Ok, everybody else was making their lists so sue me, I made my own. Here are the picks:
1. The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse
I’ve fallen in love with this albums murky, layered songs which combine pop songcraft, sophistication and experimentation into something that is classic yet contemporary. It’s indie but it’s not like every other indie-pop album that’s invading the shelves of Rotate Disc. The first time I heard it I didn’t know what was going on; but I knew SOMETHING was definitly going on. Five listens later I was able to delve into the depths of this gorgeous album and discover the beauty of it’s construction. This album is 2007s “Dark Side of the Moon”.
2. Sunset Rubdown – Random Spirit Lover
Produced by the Besnard Lakes’ Jace Lasek, on Spencer Krug’s third album with Sunset Rubdown, he basically explodes the potential he displayed on last years fantastic “I am Dreaming of a Place Where Lovers Have Wings”. This album is bursting with creativity and excitement as keyboards, guitars and cardboard-box-sounding drums are beaten with all the fantastic youthful adrenaline rush of children discovering music for the first time. Spencer Krug is like a child whose dreams won’t stay inside his head. He expresses them in brilliant surreal imagery that rarely makes sense (to me at least) but the universe created is a lovely one to get lost in.
3. The New Pornographers – Challengers
A.C. Newman and crew decide it’s time to grow up. It’s sad but it’s also resulted in their music growing from childish delight into sophisticated artwork. This album got the Pornos their worst reviews yet, but I think those who stuck around and held their faith in Newman and crew were richly rewarded with an album that dared to mature the band and become something entirely new. Songs like “My Rights Vs. Yours” and the gorgeous “Go Places” prove that growing up doesn’t mean dulling down. They’re heartfelt and more meaningful than anything the porno’s have ever lay to wax. “Adventures in Solitude”, with it’s little “We thought we’d lost you/we thought we’d lost you/welcome back” bit, is heartbreaking. Dan Bejar rises to the challenge and delivers his best ever NP songs with the fantastic (and pretty funny) “Myriad Harbour”, the beautiful “Entering White Cecilia” and the great closer “The Spirit Of Giving”.
4. The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
For the first couple months, everyone was all like “Funeral is better”. Then a bit later everyone was like “actually…Neon Bible’s pretty damn good…”. The Arcade Fire decide to dive headfirst into the darkness of the world and they created a haunting album filled with striking lyrics and majestic orchestral arrangements. Whenever I get my hands on a violin I can’t resist running through the uplifting “Keep the Car Running” and “No Cars Go”.
5. The Thrills – Teenager
Most underrated album ever. The Thrills deliver one of the most classic and consistenly fantastic albums of the year with the appropriately titled “Teenager”. The album poignantly captures the sadness and excitement of our classic teenage years of love, lust, frustration and excitement. The Thrills sound charged with inspiration as their hearts pour out gems like “The Midnight Choir”, “This Year”, “Nothing Changes Round Here” and the sparkling “I Came All This Way”. “I’m So Sorry” makes my eyes water, it’s just so touching. Conor Deasy’s voice is a jewel. Following the Wilson brothers before him, he sounds as if he might be just trying to get these few words out before he breaks down and cries. Like the sunrise after that all nighter or the sunset after sex, “Teenager” is that moment when life’s promise has been fulfilled – but it’s only just begining.
6. BSS Presents Kevin Drew – Spirit If…
Kevin Drew grabbed a bunch of his BSS friends and they all had a great time recording a bunch of great songs that the Feist-dating bastard penned. While the lyrics are fucking ridiculous as usual, that’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way Drew writes and occasionally the scronk he ends up with is beautiful and honest amidst the logical and even grammatical errors. The music is pure BSS joy with indie-rock guitars, beat-tastic drums, synths, horns, violins and the greatest female voices in Canada all doing their part to make Drews compositions come to life in the gorgeous, blissful indie-rock style that BSS has claimed as their own. The two singles “Backed Out On the…” and “TBTF” are both fantastic but it’s gems like “The Lucky Ones” that make “Spirit If…” one more fantastic album to add to the gazillion in the fantastic BSS-related discography.
7. The White Stripes – Icky Thump
I dont know what makes Icky Thump work as a single but somehow it did. If you ask me, it’s a cool song but it’s not a classic kick-ass single in the way that “Seven Nation Army”, “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” and “Blue Orchid” were. Anyways, the album attatched to it sees Jack White rejoicing in the powers of rock once more after the subtly-dark Get Behind Me Satan. Jack’s packed up and moved to Nashville, gotten married and already had a kid since that album so it’s not a big surprise that Icky Thump sounds a bit different from the last masterpeice. As usual, the White Stripes experimentation continues without sacrificing their pop genuis in songs like “Prickly Thorn but Sweetly Worn” (better known as the one with the bagpipes) and their brilliant cover of “Conquest”. Other songs such as “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “I’m Slowly Turning Into You” are jam packed with hooks and sharp lyrics.
8. Feist – The Reminder
This album is lower on the list because it’s a bit messy but it is one fucking hell of a classic if I ever heard one. In comparison to the warm and emotional “The Reminder”, “Let It Die” feels cold and plastic. “The Reminder” feels like a labour of love that was destined to be something special. All the little touches that make this album special (bird chirps, the atmospheric recording location) paid off and now, what do you know, Feist’s a fucking superstar. Shut the fuck up hipsters! Your gonna complain that now I might just hear a half decent song when I turn on the radio? Feist has proven with this album that she’s a cut above every other chanteuse with a smooth voice and a good dosage of “auditorium” reverb.
9. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
“Maybe the sun will shine today/the clouds will go away/maybe I won’t be so afraid.” This year I realized something – Jeff Tweedy is a fucking master. The guy writes lyrics better than 99% of other lyricists out there. I’ve read his lyrics and they’re fucking serious literature. On this album Tweedy continues to move further away from the experimentalism that characterized the band’s classic “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”. This however, is not a bad thing because Tweedy continues to improve his songwriting and everything changes only in less technological ways. The addition of Nels Cline to the lineup makes a big difference especially in the orgasm-worthy jam in “Impossible Germany”. The album ends with the gorgeous “On and On and On” which rises and falls with an epic string arrangement.
10. Miracle Fortress – Five Roses
Yes, I think I enjoyed this album more than “In Rainbows”, “Person Pitch”, “Strawberry Jam” and “Kala”. Those are all fine and incredibly accomplished albums but Miracle Fortress’s Beach Boys-as-interpreted-by-My-Bloody-Valent
ine production hits me in a special place. It’s not even the songs, some of which are amazing (“Hold Your Secrets To Your Self”, “Have You Seen In Your Dreams”) but its just the feel of this whole album and the potential displayed. I wish more albums just shimmered with the psychedelic rainbow sunshine pop of this album.