It’s the season for best-of lists. Not wanting to be out-done, I add my own definitive, time-tested best of 2007 music list. Last year my list was not exclusive to music released in that year. Neither is this year’s, but I attempted to keep it to things released during 2007. There are a few others I felt needed to be included because they were significant for my 2007, and/or I discovered them this year and couldn’t leave them off. At least these are the ones that fit on the CD. Now it’s 2008, and time to start working on next years list.
1. “Oversleeping”–I’m From Barcelona. In the style of stage-crowding acts like The Polyphonic Spree, this 29-member (with even more instruments) is not from Barcelona at all. They’re from Sweden and they make fun, quirky, poppy music. It’s catchy and that’s why I like it.
2. “Keep the Car Running”–The Arcade Fire. The Arcade Fire released what was easily one of the year’s best albums–in the spirit of a true album, not just a disc of 11 songs. It was hard to pick which song to include, but I think this one captures the essence of Neon Bible. I saw them play at Austin City Limits this year. Seeing a band perform, and perform well makes the music sound even better even on mere car stereo speakers.
3. “Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)”–Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. An unlikely pairing and an remake of (I think) an Eisley Brothers song equals a great track.
4. “I Feel It All”–Feist. A Canadian songstress. This song is a pop song without sounding trite or self-important. It’s fun. Also from one of my favorite albums of the year.
5. “Wet Dog Afternoon”–Page France. If you want to make super-cool music for the hipster set, you should include the following: a tall skinny girl with an intentionally mussed ponytail; and a set of xylophones and glockenspiels. And put really interesting metaphors to music that almost sounds like a children’s album.
6. “Weight of the World”–Tarkio. File this under best music not released in 2007. If we’re going to be technical, this music is pretty old. Colin Meloy of Decemberists’ genius was in Tarkio during his student days at University of Montana. Tarkio’s recordings were re-released in 2006, but it took me until later the following year to get them. And this is one of my favorites. It’s a faster one.
7. “Rue the Blues”–Oakley Hall. A solid song from one of my favorite bands I hardly ever listen to. They are some sort of conglomeration of grunge-country-rock. And they’re from Brooklyn (who isn’t?), but they could very well be playing some of their stuff at a honky tonk down South. (do we still have honky tonks?)
8. “15”–Rilo Kiley. Kind of scandalous; and I like that you can make out Jenny Lewis laughing towards the end of the last chorus.
9. “Little Perennials”–Indigo Girls. This album came out in 2006. I bought it and listened to it and liked it. But I really didn’t appreciate it until this year.
10. “The Opposite of Hallelujah”–Jens Lekman. The Swedes are taking over. And this guy is great. “The Opposite of Hallelujah” addresses his little sister. You wouldn’t know it’s a rather sad song, but: “I still never told you about unstoppable sorrow / you still think I’m someone to look up to / I still don’t know anything about you.”
11. “Heretics”–Andrew Bird. I think you have to see him play live to truly appreciate what he can do with a violin and with his mouth–yes all of that really is him whistling. Also, he doesn’t sweat. “Thank God it’s fatal, thank God.”
12. “If a Song Could be President”–Over the Rhine. I love them. I love them. “We’d all add another verse / Life would teach us to rehearse / Until we found a key change”
13. “Dear Mr. President”–Pink featuring the Indigo Girls. Yes you detect a theme. This also may have been released before 2007. Tough. “How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?”
14. “Heavenly Day”–Patty Griffin. I got this album but circumstances didn’t allow me to absorb it right away. This song is redemption; it is a sunny drive with the windows down; it is a day spent in an apron baking; it is freedom. Wish I could have just added the whole album.
15. “9 Crimes”–Damien Rice. Also a 2006 release, but this song is 2007 for me. Imagine a packed, but silent concert hall, one small Irish man at a piano, singing and breaking hearts. “It’s the wrong kind of place / to be thinking of you / It’s the wrong time / For somebody new /…/ Is that alright with you?”
16. “Samson”–Regina Spektor. Go see her live. Please. Another singular voice and a piano–and she was able to hush a late summer crowd in the Austin heat. “Beneath the sheets of paper lies my truth / I have to go, I have to go”
17. “Almost Lover”–A Fine Frenzy. Probably the most personal entry on the list. But I have to include it anyway. “You sang me Spanish lullabies / The sweetest sadness in your eyes / Clever trick / I never want to see you unhappy / I thought you’d want the same for me”
18. “Everybody Knows”–Ryan Adams. Also saw him in concert this year; the guy’s a freak show, but puts out some damn good music. This one is also a pretty personal pick off a fantastic album. “And everything’s changing so how am I to know”
19. “Jesus Saves, I Spend”–St. Vincent. Quirky and delightful.
20. “Collecting Rocks”–Super XX Man. Another pre-2007 cut. This guy has a lame name, but he makes really simple, pretty music. And I like that he’s singing this with his real-life wife.
21. “Flightless Bird, American Mouth”–Iron and Wine. Easily one of the top three albums of the year. A lot of people gave Sam Beam a rough go of it saying Shepherd’s Dog was just too different for Iron and Wine. Yeah it’s kinda different, but it’s still 132% Iron and Wine. I’m not sure why this is my favorite song off the album, but it is. I guess I’m a sucker for a catchy melody.
22. “Southern Manners”–The Watson Twins. Did you know that the twins that were featured on Jenny Lewis’s solo debut have their own album? And did you know they’re from Louisville? I just love the twinge of sarcasm throughout this song. But it sounds so pretty. “Well it seems you’ve finally come on through / my southern manners do oblige / won’t you come on over for a slice of pie?”