I started with a list of 45 favorites. Over the course of December I tried to give each one another listen to decide a) where it would land on the list and b) whether or not it would make the cut. I ended up with a list of 24 and, not much to my surprise, many are female-fronted or British bands. I am surprised more alt.country didn’t make my list (I guess Wilco is the token alt.country band) and a complete lack of hard rock is unheard of (oh, how I wanted to love the new Down CD but it just didn’t happen).
From the first 30 seconds of listening to Great Northern’s ‘Trading Twilight for Daylight’, I knew it was going to be my top pick. But along came The Dollyrots a few months later and nearly stole the top spot. Actually, in my mind, they tied for my favorite of the year, I’m sure I listened to both of them an equal amount of times. The rest of the top 10 is pretty interchangeable but I figured I had to put them in some sort of order.
So, here’s my list of Favorite CDs of 2007:
1. Great Northern – Trading Twilight for Daylight (Eenie Meenie Records)
Part of the Silverlake scene (Sea Wolf, Earlimart, Silversun Pickups), Great Northern provides the soundtrack to a lazy/hazy Friday afternoon. Though Rachel Stolte is the lead singer, her vocal interplay with guitarist Solon Bixler adds depth to the songs.
2. The Dollyrots – Because I’m Awesome (Blackheart Records)
Signed to Joan Jett’s label (Blackheart Records), The Dollyrots embody a punk rock spirit and, to a degree, a punk rock sound though the band’s single “Because I’m Awesome” (as featured in a Kohl’s commercial) is gaining steam on pop radio stations such as WNCI in Columbus, Ohio. Based on comments left on The Dollyrots MySpace page, the trio is appealing to a wide age range including pre-teen girls whose iPod Shuffles are loaded with songs by Kelly Clarkson, Hannah Montana, and Avril Lavigne.
3. The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters (Fat Cat)
From the thick Scottish accented vocals to the wall of guitar sounds, The Twilight Sad sound like Snow Patrol if Snow Patrol had started just a few years ago and was influenced by Mogwai, Aereogramme, My Bloody Valentine, and Dinosaur Jr. The band’s SXSW performance in a tent outside of Emo’s left my ears ringing for days â€¦ and I liked it!
4. Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer – Schematics (Le Pamplemousse)
As long as Zolof keeps putting out records, there will be a place for them on my year-end list. The synth-driven pop-punk with an edge is infectious and I can’t get enough of Rachel Minton’s spunky vocals. This band could sell a ton of records if they catch the right break.
5. The Frames – The Cost (Anti)
The Once soundtrack made a lot of year-end lists, as well it should and it would have made mine had Glen Hansard’s band, The Frames, not put out a record of their own this year. Fully fleshed-out versions of Once’s best tracks (“Falling Slowly” and “When Your Mind is Made Up”) appear on The Frames’ tenth studio album and are just as passionate and emotional as the stripped-down soundtrack versions. My hope is that everybody who loved the music in Once will explore The Frames’ back catalog.
6. Via Audio – Say Something (SideCho)
Early fans of the New York/Boston band included Chris Walla (Death Cab for Cutie) and Jim Eno (Spoon), associations which paid off for Via Audio in 2007. Jessica Martin’s pretty vocals undoubtedly broke a million blogger boy hearts this year while the boys in the band (Danny Molad, Tom Deis, David Lizmi) laid down some smart and sophisticated pop ala DCFC, The Postal Service, etc. Martin’s solo side project, The Stenographer’s Alibi, is also worth checking out.
7. Idlewild – Make Another World (Sanctuary)
I once said that if I could only listen to the recorded (past, past, and future) output of one band for the rest of my life, I would choose Idlewild to be that band. Despite some ups and downs (continuous critical praise but poor concert attendance and CD sales in the US), Idlewild soldiers on and delivers yet another consistent release. In a recent blog entry, frontman Roddy Woomble shot done rumors of the band’s demise saying the band will get to work on a new CD.
8. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch)
I consider myself a casual Wilco fan. I own all of their CD (including the live one) but I don’t listen to them as often as I should. Something about Sky Blue Sky, however, struck me from the moment I heard it and of all Wilco’s catalog, this one has definitely gotten the most play on my iPod. Wilco seems to be inching closer and closer to becoming the Eagles of our generation (though Tweedy still definitely is the ringleader), this became apparent to me as I saw the band live for the first time since the Summerteeth tour in 2007. And while it maybe doesn’t have commercial radio appeal, “Impossible Germany” is, without a doubt, the song I listened to the most in 2007.
9. St. Vincent – Marry Me (Beggars Banquet)
My first encounter with Annie Clark came while watching her play guitar with The Polyphonic Spree at SXSW this year. When I got home and Googled “cute Polyphonic Spree guitar player”, I discovered St.Vincent (Clark’s nom de plume) and was instantly mesmerized by the songs on her MySpace page (“Paris is Burning”, “Marry Me”, “Your Lips are Red”). If I could buy stock in musicians, I’d dump a load of money on St.Vincent stock as this is just a start to what I’m sure will be a very promising career.
10. Tigers Can Bite You – Tigers Can Bite You (Tune Core)
Dave Woody started Fiver around the same time Death Cab for Cutie and Granddaddy were getting off the ground. While those bands saw some success over time, Fiver missed out. Woody is back with a like-minded band, Tigers Can Bite You, and fans of DCFC and Granddaddy should pay heed and give TCBY’s spacey pop sound a listen. This was my favorite random discovery of the year (thanks to Alex of Sea Wolf for introducing me to their music).
Other CDs that got lots of play on the iPod this year include:
Adam Franklin – Bolts of Melody
Bracken – We Know About the Need
Editors – An End Has a Start
Film School – Hideout
Jill Cunniff – City Beach
Minmae – 835
Radical Face – Ghost
Sea Wolf – Leaves in the River
Sebastian Bach – Angel Down
Silver Needle – Halo
Soulsavers – It’s Not How Hard You Fall, It’s the Way You Land
The Comas – Spells
The Donnas – Bitchin’
Wolf and Cub – Vessels