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Best Of 2007

03-Jan-2008 05:23 AM Contributed by: pete Music News
Just like last year, I decided to wait until January before publishing the obligatory Best Of Last Year article. As the year comes to a close, there are good concerts, good times, good friends, and good parties. The kind of events that can make you feel all happy and full of life. But then the new year comes and you're left with reality again. Exactly the frame of mind for picking out the real winners. And so, after a day of cold weather, sobriety, and my first day back at work, here are my picks.

The categories are:
  • Top 10 Concerts
  • Most Memorable Photo
  • Top 10 Albums
  • Biggest Disappointment


Top 10 Concerts

Last year I picked just one concert for best of 2006. Looking back, that seems a tad restrictive, so for 2007 I decided to compile a list and 10 seemed like a good number. Looking through my shots from 2007, I estimate that I photographed about 175 bands/musicians, so having a list of top 10 doesn't seem that unreasonable. Researching for this category is a good time in itself because it means I have to go back through all my articles from last year and remember each and every concert. So many great concerts, a few decent shows, and very few duds.

The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady

The Opera House, August 6th
Okkervil River
Okkervil River

Lee's Palace, September 21st
The Golden Dogs
The Golden Dogs

Lee's Palace, May 25th
Joel Plaskett
Joel Plaskett Emergency

The Horseshoe, December 11th
The Frames
The Frames

Phoenix, April 20th
Tapes 'n Tapes
Tapes 'n Tapes

Lee's Palace, May 16th
Young Galaxy
Young Galaxy
The Besnard Lakes

The Horseshoe, October 12th
Ben Folds
Ben Folds

Koolhaus, April 6th
illScarlett
illScarlett

The Opera House, December 21st
Constantines
Constantines

Lee's Palace, March 30th

Well there it is. Except the honourable mentions, which are: White Cowbell Oklahoma @ The Horseshoe, Run With The Kittens @ The Horseshoe, Pilot Speed @ The Mod Club, Attack In Black @ The Horseshoe, Rheostatics @ The Horseshoe, and Revival Dear @ The Dakota.

Most Memorable Photo

After photographing all those bands, and sifting through thousands of photos, there are some photos that just stand out. But there was one photo I took this year that stood out more than all the rest. It was of something I just never thought I would ever see out at a concert. I give you White Cowbell Oklahoma:
White Cowbell Oklahoma
White Cowbell Oklahoma

The Horseshoe, June 8th

Top 10 Albums

I always find this task tricky, since it could be a completely subjective exercise. So I add an element of objectivity using my iTunes statistics and ratings to help expose which albums I tend to rate highest and listen to the most. (It can't be all statistics, though, since not all albums are released on the same day). To add to the difficulty, I include albums from 2006 that I didn't discover until 2007 (it seems unfair to exclude albums entirely just because I was slow to learn about them). In case you're wondering, I added 171 albums to my collection this year.

The Slip / Eisenhower
Released in 2006, but didn't make it into my collection until March 26th, 2007. I liked it when I first heard it, but the songs burrowed deeper into my brain on each listen. I listed this album as Pete's Pick in October. My favourite song from the CD has changed over time and is currently Children Of December, but has previously been Paper Birds, Airplane/Primitive, and The Soft Machine.

Info: The Slip | Connect: MySpace
Okkervil River / The Stage Names
The Stage Names was an excellent follow-up to Black Sheep Boy, and it on its own it may have already been a contender for this list, but seeing Okkervil River at Lee's Palace changed the way I will listen to this album forever. Even though their performance wasn't visually outstanding, the set list sequence along with calibre of songwriting and musicianship stuck with me. Heavily. And now this album is without doubt one of my most-listened CDs of 2007.

Info: Okkervil River | Connect: MySpace
Ride Your Bike / Bad News From The Bar
Sent to me as a submission for review, I put off listening to this CD for weeks mostly due to the extremely basic home-made packaging (not shown). Eventually I gave it a listen and ended up writing up a short review in March. From there the CD continued to grow on me. Since then, Ride Your Bike has signed with Deep Elm Records and received revised cover art (shown). This excellent piece of alt-indie work is now available on iTunes, amazon.com, and other digital sites.

Info: Ride Your Bike | Connect: MySpace
Young Galaxy / Young Galaxy
I learned about Young Galaxy when I saw them open for The Frames. The set was good so I picked up their album and got hooked on Swing Your Heartache and Lazy Religion immediately. After picking this CD as one of two Pete's Pick selections in July, I went to see / photograph them again at The Horseshoe in October. Amazing album, great band.

