Friday, December 07, 2007

My favourite albums of 2007

It's that time of year again. There's been so much good music this year, although much of it under the critical radar. The usual suspects will no doubt turn up in the critical lists as usual, but critics and blogs seem to be getting ever more unreliable in the desperate charge to write about something, anything, as the next big thing. So, here's the albums that rocked my mp3 player over the past 12 months.

Southcoasting's 2007th Top of the Pops
right click on the songs to listen, click on the cover pics to buy

.blitzen trapper: wild mountain nation

Welcome to the new folk anarchy! Portland, Oregon is this year's Toronto, or last year's Seattle, or whatever. So many exciting bands are coming out of this city at present, but Blitzen Trapper were imho the finest. It just puts a smile on my face every time I hear it. I saw the BT play live and they were the maddest excuse for a band ever, teaming over the stage, swerving from Bob Dylan 1962-style folkiness into some kind of woodland-punk version of the Scissor sisters. Kind of a faux-pastoral urbanism. The songs are a crazy mix, and come across as veering ever so slightly out of control - but they turn on an innate beauty and soul which just takes you over. Even the Sun gave them a 4* review. Amazing.

.jane barthomomew : morning songs

Where Blitzen Trapper moved my head and made me smile, Jane Bartholomew moves my heart. This is an album of beautiful ghostly love songs, sung by an angel augmented by her own guitar or piano, and occasional strings. Unbearably precious and delicate and completely enchanting. Playing live, she puts down her handbag and kicks off her shoes and enters a brilliant world of her own. An absolutely essential release, only available through Jane's own website.

.nina nastasia & jim white : you follow me

Born in California, resident in New York City, Nina Nastasia has been writing songs for over a decade. By my reckoning this is her fifth album, although it was the first I'd heard. I saw Nina supporting an outstanding Adem in the beautiful Kemp Town chapel, and her songs and presence blew me away. The album is a beautiful marriage between Nina's strange ear for words and relationships, and Jim White's in-your-face rhythmic meladrama, which against the odds works brilliantly in combination.

.diamond family archive : pear tree

I recently blogged how wonderful Lawrence Collyer's latest CD (his fifth) is. Heart-wrenching emotional songs of love and hate, dark and yet strangely uplifting, wrapped up in a deep poetic intellect and an electric green accompaniment.

.okkervil river : the stage names
Another rich tapestry of urban Americana from Okkervil River, the Austin, Texas band incapable of being boring. Most of the songs on the Stage Names, their 5th album, were written in a small 4th floor walk-up apartment in Brooklyn. Apparently there were enough songs for a double album, so we may find a welcome further addendum, as there was for the Black Sheep Boy. But in the end the nine that made this cut are superb. The cover image is an embroidery by William Schaff. It's also excellent.

.radiohead : in rainbows

What's to say? Frustrating of course, yet inspiring and possibly their best album since OK Computer. The distribution mechanism brought home things that were already happening elsewhere in the industry, but the music was what mattered, and it was intriguing, innovative and exciting. No memorable songs of course, and arch-modern aural wallpaper at times, but still well worth the £1.10 I paid for it.

.josh ritter : historical conquests of josh ritter

Sounding strangely historical, classical and yet poetic and folksy and 1972. There are hints of Gilbert O'Sullivan. That's a good thing.

.jens lekman : night falls over kortedala

Somehow our Swedish pop genius does it again, falling on just the right side of classic romanticism.

.blanket : blank it

Awesome album from Brighton-London band, also featuring Lawrence Collyer. Strangely hypnotic, simple and brooding. One of these days we'll all be made of rubber. Hear it now.

.caribou : andorra

A divine eclectic mix of styles, like a hyper-modern Beach Boys and Beatles.

No comments: