Favorite music of 2007

After putting together a similar list for 2006, I thought it would be a good idea to go through my music and pick out the albums that stood out from the rest over the past 12 months.

As i said last year, this is not necessarily a list of albums that were released in 2007, though i think most of them were, it is merely a list of the albums that i enjoyed the most over the past 12 months. They are ordered from 11 to 1, with #1 being my favorite album of the year.

One last thing to note. I don’t write these reviews because i want to try and sound like I’m musically smart or snobby. This isn’t Pitchfork or Paste. This is just the albums i liked the most and why i liked them. hopefully that’s enough.

Right off the bat let’s establish that in making this list, the last thing I am trying to do is look cool. There’s really nothing cool about Hillsongs Australia at this point. It’s been almost 5 years since they were considered edgy and boundary-pushing, but that’s ok with me. When I felt like I wanted to listen to some music with explicitly God-centered lyrics (which happens more than you might think), more often than not this was the album I turned to. My favorite tracks include “To Know Your Name”, “In the Mystery”, “Hosanna”, and “Saviour King”.

Will there ever be another Switchfoot album as good as The Beautiful Letdown? Probably not. I still remember when Andy Osenga, a remarkable songwriter himself, told me with regards to a track on TBL (i think it was “Dare You to Move” or “This is Your Life”) “I’ve wanted to write that song for years and he nailed it”. Andy, I apologize if I’ve butchered your quote, but that’s the beauty of Jon Foreman. He has a way of saying things we all want to say, but he’ll do it over catchy hooks and sizzling guitars in a way few bands can.

My favorite tracks include the quirky “Faust, Midas, and Myself”, “Awakening”, and “American Dream”.

Would this album be on my list if I wasn’t good friends with the lead singer of this band? Why would you ask such an unanswerable question? If I didn’t know these guys, chances are I wouldn’t know of their music. But I do know them, and I have enjoyed their music for the past few years.

This CD, which they gave away at their album release concert at the Chameleon this year, is for sure their best work yet. Building on the EPs that they’ve put out in past years, the album highlights all the things that i love about their music: Chris’ drum skillz, Jon’s passionate vocals, Nate’s subtle touches on the keys, and the ear they have for a a good hooks and driving guitars. Chances are you’ve never heard of them before, but if you check out their Virb site, you won’t have that excuse anymore.

(Update: I listened to this CD on my drive to the Delaware shore last weekend to confirm that it belonged on this list and honestly, after listening to it i regretted putting it at #9 when i think it should probably be around #5 or #6. It really is a solid album. I think some of my favorite tracks are near the back where the filler songs are supposed to go. Didn’t Jesus say that you were supposed to put all of the best wine near the front of the album? Oh wait, those songs are good too. nevermind.)

My favorite tracks include “Blurred Vision”, “Where Love Won’t Go”, and “Finding New Ways”.

(side note: Last month Jon used a pen to scribble a mustache on a picture of a friend’s baby we have up on our fridge. I still can’t believe he did that. The ink came off, but now i can’t look at that poor baby’s picture without seeing a mustache. high comedy.)

A friend of mine (the aforementioned Jon, actually) gave me Radiohead’s “OK Computer” a few years ago and i never really got into it. Honestly, i don’t think I even really gave it a shot. Up until i obtained “In Rainbows”, that was my only exposure to Radiohead. (yeah, it’s sad, i know…I’ve never listened to “The Bends”…please, put down your stones and pitchforks.)

All that to say, I have been enjoying “In Rainbows” more than I ever thought I would. If this is what Radiohead is like, then i understand what all the fuss is about. Tough to explain with words, i guess, so i won’t really try. I just get the sense that they know what they’re doing, and that they’re not using a limited palette to make songs like most bands are.

My favorite tracks include “15 Step”, “All I Need”, and “Reckoner”

From what I’ve heard, lots of folks have jumped on the John Mayer bandwagon thanks to the release of “Continuum”. I can’t blame them, it’s a stellar album. For the record, I’m proud to say I’ve been riding this wagon for a while. Not as long as some, I know, but I still enjoy “Room for Squares” and “Heavier Things” more than the John Mayer Trio stuff. In my opinion, it’s hard NOT to like John Mayer. He is a great lyricist, he is a guitar phenom, and his voice is great also. I guess i can understand if his voice (or the faces he makes when he sings) aren’t your cup of tea, but to me there’s a lot to like there.

The same can be said for “Continuum”. The songs feel like they have more substance to them than his older stuff, but they have this great ability to stay light and enjoyable, even when dealing with difficult topics. “Belief” and “Stop This Train” are great examples of that. Then there’s “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” which is wonderfully haunting from it’s bluesy guitar licks to its lyrical genius. I think John Mayer is one of those artists that we’ll still be enjoying in 20 years, and it’s albums like this one that he’ll be known for.

