Category Archives: Best of 2007

#11: Coheed and Cambria – No World For Tomorrow

#11: Coheed and Cambria – No World For Tomorrow

So, I must admit that this entry bears somewhat of a bias. Throughout Coheed and Cambria’s existence, I have grown ever more fondly of their unique style, while simultaneously trying to shed any form of light on the ongoing storyline depicted throughout their songs’ contents. Regardless of any favoritism, C & C have been acknowledged as the “new Pink Floyd,” possess many similarities to the ’80s progressive band Saga, and have slowly developed a cult following unlike anything seen in today’s music world.

No World For Tomorrow served as a savior for the group after two members abruptly departed for personal reasons. Although there were still two installments of the story left to be delivered to their fans, nobody knew if C & C would live again. Luckily, the bassist Mic Todd returned to the lineup shortly thereafter, and the drumming duties were given to ex-Dillinger Escape Plan drummer – Chris Pennie.

“If they are so great, then why are they #11?,” one might ask. Well, compared to the band’s prior release Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, this album does not completely do the group justice. While their previous releases could be argued as some of the best of the 21st century thus far, No World For Tomorrow is merely just a “great” album.

Some standout tracks are “Feathers” and “The End Complete” – songs which both conjure together the best elements of Claudio Sanchez’s high-pitched vocals and each of the instrumentalists flagrant competence. The group has always been able to offer a progressive sound, while inevitably writing songs with choruses that listeners cannot remove from their head.

It’s evident that I could write about this band, and even this album, forever. In an attempt to not go overboard and refrain from inciting any form of bias, I will digress. Just know that Coheed and Cambria is neither an “overnight success” nor a “one-hit wonder.” And for those many music aficionados who place their hatred for the band on Claudio’s “obnoxious voice,” should listen to more of their tracks. Claudio is simply embodying characters of the story. High pitched vocals usual equate to a child character, while the deeper vocals represent a villain. His vocal range is actually something quite amazing if inspected thoroughly and properly.

#12: Radiohead – In Rainbows

#12: Radiohead – In Rainbows

Is Radiohead one of the most innovative bands in history? – perhaps. Are they overrated? – probably. But, are they deserving of their ongoing success and fan devotion? – definitely.

It goes without saying that the exclusive release of their latest recording In Rainbows was groundbreaking, and may have, in turn, changed the way audio CDs are released and perceived in the future. Remarkably, the band arguably pocketed more money with an independent digital release than if they were to shop it through a major label. Regardless, the band will see the best of both worlds after signing a deal to release a tangible version of In Rainbows on January 1st.

Now on to the actual content of the album. In Rainbows, without a doubt, combats any of the previous Radiohead records. Yet again offering another incarnation of the group’s endlessly diverse style, the ten tracks are unique to one another, while offering all of the facets the group has covered throughout its lengthy existence.

A few of the standout tracks are “Bodysnatchers” and “Faust Arp.” Although the “hype” surrounding this album enveloped far more than the music, you cannot deny Radiohead’s incredible persistence to push all musical boundaries and their constant evolution as a band; a band that has come to offer something for every type of music fan.

Will In Rainbows sell copies in January? – probably. Will the record label be happy with sales of the record? – of course not; not in today’s digital music world.

#13: Portugal the Man – Church Mouth

#13: Portugal The Man – Church Mouth

Portugal the Man was one of my most pleasant discoveries of all of 2007. After seeing them live on tour with the Fall of Troy (and then later with Rocky Votolato), it was love at first listen. Their live show not only depicted their impeccable song-crafting, but also conveyed an unusual and intriguing energy; the likes of which I have never been exposed to.

Falling somewhere between bands like TV on the Radio and The Mars Volta, it’s a difficult and daunting task to attempt to corner Portugal the Man into one genre. After all, the band does offer a healthy serving of southern rock as well. As hard as it is to describe, it’s even harder to understand how the band actually does what they do. Never before have five individuals sounded so full and layered, even when they’re performing on stage.

It’s tracks like “Sugar Cinnamon” and “My Mind” that separate Portugal from the pack. There is no doubt that this band is about to blow up. Their hidden identity can only be held captive for so long. While they will continue to tour with bigger names, their popularity level will reach epic proportions. Check them out now so that you can continue to be cooler than all of your friends.

#14: Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

#14: Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

If you haven’t fell in love with any of Modest Mouse’s countless number of previous releases, there may be something wrong with you. Speaking merely for the last three, The Moon and Antarctica, Good News for People Who Love Bad News, and now We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, the band has seen many awards and praise at a less-than-commercial level. If the “25 Days of Music” countdown existed in 2004, Good News for People Who Love Bad News would have been given the number one throne. Now that’s saying something.

This time around, Modest Mouse has undoubtedly done it again. Although it’s not their best record, it is arguably just as good as their prior efforts, but just a little different. It’s still the same interesting dose of the band that everyone has grown to love; it’s just packaged within different kind of material. From the opening poundings of “March into the Sea” to the funky deliverance of “We’ve Got Everything,” the Mouse seems far from modest.

As we approach the top 13 albums of the year, it must be realized that the competition was extremely brutal this year. While an album like this may be ranked #14 on this listing, it would be justified and understood in someone else’s #1 position. The following installments are all amazing pieces of work that had to be arranged in a tedious lineup – strictly for entertainment’s sake. Hopefully, Modest Mouse will be able to forgive me.

