As this year draws to a close, I thought I’d list the winners for what was playing in my headphones in 2007. In an attempt to keep myself honest this is a somewhat empirical ranking based on playcounts plus my subjective enjoyment factor.
Honorable mentions: the Elliott Smith album New Moon is surprisingly good for a posthumous release; Battles’ Mirrored is technically interesting in a contemporary art sort of way and made for a fascinating show at the Paradise; Stars’ In Our Bedroom After the War is thoroughly enjoyable Canadian indie pop.
10. Lily Allen, Alright, Still - Bubble gum Brit pop done very well.
9. The Shins, Wincing the Night Away - I listened to this a lot in January, but haven't gone looking for it since it fell out of rotation. In the category of like-but-don't-love.
8. Radiohead, In Rainbows - For whatever reason, Radiohead albums take a while for me to get into, going back Ok Computer. This won't equal Kid A, which is still among my favorite music to code by, but it is moving up.
6. The National, Boxer - Their quirky style & lyrics are great, best displayed on "Mistaken For Strangers" which is my favorite track. Also put on one of my favorite shows of the year at the MidEast back in June.
5. Iron and Wine, The Shepherd's Dog - Sam Beam successfully grows into a more layered and produced sound.
4. The Thermals, The Body, the Blood, the Machine - I'd given up hope on finding any more pop-punk to like, especially thematic albums, but I loved this. The album overflows with energy (making it great for running). The show they played in Boston just before Halloween and just after the Sox won the Series added some surreality to the mix too.
3. Tegan and Sara, The Con - I'm nearly embarassed at how much I've listened to these infectious pop twins.
2. Okkervil River, The Stage Names - Literate rock that becomes a bit unhinged in parts, like on the John Berryman and Beach Boys-inspired "John Allyn Smith Sails". I declared my feelings earlier but never got around to saying that the show lived up to my high expectations.