The Top 25 Albums Of 2007 – 1 to 10 And A Giveaway !

December 23, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Okay here it is the grand finale, my top ten of the year. The albums I listened to and enjoyed most this year. There was so much great music this year that a short list of twenty five doesn’t nearly it do it all justice. There’s obviously way more omitted than included.

And, as I promised I have giveaways. A copy of The SwimmersFighting Trees that most of you will need to wait until it’s March release to get your hands on, but I have it for you now, and a copy of The Broken West‘s I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On autographed by the whole band(Thanks Ross!)

Once again I’ll make it easy to win just leave a comment or send me an email to with “Top 25 Contest” in the subject line.
You don’t have to, but feel free to get creative in the comments – your top albums, what I missed, etc. If you leave a comment make sure you leave an email or some way to get in touch if you win. I’ll pick 2 winners at random on New Year’s Day from all the entries. Good Luck !

1:The Swimmers – Fighting Trees
Back in January of this year when I received a rather unassuming email from Steve Yutzy-Burkey, not so unlike a lot of other emails I receive everyday from bands, letting me know they had shows upcoming and that their new album Fighting Trees was
streaming from their website if I wanted to give it a listen. What I found at the end of the link was a record I would unabashedly call one of the first truly important releases of 2007. Now nearly a year later, I’ve seen the band live more than a dozen times and there is no single album I listened to or enjoyed more this year. It’s the perfect balance of catchy hooks,vocal harmonies and intelligent lyrics that I just can’t seem to get enough of. The record saw a limited Philadelphia area CD release this fall on Mad Dragon Records, who signed the band and will officially release their record to the rest of the world in March 2008. Watch out for it.

MP3: The Swimmers – Pocketful Of Gold

2:The Broken West – I Can’t Go On I’ll Go On
Guitar driven, smart, power pop. Reference points of Big Star,The Beatles,Cheap Trick and more come to mind but the sound ends up undeniably all The Broken West. A dozen songs here and each one could be a single in it’s own right, no filler here just great music.

MP3: The Broken West – Down In The Valley
Buy I Can’t Go On I’ll Go On

3:Julie Doiron – Woke Myself Up
The best overlooked album of the year. Emotional, ragged and real with a sound that falls somewhere between fellow Canadians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Forget Feist you need this.

MP3: Julie Doiron – I Woke Myself Up
Buy Woke Myself Up

4:The Clientele – God Save The Clientele
Alasdair Maclean describes the band’s sound on this record: “The band are setting free their inner Monkees; a lovely blend of Big Star twisted power-pop and country achin’, with flashes of the Beatles at their most joyful and upbeat.” He’s dead on, it’s a perfect Sunday morning record, filled with smooth sixties overtones but never sounding retro or dated.

MP3: The Clientele – Here Comes The Phantom
Buy God Save The Clientele

5:Blitzen Trapper – Wild Mountain Nation
What Wilco could sound like if they didn’t sand all the edges off. The perfect mix of alt country and indie rock, they delivered one of the best live shows I saw all year.

MP3: Blitzen Trapper – Sci-Fi Kid
Buy Wild Mountain Nation

6:Josh Ritter – The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter
One of the best new songwriters of a generation, Josh amped it up a bit more than his earlier records for this one and created a new classic. And as good as this is, I somehow feel it’s still only hinting at the future greatness Josh has in him.

MP3: Josh Ritter – Right Moves
Buy The Historical Conquests Of Josh Ritter

7:Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
I’ll commit blogger heresy here and say other than a song or two,their debut Funeral did nothing for me. But with only one real clunker(Black Wave),this one is just shy of perfect. Anthmemic and engaging it grabs you right from the first listen. Openly embracing their Springsteen influences in their sound this time around didn’t hurt at all either.

MP3: Arcade Fire – Black Mirror
Buy Neon Bible

8:LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
James Murphy obviously honed his ear for what works during his time as a bouncer at Trenton’s alternative rock club City Gardens all through the mid to late eighties and delivered an album that put all that knowledge together for something relevant right now. Their live show is phenomenal, hearing All My Friends live was one of most transcendent concert moments I’ve ever experienced.

Listen To The Whole Album Here
Buy Sound Of Silver

9:Creeping Weeds – We Are All Part Of A Dream You’re Having
One of Philadelphia’s most original sounding bands this manages to run the gamut from desolate spacey piano, to jagged edgy guitar rockers and all points in between, and it all works. And having seen them live like 8 or 9 times this past year I can tell you they’re an awesome live band as well.

MP3: The Creeping Weeds – Eternity Is A Long Time
Buy We Are All Part Of A Dream You’re Having

10:Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
Twelve solid midtempo pop songs filled with hooks,violin, whistling and more, from th eopening notes of Fiery Crash it creates an alternate world and holds you there right through to the final notes of Yawny at the Apocalypse. One of the best sequenced albums of the year, each song perfectly setting up the next, just like a great mix tape.

