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2007-12-27 - 1:51 p.m.

When it comes to music, there are no bad years, only years where Robyn Hitchcock doesn't put out a new studio album, just reissues that don't qualify for the big list...

But anyway, here's what I liked this year:

My favorite album of 2007:

Future Clouds and Radar - Future Clouds and Radar

Former Cotton Mather leader Robert Harrison takes the power-pop perfection of his previous band to giddy, diaphanous new heights; the songs are brilliant, the arrangements dazzling, and I admire the audacity of releasing a double-CD as a debut. Their show at Piano's this past spring was electrifying.

And all the others:

Kristin Hersh - Learn to Sing Like a Star

Here she combines the raw, psychotic energy of her old Throwing Muses days with the restrained, but no less sparkling, songcraft of her more recent albums, creating her own patented brand of acoustic rock.

Mavis Staples - We'll Never Turn Back

Inspiring songs, amazing vocals--I think I listened to "Eyes on the Prize" more than any other song this year. Mavis's free outdoor show this summer was also my favorite live performance of the year.

The Shins - Wincing the Night Away

It makes me uncomfortable when I find myself agreeing with critics (and Zach Braff), but every song here is a perfect gem.

Rickie Lee Jones - Sermon on Exposition Boulevard

This album sounds like Mary Margaret O'Hara fronting the Velvets--it is the sound of a late-career perfomer finding raw, beautiful inspiration again, and it is nothing like her previous work.

Super Furry Animals - Hey Venus!

Excellent pop tuneage from everybody's favorite Welshmen.

Okkervil River - The Stage Names

Seems like this got overlooked by the folks who got all misty about Black Sheep Boy , but I like this one just as much.

Caribou - Andorra

It's purty.

Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

Kevin Barnes writes nice melodies.

Life in a Blender - The Heart Is A Small Balloon

Funny, poignant, brilliant.

Love Camp 7 - Sometimes Always Never

Challenging psych-rock that sounds like the sun poking out from the clouds

Tinariwen - Aman Iman: Water Is Life

Trance-inducing Sub-Saharan homesick blues

Some great songs of 2007:

White Williams - "New Violence"

The National - "Fake Empire"

Budos band - "Scorpion"

Georgie James - "Cake Parade"

Stars - "My Favorite Book"

Grinderman - "Get it On"

Nick Lowe - "I Trained Her to Love Me"

Buck 65 - "Dang"

Green Pajamas - "Katie's Gone"

Imperial Teen - "What You Do"

PJ Harvey - "When Under Ether"

Richard Thompson - "Needle and Thread"

Spoon - "The Ghost of You Lingers"

Angels of Light - "Goodbye Mary Lou"

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