Best of '07: Albums, part II

Continuing my top albums of this year, these were albums I'd anticipated being in the top 10 but didn't quite make it.

11.The Weakerthans: Reunion Tour

Night Windows is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. The rest of the album follows the same aesthetic as The Weakerthans' previous work, with upbeat, jangly guitars and heavy, but matte percussion, and does it just as well.

12. Nina Nastasia and Jim White: You Follow Me

Nina Nastasia has been one of my favorite female performers for several years, and, in this album, she has found her male counterpart. These two work so well together that you would think that White had been composing for her for years.

13. Cloud Cult: The Meaning of 8

This band is pretty weird, which makes them all the more interesting. At their live shows, they have artists who paint to the music and sell them at the end of the show. They've also bought green credits to offset waste produced by making their albums, touring, etc. For that alone, they are kind of awesome. The album itself is pretty enchanting. Lyrically, it may be the best of the year, because it touches on a lot of ideas that I am interested in, like the interconnection of philosophy and religion, the nature of reality, nightmares, dreams, love, etc. etc.

14. Ghost Mice/Andrew Jackson Jihad Split

I'm glad that DIY bands like these can be as prolific as they are, because this is fundamentally my favorite genre of music. Acoustic guitars and clear, almost-spoken lyrics have never sounded this good. I can't even decide which side of the split is better, because Andrew Jackson Jihad may have won me over, despite sharing album space with my favorite folk punk band of all time. This album is what Against Me!'s New Wave should have been and the way that band should have evolved, with less distortion and much more clarity.

15. Iron and Wine: The Shepherd's Dog

Like a lot of other albums this year, The Shepherd's Dog takes a cue from back country folk, incorporating folk instruments into Sam Beam's ethereal vocals. This one is going to stay in my rotation of music to listen to that will calm my mind for quite some time, though it is certainly no Woman King

16. Laura Veirs: Saltbreakers

I'm happy to add Laura Veirs to the other folksy women I love, like Hope Sandoval and Nina Nastasia, though she is certainly more lively and innovative. I would have put this one higher if it had been more consistent, but it is beautiful for what it is. "Pink Light" was on my list of the best songs of this year for its awesome guitar riffs and for demonstrating the range of her voice, which is one of the best things about her.

17. The Sea and Cake: Everybody

I started listening to this one late in the year. It took awhile to grow on me, but when it finally did, I couldn't really get enough. Everybody is what the Shins wish that Wincing the Night Away could have been, preserving lighthearted guitar as pseudo-percussion to complement wispy vocals, instead of going all dark and distorted.

18. Against Me!: New Wave

I can't help but love this band, no matter how much money they are making for being on MTV every 2 seconds. They remind me that every anarchist has to grow up some day, find a way to articulate ideas persuasively, and stop being so rough around the edges. Like I've said before, it’s sometimes a good thing when a really great punk band cuts out all the distortion so that even people who wouldn’t otherwise listen to them can appreciate their ability to write good music. All of the awesome southern rock influence, the political themes, and Tom Gabel’s twangy voice are still there, just showcased a little bit more than usual. Now, if only MTV would actually play the good parts of the songs during rolling credits for trashy TV shows...

19. Bright Eyes: Cassadega

My first few listens didn't yield a terribly positive reaction, but I've grown to love Cassedega. "If the Brakeman Turns My Way" is sort of a grownup version of other things Bright Eyes has produced, but it also could easily have been the theme song to Cheers. I'm not exactly sure what that means for Bright Eyes, like if they have become too commercial or whatever, but I don't really care. I listen to this album all the time and it makes me happy.

20. Explosions in the Sky: All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

Yes, it sounds familiar. That tends to happen when there aren't lyrics and such. But All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone does not feature a single tired sound, and is every bit as magical as the rest of EITS's work.


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