A Remarkable Year: Robin Hilton's Top Ten CDs for 2007

It was a particularly incredible year for music. Everyone I wanted an album from delivered one: the Shins, the White Stripes, the Shout Out Louds, Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse and many, many more. There were some wonderful new discoveries along the way (Ben Sollee, Le Loup), and some disappointments (Wilco). But overall it was one of the most rewarding years for music in recent memory.

In choosing the ten best CDs of 2007, I looked for three things: 1. CDs I know I'll go back to years from now; 2. CDs with a sound I felt compelled to share with someone immediately after hearing; and 3. artists/bands that broke from convention and tried something different.

More 2007 Top Tens From:

Bob Boilen, Tom Moon, Will Hermes, Meredith Ochs

Listener Picks for 2007

A Remarkable Year: Robin Hilton's Top Ten CDs for 2007

Cover for Writer's Block [US Bonus CD]

10.

  • Artist: Peter Bjorn and John
  • Album: Writer's Block
  • Song: Young Folks

Actually, this was originally released in 2006, but re-released in 2007, which is the year everyone discovered them. Who could get the whistled melodies on this album out of their head? It's one of the most addictive collections of songs I've heard in ages. Writer's Block wasn't a brilliant album -- just a ridiculously infectious album I know I'll go back to again and again for years.

Song: "Young Folks"

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Young Folks"
  • Album: Writer's Block [US Bonus CD]
  • Artist: Peter Bjorn and John
  • Label: Columbia
 
Cover for Challengers

09.

  • Artist:
  • Album:
  • Song: Myriad Harbor

It's the best album they've ever done. They've got a distinct, tight sound that's never felt so mature and fully evolved. The New Pornographers are a particularly melodic band (something you don't hear a lot of today) and the songs that make up this album are among the more thoughtful and inspired I heard this year. Challengers has a permanent place in my most-popular CD list.

Song: "Myriad Harbor"

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Myriad Harbor"
  • Album: Challengers
  • Artist: The New Pornographers
  • Label: Matador
  • Released: 2007
 
Cover for We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank [Deluxe Edition]

08.

  • Artist: Modest Mouse
  • Album: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank [Deluxe Edition]
  • Song: Parting of the Sensory

They make my list this year for breaking from convention and for executing that break so flawlessly. When I listen to Modest Mouse, particularly singer Isaac Brock, I really can't hear anything or anyone else in their music -- that is, I can't hear what they're cribbing from. It seems entirely their own. "Parting of the Sensory" left my head spinning in awe.

Song: "Parting of the Sensory"

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Parting of the Sensory"
  • Album: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank [Deluxe Edition]
  • Artist: Modest Mouse
  • Label: Epic
  • Released: 2007
 
Cover for The Reminder

07.

  • Artist: Feist
  • Album: Reminder
  • Song: I Feel It All

I was indifferent toward her previous CD Let it Die and didn't expect to like this new one much. I can't think of when my expectations have ever been so off. On The Reminder Feist ambushed me with a truly wonderful and surprising world of sound. It feels good to listen to this album -- like she's taking me by the hand and leading me through a dream. And what a voice! Every time I get to the last note of the last song, I'm left wanting more.

Song: "I Feel it All"

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "I Feel It All"
  • Album: The Reminder
  • Artist: Feist
  • Label: Polydor
 
Cover for Mood Swings

06.

  • Artist: Small Sins
  • Album: Mood Swings
  • Song: Morning Face

Fronted by songwriter Thomas D'Arcy, Small Sins is yet another stand-out group from Canada. When I first heard the song "Morning Face," I knew immediately this would be one of the most memorable albums of the year. Mood Swings is a perfect marriage of electronica and pop, with tightly layered harmonies and moods that do, indeed, swing from the comicalto the dreary. It's just a very fresh sound and easy to hear again andagain.

Song: "Morning Face"

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Morning Face"
  • Album: Mood Swings
  • Artist: Small Sins
  • Label: Car
  • Released: 2007
 
Cover for Neon Bible

05.

  • Artist: Arcade Fire
  • Album: Neon Bible
  • Song: Antichrist Television Blues

I didn't think this was as good as their previous release, Funeral.

Song: "Antichrist Television Blues"

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Antichrist Television Blues"
  • Album: Neon Bible
  • Artist: Arcade Fire
  • Label: Merge
  • Released: 2007
 
Cover for Person Pitch

04.

  • Artist: Panda Bear
  • Album: Person Pitch
  • Song: Comfy in Nautica

Musicians have a hard time surprising listeners these days. It's not just a lack of original ideas. Advances in digital audio production, home recording studios, sampling and countless new audio effects tools have shown us anything is possible. So if a band tears up their sound in the studio, we simply shrug and say, "so?" Then along comes something like Panda Bear's Person Pitch. By far the most innovative album of 2007, Panda Bear's gracefully executed use of the studio shows there are original ideas left and some real surprises.

Song: "Comfy in Nautica"

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Comfy in Nautica"
  • Album: Person Pitch
  • Artist: Panda Bear
  • Label: Paw Tracks
  • Released: 2007
 
Cover for Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly

03.

  • Artist: Le Loup
  • Album: Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly
  • Song: Planes Like Vultures

This is a perfect example of a CD I had to tell everyone about after hearing. "Mesmerizing" is the best way to describe it. Each song held me in a trance. The album uses a recurring banjo line that's so simple and pure, it leaves me shaking my head in disbelief at how well it works. Soaring harmonies, flickering sequencers, bits of noise collages and ambient sounds all make this a perfect listen.

Song: "Planes Like Vultures"

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Planes Like Vultures"
  • Album: Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly
  • Artist: Le Loup
  • Label: Hardly Art
  • Released: 2007
 
Cover for The Stage Names

02.

  • Artist: Okkervil River
  • Album: The Stage Names
  • Song: Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe

Harp magazine picked this for album of the year. If it weren't for Radiohead, I'd agree with them. This is a literary band and frontman Will Sheff's songs got a lot of attention for their poignant examination of pop culture and the consequences of celebrity. Honestly, I didn't really pay that much attention. I just thought 'The Stage Names' rocked, swaggered and soared. It made my heart thump like no other this year.

Song: "Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe"

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe"
  • Album: The Stage Names
  • Artist: Okkervil River
  • Label: Jagjaguwar
 
cover for in rainbows

01.

  • Artist: Radiohead
  • Album: In Rainbows
  • Song: Nude

Radiohead forced my hand on this one. I really wanted to come up with something more clever and original for a number one album. But the truth is, nothing came close to the genius behind this masterpiece. This is a band that does everything right and this is an album that is everything an album should be: it's artful, mysterious enough to warrant multiple listens, with impeccable songwriting. In Rainbows is brilliantly produced. I can't believe the care they took in putting this together. They could have stopped about halfway through the process and still had an album that's a richer sonic experience than anything else released this

Song: "Nude"

close

Purchase Featured Music

  • "Nude"
  • Album: In Rainbows
  • Artist: Radiohead
 

Featured Artist

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.