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Best albums of 2007

Biffy Clyro, Puzzle

Compiled by Jack Foley

THE time has come for the annual round-up of the year’s best albums – but while there are plenty to choose from (such as new releases from The Eagles, Hard-Fi and Kaiser Chiefs), we’ve decided to bring you some of the hidden gems that you may have missed out on buying.

Hence, while the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Interpol and Queens of The Stone Age undoubtedly get a mention, what of lesser known gems such as K-os, Fink, The Go! Team and Remi Nicole?

Air, Pocket Symphony

Air – Pocket Symphony

What we said: If it’s beautifully composed moments of chillout you’re seeking, then look no further than Air’s Pocket Symphony. The eagerly-anticipated follow-up to 2004’s Talkie Walkie once again confidently reconciles palpable, unapologetic ambience with unpretentious soulful simplicity.
Best tracks: Space Maker, Once Upon A Time, One Hell Of A Party, Somewhere Between Waking And Sleeping, Mer Du Japon, Lost Message, Redhead Girl, Mayfair Song

Album review l Buy it

Aqualung, Memory Man

Aqualung – Memory Man

What we said: Matt Hales has long been the creator of richly layered, deeply heartfelt and beautifully epic songs such as Strange & Beautiful (I’ll Put A Spell On You) and Brighter Than Sunshine. With Memory Man, his latest long-player, he repeats the trick to deliver an album of exhilarating highs, pensive slow-burners and enough songs to sweep any fan of Coldplay, Snow Patrol or U2 off their feet (at different times).
Best tracks: Cinderella, Pressure Suit, Rolls So Deep, The Lake, Something To Believe In, Broken Bones

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Arctic Monkeys, Favourite Worst Nightmare

Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare

What we said: Overall, Favourite Worst Nightmare shows progression from the debut and hints at a few directions in which the band could go, suggesting a longevity that few people predicted. It’s an eclectic record but still seems like a cohesive whole and they haven’t fallen into the trap of over-stretching themselves by trying to do too much. A less immediate album than its predecessor then, but more satisfying with repeat listening’s.
Best tracks: 505, Old Yellow Bricks, Only Ones Who Know, If You Were There, Beware

Album review l Buy it

Ash

Ash – Twilight of the Innocents

What we said: Twilight of the Innocents doesn’t just mark a retread of old, familiar territory; it’s a record that keeps the band moving forward in take notice fashion. [Title and] final track, Twilight Of The Innocents throws just about everything at listeners – slow building into a beautiful, strings-laden epic of majestic porportions. It’s the crowning achievement on a really great album that shows Wheeler was right to be so confident about the band’s current form. They’re scorching hot right now and it’s time to bask in their glory.
Best tracks: Polaris, Twilight of the Innocents, End of The World, Palace of Excess, Princess Six, Shadows

Album review l Buy it

Biffy Clyro, Puzzle

Biffy Clyro – Puzzle

What we said: Simon Neil, vocalist and guitarist of Kilmarnock trio Biffy Clyro, says: “We just want to make records that people can listen to in 20 years and think they’re good fucking records. That’s what we want to do; we want to be an important band. And we think we are.” If that sounds a little self-important, then thankfully they have the music to back it up. Puzzle, their fourth album, is by far their most ambitious release to date. And it rocks!
Best tracks: Living Is A Problem Becuase Everything Dies, As Dust Dances, A Whole Child Ago, The Conversation Is…, Now I’m Everyone, Folding Stars, Machines

Album review l Buy it

BRMC, Baby 81

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Baby 81

What we said: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club deliver their new album Baby 81 in suitably emphatic style, replacing the rootsy, acoustic sound of their previous album Howl with a powerful, guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll sound that’s more in keeping with their earlier sound… In a word, exemplary. With Baby 81, BRMC have given birth to one of the great rock ‘n’ roll albums of the year.
Best tracks: Weapon of Choice, Windows, Not What You Wanted, 666 Conducer, All You Do Is Talk, American X, Killing The Light, Cold Wind

