The good news is that 2007 may have been the best music year of the century so far. The bad news is that 2008 will now almost certainly suck in comparison and based on the current trend, we won't see another year of this magnitude until at least 2014.
If you were listening to the radio, you probably didn't notice. But that's why I'm here. To lead you astray from all the nonsense that gets shoved down your throat by old, white radio programmers. And if you see a tie here and there, something I'm normally supremely opposed to, it's only because this was probably the best year for music since Kurt Cobain shattered many of my dreams by checking out prematurely. So, I had to pull out all the stops. Please forgive me/Enjoy the series.
Radio Free Montreal
50. The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse (Jagjaguwar)
Some album titles fit just perfectly. You can't help but root for true dark horses like the Besnard Lakes who seem to live humbly in the past and feel pretty good about it, even when the melodies sound oh so sad. The haunting auras often create the feel of modern day chamber music, but their affinity for Beach Boys' style harmonies takes away the bite of any possible melancholy in the air and makes the overall sound much more compatible.
Even though the music has been known to make me smile on occasion, I still have to say that this may best be used as a break-up album. Put this on while driving nowhere fast at midnight or when you're home alone and trying to sleep but the house just feels too big and your mind is way too busy. This will bring you back to where you need to be or make you feel better about where you are.
For fans of: the Beach Boys; Simon & Garfunkel's "the Boxer"; Panda Bear; Wolf Parade; the Dears
Leaders of the Graduate School
49. (tie) Jay-Z - American Gangster (Roc-A-Fella)
49. (tie) Kanye West - Graduation (Roc-A-Fella)
With his infectious balance and maturity, Jay-Z sounds like a reformed gangster even when he's channeling his inner Frank Lucas. Everything he raps about sounds cool, but somehow it still doesn't seemed glorified and definitely never shoved down your throat. It's less Krs-1-like knowledge than it is a cautionary tale.
It's kind of like the film that inspired it, but Jay-Z has a lot more to lose than Frank Lucas had and that may be why he holds back just enough. Luckily the songs don't suffer from his many moments of clarity. Not only does Jay-Z know what going too far is, but he knows exactly what works. The only thing that prevents this from being labeled a classic are the few moments of pure filler. But when Jay-Z is on, he's still on top of the world and no matter how much extra credit Mr. West turns in, he's still got some catching up to do.