Saturday, January 05, 2008

Top Albums of 2007

Honestly this year was a weird year in that not a lot of albums really caught my eye from this year. A lot of albums came out but not a lot of albums from this calendar year blew me away like MuteMath or Muse or My Chemical Romance did in years past. So instead of albums that came out this year (as I did last year) I'll talk about the top albums that I DISCOVERED this year.

1. Frou Frou - Details
I have talked about Imogen Heap for a long time. Ms. Heap is odd in the fact that she was a somewhat successful solo artist, then formed a band (Frou Frou) then went solo again. I first heard Imogen's voice on the Shrek 2 soundtrack (hey, I bought it for the Counting Crows song) as Frou Frou performed "Holding Out for a Hero" and I fell in love. I didn't know who they were. Then I discovered Imogen Heap and figured out it was the same singer and then bought this album. I was a little worried because I bought it without listening to the whole album...but needless to say, I was not disappointed. This ended up being my favorite record of what I discovered this year. Imogen Heaps' distinctive alto and Guy Sigsworth distinctive electro-pop production as well as killer songwriting and amazingly earnest lyrics make this album a keeper. Even if you don't like electro-pop, you will like this album. Every song is beautifully written and perfectly produced. Buy this one today.

2. Maroon 5 - It Won't Be Soon Before Long
Great songs. Great hooks. Great playing. Great sounding record. See my review from earlier this year.

3. Derek Webb - The Ringing Bell
Derek was what made Caedmon's Call great, I always thought. His earnest, open, broken-hearted songwriting always seemed to hit me just right. Then he got married and left the band and felt called to being the reincarnation of Keith Green, calling the church out for its crap...constantly. Honestly, it got kind of old. I wanted to hear him sing love songs and deep lyrics again. Plus, from a musical standpoint, he got more and more "out there" and for me it wasn't good "out there". I had kind of written him off. Then, a good friend of mine Mike Snyder told me to check it out, so I bought the record and could not stop listening to it. It's Beatle-esque and pop and roots and folky and experimental all rolled up in one. Easily my favorite record from the Christian music industry from this year. Great, great album. Go listen, then buy.

4. Blake Lewis - Audio Day Dream
A year ago, when I came home from Hollywood, I told my wife that only one guy really stood out as major competition...sure there were other great singers, but to me Blake was the best guy this year. And, of course, my prediction turned out correctly...Blake was the #1 guy this season and went on to make an album he wanted to make. There are mis-steps on the album, I think, but overall this is one of the best Idol albums, if not the best yet (stiff competition with Daughtry's debut). If the label picks the right singles, the album should have life and I predict the album will do incredibly well in Europe. I am just cheering for my friend to do well. Songs like "Know My Name", "1000 Miles" and "How Many Words" show his songwriting ability and ear for catchy hooks, while the prom song of the century "End of the World" just makes the BoyzIIMen fan deep in me come out and sing along.

5. Fall Out Boy - Infinity on High
I enjoyed 3 songs on FOB's first album. The rest of the album just was not my cup of tea. Right as my American Idol experience was starting to ramp up - I'd made the top 40 but didn't know about the top 24 yet - I heard "This Ain't a Scene" on the radio while driving in an Idol-driven car. And I flipped. I thought it was one of the coolest songs I'd heard in a while. So, immediately when the album came out in February, I bought the album and it was one of those albums that I listened to almost non-stop. I have great memories of Blake and I sitting in our hotel room on La Cienega listening to this album, talking about wanting to just make it to tour. So, not only is it great music, but there's some good memories along with it. Anyway, every song on this album is a step up from the last album. The album sounds great and Patrick Stump's vocals are fantastic.

6. Brandi Carlile - The Story
One of the most distinctive female voices in the music business ever, in my opinion. She sings and screams and squeels her way to making you feel every heartbreak and every joy she has ever felt. The Story should be included in lists of best-written songs ever as musically and emotionally, Brandi's voice takes you on a journey that you believe and feel through to your heart.