Album review l Buy it

Charlotte Hatherley

Charlotte Hatherley – The Deep Blue

What we said: It’s a measure of the album’s success that it never once rests on its laurels and always follows one track by doing something different (and surprising) with the next. It’s a cracking follow-up to Grey Will Fade that deserves to make a really big splash for Hatherley. The future looks very bright for her indeed!
Best tracks: Cousteau, Be Thankful, I Want You To Know, Roll Over & Let It Go, It Isn’t Over, Again, Dawn Treader, Siberia

Album review l Buy it

Fink, Distance & Time

Fink – Distance & Time

What we said: Could Distance & Time be the album to finally make a household name of Fink? If there’s any justice, then yes. It’s an utterly brilliant listen – one that combines the low-key acoustic brilliance of artists like Jose Gonzalez with moments of pent-up aggression that provide a couple of thrilling highs.
Best tracks: This Is The Thing, Blueberry Pancakes, Under The Same Stars, Make It Good, So Many Roads

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Fountains of Wayne, Traffic & Weather

Fountains of Wayne – Traffic & Weather

What we said: It’s always been a baffling mystery to me why New York’s Fountains of Wayne aren’t bigger than they are. In late 2003 for instance, they received a Best New Artist nomination (one of two Grammy categories in which they were named that year) for their album Welcome Interstate Managers. Their fourth album Traffic & Weather is another return to form, packed with cracking, melody-strewn songs that tell rich, quirky tales of everyday American life.
Best tracks: Someone To Love, Traffic & Weather, Yolanda Hayes, Revolving Dora, Michael And Heather At The Baggage Claim, I-95, Planet of Weed, Seatbacks And Traytables

Album review l Buy it

The Go! Team, Proof of Youth

The Go! Team – Proof of Youth

What we said: Proof Of Youth, the new album from Go! Team, is one of the most impossibly upbeat records of the year so far. And that can only be a good thing! Discarding conventional song structure and slick studio production values, Go! Team exist to have fun and create music that flies in the face of normality. Hence, their sound combines everything from the feel-good retro value of ABC era Jackson 5, to old-skool hip hop and ’70s-laced psychedelia. And more often than not, they’ll do it on the same track!
Best tracks: Doing It Right, My World, Titanic Vandalism, The Wrath of Marcie, I Never Needed It Now So Much, Flashlight Fight, Patricia’s Moving Picture

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Goldspot, Tally of the Yes Men

Goldspot – Tally Of The Yes Men

What we said: Fans of The OC may already be aware of LA-based outfit Goldspot given that their cover version of Modest Mouse’s classic Float On was used in the series. But for those that don’t, Goldspot really are worth becoming acquainted with, especially if you like your melodies sun-kissed and your music to contain an upbeat, summery vibe.
Best tracks: Rewind, Friday, It’s Getting Old, The Feel Good Program Of The Year, Motorcade, In The Post

Album review l Buy it

Interpol, Our Love To Admire

Interpol – Our Love To Admire

What we said: Interpol continue to be one of New York’s exciting bands. Indeed, some of their music has paved the way for bands like Editors to build careers. Third album Our Love To Admire may lack the immediate freshness of their 2002 debut Turn On The Bright Lights but it’s the sound of a band maturing nicely. What’s more, when it catches fire it truly does ignite. Several songs send those hairs standing up on the back of your spine and hook you in from the very first moment you hear them.
Best tracks: Pioneer To The Falls, The Heinrich Maneuver, Pace Is The Trick, Rest My Chemistry, Wrecking Ball

Album review l Buy it

Joseph Arthur, Nuclear Daydream

Joseph Arthur – Nuclear Daydream

What we said: American critics have already hailed it as a masterpiece and it’s easy to see why – the album is a lushly composed collection of 12 songs that encapsulate romance and despair. Packed with some enchanting instrumentation (all delivered by Arthur himself) and driven by his vulnerable, husky vocals (that are sometimes reminiscent of Dylan and Beck), Nuclear Daydream is an utterly enthralling listen that seldom skips a beat.
Best tracks: Black Lexus, Slide Away, Automatic Situation, Too Much To Hide, Don’t Tell Your Eyes, Nuclear Daydream, Don’t Give Up On People