MP3: Andrew Bird – Fiery Crash
Buy Armchair Apocrypha

Previous 11-15 16-20 21-25

The Top 25 Albums Of 2007 – 11 to 15

December 21, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Part 3 of the Top 25 Albums Of 2007. These were some of the ones shuffled around the most as I worked and reworked the final list. Stayed tuned for some giveaways in conjunction with the top ten getting posted.

11: New Pornographers – Challengers
While I liked a few of their older songs their albums felt like a lot of filler, this one delivers from beginning to end. New Pornographers sound more like a band than a “supergroup” on this one making it their best album yet. I have to add though, the live show I saw, even with Neko and Dan Bejar in tow, was a bit disappointing, good but not great.

MP3: New Pornographers – Myriad Harbour
Buy Challengers

12: Bruce Springsteen – Magic
Bruce pulls the E Streeters in for one more go around and makes what is his best rock album since Born In The USA. Although not as direct as John Fogerty on Revival he manages to deliver his own political agenda as well. The Phil Spector-ish Girls In Their Summer Clothes may be the best single of the year.

MP3: Bruce Springsteen – Radio Nowhere
Buy Magic

13: Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Spoon sounds like no one else. To me it’s not as immediate sounding as their last, Gimme Fiction, but still filled with great pop songs. You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb and The Underdog are instant classics.

MP3: Spoon – You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
Buy Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

14: The A-Sides Silver Storms
If Chris Martin of Coldplay had the same Springsteen obsession that Win Butler of Arcade Fire has, it would probably sound something like Philadelphia’s A-Sides. Expansive and dramatic without the overkill, they’ve created a shimmering, beautiful record that solidifes their place as a band on the rise.

MP3: The A-Sides – A Florida Grove
Buy Silver Storms

15: Iron and Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog
The warm intimate folky feel of the disc is something that immediately grabs you and transports you to another place. Delicate hypnotic percussion, soft strummy guitars, a sprinkling of other ambient sounds all woven together by Sam Beam’s softspoken vocal style, create an almost spiritual vibe to the whole thing that is just mesmerizing.

MP3: Wolves (Song of The Shepherd’s Dog)
Buy The Shepherd’s Dog

Previous 16 to 20 21 to 25

Top 25 Albums Of 2007 – 16 to 20

December 20, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Part 2 of my top 25 albums of 2007, coming to you five at a time because my lame typing skills can’t bang it out any faster than that. How’s it look so far? Did I hit your favorite yet?

16: MIA Kala
In a really weak year for hip hop who’d have thought one of the best songs(Bamboo Banga) would open with a line lifted from Jonathan Richman. There’s sheer beauty in just how aggressive, rhythmic, and relentless this whole disc is. It’s music made to be played loud. Turn it up, and then turn it up some more.

MP3: M.I.A – Bamboo Banga
Buy Kala

17: The Cribs – Mens Needs, Womens Needs, Whatever
The Cribs third album, produced by Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand is an energetic blend of pop punk goodness and their accompanying live show was one of the best I’ve seen this year, a powerhouse tour de force. Bonus points for taking chances on one of my favorite tracks, Be Safe, featuring a spoken voice over vocal by special guest Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth.

MP3: The Cribs – Men’s Needs
Buy Mens Needs, Womens Needs, Whatever

18: Bless 1 – Starving Artist
While Kanye,Fifty Cent and Jay-z made mediocre records and spent the year trying to out promote each others ego, Bless 1 holed up in Chicago and self produced this gem of a hip hop record and then gave it away for free via his myspace page. All about the music, the way it should be.

MP3: Bless 1 – The Hunger
Bless 1 Myspace

19: The Silver Seas – High Society
Playing like a long lost seventies classic, when albums were on vinyl records and FM radio still mattered, this blends the sound of that era’s finest, Van Morrison,Jackson Browne,Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, etc. into one great kick back and just listen experience.

MP3: The Silver Seas – The Country Life
Buy High Society

20: The Fratellis – Costello Music
When I first wrote about these guts way back last January I called them the UK version of The Hold Steady, in retrospect that may have been a little over exuberent a comparison on my part but they’re still damn good. The Fratellis can, and do, crank out tunes that come off like a cross between the Buzzcocks and T.Rex. Mostly about girls, girls and girls. Playing good old rock and roll, and they got to make a ipod commercial to boot.

MP3 : The Fratellis -Chelsea Dagger
Buy Costello Music

Previous 21 to 25

Top 25 Albums Of 2007 – 21 to 25

December 19, 2007 by · 1 Comment
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What do you really call a list like this, best of ?, top ? favorites ? it’s all so subjective in the end anyway and based on what you personally listened to. I listened to more music this past year than I have in a long time, so after much deliberation, roughly akin to organizing a pile of sand in the wind, I committed to a final 25 that for the sake of posting I’m going to call the Top 25 Albums Of 2007. The albums I enjoyed and listened to the most. If I looked at it again tomorrow I’d probably shuffle it around again but I had to stop somewhere or I’d never get it posted. So without further ado here’s number 21 to 25 of my top 25 albums of 2007. Expect some surprises.

