis “Costello Music”, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists “Living with the Living”

April: Kyle Andrews “Amos in Ohio”, Liam Frost & the Slowdown Family “Show Me How the Spectres Dance”

May: Elvis Perkins “Ash Wednesday”

June: Candy Butchers “Hang On Mike”, Jenny Owens Youngs “Batten the Hatches”

July: Stars “In Our Bedroom After the War”, Jason Isbell “Sirens of the Ditch”, The Changes “Today Is Tonight”, Josh Rouse “Country Mouse, City House”

August: (Lots and lots of rap en francais. Email me if you want specifics), Rhymefest “Blue Collar”, Aesop Rock “None Shall Pass”

September: Hard-Fi “Once Upon a Time in the West”, Jeremy Fisher “Goodbye Blue Monday”, Fionn Regan “The End of History”

October: Joshua James “The Sun Is Always Brighter”, Joe Purdy “Take My Blanket and Go”

November: David Gray live covers album “A Thousand Miles Behind”, Great Northern “Trading Twilight for Daylight”

December: Augie March “Moo, You Bloody Choir”, Brother Ali “The Undisputed Truth”, Jay-Z “American Gangster”, The Foxboro Hot Tubs (Green Day secret project?) “Stop Drop and Roll”

My Favorite Live Gigs This Year:
1. Gomez. Amazing show. But they’re low on everyone’s 07 radar since they didn’t put out an album this year.
2. Travis. So much fucking fun in concert.
3. The National. Just as beautiful as the album.
4. Polyphonic Spree x2. highest energy show you’ll ever see.
5. Ben Harper x2. He’s amazing.
6. Griffin House. He’s hot.
7. The Decemberists. So polished.
8. Midlake. Bewitching.