Saturday, December 29, 2007

This years best albums countdown

#9. Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger (Lost Highway)

The music magazine Spin said this about the album: "..Easy Tiger plays like a tightly focused best-of compilation from Adams' past six or seven efforts." The funny thing about that quote is that I've used almost the exact same phrase about it. I'm quite sure that I've said that Easy Tiger is more tightly focused than almost all of Adams' previous efforts, and since the songs are good it is like an best-of compilation. Still there's a but hanging in the air, of course there is. Easy Tiger is good, no doubt about it, but it isn't as good as Cold Roses for instance. The really good thing about Easy Tiger is that it's an album who stands on it's own legs. The songs shows off Adams' talents in a great way. You get the Grateful Dead-ish jams ("Goodnight Rose"), his Love is Hell-like balladry (Oh My God, Whatever, Etc"), middle of the road pop-rockers ("Two, Everybody Knows"), playful country-gems ("Pearls on a String") and Heartbreakers-ish great songs ("I Taught Myself How to Grow Old"). Adams is focused all the way through this time and it's a truly great album. Maybe it ain't his best, but give it time, there is so much under the surface on this album that you probably didn't see the first time around. Instead of his sometimes "I'm feeling sorry for myself" kind of lyrics you get more mature reflections on life and it's ups and downs.

And his voice sounds great nowadays.

This years best albums countdown

# 10. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga (Saddle Creek)

So if anybody wondered. This album has this years best coverart. Why, you may ask. Isn't it just a boring gray cover with a sticker on the outside? No, it isn't. You didn't find the "Spectral Decoder" inside? If you didn't, it's a shame, but boy if you did. I think I've actually listened to this album more than I would have without the special effects just because it's so damn funny to find the hidden artifacts all over the album cover. Espescially on the vinyl. Everything bigger is better isn't it?

That said, the album is on this list because of the music. I think of Cassadaga as Conor Oberst first album as a "grown up". It seems to me that there have at least been a much more grown up approach to this album. It isn't his best effort, but I think that this is an album I still will be listening to when I'm an old sorry bugger. Where other Bright Eyes albums have strayed from side to side this one stays on one track the whole way through. One of the problems I initially had with Cassadaga is that it sounds so goddamn nice. I just wasn't used to Conor singing without spitting out each syllable. His singing seems much more relaxed than before. Some would say that maybe he doesn't put as much meaning in things anymore, but after seeing him a couple of times live this year I'm not so worried about that. The best moment on the album for me is when he strains his voice on the line "..I never thought of running, my feet just led the way" from "If the Brakeman Turns My Way". It just sounds really great, and it makes me feel for him. Other highlights on the album are "Soul Singer in a Session Band", "Make a Plan to Love Me", "Classic Cars" and of course the single "Four Winds". The list actually is never ending. The songs are great. It could be his Harvest, his middle of the road album. That ain't so bad is it?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

This years best albums countdown

# 11. Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (Polyvinyl Record Co.)

Maybe the funniest album on this countdown. Not just funny words, but funny music, at least music that are fun. The album also got this years second best coverart (the best one will feature a little higher on this countdown). Enough about that already. The fact is that in my humble opinion this is the best music Kevin Barnes to this date has recorded and released. Yeah, both Satanic Panic and Sunlandic Twins are great albums, but still I think this goes away with the price. Especially if we take in the concideration the bonus ep Icons, Abstract Thee who came a little later this year. That ep is a companion piece to the album and if you buy the album on vinyl those songs from the ep actually is on the album. Some of my favourite lyrics this year also hails from this album. What do you all think of lines like ".. spent the winter on the verge of a total break-down while living in norway. I felt the darkness of the black metal bands, but being such a fawn of a man I didn't burn down any old churches just slept way too much.." from "A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger" or the bitter "..there's the girl that left me bitter, want to pay some other girl to just walk up to her and hit her, but i can't, i can't, i can't.." from "She's A Rejector". Hissing Fauna is a fantastic upbeat record that inspite of it's dark and somewhat dense lyrics still can't stop me from getting a big bright smile on my face. The song "The Past is a Grotesque Animal" probably is this years best psych-rock workout. And the best thing about this album is that the guy in fact got the girl in the end. I'm a sucker for happy endings.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

This years best albums countdown

# 12. Robert Plant & Allison Krauss - Raising Sand (Rounder Records)

This is one of the best duet-albums I have ever heard. That doesn't suprise me though. Allison Krauss has maybe the best harmony voice on the planet. She has even got me to like Brad Paisley, well that "Whiskey Lullaby" song at least. Back to this album then. Who knew that Robert Plant had this love affair with classic american music. We could see some hints of it way back in '73 on the Zep's third album with the song "Tangerine" but this time it's all out there in the open. Along with producer T-Bone Burnett, Plant and Krauss has picked out songs that fit their voices very well. And they have chosen songs that deserve to be heard again and again. Especially the almost forgotten Gene Clark gems "Polly" and "Through the Morning, Through the Night" from the second Dillard and Clark album are starkingly beautiful. Also the Everly Brothers "Killing the Blues" and "Gone, Gone, Gone" are really great. Not to forget Plant's reworking of the late great Townes van Zandt's "Nothin'". The absolute highlight for me is when Krauss sings "once I had myself a good women, but I just didn't treat her right" in "Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson" at the end of the album. It's so far away from where she usually are, and still she is so at home. Classic, indeed.

This years best albums countdown

# 13. Okkervil River - The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)

This is Will Sheff's fourth album or something and his and Okkervil River's best effort yet. Not that the other albums haven't been great, they just haven't been great all the way through. This one is. The mood is a lot happier than what we are used to with this band, not necessarily so much happier lyrics, but the melodies are uplifting and joyful. Especially on the albums first songs "Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe" and "Unless it Kicks". The album also ends on a happy note with a great reworking of the classic "Sloop John B", this time called "John Allyn Smith Smiles". My own favourites are the heartbreakingly beautiful countryballad "A Girl in Port" and the catchy "Plus Ones" which namedrops famous songs with numbers in them and just plus one on the number. 51 ways to leave your lover becomes 52 and so on.

Listen on Myspace

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This years best albums countdown

#14. Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare (Domino)

The Sheffield-youngsters came back with the "difficult second album" and they just keep on convincing me. This is really good. As an album it lacks some of the flow of the debut, but the songs, oh, the songs. "Flourescent Adolescent" was this years summer hit if there ever was one. "Do Me a Favour" is one of the best break-up songs I've ever heard. It's pure and real. "Teddy Picker" and "Brianstorm" are great rockers. Arctic Monkeys make me still believe in british rock bands.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

This years best albums countdown

# 15. Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Sony)

This is a great countryalbum, sounds a little like last years Dixie Chicks album. I have to admit that I was a sceptic to this at first but it has really grown on me. One of the most played albums on my iPod this year. Songs that stand out are "Famous in a Small Town", "Dry town", "Love Letters" and "Easy From Now On".

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Coming soon..

Sorry about the "no updates" on this blog, that's not the way it's supposed to be. Working on a 2007 top of the pops list now. So that's what coming soon.

Stay tuned.