These ten albums are tinged with covers, 9/11, and Radiohead. Obviously 9/11 left an indelible mark on the music of the decade. The Dixies Chicks Taking the Long Way and Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief don’t exist without 9/11. Ryan Adams’ Gold becomes more noteworthy because he films a video for the first single across the river from the Twin Towers 4 days prior to the attacks. Radiohead is all through these 10 – with 2 of their albums, a Radiohead tribute, and one album that features a Radiohead cover. Enjoy and comment.
31. Version (2007) – Mark Ronson -Ronson is more known for his work producing Lili Allen and Amy Winehouse, but I think he saved his best work for his own album. He produces other artists doing covers of famous songs. All of the covers are done way differently than the original – which should be the point of recording a cover. Check out Ol’ Dirty Bastard on the cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic”. Radiohead’s “Just” may be better than the original.
32. Taking the Long Way (2006) – Dixie Chicks - The outrage over the Dixie Chicks’ comments about George Bush lead them to make a less country album. It works on so many levels. They worked with songwriters such as Dan Wilson of Semisonic and Neil Finn.
33. Radiodread (2006) – Easy Star All-stars - Second cover album in this 10. It’s a tribute to how great the songs of Radiohead are that they work as reggae. Of course focusing on one of the greatest albums of all-time (OK Computer) helps.
34. Amnesiac (2001) – Radiohead – Hard to separate this from Kid A but over the years I’ve realized Kid A was the strongest of the two albums released within months of each other.
35. From a Basement on the Hill (2004) – Elliott Smith – It makes me sad that there is no more Elliott Smith. This is the album he was working on when he died. Unlike the album that was released after Jeff Buckley’s death – this works as a real album.
36. Stephen Malkmus (2001) â€“ Stephen Malkmus – Malkmus is one of the best songwriters no one considers. This is a more accessible album than his work with Pavement.
37. The Hour of the Bewilderbeast (2000) – Badly Drawn Boy – Funky and folky at the same time.
38. For Emma, Forever Ago (2008) – Bon Iver – Somber and beautiful album. Owes as much to Radiohead as he does to Elliot Smith. “Flume” and “Skinny Love” are insanely gorgeous songs.
39. Gold (2001) – Ryan Adams - This album became a part of the immediate post 9/11 landscape partly due to his video for “New York, New York” filmed 4 days before the attacks across the Hudson River from the World Trade Center. No fluke though – this is a great album and cemented Ryan Adams as one of this generations great singer/songwriters.
40. Radiohead – Hail to the Thief (2003) – 2003 was safe enough a distance from 9/11 to start lobbing criticisms to the establishment. Radiohead will never be accused of being afraid to take risks. This is their first album post OK Computer that didn’t sound so experimental. Much more accessible than Kid A and Amnesiac.
Here’s my top 18 albums from 2007. Why 18? Well I keep listing albums until I feel there are no more that deserve to be mentioned. I’d love to hear your comments – and if you have your own list, put it in the comments section and I’ll keep a running list of best of 2007 around the blogosphere. For the most part links will link you to iTunes (except for Jay-z and Radiohead).
Spoon – Ga ga ga ga ga – For some reason this album got middling reviews. For me every time I heard a song from it I couldn’t believe how good it was. Easily the most accessible of their releases.
My Favorites: Don’t Make Me a Target, The Underdog
Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha- This album is truly amazing. I’ve described it as a more tuneful Sufjan Stevens album. And it holds together better than a Stevens piece.
My Favorites: Fiery Crash, Darkmatter
Radiohead – In Rainbows – This album will be remembered for the unique, name your own price, distribution method. It should be remembered as classic Radiohead.
My Favorites: Bodysnatchers, Falling into Place
Peter Bjorn and John – Writer’s Block – I couldn’t get the whistling song (Young Folks) out of my head all summer – which was like torture since I can’t whistle. Get past that and this some kick ass jangle rock.
My Favorites: Objects of My Affection, Young Folks
The Apples in Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder – I waited to get this because it’s a double album and took a lot of my eMusic downloads. Stupid. Some people won’t like it because of it’s experimental takes, but it includes a ton of great songs.
Mark Ronson – Version- All I have to say is Ol’ Dirty Bastard redoing Britney Spears’ Toxic. Just one of an album full of great covers – done so differently you forget the original.
My Favorites: Toxic, Oh My God
Feist – The Reminder – Thanks to Apple’s ubiquitous nano ad I bought this album. 1234 is the catchiest song of the year – but the rest of the album holds its own.
My favorites: 1234, I Feel it All
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black – Listening to this album, you should have been able to see the train wreck coming. That doesn’t make this into a novelty act – Winehouse (and producer Mark Ronson) update the 60′s girl sound – without making it trivial.
My favorites: Back to Black, Love is a Losing game
My favorites: Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe, John Allyn Smith Sails
John Doe – A Year In the Wilderness – John Doe does what I would want to as a singer/songwriter – work with unique voices such as Kristen Hersh or Kathleen Edwards. His song The Golden State (with Edwards) is one of the best examples of songwriting I’ve heard this year.
Crowded House – Time on Earth – I didn’t expect to like this album as much as I did. It’s been 14 years since their last release and this sounds like an older Crowded House – but I’m an older me, so it works.
Trances Arc – XOXOX – I have a sneaking suspicion this album will keep rising and rising the more I listen to it. I didn’t get it until recently and it’s already made an impression as one of the best pop rock releases this year.
My favorites: Peace of Mind, New Style
Mark Olson – The Salvation Blues- The former Jayhawks lead singer sounds like he hasn’t skipped a beat. This could have followed up Tomorrow the Green Grass. Some might call that nostalgic; I’ll call it timeless.
My favorites: Clifton Bridge, Tears from Above
Here’s an iTunes iMix of My Favorites songs from the albums above