Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ryan's Top 10: Number 10

Fresh off a heartbreaking defeat in my fantasy football playoffs, I've decided to drown my sorrows in some of the best albums to grace my ears this year.

I've been sitting on this Top Ten list for the better part of a month now, all because I couldn't come up with a clever introduction to yet another Top Ten list. The real problem, however, was that my lack of something to say that plagued my intro certainly did not carry over to writing about the albums themselves. Each album write-up ended up being slightly longer than what I originally planned, and I didn't want to cut anything down. So rather than posting one gargantuan post, I've decided to break this up into a series of ten posts. Yes, I'm going to make this as painful as possible for everyone involved.

Now, I realize many may not particularly care what albums I think are the best of this past year, but I'm going to grace you with my opinions anyways. The thing I'd like us all to keep in mind, however, is what exactly the word "best" means.

Now, applying a term such as "best" to music is a very difficult thing to do. I don't know what makes an album better than another album. Seriously. I think a lot of people THINK they know, but i don't think they actually do. What I DO know though is what albums I've enjoyed the most throughout the past year. And that's what you'll find here. A completely subjective list of my favorite albums. I tried to take into account the potential "staying power" associated with an album, meaning is there a decent chance that an album might still be in regular rotation with me in 5-10 years. If so, I considered it for Top Ten status. If not, it was demoted. So, I hope you enjoy reading about the albums I've enjoyed, and I hope I do a decent job of conveying why I particularly like each album, all I ask is that if you enjoy any of these songs, or albums, that you purchase the albums mentioned. These are the albums of 2007 that I think are most worth your money. Also, I'd love to hear your opinions. So, if you've got time, let me know why you like (or don't like) these albums. I'd love to hear some most likely better thought out opinion's than just my own.

So, without further ado, on to the list....but first I should mention a few albums that just barely missed the cut. These five albums were all good enough to be included, but as I'm limited in the number of albums I can include, they were unfortunately left off.

My Honorable Mentions

Iron and Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog

My favorite Iron and Wine album remains the coeffort with Calexico. I really think the backing band adds an extra element to Sam Beam’s song writing that enhances most of the songs. The Shepherd’s Dog follows a similar format for the first time, with a backing band approach compared to the more solo previous record Our Endless Numbered Days. The Shepherd’s Dog also comes off slightly more eclectic than Beam’s previous efforts. I very much enjoyed the direction he decided to take with this album.

Iron and Wine - The Devil Never Sleeps

Bishop Allen – The Broken String

Most of the songs on this album were accumulated from their monthly EP effort from 2006, making it a “greatest hits” of sorts. The high point of the record hits very early with an excellent trifecta of songs leading off the album in “The Monitor”, “Rain”, and “Click Click Click Click”. While some of the songs might be a little poppy for some, but an overall nice effort on their second album.

Bishop Allen - Rain

Pela – Anytown Graffiti

A gem of an album that I gotta give total props to eMusic for. I had never heard of Pela, but thanks to some bored, emusic surfing, I stumbled upon Anytown Graffiti. It’s a collection of mostly uptempo indie rock songs, few of which disappoint. Its been one of my most pleasant surprises of 2007.

Pela - Tenement Teeth

The Shins – Wincing the Night Away

Wincing the Night Away, on the other hand, was one of my more disappointing albums of 2007. Not THE most disappointing album (Billy Corgan is holding down that spot with his Smashing Pumpkins “resurrection”), but disappointing nonetheless, despite finding its way into my Honorable Mentions. I realize a lot of people think very highly of this record, but after The Shins first two albums, I was expecting something that was going to stick with me a little more than this one has. Regardless, its not a bad album, I just wanted a little more.

The Shins - Sleeping Lessons

The White Stripes – Icky Thump

I think the fact that Icky Thump didn’t even make my Top Ten says more about the quality of new music in 2007 than it does about the record itself. Icky Thump is a very strong album, containing, quite possibly, the rockingest song of 2007 in its title track. That heart-thumping drumming, and weird instrumental solos puts it as one of my favorite songs of the year. There’s more to the album though, it’s a good collection of hard rocking songs that were absent for the most part from their previous effort.

The White Stripes - Little Cream Soda

Finally, the list:

#10 Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger

So, Ryan Adams puts out a lot of albums. We’re all pretty confident that’s a valid statement. It’s gotten to the point where you can’t read an Adams-related article or review without him being accused of being “prolific” as if to indicate this was an insult or an unwanted quality from a song-writer. Now listen, I’ll be the first to admit…not every Ryan Adams song is an “Oh My Sweet Carolina” and not every album a Heartbreaker. But that doesn’t mean that Adams isn’t constantly producing good songs. Every album has been a good, listenable album. That being said I’ve probably listened to Easy Tiger less than any other album in my Top Ten (maybe that’s why I’ve relegated it to the TenSpot, who knows). But I don’t need to listen to the album 100 times to know what it sounds like, and to know that I like it. 6 or 7 Ryan Adams in, I like to think I’ve pretty much got the hang of this now. Easy Tiger falls in line with a lot of the others, however, what separates this one from the 29’s and the Demolition’s is the consistency. I can pick up listening at just about any point throughout the album and enjoy the rest of the way through. I don’t mean that to say that the songs are interchangeable, just that they’re all good Ryan Adams songs, making Easy Tiger a collection of good Ryan Adams songs, and thus a good album. In addition, there probably isn’t a more heart-wringing, gut-wrenching song I’ve heard all year than “I Taught Myself How to Grow Old”. The harmonica kills me, and is quite possibly my favorite single part of just about any Ryan Adams song out there..........on second thought, I’d put the line about missing Kentucky and the winds blowing across the South on “Carolina” slightly ahead….but you get the point. I was hesitant when I first got Easy Tiger, with my thinking being, I already know what I’m going to hear, but I was wrong. I didn’t expect the constant quality throughout the entire album. I’m very glad I purchased the album.

Ryan Adams - I Taught Myself How to Grow Old

Ryan Adams - Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.



Nolan Smith said...

My top 10 Ryan Adams Songs
By Nolan Smith

Come Pick Me Up
This House is Not for Sale
Strawberry Wine
La Cienega Just Smiled (Gold)
Political Scientists
When the Stars go Blue
Anybody Wanna Take Me Home
I see Monsters
Thank you Louise

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