Album review l Buy it

Josh Pyke, Memories & Dust

Josh Pyke – Memories & Dust

What we said: Pyke specialises in songs that are timeless, emotional and emphatically honest. He writes about what he knows – whether that’s childhood memories, feelings of love and longing, or even sewing… Sew My Name, for instance, is a beautiful song about love and longing that’s simply breathtaking. And Middle Of The Hill is another of several firm highlights.
Best tracks: Middle of the Hill, Someone Else’s Town, Sew My Name, Beg Your Pardon, Monkey With A Drum, Buttons, Memories & Dust

Album review l Buy it

K-os, Atlantis

K-os – Atlantis: Hymns For Disco

What we said: By his own admission, K-os makes music for himself, first and foremost. Hence, third album Atlantis – Hymns for Disco is a diverse collection of songs that cross many musical styles, sounds and generations. It’s a very personal journey that draws on a lot of influences but – crucially – it’s an absolute pleasure to hear.
Best tracks: Electrik Heat, Rain, Sunday Morning, Fly Paper, The Ballad of Noah, Cat Diesel, Valhalla, Equalizher

Album review l Buy it

Kaiser Chiefs, Yours Truly, Angry Mob

Kaiser Chiefs – Yours Truly, Angry Mob

What we said: The question was always going to be could they fill out their sound and mature with their sophomore effort? With Yours Truly, Angry Mob the answer is a firm “yes”. The album doesn’t try and be too ambitious. It’s still rooted in Kaiser Chiefs territory and is packed with instantly catchy chart hits (lead single Ruby being primary among them). But there are also moments of plaintive beauty that catch you off guard.
Best tracks: The Angry Mob, Love’s Not A Competition (But I’m Winning), I Can Do It Without You, Boxing Champ, Try Your Best, Retirement

Album review l Buy it

Kula Shaker, Strange Folk

Kula Shaker – Strange Folk

What we said: Strange Folk is an album steeped in classic values – hinting at both the mysticism of K era tracks like Govinda but also drawing from the likes of Hendrix, Zeppelin, The Doors, The Beatles and The Beach Boys at times. Rather than appearing as a mere imitation, however, the songs contain a vibrancy that keeps them contemporary, while trading well on the current guitar revival that has paved the way for countless new acts and a fair few revivals over the past few months.
Best tracks: Second Sight, Fool That I Am, Great Dictator, Shadowlands, Ol Jack Tar, Dr Kitt, Super CB Operator

Album review l Buy it

Linkin Park, Minutes To Midnight

Linkin Park – Minutes To Midnight

What we said: Linkin Park’s Minutes To Midnight is one of the most eagerly anticipated rock albums of 2007 and the good news is that it doesn’t disappoint. From epic opening instrumental Wake to emotive final track The Little Things Give You Away the album thrills, exhilarates, commentates and even heartbreaks.
Best tracks: Bleed It Out, Shadow Of The Day, What I’ve Done, Hands Held High, In Between, The Little Things Give You Away

Album review l Buy it

Little Man Tate, About What You Know

Little Man Tate – About What You Know

What we said: Following hot on the heels of The View’s debut album, Little Man Tate’s About What You Know could well be the second great guitar album of 2007. It’s a short and lively affair that boasts some cracking songs and a really endearing attitude to all things love-related.
Best tracks: Man I Hate Your Band, This Must Be Love, Sexy In Latin, European Lover

Album review l Buy it

Maps, We Can Create

Maps – We Can Create

What we said: Every once in a while an album comes along that completely blows you away from right out of the blue. Maps’ We Can Create is one of those albums. Created by “bedroom genius” James Chapman, the album is an other-worldly gem that’s by turns laidback and bewitching, yet commercial enough to appeal to mainstream pop culture. The most amazing thing about it, however, is the epic scope of its sound, which assumes an other-worldly quality more befitting the likes of Sigur Ros and ambient Moby despite having been recorded without a single computer.
Best tracks: So Low, So High, Elouise, It Will Find You, Liquid Sky, Back + Forth, Don’t Fear

Album review l Buy it

Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse – We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank

