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Rich Duncan End of the year lists are always hard for me to put together. I have no problems picking out thirty of my favorite records, that was the easy part. However, sitting down and trying to rank these thirty records, all of which have had a profound impact on me over the course of the year, is a hard task and I agonized over this list for quite some time. I know that not everyone will agree with the rankings or the albums I have chosen, but hopefully if nothing else you are introduced to a few new albums that you too will grow to love. The list is a little lengthy, but there are a few links here and there for you to check out, my top nicknames on the site (which are fairly amusing), and even some free music that a band is giving away from their myspace. Alright, now that I have wasted enough of your time with introductions, here is my list for everything I loved about 2007!
Top Albums of 2007
30. Deerhoof - Friendship Opportunity
29. Meneguar - Strangers In Our House
28. The Mary Onettes - The Mary Onettes
27. Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start - Worst Band Name Ever
26. Thrushes - Sun Come Undone
25. The Good Life - Help Wanted Nights
24. Via Audio - Say Something
23. Blonde Redhead - 23
22. Maritime - Heresy And The Hotel Choir
21. Jimmy Eat World - Chase This Light
20. Shh…This Is A Library - Shh…This Is A Library
19. Celeste - Nihiliste(s)
18. Kevin Drew - Spirit If…
17. Stars - In Our Bedroom After The War
16. Iron & Wine - The Shepard’s Dog
15. Picastro - Whore Luck
14. Les Savy Fav - Let’s Stay Friends
13. Straylight Run - The Needles The Space
12. Lewis & Clarke - Blasts Of Holy Birth
11. Deerhunter - Cryptograms
10. Nurses - Hangin’ Nothin’ But Our Hands Down
09. Elliott Smith - New Moon
08. The National - Boxer
07. Minus The Bear - Planet Of Ice
06. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
05. Feist - The Reminder
04. Radiohead - In Rainbows
03. Immanu El - They’ll Come, They Come
02. Battles - Mirrored
Album Of The Year Caspian - The Four Trees
When I first sat down to start making this list, I was unsure about what album would end up grabbing my coveted “Album Of The Year” spot. However, after listening to all of these albums many times, it became clear that Caspian’s The Four Trees was the obvious choice for my Album Of The Year. The Four Trees is an emotionally captivating record that flows together effortlessly to showcase the best of Caspian - sometimes loud and sometimes quiet, but never boring. Caspian’s debut full-length effort is the sort of album that can be listened to and enjoyed no matter what emotion you are feeling, which to me is what makes an album of the year - an album that can accurately capture every emotion imaginable in a timeless fashion with plenty of little subtleties that are uncovered with every new listen. This is one of 2007’s most breathtakingly beautiful albums and if this is the first full-length testament of Caspian’s capabilities, I have no doubt they will go on to have a bright future full of the success they deserve while continuing to “wow” listeners with each new record.
: Honorable Mention
Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
Georgie James - Places
Bloc Party - A Weekend In The City
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - Living With The Living
Band Of Horses - Cease To Begin
Cary Brothers - Who You Are
Top EPs of 2007
05. Swedes - Three Weeks
04. Veil Veil Vanish - Into A New Mausoleum
03. They Mean Us - Friendship Lottery
02. Black Kids - The Wizard Of Ahhhs
Top EP Of 2007
As Tall As Lions - Into The Flood
To hear how far As Tall As Lions have come since their early days, there is no way I could not award them top EP of the year honors. This band keeps improving upon their sound with every record, and after hearing the five songs that make up Into The Flood, the release of their next full-length could not come fast enough.
Most Disappointing Albums of 2007
05. KT Tunstall - Drastic Fantastic
04. Matt Pond PA - Last Light
03. Sherwood - A Different Light
02. Paramore - Riot!
01. Cartel - Cartel
Some of the albums that made this list I do not consider bad, such as Drastic Fantastic and Last Light, but were albums that ultimately I felt were a little lacking an not indicative of the artists full potential. The biggest disappointment for me, which may surprise some people who know my tastes, was the Cartel record. After I had all but lost hope in most pop bands, Cartel’s Chroma restored my interest and was a completely unexpected (albeit pleasant) surprise. However, their self-titled album was lacking that appeal for me and I quickly lost interest.
Best "New" Band
Winner Black Kids
Lo-fi indie pop band Black Kids have been generating a decent amount of buzz lately and have started popping up in many blogs and even garnering a positive review from Pitchfork on the strength of a self-released demo. Let’s just say the buzz around this band is warranted and you will soon hear their name being mentioned more than it already is and labels will be fighting to sign this band. Download their EP for free at the band's myspace and see what all the hype is about.
Runner Up They Mean Us
Best Music Videos of 2007
Winner: Battles "Tonto"
Runner Up: Battles "Atlas"
ExplanationBattles released two enjoyable and stylistically appealing music videos that easily won this category. Watching Battles perform their unique brand of music in “Tonto” with an outstanding light show created by United Visual Artists. It was really close choosing between the two, but the light show in “Tonto” is what pushed that ahead of “Atlas” for me.