7. Kevin Max - The Blood
Take away my duet with my musical hero and this album is still one of the best of 2007. Kevin dug deep and made a great roots record that had some of the coolest duets in years. This is a great album. Go buy it today. I don't make a cent off it, so I'm not telling you to buy to make me rich. I'm telling you to buy it because it's a great freaking album.

8 Graham Colton Band - Here Right Now
I have been a GCB fan for a while. I discovered them when they were an indie band and have kept up with them since. I was somewhat disappointed with the band's label debut, though I did enjoy it a lot. So, when I heard that Graham was working with John Fields (Switchfoot) on this record, I had high hopes. I wasn't disappointed. This album is a little more pop to his first 2 album's alt-country-rock, but the pop/rock works. Graham's a good songwriter and the production is for the most part spot on.

9. Steven Curtis Chapman - This Moment
Steven seemed to have lost his mojo for a while there. Really, Declaration was the last album of his that hit me. The last two just didn't do anything for me...just seemed like a rehash of what he's always done. However, "This Moment" seems to have Steven back to doing what he does best, only sounding somewhat fresher. Sure, it's nothing new, especially for Steven, but the album's songwriting is great and feels fresh for the first time in a long time.

10. Jordin Sparks - Jordin Sparks
I wish that the album had shown off her voice more because I've been there hearing her SANG. This album, though, is a warm up for what I think will be a very long and fruitful career. Songs like "No Air" and "Tattoo" will give the album life on the sales charts while songs like "Permanent Monday" and "Freeze" show maturity beyond her 17 years (now 18 years).

Honorable Mention: Mercy Me - All That Is Within Me
Best album since their debut. "God With Us" will be up for song of the year.

EDIT: And one album that I literally just discovered...Elevator Musik from Victory Fellowship in New Orleans. The best worship album I've ever heard. It features Paul Meany from MuteMath leading worship...it's amazing. Go to victoryfellowship.net and find the shop...they have it for sale.

13 comments:

Carrie said...

I always love when you review music because there's always at least 2 or 3 albums that you like that I do, too. There are a few different albums I would have put on this list but not all of them came out in 2007 so I suppose that doesn't count. I think Imogen Heap is great and I'm not really a big fan of women singers. I'm more of a piano-rock-driven music kinda girl.

And I LOVE that you put Blake and Jordin on the list. It shows that they mean a lot to you and I love that. Without getting in my Daughtry-Hate mode I will say that Blake's album is definitely better than Daughtry's.

Fall Out Boy put on an AMAZING live show in 2007. I only saw them once with The Academy Is.. (LOVE them) OK GO and I think Mae was there, too. Don't remember. They are such my weakness haha.

Badpacifist said...

I have Blake's and Fall Out Boy. I have worn out the first Infinity on High and need to buy another one. I agree Patrick Stump is amazing not only in his own group but also helping other groups vocals like he did with Gym Class Heroes. I will go buy Frou Frou on your advice. I also loved that version in Shrek and wondered who it was.

Cathy Storms said...

I'm glad you mentioned Graham's CD. It took me a few times listening to it to really appreciate it, but it is one of my favorites. The only one I would add would be Kelly Clarkson's "My December". But I am such a fan of hers, anything she does is my favorite.

BullysE said...

Chris, I LOVE it when you share your music favs with us, and tell us Why you are liking them. This kind of stuff is just filled with awesome, simply because of the conversational tone to it all. I am nothing, without idea exchange.
(What makes human beings interesting, if they do not share that?) So yeah, loving the fodder.

I may not like the album/artists
you listed, but I totally respect your feelings and reasonings. (I too love you mention Blake and Jordin's album btw.)

My favs, since we are sharing--
It started with Aly and AJ, and their new Xmas CD last year. Then they came out with a fun Pop album, full of twists and turns, and we just loved it. You think you know how a song is going to go? and then a twist comes musically, and you go,"OOoo!" nice. It's fun, lyrically clean, and extrememly danceable. I have a young heart, so "Blush" and "Rollercoaster/Like Whoa" are my total favs on the album.

