Saturday, December 29, 2007

Favourite Albums of 2007

By my estimation, the number of albums I bought this year that were released this year has declined as compared to previous years. I guess I've become more selective. It's good on the pocketbook for sure. It's also been a musical cleansing - quality over quantity as they say. On a certain level, this has been reflected in the focus of this blog - my coverage of new/upcoming artists has probably declined, but then my blogging frequency has declined in general. Perhaps in 2008, my interest in the local scene and or new bands will experience a resurgence. Or maybe not. We'll see. After some contemplation, what follows are my favourite albums of 2007. Enjoy - comment/flame as you like:

PJ Harvey - White Chalk (Island)

MySpace: PJ Harvey
Video: PJ Harvey - White Chalk (live on Later With Jools Holland)
Video: PJ Harvey - When Under Ether (promo video)

This album has an undeniable quiet beauty and it's so good that if and when she does tour this album, I'd be happy if she just performed the album in it's entirety.

Jarvis Cocker - Jarvis (Rough Trade)

MySpace: Jarvis Cocker
Video: Jarvis Cocker - Don't Let Him Waste Your Time (live on Late Show With David Letterman)

This was an album I'd never have expected to purchase, but I found a used copy this summer. It was one of my late-summer listening favourites, and Jarvis is looser than ever. I was a casual Pulp fan at best but even at their most accessible(ie. "Common People") there always seemed to be a certain level of affectation in their sound. "Jarvis" is a great focused pop effort.

Feist - The Reminder (Arts & Crafts)

MySpace: Feist
Video: Feist - live on

I listened to "The Reminder" almost non-stop the first week it came out. It's one if the few albums I actually bothered to write a review of. From start to finish, it's a wonderful collection of pop songs.

The National - Boxer (Beggars Banquet)

MySpace: The National
Video: The National - Fake Empires (live on Late Show With David Letterman)

"Boxer" is an intoxicating blend of Matt Berninger's woozy vocals, simple but scintillating melodies and a rhythm section that feels like your heart beating.

Richard Hawley - Lady's Bridge (Mute)

MySpace: Richard Hawley
Video: Richard Hawley - Tonight The Streets Are Ours (music video)

The most romantic-sounding album of the year, even if lyrically, it wasn't all about romance. Mr. Hawley has a voice like butter.

Jenn Grant - Orchestra For The Moon (Paris 1919 Records)

MySpace: Jenn Grant
Video: Jenn Grant - Dreamer (music video)

Jenn Grant is as humble as east-coasters come, on one hand refreshing but on the other hand I'd suspect that if she were any more "glamorous" she could be as big as Feist, someone she's often musically compared to. "Orchestra For The Moon" encompasses a variety of musically rich sounds(pedal steel, violin, viola, cello, glockenspil, harp, etc.) but still manages to maintain a level of casualness.

Amy Winehouse - Back To Black (Island)

MySpace: Amy Winehouse
Video: Amy Winehouse - Live on The DL (

"Back To Black" has an undeniable retro soul feel to it but rather than sounding cheesy, it sounds very genuine. Tabloid fodder aside, Ms. Winehouse is a talented vocalist, sounding downright sinister at times like Eartha Kitt as on the title track, and breaking all hearts as on "Love Is A Losing Game".

Okkervil River - The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)

MySpace: Okkervil River
Video: Okkervil River - Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe (music video)

"The Stage Names", over the course of its nine rootsy, rock songs, has a spiritual feel. By spiritual, I mean uplifting. It's hard to describe why, but uplifting is what I feel.

Basia Bulat - Oh, My Darling (Hardwood)

MySpace: Basia Bulat
Video: Basia Bulat - In The Night (music video)
Video: Basia Bulat - Before I Knew (live at LOLA Fest 2007)

Like Jenn Grant, Basia's also released a wonderful full-length debut this year. "Oh, My Darling" is full of romantic notions, as wonderfully expressed as on the intimate acoustic "Little Waltz", the infectious folk-pop of "December", and the harmony-laden "Before I Knew".

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