21: Lily Allen – Alright Still The perfect summer album, big beats, plenty of sing a long lines, this blasted from my car stereo nearly all summer. At its best when it moves away from the more reggae influenced sound that dominates about half the album, the New Orleans piano riff of Knock Me Out and the swinging sixties sound of Everything’s Just Wonderful make them standout tracks.

MP3: Lily Allen – Everything’s Just Wonderful
Buy Alright Still

22: John Fogerty – Revival Due to some interesting industry restructuring John Fogerty ended up back on the label that had made most of his post Creedence years a legal hell. Who can ever forget about him being sued for sounding like himself. In doing so he ended up releasing what is possibly the best solo album since the band broke up. Lyrically one of the most directly political and biting albums of the year and filled with the signature guitar sound that made him the legend he is today.

MP3: John Fogerty – I Can’t Take It No More
Buy Revival

23: Wilco – Sky Blue Sky The seventies rock sound is something that had been creeping into indie rock for a while but no one really wanted it to lay claim it as a major influence. Wilco turned the page for everyone on that ideology with this one. Warm soft production laced with Nels Clines snaking guitar solos, Wilco took the sound of an era that inspired punk rock and made it relevant again.

MP3: Wilco – Impossible Germany
Buy Sky Blue Sky

24: Band Of Horses – Cease To Begin Opening their album with Is There A Ghost, one of the best single tracks of the year, set the bar pretty high for what followed. After the first couple listens I almost wrote this one off as a couple hits and a lot of filler, but it’s really a grower where repeated listenings pay off.

MP3 : Ode To LRC
Buy Cease To Begin

25: Holy F*ck – 2007 EP The first time I heard these guys was opening for !!! and was blown away. Their all instrumental dance music is created all manually, no sequencers or drum machines holding the mix together. To see these guys on stage manipulating a myriad of random equipment into something this beautiful and engaging is amazing. Six of their best songs and no filler on this one which I listened to quite a bit.

MP3 : Holy F*ck – Lovely Allen
Buy 2007 Limited Edition EP

The Best Live Shows Of 2007 I Saw

December 9, 2007 by · 1 Comment
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!!!, House Of Fire, A Sunny Day In Glasgow, Adam & Dave’s Bloodline, Adam Arcuragi, Adrienne Young, algernon cadwallader, ALO, Amos Lee, Andrew Lipke, Anthony Lattanze Band, Apollo Sunshine, Art Brut, Audible, BC Camplight, Beach House, Beretta 76(3), Billy Harvey, Bitter Bitter Weeks(3), Black Mountain, Blitzen Trapper, Blonde Redhead, Bob Mould, Brown Recluse Sings, Bruce Springsteen(2), Buried Beds, Buzz Zeemer, Canadian Invasion(2), Cartwright, Cloud Minder, Cover Band, Cracker, Creeping Weeds(8), David Vandervelde, Daymaker, Denison Witmer, Donny Hue & The Colors, Dr. Horsemachine, Drink Up Buttercup, Earl Greyhound, Eastern Conference Champions, Elevator Parade, Emma Pollock, Enon, Esctatic Sunshine, Exit Clov, Fountains of Wayne, Foxycontin(3), G.Love Solo, Gildon Works, Gore Gore Girls, Grammar Debate, Grand Electric, Hail Social, Holy Fuck, Hong Kong Stingray, Hoots & Hellmouth, Ian D.G.Bennett, Illinois(2), Illuminea(3), Immaculate Machine, Jana Peri, Jealous Girlfriends(3), John Flynn, Jonathan Richman, Josh Ritter, Joshua Marcus, Jukebox Zeroes, Julian Velard, Kim Richey, LCD Soundsystem, Like A Fox, Limbeck, Love Of Diagrams, Martin Sexton, Mint Chicks, Nada Surf, Napalm Sunday, Neko Case, Nethers, New Pornographers, OK Go, Okay Paddy, Oppenheimer, Paper Trigger, Piebald, Public Record(2), Rhett Miller(2), Robert Hazard, Ruder Than You, Rufus Wainwright, Run to Sandy, Ryan Adams, Sam Champion, Sam Roberts Band, Say Hi, Shane, Sharon Little, Silversun Pickups, Snow Patrol, Steel Train, Switches, The A-Sides(4), the bees and the birds, The Bloodsugars, The Boggs, The Broken West(3), The Canon Logic, The Capitol Years, The Cat Empire, The Cave Singers, The Charms, The Clientele, The Cobbs, The Comas, The Cribs, The Cryptkeeper 5, The Fiendz, The Format, The Frantic(2), The Fratellis, The Gripweeds, The Hold Steady(2), The Hoodoo Gurus, The Ladybug Transistor, The Novenas, The Peace Creeps(2), The Peekers, The Prayers, The Rigbees, The Safes, The Slip, The Smithereens, The Smoking Popes, The Swimmers(13), The Swinging Neckbreakers, The Thrives, The Velvet Teen, The Whigs, These United States, Upsince Friday, Vampire Weekend, VHS or Beta, Walter Meego, War on Drugs, Whales and Cops, White Rabbits, Wild Sweet Orange, Will Hoge, XYZ Affair, Milton And The Devils Party, World/Inferno Friendship Society