What we said: The fifth album from cult US indie rock band Modest Mouse is arguably their best yet. Not only does it build on the good work done by 2004’s Good News For People Who Love Bad News, but it also features the guitar work of Smiths legend Johnny Marr. Entitled We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, it retains that distinct vocal quality, courtesy of Isaac Brock’s idiosyncratic lisp and edgy vocal style, but broadens the guitar sound that’s capable of much wider appeal.
Best tracks: Dashboard, Fire It Up, Parting Of The Sensory, Missed The Boat, Little Motel, People As Places As People

Album review l Buy it

Newton Faulkner, Handbuilt By Robots

Newton Faulkner – Handbuilt By Robots

What we said: Newton Faulkner is fast becoming a cult favourite among the Cornwall surfing fraternity. And his summery acoustic hooks boast a freshness and easy accessibility that have won countless MySpace fans. Debut album Hand Built By Robots is excellent proof of why. Capable of appealing to fans of Jack Johnson, Snow Patrol and Barenaked Ladies, it’s packed with pleasing harmonies and a shimmering sensibility reserved for all the best summer/surf albums.
Best tracks: To The Light, All I Got, Dream Catch Me, Feels Like Home, People Should Smile More, Gone In The Morning

Album review l Buy it

Nine Black Alps, Love/Hate

Nine Black Alps – Love/Hate

What we said: Love/Hate is the second album from Manchester’s Nine Black Alps – and it marks a significant step forward from thunderous debut Everything Is. It’s a majestic sophomore album from Nine Black Alps that really ought to catapult them into rock’s premiere league. Do not end the year without it!
Best tracks: Bitter End, Everytime I Turn, Pet Hate, Future Wife, Happiness And Satisfaction, Forget My Name, Under The Sun

Album review l Buy it

Paul McCartney, Memory Almost Full

Paul McCartney – Memory Almost Full

What we said: Memory Almost Full, McCartney’s 21st studio recording since The Beatles marks the sound of an artist clearly having fun. It’s a collection of 13 songs that confirm this music icon has lost none of his ability to marry catchy pop records with edgy, more experimental material. As such, it evokes memories of the length and breadth of McCartney’s musical career, referencing The Beatles and Wings, whilst managing to sound fresh and contemporary at the same time.
Best tracks: Dance Tonight, Ever Present Past, See Your Sunshine, Nod Your Head, Vintage Clothes, Feet In The Clouds, Only Mama Knows

Album review l Buy it

Queens of the Stone Age, Era Vulgaris

Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris

What we said: In short, Era Vulgaris is a rock ‘n’ roll monster of epic proportions that shakes, rattles and completely bowls you over. It’s everything fans could wish for – and then some.
Best tracks: Turning On The Screw, Sick Sick Sick, Into The Hollow, Make It Witchu, 3’s & 7’s, Era Vulgaris

Album review l Buy it

Remi Nicole, My Conscience And I

Remi Nicole – My Conscience And I

What we said: Hurrah for Remi Nicole then – an artist who has defiantly sought to challenge stereotypes and done so in the best way imaginable. My Conscience And I is an album that everyone can enjoy regardless of gender, race or usual musical preference. It’s an excellent debut that deserves to become a massive success.
Best tracks: Go With The Flow, Soul Back, My Conscience And I, Fed Up, Right Side Of Me, Lights Out

Album review l Buy it

Robyn

Robyn – Robyn

What we said: Now here’s something we don’t do very often – rave about a pop album! But the eponymous LP from pint-sized Robyn is an absolute barnstormer… Should Have Known, with its Prince-like beats and X-rated vocals and Anytime Like You round things off in suitably impressive fashion to confirm that Robyn has created a pop masterpiece that deserves to become one of the biggest sellers of the year.
Best tracks: Konichiwa Bitches, Cobrastyle, Be Mine!, Robotboy, Eclipse, Handle Me, With Every Heartbeat, Should Have Known

Album review l Buy it

The Bees, Octopus

The Bees – Octopus

What we said: Octopus is a diverse collection of songs that’s evidence of a band on impressive form, generating a vibe that’s utterly infectious. It may only be March but the album is a near-perfect soundtrack for the summer. Just remember to take it with you once the sun comes out.
Best tracks: Love In The Harbour, Left Foot Stepdown, Listening Man, End Of The Street, Got To Let Go

