Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007 - The Year In Review

Most of the CDs featured in Bloggerhythms Mid-year Review remain at the top of the list as 2007 winds down. Because I don't want to bore everyone by restating for a third time all of the great things I wrote about these discs (most were praised in their individual reviews and at the year's half way point) I'll just list the winners in order with a link to each CD's original review and add any additional comments I feel are worthy. You know it was an eclectic year because new music by some old reliable classic rockers share the list with a few who released their first CDs after Y2K, and so not wanting to snub any of my favorite CDs, I expanded this year's list from five to ten.

There is essentially a three way tie for the top spot. Deciding who recorded the best CD of 2007 is almost an impossible task. America's album, released early in the year, wins in a photo finish because it held the number one position for most of it. The Cat Empire also deserves to be number one for recording the most original sounding music in many years. Their CD is both a triumph of arranging and musicianship. In contrast to America, who relied on a proven formula, The Cat Empire excelled because of its startling uniqueness. Austin based Jimmy Lafave wrote some of the best new songs of the year and his cover versions of other artist's work, especially Bob Dylan, are wonderful.

Listen to all of these great discs and decide for yourself.

1. America - Here & Now
Score one for the old guys. By staying true to their roots Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell created a classic.

2. The Cat Empire - Two Shoes
A little hip-hop, ska, reggae, and Latin jazz combine to create an original Australian stew.

3. Jimmy Lafave - Cimarron Manifesto
Lafave is a genuinely talented singer-songwriter with impeccable taste in cover tunes and a rocker with a heavy Bob Dylan influence. I am taken aback that Lafave is not rich and famous based on both this CD and a recent Austin live performance I had the pleasure of attending. Both critic Dave Marsh and country-rocker Lucinda Williams are huge fans.

4. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away

5. Brandi Carlile - The Story
A great voice, band, and songs make this the best disc by any female artist this year. The title track is the song of the year.

6.The Young Dubliners - With All Due Respect: The Irish Sessions

7. Seamus Kelleher - Four Cups of Coffee
I highly recommend this debut solo release by Kelleher, who is well known in Philadelphia as the lead guitarist for the area's most popular local band Blackthorn. Kelleher fulfilled his life-long dream of finally making his own solo album. It may have been a long wait but after hearing Four Cups Of Coffee I wish he had stepped out on his own a long time ago.

8. California Transit Authority - Full Circle
I like this CD a lot but since the band's leader, Danny Seraphine, the original and former drummer for Chicago, included two-thirds old Chicago songs on the album, I couldn't put it higher on the list. I wouldn't even consider Full Circle a covers album. Can you really cover your own songs? Anyway, Seraphine is back, his drumming is as great as ever, and his band is really cooking. The vocal star is Tower of Power's Larry Braggs.

9. Lewis Taylor - The Lost Album

10. Sea Wolf - Leaves In The River
This is the first full length CD by the band put together by singer/songwriter Alex Brown Church and it's a dandy. At times Sea Wolf sounds like both The Moody Blues and modern rockers The Shins. (Phil Ek, The Shins producer, helms this one for Church and company) Two songs are receiving substantial airplay, "Winter Windows" and "You're A Wolf." This CD was a Christmas gift so I haven't had time to fully absorb it yet and when I do look for a full review.

Honorable Mention
Paul McCartney - Memory Almost Full

The Eagles - Long Road Out Of Eden

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals - This is Somewhere
Potter and her fine band improved upon their fine first CD, Nothing But The Water, by broadening the subject matter of their songs beyond Water's one note theme of broken love affairs. Be sure to check out the new disc's closing track "Big White Gate" as a great example. They turned up the volume by writing harder rock 'n roll arrangements.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting list, Charlie. I have to agree about the CTA release. Here are some of my favorites from 2007:

    1. Dream Theater Systematic Chaos, their 9th studio release an improvement over their largely uneven Octavarium album (2005) which showed flashes of brilliance coupled with long spells of mediocrity.

    2. California Transit Authority - Full Circle, for the reasons already stated in my blog and in yours incidentally.

    3. Velvet Revolver - Libertad. Dirty jangly guitars in the tradition of the Stones and Guns 'n' Roses. A superior sophomore effort from a respectable supergroup.

    4. Crowded House - Time on Earth. I don't have this one yet but I'm really digging the samples I've heard from it. Neil Finn is an exceptional songwriter and this album (the band's first studio album since 1993) really shows that. It's on my must have/must get list.

    Exceptional Reissues:
    The Sons of Champlin The Ariola Years: FINALLY the Sons of Champlin's entire catalog (except for the limited pressing Minus Seeds & Stems) is now available on CD! This set features the band's final 3 albums before their long hiatus (1977-1998) and really shows the band in top form.