By now you've been inundated with hundreds of year end best-of lists from music writers and armchair music geeks the world over. And while you're mind is reeling from all the alleged great albums you neglected to pay attention to this year (Iron and Wine, The National, Les Savy Fav,
Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond. Sounding like they never left us, the original trio of Dino Jr. reunite and make our ears bleed with pleasure. This album almost washes away the bad taste alternative rock left in my mouth from about 96 and forward. A great rocking album from start to finish. Thank you Murph, Lou and J.
The Good The Bad & The Queen - The Good The Bad & The Queen. Damon Albarn recruits some musical heavyweights and thank the heavens it didn't turn out to sound like Audioshite or any other lame supergroup from the last couple of decades. Dubbed out Brit Pop for cloudy days.
Tom Waits - Orphans. Yeah yeah, it came out at the end of 06 but there is too much to absorb. Waits could record poetry over samples of turds getting flushed down the toilet slowed down to half speed and it would still be worth your time. Invest some time in Orphans.
Soulsavers - It's Not How Hard You Fall, It's the Way You Land. An electronic duo teams with noir crooner Mark Lanegan for an atmospheric journey through the darkness via electronica-tinged gospel and psychedelia. Hypnotic and noirish, this is a great musical collaboration. Buy it.
White Stripes - Icky Thump. Jack and Meg return to their little room after 05s exploratory and meandering Get Behind Me Satan with a rocking album that plays like a White Stripes greatest hits, only with new songs. If you're still hung up on Meg's drumming, then best sit this one out until the new Raconteurs album drops, or find a new band.
Ryan Bingham - Mescalito. With his tequila and pack-a-day soaked vocals, Ryan Bingham and his band crafted a great road record. Drifty acoustics, foot stompin beats, some wicked slide guitar and world weary lyrics that make you forget how young he really is, allow Bingham and his band to toe the line of country and rock music without indulging too much in either genre.
Black Rebel Motorycycle Club - Baby 81. After the folk/Americana excursions on 05s great HOWL, the guys in BRMC decided it was time to reactivate the reverb and the distortion and rock out. Wisely applying the songwriting craft of HOWL and turned up the amps, Baby 81 is a musically varied and soulful rock album
The Black Angels - Passover Further proof that Jim Morrison is alive and well and living in
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky. Funny that the one Wilco album I will actually admit to liking is also the album that has divided its fan base. Upon first listen, Sky Blue Sky sounds like lame FM-lite AOR. But repeated spins reveal musical layers and great songwriting nuggets. Sky Blue Sky feels like a lazy, Sunday afternoon, and it's a damn fine lazy, Sunday afternoon album. You can't beat Nel Cline's Neil Young-inspired guitar freakouts against dreamy harmonies and a rollin' backbeat.
Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger. I never cared much for Ryan Adams or his music, but a bootleg from 2006 changed my perception. Easy Tiger confirms that Adams and the Cardinals are a band to be reckoned with (Especially live. Check out any bootleg from his 2007 tour and you won't be disapointed). Down from the ledge and with a tight band surrounding him, the sky is merely a starting point for this cosmic country rocker.
Honorable mention to Jason Isbell's Sirens of the Ditch, Delta Spirit's Ode to Sunshine, The National's Boxer and Neil Young's Chrome Dreams II.