2007 has been a great year for music. The internet is finally paying off, with dozens of bands hitting the global mainstream through grass roots word of mouth and diy publicity. But it's not just the new boys bringing out the good stuff, with most of my current favourites putting out new records.
Wilco's Sky Blue Sky was a mild disappointment next to A Ghost Is Born, but was still a great album and an even better live show - but while the Kings Of Leon's Because of the Times started the year on a high their live show cut things down to size. The Beastie Boys instrumental Mix Up was a low-key release, but they still delivered the goods live - way past expectations. Band of Horses surprise second album didn't quite hit the highs of Everything All Of The Time, but their live show was barnstorming - proving they've only just got started. Arcade Fire also followed up their debut with an outstanding second album, and Eddie Vedder went semi-solo with his soundtrack for Sean Penn's movie Into The Wild.
Radiohead's In Rainbows has to get a special mention for the world's biggest band's adoption of guerilla marketing, genuinely lighting a fire under the record industry like only a massive band 7 albums deep could do.
Led Zeppelin are the clear winner in terms of stars, but I think it's fair to say that Best Of's don't qualify, so my top five albums of 2007 are:
5. Blonde Redhead - 23
Probably the only surprise in my list - for me certainly - Blonde Redhead's 23 found the low-key indie band hitting their stride and turning in a richly rewarding album.
4. Electrelane - No Shouts, No Calls
After getting their instrumental callings out of the way with Axes, Electrelane returned and surpassed the sound of The Power Out for their fourth album.
3. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
Spoon's sixth album matched it's conceptual title with a mix of complex songs and catchy pop. Nice to interview them too.
2. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
Daft Punk Is Playing At My House always struck me as catchy but superficial, and the lead single from LCD's second album - North American Scum - did little to change my mind. Repeat listening peeled back the layers however and Get Innocuous! or All My Friends are unbeatable. Their 45 minute megamix makes for a great bonus track too.
1. The National - Boxer
After finding their feet with third album Alligator, The National turned things up a notch with the superb Boxer. Eschewing the bombast of hits like Secret Meeting, the album is dark and rich - so layered that it takes several listens to even break open.
Some pretty good gigs this year too:
Wilco - Shepherd's Bush Empire
A long time coming. With their new squad Wilco could hardly be a better live band.
Beastie Boys - Brixton Academy
After the dismal 1999 Wembley show, the Beasties seemed destined to stay mainstream - but a self-initiated return to their roots has paid off nicely. Still got Time Time To Get Ill.
Black Mountain - Cargo
While still notably nostalgic in sound, these retro rockers blew the socks of Cargo with their forthcoming album In The Future. See next year's best-of list for more info.
Disturbia - Great modern spin on Rear Window
Bourne Ultimatum - A solid finale to the modern Bond
Knocked Up - Perfectly capturing the stupid antics of a group of friends.
Jesse James - Not up their with Mallik of Leone, but Andrew Dominick's second feature was a grand attempt.
Zodiac - Although long and flawed, David Fincher's 70's epic was an entertaining ride.
Curb Your Enthusiasm - Still cracking me up, six seasons in.
Flight Of The Conchords - Guaranteed entertainment from the Kiwi troubadors.
Entourage - Aspirational TV from Ari, Drama and the crew.
Kings of Leon live - While the 'seats' were the problem, this band seemed out of proportion for their sound and style.
Death Proof - the worst film I have possibly ever seen. Seriously.