My favorite music of 2007

There will be TWO lists: I look back on the last year in music with two perspectives. 1) Music that was released during the year, and 2) Older music that I discovered during the year. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be interested in both, but just in case you’re a purist I’ve separated the lists.

The Rules: My own rule is to include only one song per artist in the lists. The intent here is to:

  1. Make the lists as stylistically broad as possible while still not being too lengthy
  2. Entice you to go buy the album if you really like any of the songs.

Still, rules are made to be broken, and I’ve broken my own rule with the Capstain Shafts. I just couldn’t choose between the two songs below, and I don’t like the rest of the album all that much. Without further ado…

Best New Songs of 2007

  1. You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb – Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. This one is on everyone’s best of 07 list, and it belongs there. Simply a great pop rock song.
  2. Stronger – Kanye West – Graduation. I’m not big into Hip Hop, but when it’s done well it’s pretty cool. The Daft Punk contribution gives this one a really original sound.
  3. The General Specific – Band of Horses – Cease to Begin. Possibly my favorite animal-related band this year. There was a lot of competition.
  4. When it Begins – Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew – Spirit If…. It feels like you’re in the room with them while they’re recording this song, and it seems like they wrote it 5 minutes before they recorded it. Please disregard the last two minutes of the song.
  5. War Pigs – Cake – B-Sides and Rarities. I wish Cake had released an album of new original material, but this Black Sabbath cover is pretty darn cool.
  6. Lovesong of the Buzzard – Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog. This one immediately stood out as my favorite on this album.
  7. Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse – Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? Weird title, weird album name, weird lead singer, but an undeniably catchy song.
  8. Unless It’s Kicks – Okkervil River – The Stage Names. This is my favorite track off what is arguably my favorite album of the year. When I saw the band in September they announced this song as “their new anthem.”
  9. Simple – The Violet Archers – The End of Part One. I don’t know crap about this group. This song just came up while I was listening to Pandora. The harmonies are lovely. Pandora is awesome.
  10. The Way I Am – Ingrid Michaeson – Girls and Boys. I expect to get flamed for this one. It sounds like the lyrics were written in 5 minutes, and it’s so syrupy sweet it might give you the Diabeetus. Still, I like pop simplicity, and if my ear likes something I try not to let my brain convince me otherwise. I also love the prominence of the stand up bass, the backup vocals, and the hand claps loosely borrowed from “my best friend’s girlfriend.”
  11. You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do What You’re Told) – The White Stripes – Icky Thump. The White Stripes still carry the torch for rock, and I salute them.
  12. Videotape – Radiohead – In Rainbows. What needs to be said? All eyes are on Radiohead and they deserve it.

Download a zip file of the above songs here (for new music).

Best Older Songs I discovered in 2007

  1. We’ve Been Had – The Walkmen – Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone. The Vocals are a tad annoying on the first listen, but they grow on you.
  2. Starry Gazey Pie – The Bees – Starry Gazey Pie. This is The Bees from the U.S., not from the U.K. As I understand, the latter band has now changed their name to “A Band of Bees.” Victory for the US of A!
  3. My Love – The Czars – Goodbye. I describe this song as the illegitimate love child of Beck and Pink Floyd. I just don’t get tired of it.
  4. Sleepcure Theory Advancer – The Capstan Shafts – Euridice Proudhon. This stuff is uber lo-fi. It really sounds like the guitar might be out of tune, the drums barely keep rhythm, and the recording engineer only has one mic sitting in the middle of the room which he didn’t have a chance to take levels on. Still, somehow the song is really charming.
  5. 61 Sideburns – The Capstan Shafts – Euridice Proudhon. More of the same, and with a combined duration of 3:13, these two should really only count as one song anyway. I did not dig the rest of the album, but feel free to explore it yourself.
  6. Let My Love Open The Door – M. Ward – Love Songs (compilation). M. Ward puts together a mellow cover of this Pete Townshend tune. I really like M. Ward.
  7. Oh Lately It’s So Quiet – Ok Go – Oh No. These guys can do more than just dance on treadmills, they can write a catchy pop rock song with great use of falsetto.
  8. Nothing – Mason Jennings – Mason Jennings. Even though it’s nearly a decade old, I just discovered this song. It sounds like you would expect someone named “Mason Jennings” to sound.
  9. Darlin’ Do Not Fear – Brett Dennen – So Much More. Easy listening and poppy, but the unique voice and the interesting song structure give it street cred in my opinion.
  10. Picture of You – Piers Faccini – Streets of London – EP. Slow and minimalist dude + guitar + subtle strings. So often this formula spells boring, but “if do right, no can defend.”
  11. Messages – Xavier Rudd – Messages – Single. I know nothing about Xavier Rudd, but if Paul Simon were dead I would swear that he had been reincarnated in Xavier Rudd. If you like Paul Simon, this song is a slam dunk for you. I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.
  12. Only Living Boy In New York – David Mead – Everwood TV Soundtrack. I discovered this original on the Garden State Soundtrack. This is just a mellowed out cover, but me likey.

Download a zip file of the above songs here (for older music).

So that’s what I threw together, I hope you enjoy it. I spent more time than I meant to on it, but I’m still sure I overlooked some very deserving ditties. Feel free to comment if you think I’m a genius or a goon.

5 Responses to “My favorite music of 2007”

  1. David says:

    Not sure if you have the whole Kanye West Graduation album but Homecoming (Feat. Chris Martin) is one of the best songs on the album, imo. Definitely worth a listen if you haven’t already. I’ll have to check out your other recs–thanks for putting them up.

  2. Michael says:

    Excellent choice to include Cake, but “Mahna Mahna” trumps “War Pigs” anyday. How can you not appreciate a funk version of a Muppetts tune?

  3. Martin says:

    Technically speaking, Mahna Mahna wouldn’t qualify for the “Released in 2007” categorization, since afaik it first appeared as Cake’s contribution to the For the Kids benefit album back in 2002.

    That being said, it is an awesome rendition. On a related note, the Cake cover of Strangers in the Night can also be found on the Stubbs the Zombie Videogame Soundtrack which has a pretty neat cover of My Boyfriend’s Back done by the Raveonettes.

  4. Gib says:

    Whit, do you need a hug? I’d think that almost a year of not working would brighten your spirits. I have a major chord here in my pocket that I’m happy to send you.

    Seriously, this is really good stuff, much of it new to me, as I am incapable of keeping up with the ever changing landscape of indie rock, and my iPod and downloading skills are impressively weak.

    A couple of things I was surprised didn’t make the new list: have you heard the new Wilco? Not as amazing, but the other half of Uncle Tupelo, this time in the form of Son Volt, has a new album this year as well, which is pretty damn good (and even mostly in minor keys!). Bobby Dylan’s new album anyone? I thought you might give The Who a nod as well, even if the new album isn’t as good as, say, Face Dances.

    Nice work!

    PS – I read the tails of the trial over the weekend. Can’t believe you caved!

  5. Joe says:

    Hey, you know, I found Capstan Shafts’ 61 Sideburns back in ’06, liked it a lot for a month, forgot about it, picked up the album again three months ago and absolutely fell in love with it, like the way I fell in love with all the other slow-burn albums that weren’t pretty in my life until I looked at them a little longer.