Top 10 Songs of 2007

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1 jan. 2008, 21h31m

I just cut and paste this from my Phillyist post:

Check out the songs here, playlist/countdown style:

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=31E442D93BABE078

You know those songs that take over your headphones for weeks at a time? Well, the youngest alternative-rocker on the Phillyist staff decided to put all those infectious tunes into a list of 10 - and then 10 more, just because. And for your listening pleasure, yours truly linked to the album versions of those songs (thanks YouTube, for your comprehensiveness) - just click on the song names! (not true for this post. check out the link above, though) I think you'll enjoy this medley of happy, somber, honest, and beautiful songs. And if you don't find 3 songs that you like, well, you can tell me that I don't know anything about music.



1. The HoursAli In The Jungle

I first heard about this band when listening to Travis’ Fran Healy doing a radio takeover on Y-Rock on XPN. And boy, do the guys from across the pond know their stuff. It starts off with a hook similar to Maximo Park, or New Order, but then comes the chord-driven piano, followed by Brit-bred vocals. Little does the listener know about the groove that’s coming. Give it a minute until all at the same time, it’s like a Bloc Party backbeat, Keane piano, and Franz Ferdinand guitars, all at the same time. And the bassline, I haven’t even talked about the bassline… through each chorus, it’s never the same, always something markedly different going on. There are intricacies to the piano chords, and strings that backline the descent of the song. And even better is the 'me against the world' lyrical theme, with motivational lines like “Like Ali in the jungle, like Nelson in jail... like Ludwig Van, how I loved that man; well, the guy went deaf and didn't give a f*ck.” Check out the rest of their album, it’ll own your life for a week, guaranteed. Need I say - this is a great pop tune.

2. Jimmy Eat WorldHere It Goes

I did a negative review of their new album for The Temple News that received a lot of flak from the Jimmy Eat World online community, because… I didn't think Chase This Light was that good. But in the midst of all my criticism of the production, I admitted there are times where production can transport a song into an irresistible category, and “Here It Goes” is right in there. Usually, I can’t bear to admit that things that sound like Hellogoodbye are healthy for your brain, but sometimes, those kinds of bands get in your head whether you want them to or not. “Here It Goes” works on that credence. It grabs you immediately with crinkling guitars and hand claps, and once it gets going with (bordering on really lame) backing vocals, and hop-to drum rhythms, it’s easy to feel this song out. And my hat goes off to Rich Burch for pulling off a slickly pumping bassline. Seriously, as much as I credit the production here, the song’s high points begin with the bass. And those high points only get higher with Adkins’ swaying vocals and the combination of drums and hand claps. This song tip-toes the line between unabashed pop and Jimmy Eat World’s ability to retain a masculine edge.

3. The NationalMistaken for Strangers

Razor-blade sharp. I think that would be the best way to try to describe this song. It has attitude, it's dark, and it’s dangerous. Sonically, it immediately grabs you with mechanical tones coming out of a guitar, and the layers built by simple guitar lines. Then comes a drumline that rolls and then hops, only to roll again - it’s a wonderful continuation in that respect. Still, what I love about this song is the guitar. I’ve always loved Matt Berninger's baritone drawl, and his incredibly nuanced lyrics. But the lead guitar in the third chorus borders the line between hitting two notes, almost out of tune. It’s the kind of squeezing between those two notes that makes it so satisfying. I salute you, production man, for not allowing me to distinguish the difference.

4. Josh RitterRight Moves

All right, I admit it. I love Josh Ritter. He’s a wonderful lyricist! And say whatever you want about the music, but the guy just loves being on stage. He smiles for the entire lengths of songs, and his attitude (<-- my interview with him!) kind of takes care of the crowd in that respect. Everyone is just so happy that he’s happy. The only thing that worries me is that I’ve never seen a bad review about him. The Philly sports fan in me fears that something is bound to go wrong. But nothing has yet. This song is one of the most fun on his outstanding record The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. Kudos to bassist Zack Hickman for a melodically pleasing bassline and for employing the horns here. They are triumphant. So yeah, Josh? Keep makin’ all the right moves. And please, don’t jinx it.

5. TravisMy Eyes

Fran Healy doubled his credit points this year (see #1) with his band Travis, who put out one of the best pop songs of 2007. “My Eyes” is the kind of song that works off of very simple pop ideas. It starts off full of atmosphere, not too far from the kind of dreamy guitar production used in “Driftwood.” Underlying the guitar, and equally as important, is that piano hook. It just repeats and repeats; it’s the pre-chorus, and the foundation for the chorus, until some slight variations come up. But the foundation with those four notes and those four progressions are just so perfect. It almost seems a crime that they can get away with it and it sounds so good. But as Healy starts singing the “Ya-ya yay” part of the chorus, you can't help but feel his enthusiasm, as if he's smiling through the singing. It’s a song about his baby daughter, and really, you can’t ever call a musician dishonest when he’s singing about his own baby, his baby’s eyes, and how she’ll soon be able to see the tears coming out of his eyes. That’s so much good stuff about eyes! It’s honest, it’s a perfect pop song, and it’s by Travis. Win.