Just so no one is left out as I can’t honestly saw I saw too many sub par shows this past year, the list above is all of the bands I’ve seen at the roughly 75 or so shows I’ve seen since January. A couple I didn’t get to see were Arcade Fire and The National, two I would really have liked to.

The Philadelphia music scene is just amazing right now and my favorite venue of the past year hands down goes to Johnny Brendas, where I saw over twenty shows. Rolling Stone magazine named it in their recent Hot issue as Hot Music Club and it is well deserved, it is outstanding on all counts.

The list below represents my standout shows of the year in roughly chrononlogical order.

The Hold Steady @ The Stone Pony and The TLA – The Hold Steady is out playing good old sweat drenched rock and roll, and the communal experience at one of ther shows is amazing. One of the best American bands playing live today.

Snow Patrol @ The Tweeter Center – Snow Patrol’s album was one of my favorites of 2006, this was my second time seeing them and although the first was in a smaller club this one delivered.

The Clientele @ Johnny Brendas [More]- Went to see this on a whim on a Monday night, mostly songs from their excellent new God Save The Clientele cranked up a notch for a live setting.

!!! w/ Holy F*ck @ The TLA – I expected a non stop funk filled dance fest from !!!, but Holy F*ck was one of my great surprises of the year and were as good as or maybe even better than !!!

LCD Soundsystem @ The TLA [More]- a free Myspace sponsored show in a club. They took one of the best albums of the year to an even higher level live.

Ryan Adams @ World Cafe Live Free At Noon – Ryan Adams return to form with a breathtaking all acoustic set.

David Vandervelde w/ Blitzen Trapper @ Johnny Brendas [More]- This was on a Monday night coming after three days in a row at the WXPN music fest having just seen some 25 or so great bands and it still blew my mind.

The Cribs @ Johnny Brendas [More]- Do not miss this band if you have the chance, one of the true “holy shit !” performances I saw this year. A three piece band that comes at you with the in your face live fury of The Ramones.

Illuminea CD release party w/ The Swimmers @ Johnny Brendas [More]- Two of Philadelphia’s finest playing stellar sets on the same night.

The Format @ The Trocadero – The Format have one of the best high energy fun shows going.

Josh Ritter @ World Cafe Free At Noon [More]- Josh Ritter kicks it up a notch with a band for this tour and just absolutely delivetrs apon all counts. Phenomenal. An acoustic cover of Springsteen’s The River was one of the single best performances of any song I witnessed all year by any band.

The A-Sides CD Release Party w/ The Capitol Years,Bitter Bitter Weeks @ Johnny Brendas [More]- Philadlelphia bands sharing a bill know how to bring out the best in each other and this was no exception. Top notch performances by all three of the bands.

Bruce Springsteen @ Wachovia Center (10/6/07) – The second night of two for Bruce in Philadelphia, while the first night was marred by horrible sound and an average performance, this night was classic Springsteen and just tore the roof off.

Black Mountain @ Johnny Brendas [More]- I’ve been waiting nearly two years for Black Mountain to head back out on tour, and this was worth the wait. A rhythmic, psychedelic tour de force. A friend I took with me who had never heard of them walked out saying it was one of the best club shows he’d ever seen.

The Creeping Weeds @ The Khyber and Johnny Brendas [More & More]- Another of Philadelphia’s finest, the opening and closing nights of their summer tour were both brilliant.

Jealous Girlfriends @ The Khyber,Tritone & Johnny Brendas [More]- The first time I saw the NYC’s Jealous Girlfriends I was blown away. Every show after that lived up to the high standard set by the first one. An excellent live band.

The Shots @ The Khyber [More]- Another Philadelphia band, I just happened to catch these guys on an opening slot in which they blew the two bands that followed of the stage.
My newest Philly band to watch out for.

Happy New Year !

January 1, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
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Welcome to 2007 !
Wishing everyone a healthy and happy new year !

Here’s a few points of view in song to help start yours.

MP3: Nada Surf – Blankest Year
Slaid Cleaves – One Good Year
Semisonic – This Will Be My Year