My favorite tracks include “Gravity”, “The Heart of Life”, “Slow Dancing…”, and “Stop this Train”.

I’ve seen Mae live more than once, and honestly, they are a bit underwhelming. (especially when Lovedrug opens their show). But when it comes to capturing songs in a studio album, I’ve got to say that these boys know what they’re doing. I like my music in many different flavors, and this is one of my favorites. call it emo/indie/prog/caca/poop/prog/whatever, i don’t care. I just dig this band a lot.

While this album, as a whole, might not live up to The Everglow, tracks like “Home”, “Waiting”, and “Release Me” still shine brightly.

As long as Derek keeps making records, he will continue to show up on my year-end lists. I don’t think he’s capable of making music that doesn’t move me in one way or another. The Ringing Bell is no different. The songs on this disc make me think about the things I believe, challenge me to love better, encourage me to consider peace over violence, and remind me that there is a day coming when everything shall be made right.

Sonically, I feel like this is his most accessible record to date. Perhaps it’s because he was channeling the Beatles on a lot of the tracks, and most people kinda sorta know who they are. I really like everything about this record; from the music to the lyrics to even the artwork (and not to mention the graphic novel it came with). I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, as it made a few “best of” lists, from Christianity Today to Paste Magazine, and it also was featured on Grey’s Anatomy.

My favorite tracks include “I Want to Marry You All Over Again”, “This Too Shall Be Made Right”, and “Name”.

I’ll let the guy who came in at #7 on my list tell you about the band who turned in the album at #4.

“I just listened to the album that will take me through the rest of the year… New songs to remind me of the things that are taking place right now…My mouth is agape while I listen…I saw them make the Letterman appearance of the year a few nights ago and had to download. So do you…This guy is a melody champ. Don’t let the images and soundscapes fool you. This guy is all John Waite and I love it. If you’re unsure, check out “Typical”, “Chaos” and “You Are Mine”…” (from John Mayer’s blog entry on July 19, 2007)

This was my favorite CD to run to this past summer. Most of the tracks find a great groove, thanks to MuteMath’s phenomenal drummer, who will remain nameless because I don’t feel like looking up his name. Apparently, their live shows are some of the best around right now. I hope to find out sooner rather than later.

My favorite tracks include “Plan B”, “Typical”, and “You are Mine”.

I won’t even try to be objective here. If you know anything about me, you know that this has been my favorite band for over 10 years. This CD will forever be one of my favorites, not only because it’s a great CD, but also because I was able to go down to Texas and drive around with the band for 3 days of concerts, radio gigs, and ridiculousness. It was an amazing experience, and I was happy to liveblog the whole thing over at Caedmonscall.net.

The CD itself is great. Andy Osenga and Randall Goodgame can write great songs like it’s their jobs. Cliff Young can sing and play non-barre chords like nobody’s business. Throw in Derek Webb’s writing and vocals, along with 10 years of life experience, and what you’ve got is an album that reminds me of why i fell in love with this band in the first place.

My favorite tracks include “There is a Reason”, “Love”, “Expectations”, and “Trouble”.

For the past 6 months, when I’m not sure what to listen to I always almost end up putting this album in. I’ve done this probably 20 times and it has yet to disappoint.

Almost every album that I purchase features a male lead vocalist, that’s the just the way it works out. But the melodies, harmonies, and addictive hooks that these ladies create never disappoint, no matter how many times i go back to it. Solid from start to finish, Combinations was probably the album I listened to the most in 2007.

My favorite tracks include “Invasion”, “Come Clean”, and “Taking Control”.

I don’t have permission to use this quote, but I’m going to use it anyway. It’s just a piece of what Derek Webb had to say about this record by Jeremy Casella:

‘Recovery’ is a remarkable record, if for no other reason, because it compels me to listen to it. Jeremy has accomplished something that few of us singer/songwriters do. He pulled his ribs back so far that I feel like I know him better with every listen…I’m curious that even Jeremy might know himself a little better having created this, his masterwork. – Derek Webb

I couldn’t agree more with Derek. It does feel like it’s Jeremy’s masterwork (though I’m sure he has more left in him). I’ve blogged about this record before, but it continues to “wow” me, even this past weekend as we drove home from the Delaware shore.

If a song, like Billy Joel says, is the child of it’s creator, then each of these songs feel like well-adjusted adults who have accomplished every goal they set out to achieve and have raised beautiful families of their own. Listening through, you just get the feeling that Jeremy devoted as much time and energy and nuance as each song needed to reach its full potential. While the album slows down maybe a little too much in the 3rd quarter for me, it is still my favorite album of the year, hands down. (and check out the “making of” video if you have 10 minutes)

My favorite tracks include “Hypocrisy #785”, “Darkest Night”, and “Distress Signal”.

Here’s to looking forward to more great music in 2008!