I'm not great and ranking things. Listing? Yes. Picking a favorite? Yes again. But actually taking a list of items and ranking them always leaves me unsatisfied at the end. 10 things are hard enough, but ranking 50? What exactly makes something at #37 better than the one listed at #38 yet slightly worse than the thing at #36? Who knows, and since lists are generally speaking completely arbitrary it doesn't really matter then.
Below is my #1 record of 2007, followed by (in alphabetical order) 9 other records I loved, with maybe a few honorable mentions to boot. It'll be a lot shorter than the Rolling Stone post!
The Whiskey for the Monkey 2007 Album of the Year goes to...
The Red Album by Baroness: A potent mix of very hard rock, great melody lines and intricate guitars mixed with a very raw, garage southern rock groove. Each song has a lot going on, but manages to convey a sense of power without sprawling and becoming confused. This is my favorite type of heavy music - epic and technical, yet very much embedded in the groove pocket. The guitars and drumming are massive, and the technicality always serves to support the Southern metal groove. Opening track "Rays On Pinion" is fantastic, and serves to encapsulate the entire record in it's 7:34 minute length. Everything I love about extreme music is here.
Rounding out the Top 10, in alphabetical order and limited to a quick sentence:
2. Clutch - From Beale Street to Oblivion: With every new record Clutch continues to refine and expand their brand of blues drenched hard rock, and the addition of a permanent keyboard player fleshes out an already incredible sound.
3. PJ Harvey - White Chalk: White Chalk finds PJ Harvey on different footing, as this albums eschews the normal guitar driven rage in favor of more spare, piano led songs that are both haunting and beautifully expressive of the themes she continues to investigate in her songs.
4. Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero: You can read all I said about NIN's new great album in the Rolling Stone post, but in short: best in years.
5. Public Enemy - How You Sell Soul to A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul: We're back to the crazy PE record titles as well as a return to the great sound that made them the most important rap band of all time (IMHO).
6. Radiohead - In Rainbows: This isn't my favorite Radiohead record, and it wasn't originally going to be in my final list, but repeated listenings over the last month have slowly built a huge head of steam for this little puppy, and now I play it almost every day.
7. Dax Riggs - We Sing of Only Blood or Love: Very dark rock/blues from the guy who was Deadboy and the Elephant Men last year is simultaneously very cruel and very romantic, in a bloody sort of way.
8. Tegan & Sara - The Con: Tegan and Sara can do no wrong in my book, and their latest is filled with everything that you loved about So Jealous, only with less emphasis on the power chords and more on the touching numbers like brilliant last track, "Call It Off."
9. The White Stripes - Icky Thump: The only record to out-rockify Clutch this year, Icky Thump is so wonderful it makes my eyes water just to think about it. You can read more of my thoughts in the Rolling Stone post.
10. Witchcraft - The Alchemist: Every other band that strives to emulate the hard rock of the early 70's probably cry when they hear how successfully Witchcraft is able to do it yet still leave their very unmistakable print on each song - and they're from Sweden!
HONORABLE MENTION: I would be remiss if I didn't say that "Falling Slowly" from the soundtrack to the film ONCE leaves a lump in my throat every single damn time I hear it. If Baroness had the album of the year, then Glen Hansard of The Frames had the song of the year. Lots of other good stuff worth mentioning, including new releases by QOTSA, Arctic Monkeys, Ulver, Three, Opeth's live album and Eddie Vedder's soundtrack to INTO WILD (which a lot of people hated but I quite like).
Wanna check 'em out? Maybe hear a sample or at least see the album covers so you know what to look for? Check out the custom list at Amazon.com!