Album review l Buy it

The Cinematic Orchestra, Ma Fleur

The Cinematic Orchestra – Ma Fleur

What we said: Jason Swinscoe – aka The Cinematic Orchestra – wrote Ma Fleur as the soundtrack to a specially commissioned screenplay for an imagined film (which may or may not yet be made, it states in the PR). But while the idea behind it sounds artistic and borderline pretentious, I defy few people that actually properly listen to it not to find something beautiful within.
Best tracks: Child Song, Familiar Ground, As The Stars Fall, That Home, Time And Space

Album review l Buy it

The Heavy, Great Vengeance & Furious Fire

The Heavy – Great Vengeance & Furious Fire

What we said: The Heavy are quite possibly one of the most ridiculously funky bands of the moment. Ever since they dropped the incendiary first single That Kind of Man, with its jaw-dropping mix of raw blues-soul, Wu Tang attitude and falsetto vocals, they’ve been a band to watch and get excited by. Debut album Great Vengeance and Furious Fire confirms that they are, indeed, something special.
Best tracks: That Kind of Man, Colleen, Set Me Free, You Don’t Know, In The Morning, Who Needs The Sunshine?

Album review l Buy it

The Hours, Narcissus Road

The Hours – Narcissus Road

What we said: Jarvis Cocker is quoted as saying: “The Hours are Antony Genn and Martin Slattery. They understand what music is for – it’s for human beings to communicate with other human beings. It’s that simple, it’s that important. Let them into your life. You won’t regret it.” It’s good advice from one of the music industry’s most respected figures… Without question, Narcissus Road looks set to become one of the albums of the year.
Best tracks: Ali In The Jungle, Back When You Were Good, Love You More, I Miss You

Album review l Buy it

The Shins, Wincing The Night Away

The Shins – Wincing The Night Away

What we said: Step forward a couple of years and expectation surrounding their third album, Wincing The Night Away was even higher. Could The Shins provide the life-changing experience that Ms [Natalie] Portman predicts? To be honest, they come pretty close. The album is a genuine pleasure to hear; rich in melody, it contains the sort of daydream quality reserved for the best alternative acts.
Best tracks: Sleeping Lessons, Phantom Limb, Sea Legs, Red Rabbits, Split Needles

Album review l Buy it

The View, Hats Off To The Buskers

The View – Hats Off To The Buskers

What we said: Welcome to the first great release of 2007. The View’s Hats Off To The Buskers is not only a terrific guitar album but also one of the feelgood records of the year. With its infectious energy, carefree attitude and brash youthful swagger, this Dundee-based fourpiece literally sweep you off your feet amid a tidal wave of fizzing guitar riffs and cheeky lyrics.
Best tracks: Superstar Tradesman, Same Jeans, Don’t Tell Me, Streetlights, Wasted Little DJ’s, The Don

Album review l Buy it

Tracey Thorn, Out Of The Woods

Tracey Thorn – Out Of The Woods

What we said: Tracey Thorn is a name that’s virtually synonymous with quality. Her distinct voice has provided memorable focal points for Everything But The Girl and Massive Attack (not to mention others), before she disappeared from the scene for five years to raise a family. She now returns with her first solo material in almost 25 years (since A Distant Shore) with the excellent Out Of The Woods.
Best tracks: Here It Comes Again, A-Z, Hands Up To The Ceiling, By Piccadilly Station I Sat Down And Wept, Raise The Roof, Easy, Falling Off A Log

Album review l Buy it

Wallis Bird, Spoons

Wallis Bird – Spoons

What we said: Deos the world really need another female singer-songwriter in the style of Joni Mitchell or Sia Furler? In the case of Wallis Bird, the answer is “yes”. A 24-year-old artist from Ireland, Bird has already become an iTunes sensation having shot to No.4 with her debut album, Spoons. Now that it’s available physically in record stores, there really is no excuse for missing out!
Best tracks: Counting To Sleep, 6 ft 8, The Circle, Blossoms In The Street, Country Bumpkin, Bring Me Wine, You Are Mine

Album review l Buy it