Best Lyrics of 2007
Winner: Conor Oberst
Runner Up: Elliott Smith
ExplanationBoth of these men are outstanding lyricists that will always be remembered in music due to the legacies they will leave/have left behind. Elliott Smith was always one of the best at just capturing every emotion perfectly that anyone who picked up his records could instantly relate to, whether it be his more depressing lyrics or even the hints of optimism that occasionally found its way into his songs. It goes without saying that when it comes to storytelling and pure poetic beauty, Conor is among the best in terms of modern lyricists. Even his earliest works showed flashes of brilliance and ever since that first release, Conor has been constantly improving his craft and wowing fans and critics alike. At the rate he is going, Oberst is going to earn his spot amongst America’s greatest lyricists.
Best Record Label
Winner: Arts & Crafts
Runner Up: Denovali
ExplanationChoosing between these two labels was tough. Arts & Crafts is a label that has consistently released outstanding records that I can’t help but fall in love with (Broken Social Scene, Kevin Drew, Stars, The Most Serene Republic, etc), and two of their releases this year have made my year end list. Denovali on the other hand is an outstanding DIY label from Germany that is releasing some truly incredible and innovative music that is quickly dominating my iTunes. It is truly inspiring to see a label that is run by two passionate music fans that stick to their DIY roots doing so well in making a name for themselves and releasing great bands. Had I discovered this label sooner, they just may have edged out Arts & Crafts.
Best Live Show
05. KT Tunstall
04. The Minor Times
03. The Velvet Teen
02. Minus The Bear
Best Live Show Of 2007 Caspian
The best live show I have seen this year didn’t come from one of the scene’s biggest bands, nor did it occur in a legendary or even large venue. The Caspian show in question took place at a tiny firehouse literally five minutes down the road from my house in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. It was a show with a few local bands, with the two headliners being The Minor Times and Caspian. Caspian was supposed to be second to last, but since they got stuck in traffic, they ended up being the last band to play that night. They wasted little time and unleashed one of the most passionate and emotionally intense shows I have ever witnessed. Living in a small town has its perks since Caspian just played in the middle of an open floor with no crowd separation and I was literally right in front of the band the entire time they played. Caspian poured their heart and soul into this performance and having never seen them live, I left there with ringing ears, goosebumps, and a newfound respect for Caspian.
Winner: Jimmy Eat World "Be Sensible"
Runner Up: Straylight Run "One By One"
ExplanationWhen Jimmy Eat World released Futures, they had quite a few songs that were featured on television shows and their music seemed perfect for many emotionally charged scenes. “Be Sensible" can now be added to that list as an emotionally gripping song that is destined for A LOT of television exposure. This song just had an unexplainable effect on me that made me listen to this song on repeat, and is among my favorite Jimmy Eat World songs. “One by One” is a pretty simplistic piano ballad, but it is one of Straylight Run’s most beautiful songs in my opinion. I think Michelle DaRossa’s voice is absolutely beautiful and that she is sometimes underappreciated, but this track allows her to step into the spotlight by herself and show how truly talented she really is.
Best "Other" Webzine
Sure, Pastemagazine.com may not be a webzine, but in my opinion, Paste is one of the best magazines out there and not nearly enough people read it (from what I have seen) and they deserve A LOT more readers. Some magazines that cover music and then other topics like movies, television, and culture I find myself skipping articles, but Paste is full of talented writers and I always find myself reading every issue from cover to cover.
Best Movies of 2007
03. Reign Over Me
02. Across The Universe
Most Anticipated CDs of 2008
10. Saves The Day
Saves The DaySaves The Day is one of my all-time favorite bands and I cannot wait to see how they wrap up their trilogy.
ThursdayWhile I highly doubt that Thursday will put out a new record in time for 2008, I can always hope. I am a huge fan and own every record, and every time I hear they are working on new material I always get excited and look forward to their new albums and I am never disappointed. I am looking forward to seeing how they build off the impressive progression of A City By The Light Divided, and the new songs they have on Kill The House Lights make me very excited for their next effort.
08. Make Believe
Make BelieveI am a fan of pretty much every Kinsella project and Make Believe is no different. I was a little worried when I heard Tim left the band, but I soon found out that he was still recording the vocals for the bands upcoming album, Goin' to the Bone Church. The future of the band is up in the air, but at the very least we will get one more fantastic Make Believe album this spring.
07. Kevin Devine
Kevin DevineI felt bad for Kevin Devine after he was dropped by Capitol Records in early 2007. Kevin took it in stride and saw the positives in having been a part of Capitol and grateful for what it allowed him to do, but I couldn’t help but be a little pissed that a talented musician and nice guy like Kevin Devine who has worked so hard to get where he is was dropped by Capitol. However, I know that after all Kevin has been through and all the hardships he has probably faced in recent years will make for another great record for him that I look forward to enjoying as much as I enjoyed Put Your Ghost To Rest.