Then Blake came along, with AI madness, and all of a sudden this summer I was buying M5(at your urging here, which tipped the balance) and thinking about music stuff more. Because of You, I discovered DC Talk, whom I just LOVELOVELOVE. It was a quick hop to love TobyMac, whom now dominates the landscape here not already Blake-infested.

TobyMac's first album for us I was a little ??? about, but it quickly grew on me. Even better, is his second album which features Mandisa on it,"Portable Sounds."
It grows on you, if you like a more rock or hip vibe. It's hopelessly addictive.

Like Blake's ADD--Audio Day Dream. I'm not just saying this because I am a devoted fangirl. The more you listen, the more you like it. It invades your brain. It all made sense, when I read that Blake loves to write "hooks" for his songs, yeah. I'm not loving the alt/rock/punk vibe he and his band are giving the Live performances, but I'm along for the ride.

I have bought some albums I really liked, but the most enduring trademark of this year is my willingness to at least try and listen to some different stuff. Before I would have turned the channel at FOB or RiHanna or even JT. Now, I'm willing to give it a try, and sometimes? I'm glad I did.
:-)

slimpickens said...

What a gold mine here. I love it when you list your musical loves. I rush off to Rhapsody to hear all I'm unfamiliar with and just have a ball!

This will keep me busy for a LONG time.

Gotta agree w/ya on Derek Webb and Mercy Me's "God W/Us".

Many musical thanks, Chris.

dgmommie said...

Blake's album is just incredible! My family thinks I'm weird for being a fan of his, but I am. I asked for his cd for Christmas and got it. I love the music on there!

Nita said...

Chris, have you heard of James Morrison? He is a bluesy English singer. I think he is great, and they have quite a bit of his music on Youtube. Check him out.

Nita said...

I can't wait for your album to come out. I have been a fan since I first saw you on idol. You will do very well...

supabenben said...

Chris,
I just discovered Charlie Dodrill. A friend of mine gave me his CD for Christmas. Have you heard of him or listened to his album? He's a fellow Nashvillian from what I've heard. I'm not a musician or a critic, but his songs and especially the message in his songs have really hit me.

I love "What if I Would Say?". I can't get the song out of my head!

Anyway, it's on my list for best of 2007.

slimpickens said...

Supabenben:
Just checked out Charlie on Rhapsody. Wow! He's like a more youthful Chris Rice. I LOVE him.
They don't have his most recent album w/the song you mentioned but I'm lovin' his older album a LOT.

~clarissaNaz
Thankful you spread the word. :o)

BullysE said...

Wow, it's quiet in here, even with solicitation for Opinions on Fav Musics. Maybe everyone is like me, trying to get back in the swing of things, post-Holidays.

Reality is over-rated. just sayin'.
Also, 40mph winds with the promise of heavy rains? Not so much fun. That is all.

Hope everybody is safe and dry and warm. Stay healthy!

dharmabum1966 said...

Chris you've got some great albums listed for 2007. Here's one that wasn't on your list but it's so worth a listen: David Gray's Greatest Hits. I discovered Mr. Gray one night listening to Sirius radio and I was blown away. Since then I've become a huge fan and have told as many people as possible to listen to him. His vocals are so powerful and his lyrics are like an arrow through the heart. Give him a listen if you haven't already, Chris (or anyone else reading this!).

So glad to see that you have new music coming out. You and Blake were my favorites last year and it so ticked me off that Sanjaya stayed while you were sent packing. I'm sure he's a nice kid, but his continued presence was disastrous for two who shouldn't have gone as soon as they did (you and Gina).

Anyway, keep up the good work, you're great. I enjoy your talent immensely.

spthealien said...

Yes! I agree with you on MercyMe. The best album to come out before that was their previous album. And yours. Your's was definately listenable. It even had some playtime at my wedding.