Music: The Best of 2007, Rick's List

(Editor's Note: This is the fifth part in a series of lists reviewing the notable music of 2007. To see the beginning of the series, please go here.)

by Rick Rockwell

1) Radiohead – In Rainbows
The leaders of alternative pack, Radiohead have produced a moody, edgy soundtrack for our disturbed times. This is every bit the equal of 1997's masterpiece, OK Computer. (For a discussion of the controversial and innovative marketing of In Rainbows, please see: "What Did You Pay for that Radiohead Download?")

2) Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Dave Grohl and his band seem to improve on each record. The eclecticism and depth of this release may convince some (finally) that Grohl and the Foos are every bit equal to that little band that gave him his big break: Nirvana.

3) Bruce Springsteen & The E St. Band
– Magic
With the best backing band in the world, how can Springsteen not succeed? This is head and shoulders better than The Rising from 2002. With songs like "Radio Nowhere" and "Last to Die," Springsteen proves protest music is not dead.

4) The White Stripes – Icky Thump
The sixth release from the Detroit duo continues to demonstrate that these garage rockers can inject as much adrenaline into a song as bands with three times the personnel. The White Stripes show rock and blues delivered with a devilish grin doesn't get old. (For a full review of Icky Thump, please go here.)

5) Rush – Snakes & Arrows
Some folks still don't get this group's blend of progressive rock with metallic edges, even after 37 years of recording. Snakes & Arrows is easily the Canadian band's best in more than a decade. Check out the hypnotic pull of "Spindrift," for one of the best examples.

Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
With a definitive radio breakthrough in 2007 behind the FM single "The Underdog," Spoon may no longer be considered cutting edge by some. No matter. This is the band's most accessible release to date, filled with plenty of major chord rocking nuggets. (For a full review of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, please go here.)

7) Wilco
– Sky Blue Sky
Jeff Tweedy, Wilco's leader, wants to sound like a 21st Century version of Bob Dylan and he's assembled the group to make it happen. Not much noisy experimentation here, as in the past. Think of this as Wilco's version of Dylan & The Band working on The Basement Tapes. (For a full review of Sky Blue Sky with a different take, please check here.)

8) Neil Young – Chrome Dreams II
This is a throwback release from Young, a pastiche of pieces that feature his electric side and many of these cuts have actually been in the vault for years. Still, the effort crackles. This is easily Young's best release in the past decade. (For a full review of Chrome Dreams II, please go here.)

9) Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raising Sand
Take one part Led Zeppelin and one part bluegrass country via Union Station. Mix liberally. (Shake. Don't stir.) The result is a surprisingly smooth blend. The bossa nova stylings of the duo's cover of "Gone Gone Gone (Done Me Wrong)" go down like a vodka martini should.

10) Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – Living with the Living
These D.C. punkers are still flying under the radar, which is a shame. This release has the wattage of a lightning bolt. For all those who are rightfully mesmerized by The Hives' single, "Tick Tick Boom" try Leo & The Pharmacists' "Bomb. Repeat. Bomb." instead. Thrilling. (To read an ode to Ted Leo & The Pharmacists and other under-appreciated bands, please see the essay "It's Still Rock 'n Roll to Me," which also features a video of "Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.")

To sample some of the other reviews in this series, please check:

(To see the next review in the series, please go here.)

(Photo of Radiohead performing in San Diego by Travis Hornung of Encinitas, CA via Flickr, using a Creative Commons License. To see a video of Radiohead performing "Jigsaw Falling into Place" from In Rainbows on a live webcast, please check below.)

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Moshable Music said...

Bruce Springsteen & The E St. Band
With the best backing band in the world.I am not able to understand that how can you say that these are the bast . i hardly heard them .

Rick Rockwell said...

Sorry to hear that you have missed out on the E St. Band. Some of the recent posts have featured them. You could check out the band on TV here. Or you can find them in a recent podcast here. Of course, that’s only Christmas music.

Or you could check out this classic version of ”Candy’s Room”. Or how about the current single ”Radio Nowhere”?

If you have followed Springsteen, you know the E St. Band pushes him and focuses his music unlike any of the other bands he’s assembled.

Anonymous said...

Fans of Bruce Springsteen are not only devoted but articulate about why they worship the Boss. The new book 'For You: Original Stories & Photographs by Bruce Springsteen's Legendary Fans' is the work of disciples from Boise to Barcelona. The mayor of Delray Beach, Fla., says it best: 'Bruce fans are a fraternity - we share something deep and special, a relationship with the artist and with each other.

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