We continue with the ninth installment of our top 100 albums of 2007 year end list.
20. The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter by Josh Ritter
The songwriting on The Historical Conquests... has the same strength of purpose that makes Ritter such an irresistible new artist, but here the songs are brittle and delivered with brio. The production is a roughhewn endeavour that provides ballast for a myriad of brilliant arrangements and melodic ideas. Sensible acoustic guitar and keyboard interludes mix with loose and lofty horns, pianos, strings and guitars; frailty gives way to unshakable solidity, and the lyrics paint images that never become burdensome or trite.
19. Cross by Justice
Cross by Justice is the party album of the year. Its contagious grooves jump from the speakers so forcefully that you will be physically moved to dance. It's peppered with new wave and pop flavors, but it's synthesized foundation packs the kind of punch that has been traditionally reserved for only the most unrestrained metal acts.
18. Dirt Farmer by Levon Helm
Many are hailing Dirt Farmer as the comeback of the year, and I completely agree. Helm is a legend, as any fan of The Band would attest, but when he was diagnosed with throat cancer in the 90s many thought it was the end. Well, he beat the cancer at the cost of his vocal chords, but has worked to regain his voice. Dirt Farmer is his first solo release since 1982 and it's sounds like he hasn't missed a beat. Cancer be damned!
17. Random Spirit Lover by Sunset Rubdown
Montreal's Sunset Rubdown deliver a wonderfully quirky and exceptional album in Random Spirit Lover. It does take a little bit of work, but will grow on you quickly if you give it the time it deserves. Fans of Arcade Fire, Frog Eyes and Wolf Parade should take note not to miss it. And I'm sure not many of those fans have.
16. Untrue by Burial
Burial's Untrue is the top rated album for 2007 according to the review aggregator site Metacritic.com. It doesn't make it quite that high on my list, but the atmospheric, melancholic electronica found on Untrue is truly arresting. The album's warmth stands out, right down to the audible needle static, but its the record's cohesiveness that makes it a work that rises above the crowd.
15. The Shepherd's Dog by Iron & Wine
I'm starting to believe that Sam Beam can do no wrong. His latest effort The Shepherd's Dog is a study in perfectly balanced songcraft. The strings and percussion float like butterflies, while Sam sings well-hooked, intelligent lyrics that are part of something more impressive than their individual parts reveal. This is no longer some dude with a four track in his bedroom. Which just proves that it's not how the music is recorded, but who is creating it.
14. Sweet Warrior by Richard Thompson
On Sweet Warrior, driving bluesy numbers collide with sophisticated Americana and some political tracks that would make even Steve Earle smile. Song after song, this record finds RT 100% at ease and in complete control of what he lays before us. The production is about a flawless as it gets. You feel as if you can almost crawl into the thick and woody acoustic bass on "Take Care The Road You Choose" and the guitar lines throughout are perfectly executed and crisp.
13. Nux Vomica by The Veils
Comparisons to Nick Cave are correct in one sense, as Nux Vomica has a generally dark undercurrent, and an explosive outpouring of emotion that can send chills up your spine at times. However, Finn captures my imagination and takes control of his spaceship in a more immediate way than Cave. Some members of the band have been playing together since age 11, and the sound is indicative. When you combine this with tasteful arrangements, spot-on production, and Finn's astonishing vocal exuberance, the results are simply stunning.
12. The Magic Position by Patrick Wolf
I've read the comparisons to Bowie and Beck and I agree to some degree, but I hear more influence and originality than two reference points can provide.Wolf has rendered a new wave undercurrent on The Magic Position that gives him a familiar foundation on which to place expertly crafted melodies, confident vocals and brilliant cut and paste noodlings. Each new electro-pop gem leaves you smiling over what you just heard, but filled with anticipation for what's coming next. The Magic Position is an almost perfect album experience.
11. Person Pitch by Panda Bear
Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) took some time away from Animal Collective (who also made my year end list at #68) to create this Brian Wilson-possessed masterpiece. The harmonies and psychedelic elements are a formula that will always gain critical acclaim for a couple reasons. 1. It's really hard to pull off. 2. It sounds almost superhuman.
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