SinaloaAfter pretty much wearing out 2005’s Footprints On Floorboards, I was quite shocked when out of nowhere I saw on Sinaloa’s myspace that they had fully finished recording a new full-length titled Oceans Of Islands. It is no secret that I am a huge fan of angular indie rock and basically any band that could fall under a similar classification, and Sinaloa are among the best out there keeping this sound alive. Passionate with very intelligent lyrics, do yourself a favor and give these guys a listen, you will not be disappointed.
05. Nada Surf
Nada Surf Nada Surf are a band that had been pegged by many as one hit wonders, but they shattered that misconception with The Weight Is A Gift. That album didn’t have a single with the impact of “Popular”, but it had a collection of moderately successful songs that found their way onto television shows and such and finally grabbed the attention of the public who had written them off after High/Low. After hearing the single “See These Bones”, I have no doubt that Lucky will be another excellent release from this Brooklyn-based trio and will gain the band the admiration they deserve.
04. The Appleseed Cast
The Appleseed Cast The Appleseed Cast are currently in the process of recording new material after 2006’s stunning Peregrine. Peregrine was one of my favorite records last year and I have a feeling the new material the band is working on is going to build upon the diversity of Peregrine and finding the band releasing more matereial that will leave fans and critics alike clamoring for more.
03. Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab For Cutie By now everyone has heard that Death Cab plans to have their new album out by May and your guess is as good as mine as to what it may possibly sound like completely finished. However, I have a feeling that this album will follow in the footsteps of Transatlanticism and Plans in that it will bring them even more exposure and success and will find them gaining even more fans. I have a very good feeling about this album and I think it will be something special.
02. My Bloody Valentine
My Bloody Valentine I am a pretty new My Bloody Valentine fan compared to most people who enjoy the band, having fell in love with them after hearing “Sometimes” on Lost In Translation, but I was probably as excited as even the oldest fan when I heard My Bloody Valentine was finally going to release a follow up to their legendary 1991 album, Loveless. Hopefully not too many people get caught up comparing this next album to Loveless, though it is almost certain people will, because that could potentially spoil what could be a stunning album that has been in the works for quite some time.
01. The Jealous Sound
The Jealous Sound Things have been pretty quiet in The Jealous Sound camp. The band has not released anything since their 2003 full-length debut Kill Them With Kindness, which was well received by the press (making Spin’s Top 40 albums of 2003 list) and being a fan favorite. In 2005 they signed with the Militia Group which made it seem like new material was surely on the way, but alas, nothing has been released yet. Breakup rumors have circulated or that Blair Shehan has left the band, but even amongst all that there are rumors on wikipedia (not really a reliable source, but hey, a passionate The Jealous Sound fan will take what he can get) that as of August 24th, the band is still working on new material and that something is definitely in the works, it is just taking some time. Here is to hoping that everything in The Jealous Sound camp is going smoothly and that this new material will see the light of day this year!
Favorite Songs Of 2007
Cary Brothers "Ride"
Tigercity "Other Girls" and "Are You Sensation?"
FRNDS ND LVRS - “Have You Ever Felt Insignificant?”
Bright Eyes “Lime Tree”
Feist “I Feel It All”
Matt Pond Pa “Basement Parties”
The National “Mistaken For Strangers”
Interpol “No I In Threesome”
Kevin Drew “Lucky Ones”
Immanu El “Under Your Wings I’ll Hide”
Radiohead “All I Need”
Jimmy Eat World “Dizzy” and “Be Sensible”
Brand New “Fork And Knife”
Black Kids “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You”
Minus The Bear "White Mystery" and "Knights"
ExplanationThis is by no means an exhaustive list as that would take up many pages, but these were the songs I found myself listening to almost regularly.
My Best Nickname (as chosen by Tom Good) 2007
4) Tricky Dick Duncan
3) Rich Dunkin Donuts
2) Richie Dunks
1) Richard P. Dunkenstien Esquire IV: Volumes I & II From Fear Through The Eyes Of Dunkness + No Dunks For Tomorrow
02:13 PM on 12/26/07
Good call on Arts and Crafts.
04:36 PM on 12/26/07
Great choice of lyricists
05:12 PM on 12/26/07
I was just aching for anything
suprised to see Nurses on your list
05:13 PM on 12/26/07
Cool list, I like your no 1 choice
and I'd sell my right arm for a new Jealous Sound album but I've pretty much given up hope
05:16 PM on 12/26/07
Thanks! haha I wish Elliott would have made it on to more Year End lists, but at least a lot of people enjoyed Bright Eyes
Yeah they aren't as well known or big, but I LOVED their album, and I think it was well earned. More people need to check them out
05:17 PM on 12/26/07
Thanks, I am glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, me too. I am still skeptical but I am just hoping all the rumors are true haha
09:43 PM on 12/26/07
Awesome! I am glad you enjoyed it and thanks for checking it out. Did you post a list in the one general forum thread? I remember liking a few bands you posted about, it would be cool to see what your list looked like.
03:37 AM on 12/27/07
Everybody is hating on Cartel's latest! Rightfully so though.
05:19 AM on 12/27/07
W000! Happy Birthday Richard Dunkson former president of the united states!
10:19 AM on 12/27/07
Paste Magazine is awesome. Good call.