#15: The Spill Canvas – No Really, I'm Fine

#15: The Spill Canvas – No Really, I’m Fine

It’s hard to believe that bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco get all of the recognition in the pop rock world, while there are so many exceptional bands that you may have never heard of. Leading the pack of that category is a band from South Dakota called The Spill Canvas. If you are a fan of catchy teenage pop music, they are guaranteed to be one of your new favorite bands.

No Really, I’m Fine is one of those infectious albums that you can’t help but continue to listen to over and over. Most of the tracks are tightly constructed to be a potential fit for modern radio.
It’s songs like “Saved” and “Hush Hush” that really demonstrate what the Spill Canvas has to offer the world. Not to mention the hit “All Over You” – which happens to be one of my personal favorite rock songs of the entire year.

But for whatever reason, the guys have never seen commercial success. I guess that is just the way the music industry works. I think we all have realized that by now. The beauty of it is, however, that they will be around for quite some time, relishing in their underground success that sells out clubs around the nation.

#16: Northern State – Can I Keep This Pen?

#16: Northern State – Can I Keep This Pen?

Is it hip-hop? Is it rock? Is it comedy?…. The beauty of New York’s all female hip-hop project Northern State is that you cannot completely pigeonhole their style into one genre. That, and they do not take themselves or their music too seriously. This is evident simply by the group’s infrastructure. While they may not be winning a Grammy anytime soon, there is a lot to be desired here. The ladies know how to entertain with their witty lyrics, catchy hooks, and outrageous beats.

Can I Keep This Pen?, marks the return of the greatest female rap group that you may have never heard of. This fall, the group played in front of sold out theaters across North America as the opening act for Tegan and Sara.

Standout tracks on the album are the oddly addictive “Better Already” and “Sucker Mofo.” Northern State never comes close to suffering from attempting to fit into the mold of the mainstream. Their vulgar lyrics make it difficult for them to ever crossover to pop radio. All in all, it is a great pleasure to see such a refreshingly original piece of art be received so well during this age of over-produced copycat jargon.

#17: Ted Leo and The Pharmacists – Living With the Living

#17: Ted Leo and The Pharmacists – Living With the Living

Five albums after the group’s formation in 1999, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists finally seem to making a name for themselves. Those that discovered their talent early on have had the fortunate pleasure of watching the band mature and adapt into an indie powerhouse. Now more respected than ever, Living With the Living has rewarded the band with their rightful dues.

Living With the Living is one of those albums that possesses a powerful meaning that you simply cannot deny. Embodying somewhat of a political stance, songs like “Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.” and “C.I.A.” speak immensely about the way Ted Leo feels about the current position of the United States. Obviously attempting to avoid mainstream radio, Leo is not afraid to tell it like it is.

Ted Leo and The Pharmacists definitely have something to say and they proclaim it properly and magnificently throughout the record. Be on the watch for the continued success of this great band in the future. They do not show any signs of letting up anytime soon.

#18: Band of Horses – Cease To Begin

#18: Band of Horses – Cease To Begin

As if there already wasn’t enough enough kick-ass bands from Seattle, Band of Horses has come swiftly galloping into the scene. After receiving immense attention on tour with Iron and Wine, the band signed with popular indie label Sub Pop Records. Since then, they have released two albums. The first, Everything All The Time, and their latest, Cease To Begin – which in case you didn’t notice has surprisingly captured a spot in the “25 Days of Music:” Top 25 countdown.

Having been compared to bands like My Morning Jacket, Neil Young, and the Flaming Lips, Band of Horses has created a new twist on the classic “soft rock” sound. It’s songs like “Is There A Ghost” and “No Ones Gonna Love You” that make this unique group stand out among a slew of similar entities. Their recent rapid popularity, although flabbergasting to many, is justified by cleverly delivered lyrics over relaxed and mature instrumentation. Band of Horses may believe that they have Cease(d) to Begin, but it is evident with this album that they have “Cease(d) to Amaze” almost everybody.

#19: Xavier Rudd – White Moth


#19: Xavier Rudd – White Moth

After successful stints opening for names like Jack Johnson, Ani Difranco, and Dave Matthews Band, the Australia superstar Xavier Rudd is slowly becoming more of a household name. White Moth, his fourth full-length release (third through Universal’s imprint), is his most refined yet. Featuring a myriad of illustrious and exotic instruments (all in which he has mastered during his solo live performances), mundaneness is no where to be found on the album.

White Moth is for fans of innovative solo singer/songwriters such as Imogen Heap and Jamie Lidell. Rudd will be taking part in a limited headlining club tour in early 2008. Most of the shows have already sold out. Jump on this fast-moving wagon now, before it’s too late! delivers the same type of concept by executing every aspect of his music himself, and delivering it with the utmost precision.

#20: The National – Boxer

#20: The National – Boxer

Much like a beloved comedy in the movie industry, Boxer, has more quotes and one-liners to offer than Superbad. As if it was written by Voltaire, the level of intellect presented by frontman Matt Berninger is in a league all it’s own. Few may criticize the monotony of his vocal stylings, and rightfully so. But for the most part, this album has received incredible reviews, including the prestigious honor of “Album of the Year” on Paste Magazine’s ‘Top 100′ of 2007 countdown. I may not be as gratuitous as they are, but I still manage to observe the power of their music.

After selling virtually no albums during the first time around, the National have spawned themselves an immediate underground following with the release of Boxer. Placed in the same pile as bands like She Wants Revenge and Interpol, The National seemed to have discovered their niche. For an articulate and relaxing good time, give Boxer a whirl.