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12.30.07 Top Five Alumbs Of 200710.13.07 My Top Ten Favorite Albums

Top Five Alumbs Of 2007
1Minus the Bear
Planet of Ice

I was a little surprised to see the track-listing for Planet of Ice had no silly song titles like older gems such as "Hey! Is that a Ninja up There?" or "Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!" The song titles weren't the only thing that had changed about Minus the Bear. The album's sound is noticeably more solemn, mature, and (dare I say) cold compared to it's older, more playful stuff. Planet of Ice really is the perfect way to describe the new sound. The opening track [Burying Luck] starts the album off with a song about watching as some guy takes his luck, his money, and his girl and the hopelessness of the situation. Most of the album follows this sort of theme throughout: the shock of realizing your best years are gone (cross the border man), replaced by a cold, patterned existence. Though much different, and much more solemn, I feel it is a much more developed sound musically. Planet of Ice seems to trade it's signature upbeat tunes with its unique tapping style guitars for much more developed, somewhat progressive, sounds. The heavier emphasis on the synthesizer and keyboards opens up many new doors musically for the band, and the result is some of the best song-writing they've ever produced. I would have to say this is already my favorite Minus the Bear album, and my favorite album of the year.
2Streetlight Manifesto
Somewhere in the Between

When a band debut's with an album as good as Everything Went Numb, they are usually haunted by it's success, forever being compared to "their old stuff." A lot of people were worried after a pretty disappointed re-release of Catch 22's Keasbey Nights, but Streetlight bounced back hard with this new release. This album is pretty typical Streetlight Manifesto: catchy tunes, anthemic lyrics, and impressive musicianship. Rather than duplicating the sound of Everything Went Numb though, Somewhere In Between has it's own original sound. Though still focusing on themes of betrayal, frustrated rebellion, and tough times, the album generally has a much more hopeful outlook compared to some pretty bleak lyrics in Everything Went Numb. While I feel that none of the songs on this album can compare to older songs like Point/Counterpoint, there isn't a bad track on this album.
In Rainbows

It's pretty hard for me to believe Radiohead can come out with anything that can top OK Computer, but they certainly don't disappoint with this new release. After returning a little to their rock roots with Hail to the Thief, In Rainbows bounces back to their darker-sounding, electronically fueled sounds with a result that is somewhere in between Kid A and Amnesiac with its own unique twist. Although its hard to describe a "typical" Radiohead sound, as usual In Rainbows is filled with dark lyrics behind a veil of catchy pop tunes.
The album starts strong with the opening track 15 Step sporting a pretty twisted electronic drum beat that slowly filters to clean guitar riff with a much more mellow sound, building to the song's climax with the original electronic beat. It remains pretty solid throughout with songs like Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, All I Need, and Jigsaw Falling Into Place standing out. I wasn't really impressed with the final song Videotape, but only because I feel there are much better songs on the album.
4Arcade Fire
Neon Bible

It's hard to follow up a full-length debut like Funeral, but the Arcade Fire sure got close, and arguably succeeded with Neon Bible. I was pretty disappointed with the album at first; the undeniably catchy tunes that made up a large portion of Funeral were pretty absent in this album with the exception of a few songs. After a few listens though, I began to appreciate how good this album really is. What the album lacks in catchiness, it makes up with beautiful orchestration, poweful lyrics about genuine struggles, and more mature sound. Win's voice really mellows out in this album, and the musical talent of the band really begins to show itself. Whether or not this album is better than Funeral will basically depend on individual tastes in music, but it will be interesting to see if the Arcade Fire will be able to consistently put out albums this good.
5 Iron and Wine
The Shepherd's Dog

If you were an Iron and Wine fan and knew nothing about this album, you would probably except a typical Sam Beam with an acoustic guitar and his hushed voice whispering cryptic, but beautiful stories to soft, folk-pop melodies. Within the first few seconds of the first song though, it's obvious The Shepard's Dog is different: multiple instruments, regular percussion, and little bit of electronic experimentation. The beauty of this album is that rather than having these added elements completely ruin the classic Iron & Wine sound we know and love, they complement it perfectly. Sam Beam manages to create a new sound while still sounding like himself.
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