Category Archives: Best of 2007

#1: Mika – Life in Cartoon Motion

#1: Mika – Life in Cartoon Motion

After a long and tedious 25 day countdown, The Music Mastermind has finally revealed its #1 album of 2007. Mika’s Life in Cartoon Motion has taken home the honor of releasing nothing short of utter magnificence. Mika, a young and new British songwriter, possesses the absolute best lead vocal that I have heard since Freddy Mercury of Queen. The resemblances between the two are uncanny. Mika even makes light of this in the opening track and first single “Grace Kelly.”

Surprisingly, aside from “Grace Kelly,” Mika didn’t see much radio and MTV promotion. Over the year, however, Mika’s music was licensed on a countless number of TV shows and independent radio. The only problem with that, however, is that Mika’s name was never glorified as much as it should have been. The artist was able to release the most diverse, playful, emotional, and talent-filled record of the year without many people noticing.

Tracks like “Lollipop,” “Any Other World,” and “My Interpretation” are only a small percentage of the complete diversity that Life in Cartoon Motion offers. Remarkably, every song has something unique to offer. Also, somehow, Mika created themes and premises for each song, giving every single track a degree of importance. No matter who you are, you should be able to find a song that you can relate to, or at least understand completely.

Twenty-five days later, the “25 Days of Music” countdown is complete. As I mentioned before, 2007 presented a ton of great new music; some of which were new bands, while some were great artists that have continued their reign. The Music Mastermind wraps up this year’s countdown, and anticipates the potential that 2008 currently holds. Subscribe and stay posted to the “Music Mastermind Blog” to remain in the music industry loop, and hear up and coming artists. Until December 1, 2008, this is the Music Mastermind signing out of the first edition of the “25 Days of Music” countdown.

#2: The Shins – Wincing the Night Away

#2: The Shins – Wincing the Night Away

Whether you acknowledge it or not, The Shins are this generation’s Beatles. Wincing the Night Away, the band’s third full-length release is arguably their strongest effort yet, consisting of some of the most well written songs since Lennon and McCartney composed decades ago. The Shins are currently in the forefront of the new “British Invasion.” Bands like Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party, and Calvin Harris are also among the pack.

The Shins barely missed out on the number one spot of the “25 Days of Music” countdown. Before revealing the #1 album, just know that the top 2 were essentially tied for the major honor. The differences and similarities between The Shins and tomorrow’s #1 rtist will be obvious to most, but unfortunately The Shins weren’t able to pull away with the title. Stay tuned tomorrow (Christmas day) for the Music Mastermind’s number one album of 2007.

#3: Battles – Mirrored

#3: Battles – Mirrored

Strangely, a lot of people have never heard of the New York based quintet Battles. Mixing electronic sounds with driving rock beats, the band has created a sound never designed before. This mysterious group features a collection of rock veterans, including ex-Lynx guitarist Dave Konopka, and ex-Helmet drummer John Stainier. Battles has become known by the technical performance followers as a band that performs guitar with one hand and keyboards with the other.

Mirrored was definitely one of the most refreshing albums of the year for me. I was absolutely flabbergasted when I was exposed to this intriguing band. Quite frankly, I was most dumbfounded that I had never heard of them before. Much to my surprise, their album was already released and they were slowly beginning to pick up independent steam. Now, months later, they have earned themselves Plug Award nominations and a decent fanbase. Now let’s just hope that they decide to tour the states in 2008.

#4: Feist – The Reminder


#4: Feist – The Reminder

We have all seen the overplayed I-Pod commercial with that mysterious female voice singing “1, 2, 3, 4, Tell me that you love me more,” but how many people actually researched the unknown artist? If you didn’t, or were not stimulated by the melody portrayed in the ad, you really missed out on something special. Feist, the brain-child of singer-songwriter Leslie Feist, quickly became the most searched artist on popular search engines such as Google. Just because she has Apple to thank for her recent popularity does not mean that she didn’t already have stardom coming her way.

For indie music fans, some may know Leslie Feist from her involvement with the popular group Broken Social Scene. If you are unfamiliar, however, than Feist just may be the coolest new artist to pop out of Canada this year. Songs like “So Sorry” and “I Feel It All” lead the collection of songs by hypnotizing the listener with a subtly sweet voice and beautiful melodies.

Feist will be around for a while. As of right now, she may be the most highly requested live act in the United States. Before she embarks on her highly anticipated tour, any music fan unaware of The Reminder’s brilliance should take the time to check out this album. After all, it is the Music Mastermind’s fourth best album of all of 2007.

#5: Loney, Dear – Loney, Noir

#5: Loney, Dear – Loney, Noir

Serving as a pseudonym for Swedish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emil Svanangen (Note: There is an accent mark somewhere in his last name), Loney, Dear is a melodic glance into passion, love, and melancholy harmonies. Loney, Noir is the first American release for Loney, Dear, but it has rapidly made a huge impact on indie music reviewers. Needless to say, Emil Svanangen’s talent is not being overlooked in the United States.