6. Albert Hammond, Jr.In Transit

Like The Strokes? Well, Albert Hammond Jr., whose lead guitar work helped make the band famous with “Last Nite,” is pretty much doing the exact same thing here… only slightly different, and just as well. Need I mention that the bass and backing tracks are done by Sean Lennon? Those trackings are nothing extremely special, but they belong like the curves on an S, and the bass note progressions in the last 20 seconds show some delicious tonal vision. With excellent bass usually comes well placed rhythms from the drummer. And however simple they may be, I really love what Matt Romano is doing in the chorus.

7. Panda BearTake Pills

This song has everything I’ve longed for recently: sounds of an urban landscape, and an abundance of harmonies. It begins looping a sound of something rolling and gliding, followed by scraping pavement. I’m not sure what it is, but whatever it is, it’s a part of the mystery – the organism. Things begin with an unassuming bassline that only repeats two notes, ambient guitar flickers, and a couple shakes of jingle bells. Everything is simple enough to present the dreamy melodious harmonies of Noah Lennox. That’s all before things go waaaaay uphill, anyway. In true Beach Boys fashion, three-part harmonies with some call-and-response rhythms take over, and man, it just makes me want to do the twist in my own geeky way. The sounds of bubbles underlie the improved bassline, and monotonous bell shakes have been replaced with lively snaps. This song as a whole is effectively your downer and upper. As things end, the sound of a subway car plays, and it leaves the station, rolling along the tracks. I think we need more sounds of life in songs, with “Take Pills” as an awesome model.

8. UnderworldTo Heal

This probably doesn’t deserve a spot on the top 10, because Brian Eno already did this song with “An Ending (Descent),” and some might say it’s reminiscent of the organs that head and close “Where The Streets Have No Name” by U2. But I have to give so much thanks to Underworld for releasing this track. I first heard it while watching the movie Sunshine, which has an amazing soundtrack in its own right. Unfortunately, it wasn’t released, due to legal problems. But this song is everything beautiful about ambient music. The first time you hear it, I guarantee that your neck hairs will stand up. This song is so basic - with synthesizers and ticking tones keeping rhythm - you can practically feel the song taking shape in colors. Call me crazy, but that’s how I take in the song. And that’s why I think it works so well, further exposing the beauty of the sun in Sunshine.

9. Ryan AdamsOh My God, Whatever, Etc.

I’m so glad Ryan Adams and the Cardinals are going to be around for a while. They’ve got such a good thing going on. I’ve been a fan of all the albums they’ve done together, more so than most of the stuff RA puts out under his own name. And definitely more so than his comical Garage Band creations under DJ Reggie, and others. "Oh My God, Whatever, Etc." is one further example of The Cardinals' great chemistry. No, it's not everyone in the band coming together as one, but it's the band realizing what they need to do to make a great song. The two and a half minute song works perfectly within itself, with acoustic guitar, well-placed banjo, a delicate piano hook, and a single harmony to complement Adams. Easy Tiger is a great album, but it’s this one quieter moment that I really enjoy.

10. Explosions in the SkyThe Birth and Death of the Day

I had the hardest time trying to pick the tenth song of this list, because there are so many other songs that are examples of great songs, for their own reasons. But when I played “The Birth and Death of the Day,” I realized it beat everything - this song can absolutely slay. For its own sake, this track could just as easily be the best song of the year. It’s the classic ebb and flow of an Explosions journey - melodic and soft, until it erupts. There’s some serious rocking going on at the 4:40 mark, pushing things higher and higher to an apex. Things let up, and the guitars begin to staccato and roar into ambience, but it’s still a blister of sound. If I had to pick a single off the new record, this would be it – it’s an epic start to an exceptional record.

The 10 Contenders (or honorable mentions... however you like it):
Bloc Party - Flux
New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle (iTunes Originals Version)
Blonde Redhead - 23
Interpol - Pace Is The Trick
Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew - Tbtf
James Blackshaw - Mirror Speaks, The
Spoon - The Ghost of You Lingers
Tori Amos - Big Wheel
Art Brut - Pump Up the Volume
Justice - Waters of Nazareth
Envois approuvés
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