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The Top 10 of 2007

A look back at some of the year's best albums


It's never easy to select the "best" albums of the year because everyone has his or her own opinion. As evidenced by the lists below (from music editor Jeff Hahne and contributing music writers), that's always the case. There are few albums that you'll find on more than one list below. So, who's right? No one. These lists should be looked at as "Here are some albums we think are worth checking out."

Toots and the Maytals – Light Your Light

Toots Hibbert is the past and the future of reggae. Soul lives in Toots' impassioned channeling of Otis Redding's "Pain In My Heart." He puts soul in country, taking Ray Charles' classic "I Got a Woman" and relocating her funky self in Kingston. Bonnie Raitt's vocals and guitar blend perfectly with Toots' slippery, punched up version of "Premature." "Johnny Cool Man" recalls The Harder They Come. His best since Toots in Memphis, it's easily the years best in any genre.

David Childers Burning In Hell

Various Artists Going Home: Tribute to Fats Domino

Deadstring Brothers Silver Mountain

Southern Culture on the Skids Countrypolitan Favorites

Mitch Kashmar Wake Up and Worry

Confederate Railroad Cheap Thrills

Los Straitjackets Rock En Espanol

Mavis Staples We'll Never Turn Back

John Nemeth Magic Touch

— Grant Britt 


David Dondero – Simple Love/Darren Hanlon – Fingertips and Mountaintops

While my "This Was '07" mixtape would no doubt (and does, honestly) contain of all those below, I'll hedge my bets here (i.e., avoid the issue) and give it to the pairing (but not a pair, in the biblical sense) of Dondero and Hanlon. I was fortunate enough to see both artists play live this year, and both left my mouth agape with their seamless sauteeing of wit, wordsmithery, and heart-withering (i.e., cracklingly real) emotion. Both still must push their own merch, but both deliver the goods before they ever dig you that gotta-have 7" out of the crate. The singer-songwriter thang is back, only this time, there's no bandwagoneering press coverage.

Oakley Hall I'll Follow You

Robert Wyatt Comicopera

Band of Horses Cease to Begin

Wilco Sky Blue Sky

Arcade Fire Neon Bible

Bright Eyes Cassadaga

Magnolia Electric Co. Sojourner

Richard Hawley Lady's Bridge/Serious

Blitzen Trapper Wild Mountain Nation

— Timothy C. Davis


The White Stripes -- Icky Thump

I hate to just cop what someone else says about the record but the review on iTunes ends with this thought: "Jack White's not exactly King Midas but everything he touches turns to classic rock." And, well, I second that notion. The White Stripes rock and then some. The record's got a dark, moody grind layered with a steady, bluesy groove. A prodigy of the mothership? Oh I think so.

Queens of the Stone Age Era Vulgaris

Kings of Leon Because of the Times

David Childers & The Modern Don Juans Burning in Hell

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raising Sand

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Baby 81

Foo Fighters Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

Lamb Handler The Shepherds of Rock

Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals Lifeline

Grinderman Grinderman

— Lynn Farris


Band of Horses – Cease to Begin

A brilliant follow-up to an already darn good debut, Cease to Begin finds Band of Horses going in a more melodic, accessible direction without losing their mellow, reverb-laden vibe.

Okkervil River The Stage Names

Avett Brothers Emotionalism

Over the Rhine The Trumpet Child

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals This is Somewhere

Ryan Adams Easy Tiger

Brandi Carlile The Story

Radiohead In Rainbows

Rosie Thomas These Friends of Mine

Paramore Riot!

— Allie Goolrick 


John Butler Trio -- Grand National

It's the only album this year that didn't leave my CD player for weeks after the first listen, and had me going out to buy all his other releases soon after. His performance at Bonnaroo sealed my vote for him being one of the top guitarists I've ever seen live. He makes a 12-string sound like Hendrix is being conjured up through it; bringing intensity in combination with a peaceful funkiness. The album showcases all of his talents as a player, songwriter and artist in general. File under "underrated."

Galactic From the Corner to the Block

Eddie Vedder Into the Wild

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals This is Somewhere

Levon Helm Dirt Farmer

Against Me! New Wave

Clutch From Beale St. to Oblivion

Down III - Over the Under

White Stripes Icky Thump

The New Familiars The Storm EP

— Jeff Hahne 


John Fogerty – Revival

Not for nothing did John Fogerty title his latest disc "Revival." The album is indeed a nod to the past – not only to the swampy sound of his former band, but also to the era that produced CCR. Fogerty did some serious woodshedding in the 1990s, so he is a much more proficient guitar slinger than he was back then. So in addition to the chooglin' riffs of yore, we also get some turbo-twang solos and some psychedelic excursions that evoke Cream-era Clapton.

Levon Helm Dirt Farmer

Richard Thompson Sweet Warrior

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raising Sand

White Stripes Icky Thump

Mark Knopfler Kill to Get Crimson

Bettye LaVette The Scene of the Crime

Kelly Willis Translated From Love

Linda Thompson Versatile Heart

Mavis Staples We'll Never Turn Back

— Kevin Ransom 


Calexico -- Tool Box

This website-only (for now) disc finds drummer John Convertino and multi-instrumentalist Joey Burns going it alone and back to their roots. The 14 instrumental tracks border-hop from Norteno rave-ups and Left Bank waltzes to desert-noir soundscapes and Portuguese fados. Convertino makes his small kit sing, and Burns pulls a spectrum of emotional shades from cello, guitar, bass, vibes, and whatever else lies around the studio. Two great musicians totally tuned in.

Okkervil River The Stage Names

Do Make Say Think You, You're a History in Rust

Joe Henry Civilians

The Sadies New Seasons

Handsome Furs Plague Park

Carlton Patterson & King Tubby Black & White in Dub

Alessandro Stefana Poste y Telegrafi

Richard Hawley Lady's Bridge

Miracle Fortress Miracle Fortress

— John Schacht 


Grinderman -- grinderman

This Nick Cave project is one of his most brutal works since the days of The Birthday Party. The quartet wraps blistering guitar riffs, unnerving bass and jazzy drums around Cave's caustic lyrics. "No Pussy Blues" unravels the timeless gender sexual psyche replete with Cave's snarling and wit-laden vocals. Never the twain shall meet.

Neil Young Chrome Dreams II

DJ Rekha Basement Bhangra

Dewey Redman Struggle Continues

Bettye Lavette The Scene of the Crime

Vieux Farka Toure Vieux Farka Toure

Battles Mirrored

Robert Wyatt Comicopera

Liars Liars

No Age Weirdo Rippers

— Samir Shukla 

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