10. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Not sure if I got enough “Ga’s” in the title, but oh well. My introduction to Spoon came with 2001’s Girls Can Tell and I’ve been a casual fan ever since. Britt Daniel just has a great sense of melody and timing and he writes some of the best guitar hooks today, in my opinion. This album is a little experimental for him, as he threw in some different instrumentation (see The Underdog) and arrangements (see The Ghost of You Lingers). But he makes it all work.
Standout tracks: The Underdog, Don’t You Evah
9. Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
I was trying to think of a way to describe Jens Lekman, and all I could come up with was two words – Swedish crooner. Jens is one of my favorite lyricists as he writes with a simple charm and wit that doesn’t require you to study the lyrics like the Dead Sea Scrolls to decipher what he’s saying. Most of the songs on Night Falls are basic stories with Jens as the narrator. It’s a great album and I needed a Swede on the list anyways, so, two birds with one stone.
Standout tracks: And I Remember Every Kiss, A Postcard to Nina
8. New Pornographers – Challengers
This record solidifies the New Pornographers place as one of the best pop acts going, for me. This one is still a rung below Twin Cinema in my opinion, but that could change with more listens. They just know how to craft a good pop song, a skill that seems long lost lately. Oh, and you get to hear Neko Case’s beautiful voice…what’s not to like?
Standout tracks: My Rights Versus Yours, Challengers, Failsafe, Mutiny, I Promise You
7. Interpol – Our Love to Admire
I had big expectations for this record as Interpol had successfully avoided the sophomore slump to create a good record with 2005’s Antics. However, I wasn’t sold on this album till about 7-10 listens, so I guess it kinda grew on me. The thing I like best about Interpol’s previous records are the epic opening tracks, and Our Love to Admire doesn’t disappoint here. Pioneer to the Falls kicks the album off with a dark, eerie feeling, and really, isn’t that why we listen to Interpol? This record also has the best song title of the year with ‘No I in Threesome.’
Standout tracks: Pioneer to the Falls, Rest My Chemistry
6. Panda Bear – Person Pitch
This album was just a pleasant surprise, and like the Andrew Bird record, lived up to all the hype and rave reviews. I’m not a huge Animal Collective fan, and since Noah Lennox, a.k.a. Panda Bear is part of that group, I wasn’t really anticipating anything great. But this album is just flat-out phenomenal. Lennox channels Brian Wilson (can you channel someone who’s still living?) and creates a masterpiece of loops and wall-of-sound-ish stuff that sounds like a perfect blend of 60’s psychedelia and modern day effects.
Standout tracks: Comfy in Nautica, Bros
5. The Shins – Wincing the Night Away
This album didn’t blow me away at first, and it really still doesn’t. For me, there isn’t that track or two that puts the signature touch on the album. Oh, Inverted World has Know Your Onion and the now ubiquitous New Slang, and Chutes has So Says I. Phantom Limb comes very close to doing for this record what those great songs did for their respective albums, but just doesn’t quite do it for me. All that said, it’s still my #5 album because of its consistency and my fanboy love for the band.
Standout tracks: Phantom Limb, Turn on Me, A Comet Appears
4. Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
Andrew Bird’s name kept popping up all over the blogosphere, so I checked him out. For once, an album and artist fairly unknown to me lived up to the Internet hype. In my list from last year, I said M. Ward’s Post War could be the album from that list that ends up being my favorite years down the road. Same goes for this album from Andrew Bird. Simple pop songs with sneaky good hooks and great choices for instrumentation, plus he sounds like Jeff Buckley sometimes.
Standout tracks: Fiery Crash, Heretics, Plasticities
3. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Arcade Fire had, without a doubt, the toughest act to follow. That of course was their transcendent debut, Funeral, which may go down as one of the greatest debut albums EVER. No pressure. They delivered another classic, however, perhaps not as cohesive and tight as Funeral, but a magnificent collection of songs nonetheless. Seeing them live for the first time was probably the highlight of my year.
Standout tracks: Black Mirror, Intervention, No Cars Go
2. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
This may have been the release I was anticipating more than any other this year, Arcade Fire notwithstanding. James Murphy’s latest is smart, witty and funny, sometimes all at once. Sound of Silver has the best closing track of the year in ‘New York I Love You….’ Their performance at Coachella this year was a definite highlight for me even though I got to the tent late and had to watch from outside.
Standout tracks: Someone Great, All My Friends, New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down
1. Radiohead – In Rainbows
If there was any doubt who the best band in the world is, In Rainbows, the latest from Radiohead, makes it crystal clear. At least for me it does. Pretty much perfect from opener ‘15 Step’ on, In Rainbows is the follow up to OK Computer many of us have been waiting for. Not that the detour they took in between wasn’t great as well. From the very first listen, it was clearly the best album of ’07 for me.
Standout tracks: 15 step, Bodysnatchers, All I Need, House of Cards
And that's that. Honorable mentions go to Elvis Perkins, Feist, Wilco, The Broken West, Band of Horses, Okkervil River, Of Montreal, and even though it came out in 2006, The Thermals' The Body, The Blood, The Machine was a record I got into and listened to a ton in '07.