I don’t know what happens when I listen to songs like “Sinister in a State of Hope” or “I Am John.” It’s almost as if I get swept away to a mysterious land of delicate music, so fragile that it could break at any second. Trust me, this music is incredible. If the #5 ranking isn’t proof enough, review the scenario that I colored in the aforementioned sentence. I never talk like that. No joke – that is really the effect that this album has on me.

Everyone is always looking for unknown acts these days. Well, here you go. This one has barely even peeked its head out of a Swedish cave. Grab a hold of this now and cherish it while you can. If you need a quick comparison of how I would relate Loney, Dear’s music to someone more familiar, I would have to refer to the illustrious Sufjan Stevens. Yes, Loney, Dear is that good.

#6: Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

#6: Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

It took over eleven years, six albums, and a countless number of hopeless radio singles for Spoon to prove their worth in the music scene. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, the band’s uniquely titled latest effort, is by far their most cherished and critically acclaimed album to date. The widely recognized album has seen major success, including a debut at #10 on the Billboard charts.

Tracks like “Don’t Make Me A Target” and “The Underdog” portray the band’s unique sincerity most appropriately on the record. Their excellent version of indie rock music stands alone as a style that is tasteful and mature.

Spoon has come a long way throughout their existence. If you like great songwriting that will stand the test of time, do not overlook this band. While their previous albums may not effect your more favorable emotions much, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is the start of what looks to be a “born again” group with something new and exciting to offer.

#7: Tegan and Sara – The Con

#7: Tegan and Sara – The Con

These two twin sisters hailing from Canada are probably the coolest songwriting duo since Lennon and McCartney. Since the mid ’90s, Tegan and Sara have tiptoed along a plethora of amazingly original sounding albums. Over the years, it only seems that they are continuing to grow, while also developing their craft for wonderful tunes. Heavily influenced by Bruce Springsteen, it is apparent that these sisters grew up studying the art of “the song,” and it has paid off immensely.

The Con is a delightful blend of everything that Tegan and Sara has done so well in the past. Consisting of their version of relentless catchiness and intertwining lyrics, the album is a realistic view of today’s world and how the twins feel about it. The meaning of the record is deep and obvious, without being too overbearing. If you love modern songs that will stand the test of time, give all of Tegan and Sara’s albums a listen.

#8: Circa Survive – On Letting Go

#8: Circa Survive – On Letting Go

After interviewing vocalist Anthony Green this year, I was completely convinced that Circa Survive is one of the coolest and most refreshing indie bands ever. On Letting Go, the follow-up to 2005’s Juturna, offers more of the same; just with stronger structure and more maturity. During our interview, Green told me that Circa Survive has “yet to perform at their potential,” and that they “will be around for a long time.”

Green, the obvious star of the group, possesses the most unique and fascinating vocal range any modern music lover has ever been exposed to. Placed into the mix with superior lead guitar playing and intricate drum patterns, there is no possibility a listener could be bored by the collection of songs.

Now that Green has dedicated himself to other projects (including the Sound of Animals Fighting and a project in which I am not allowed to share yet), it seems as if the guys have reached a superstar level without actually doing so. They will continue to conjure over 1,000 kids to each of their shows, while simultaneously enjoying the success that their mere two albums have brought them. On Letting Go is nothing short of amazing.

#9: Iron and Wine – The Shepherd's Dog

#9: Iron and Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog

I would have never thought that singer/songwriter Sam Beam, the one man show behind Iron and Wine, would ever be able to top 2004’s Our Endless Numbered Days. The album’s emotional level was far beyond comparable human tolerance. His sweet folk tunes were able to make a grown man weep. This time around, however, he has evolved into a totally different creative machine.

On The Shepherd’s Dog, Sam utilizes his brilliant songwriting abilities to craft complete songs, this time complete with percussion. His one-sided sullen folk music exists rarely on this album. Instead the brilliant songwriter comes out of left field and creates an equally as admirable and entertaining piece of artwork. At #9, The Shepherd’s Dog is truly an album to be adored in 2007.

#10: Paramore – Riot!

#10: Paramore – Riot!

After a long few weeks of December, we have finally punctured our way into the top 10 albums of the year. While other entities and publications have completely neglected to recognize Paramore in their top album lists ( perhaps due to their blatant commercialism), The Music Mastermind accommodates Riot!‘s nonstop intensity and utter pop brilliance.

Besides the notion that the group may be too “poppy” for some hardcore rock fans to enjoy, what is not to like about Paramore? The songs are short, sweet, and catchy and the instrumentation and vocals are spot-on. Need more? – the band was signed before all of the members even graduated high school. If that’s not an embodiment of the word “career development,” than I don’t know what is.

Fast, fun, and catchy, all of the songs on Riot! cover all of the aforementioned adjectives with precision. Aside from the two singles “Misery Business” and “crushcrushcrush,” the album penetrates throughout other forceful radio nominees as “Hallelujah” and “Born For This.”

If you are guilty of being a skeptic, do yourself a favor and check out this album. It definitely serves its purpose very well. It may be the best straight-to-the-point pop punk album of the year. It fills the void as the album that you tend to reach for when driving in your car with all of your friends. The sing-along capabilities are simply infectious.