A day late for the listening party but submitted before New Year's --
Top 10 in no particular order
The Avett Brothers - Emotionalism.
Young dudes with a banjo (!), earnest lyrics, harmonies -- good songs and melody. They won me over despite the cynical MSE d.j. in me.
Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
Get past the sometimes annoying vocal stylings, and you've got arrangements and melodies that are both timeless and cutting edge. Stretching pop music into the late part of the first decade of the '00s.
P. J. Harvey - White Chalk
How can you keep P.J. off your list? I really wanted to the first time I heard her warbling over a piano. But these songs are strong and P.J., once again, morphs into
another excellent version of herself.
Heavy Trash -- Going Way Out with Heavy Trash
There's life after Blues Explosion for Jon Spencer in Heavy Trash. This has some of the JSBX-type hard rock workouts and some rockabilly-ish material. One of two new CDs I played REALLY LOUD in my car this year.
John Doe - A Year in the Wilderness
Mr. Doe really has mastered the concise, deep, well-done, non-repetitive song his last couple albums. Great backup work by the likes of Dave Alvin, Kathleen Edwards and Aimee Mann.
Fever Marlene - Civil War
Milwaukee two-piece that's really cute, really grimy and really good. At times a throwback to pop of the 60's, 70's and 80's and at other times just a damn solid indie-pop/ rock duo for the 2000s.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Baby 81
This is the other CD I played REALLY LOUD in the car during 2007. BRMC got its swagger back in a big way. It's Brit, it's dark, it's glam, it's fantabulous.
Architecture in Helsinki - Places Like This
Australian pop band with 11 snappy songs that are industrious without being too cute. Bonus for clocking in at 31 minutes like a real pop album.
Fiery Furnaces - Widow City
The Furnaces were a bit too "out there" for me on some of their previous work. They're more focused on this one with some of the best techno-rock music and deadpan female vocals around. Funny and cool simultaneously. I have to skip some of the longer Zappa-esque tracks, though.
The Mekons - Natural
I'm partial to the Mekons, but this CD represents a high-quality extension of their new mellow persona. As always, a mix of vocals, songs and arrangements from several singers and writers. Sort of a "Songs from the Wood" for the aging punk generation.
Honorable mention (good but somewhat dissapointing)
Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga; New Pornographers - Challengers; Robert Pollard - Coast to Coast Carpet of Love; Low - Drums and Guns
Honorable mention (no asterisk)
The Silos - Come on Like the Fast Lane; Shannon Wright - Let in the Light; Josh Ritter - The Historic Conquests Of; Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans - Tomorrow Sound Now for Yes Music People (did I get that right?)