This year brought myriad musical genres out of the woodwork. Some albums flopped as soon as they hit the shelves, while others only grew as the weeks and months went on.


 

 

This year brought myriad musical genres out of the woodwork. Some albums flopped as soon as they hit the shelves, while others only grew as the weeks and months went on.

Legends returned strong, indie rock had success, and our neighbor to the north popped out some amazing albums from some amazing bands.

Here’s a look at my favorite albums from 2007 (and I bought about 100).

1. Kings of Leon, “Because of the Times”
Released: April 3
Why: A straightforward rock album that uses Caleb Followill’s vocals as an instrument alongside the standard guitar, drums and bass, while the four-piece family band blisters its way through 13 distortion-heavy songs.
Radio hit: “On Call”
Key song: “On Call”
Who would like it: Your aging uncle who still loves Lynyrd Skynyrd.

2. The Arcade Fire, “Neon Bible”
Released: March 6
Why: The quintessential band that defines the word “indie,” the Canadian seven-piece shows it has staying power (after two albums) with anathematic songs and a bevy of musical instruments.
Radio hit: “Keep the Car Running”
Key song: “No Cars Go”
Who would like it: Your parents who listen to classic-rock radio.

3. Bruce Springsteen, “Magic”
Released: Oct. 2
Why: In his best work since “Born to Run,” the Boss returns with strong lyrics and rumbling guitar-heavy music, while keeping the political angst he’s known for. It truly is magic.
Radio hit: “Radio Nowhere”
Key song: “Long Walk Home”
Who would like it: Your dad who wore out his copy of “Born to Run.” And there’s nothing wrong with that.

4. Against Me!, “New Wave”
Released: July 10
Why: Florida pop/punk rockers rebel against the world today with 4/4 beats and power chords, yet show us all that rough-cut vocals are more heartfelt than scary.
Radio hit: “Thrash Unreal”
Key song: “Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart”
Who would like it: Your sibling who loves Green Day, yet wants to grow up a little.

5. Ryan Adams, “Easy Tiger”
Released: June 26
Why: After dabbling in everything from country to blues to rock ’n’ roll, Adams cleans up (he’s sober and drug-free) and returns with his best album, wearing his heart on his sleeve with hauntingly beautiful ballads of love and loss.
Radio hit: “Two”
Key song: “Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.”
Who would like it: Your mom who only knows Adams from 2001’s “New York, New York.”

6. Wilco, “Sky Blue Sky”
Released: May 15
Why: Chicago’s own alt-country band returns strong with lighter, softer songs that glisten with electric guitar outbursts and Jeff Tweedy’s emotion-heavy screams. No wonder Volkswagen used the album to sell cars.
Radio hit: “Either Way”
Key song: “You Are My Face”
Who would like it: Your co-workers who want to expand their musical tastes.

7. Spoon, “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”
Released: July 10
Why: Britt Daniel knows how to use the guitar on the Texas band’s sixth album, which glistens with horns, piano, distortion and vocal melodies, while toying with Radiohead-esque digital effects.
Radio hit: “The Underdog”
Key song: “Don’t You Evah”
Who would like it: Your friends who want to get their feet wet in indie rock.

8. Dustin Kensrue, “Please Come Home”
Released: Jan. 23
Why: The Thrice front man straps on an acoustic guitar, writes some blues-based songs and vents over eight tracks. Side projects are tough for lead singers; Kensrue gets it right the first — and hopefully not last — time out.
Radio hit: “I Knew You Before”
Key song: “Weary Saints”
Who would like it: Anyone you know who loves the blues.

9. Albert Hammond Jr., “Yours to Keep”
Released: March 6
Why: Guitarist for the Strokes proves he’s more than just a body behind a guitar. Following in his father’s footsteps, Hammond Jr., too, can write catchy, New York-rock songs. Watch out, Julian Casablancas.
Radio hit: “In Transit”
Key song: “101”
Who would like it: Your cousin who loves the Strokes.

10. The New Pornographers, “Challengers”
Released: Aug. 21
Why: Coming off strong after “Twin Cinema,” the Canadian power-pop band glistens with its multiple members and variety and musical instruments that transcend the typical structure of a song.
Radio hit: “My Rights Versus Yours”
Key song: “Unguided”
Who would like it: Your aunt, who likes the melodic-yet-catchy stuff.

Honorable mentions:

The Frames, “The Cost”
Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, “Lifeline”
Kanye West, “Graduation”
Silverchair, “Young Modern”
The National, “The Boxer”

The criteria:

No live albums. (Sorry, Pearl Jam. Your seven-disc box set is out.)
No greatest hits. (Sorry, Goo Goo Dolls)
No compilations. (Sorry, “Now Vol. 254”)
No soundtracks, unless all the songs are new material by the same artist/band. (Sorry, “Transformers” soundtrack.)
Only albums released in the U.S. in 2007 are fair game. (Sorry, Sloan. Your album came out in Canada in 2006)

Rockford Register Star