Info: Young Galaxy | Connect: MySpace
Modest Mouse / We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
Modest Mouse has the ability to create radio-friendly music that stays true to their experimental indie roots. It's always amazing to hear how that comes together, and this album is probably their best example.

Info: Modest Mouse | Connect: MySpace
The Frames / The Cost
Brilliant album that I only heard once before heading out to see their amazing show at the Phoenix. That show pushed it into my regular playlists and, like all the other albums in this list, I made a strong connection with it.

Info: The Frames | Connect: MySpace
Rogue Wave / Asleep At Heaven's Gate
I was already a fan when this album arrived, and although I like many songs on this album, such as Chicago X12, Lake Michigan, and Lullaby, it is the song Cheaper Than Therapy that makes it for me. It is one of my top tracks of the year, but sadly it was absent from their set when they played in Toronto recently.

Info: Rogue Wave | Connect: MySpace
Kings Of Leon / Because Of The Times
Maybe not the best album by the Kings Of Leon, but that doesn't stop it from being it from being a great album overall. Specifically, the tracks Charmer, On Call, Ragoo, and Camaro are the ones responsible for inclusion here. This album was followed-up by a great set at the Koolhaus in June.

Info: Kings Of Leon | Connect: MySpace
Spoon / Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Spoon's 2005 album Gimme Fiction was a strong offering, and although Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga uses the same foundation, it takes their sound one step further, all put together with great production value. They also played a very decent set in Toronto to help promote this album.

Info: Spoon | Connect: MySpace
The Figgs / Follow Jane Through The Sea
Released in 2006, but didn't find me until June 2007. With nuances of Bono and Lenny Kravitz crossed with guitar-pop hooks, this album is a good listen over and over. Listed as Pete's Pick in July.

Info: The Figgs | Connect: MySpace

Runner-up albums: Band of Horses - Cease To Begin, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Broom, The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour, The Comas - Spells, Wilco - Sky Blue Sky, Silverchair - Young Moderns, The Sea and Cake - One Bedroom, Radiohead - In Rainbows, Attack In Black - Marriage, Apples In Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder, Against Me! - New Wave, Ladyhawk - Ladyhawk (2006) , and Pride Tiger - The Lucky Ones. All of these bands are worth checking out.

I enjoy reading other people's top 10 lists, so feel free to leave a comment below with a link to your top 10 list. I like to agree and disagree, I like to hear about why, but mostly I like to discover new music. And it's not just any music, it's music that people have a strong connection with and like it so much they're willing to lay it out in a top 10 list for me.

Biggest Disappointment

Honestly, I've only been listening to the Rheostatics for about 3-4 years now, which I realize is only a small portion of their career. Sometimes that's just the way it works out. As my collection of their music grew, so did my interest, and the timing finally worked out for me to get out and see them on stage. For their farewell show. Okay, actually, their pre-farewell show at The Horseshoe. I wish I had been able to get out to see them sooner, but now my only hope to see them again is a some sort of reunion show.

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Best Of 2007
Authored by: Anonymous on 16-Jan-2008 06:22 AM
Hey pete. No link, but here are my 2cents for best of 2007. A little different, but some common threads as always:

10. Justice - Cross

9. Apostle of Hustle - The National Anthem of Nowhere (A little inconsistent, but the good songs are really damn good)

8. Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero (For some reason I was way too into the viral marketing campaign surrounding this. Loved the album for a stretch, but then just seemed to forget about it for some reason)

7. Panda Bear - Pearson Pitch

6. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (Has perhaps the two best singles of 2007?)

5. Radiohead - In Rainbows (Must admit, I never thought a Radiohead album would be in my top 10 again)

4. Young Galaxy - Young Galaxy (Agree that this is a damn fine album - still have not had a chance to see them live)

3. Against Me! - New Wave (I was a little late to the party but damn, this is pretty much a pop masterpiece. I tend to get the same feeling listening to this as I did with some of those albums in the grunge heyday. You've done it again you rascally Vig, you.)

2. Beirut - The Flying Club Cup (I defy you to not love it)

1. Deerhunter - Cryptograms / Florescent Grey EP (Three acts in two parts and still absolutely incredible and compelling every listen. To give some context to my obsession, Winamp says I listened to each of these songs between 27 and 114 times and that is just on my home PC)