“Without music, life would not be fair.”

I put up my top three films of the year, and now I feel like a top ten album list is necessary. The full top ten films of the year is waiting on a few more films that need to be seen, such as I’m Not There, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, Persepolis, Gone Baby Gone, et cetera. I fully expect some of them to advance into my top ten, so it would be undue to write that up now without seeing some of the best films of 2007.

However, I have selected my top ten albums of the year, at the prodding of several friends and colleagues, and I’m actually quite surprised at some of my picks. I couldn’t fit all of them into ten spots so I added five Honorable Mention titles. There is no real order or ranking to the list, except that two albums share the spotlight for the Best Album of the Year.

Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Finally, Austin proves its worth again with a real rock album that delivers. Britt Daniel adds horns and more orchestration to Spoon’s signature feel but still keeps the minimalist style in a way that only Spoon can. A group that embraces punk and power pop to create true rock and roll in 2007. “The Underdog,” “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb,” “Don’t Make Me a Target.”

The Stars – In Our Bedroom After the War. The Canadians start to show up on the list with this indie pop powerhouse. Love never hurt so good until the Stars started making music, and they truly know how to create albums. This one in particular is consistent and timeless. “The Night Stars Here,” “Today Will Be Better, I Swear!”

Radiohead – In Rainbows. They revolutionized how music is sold and they blew the critics away with how the music works together as an album. There aren’t really any singles with this grouping, but that’s clearly not the point. Classically gorgeous. “House of Cards,” “Reckoner.”

Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger. The best singer songwriter in alternative country comes through again with his ninth album. Ryan never fails to create phenomenal songs, and this latest outing is nothing short of beautiful. Not his best stuff, but even mediocre stuff from Ryan blows other people out of the water. “Pearls On a String,” “Two,” “Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.”

The National – Boxer. Brooklyn somehow still amazes me when it comes out with something as perfect as this. Low-key, cynical, and well-constructed rock makes this album easily one of the year’s best. “Fake Empire,” “Green Gloves,” “Gospel,” “Slow Show.”

Mark Ronson – Version. His work with Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen gave him a name, but his own album fully cemented him as a real talent. None of it is original work in the lyrical sense, but the fact that he fully reinvented these songs is amazing in its own right. Completely underrated and brilliant music. “Stop Me,” “Valerie,” “Apply Some Pressure.”

Lily Allen – Alright, Still. People can easily write her off as just another brash tart who got a record deal because of her father. The problem with that is she’s actually talented. Put her album on and find fresh cynicism, great production, bitter and socially relevant lyrics, and killer hooks. Lily Allen may be annoying, but she’s the real thing. “Everything’s Just Wonderful,” “LDN,” “Take What You Take.”

Feist – The Reminder. “1234” from the iPod commercials gave rise to the biggest surprise in the Billboard Top Ten Singles this year. But this album is much more than that one catchy song. Leslie Feist solidified herself as one of the top females of indie music, Canadian or not. “My Moon My Man,” “I Feel It All,” “Brandy Alexander.”

Tied for Best Album are —

Amy Winehouse – Back to Black. The words “instant classic” were thrown around a lot in 2007, but this album truly deserved the distinction. Her lyrics cut to the bone and her presentation of R&B slash Doo Wop slash 60’s girl groups showed just how talented she is. Her talent is a force to be reckoned with – let’s just hope her addictions aren’t stronger. “Tears Dry On Their Own,” “Back to Black,” “You Know I’m No Good,” “Rehab.”

Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog. Sam Beam came back at full blast in 2007 and with a whole new sound. His usually acoustic and Spartan sound had given way to a more rich and complex orchestration, and the move was for the better. His sweet and thoughtful lyrics weren’t compromised, and his new style suited him quite well. “Boy With a Coin,” “The Devil Never Sleeps,” “Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog).”

Honorable Mentions —

Patrick Park – Everyone’s in Everyone. Not as great as his debut, but still some of the best acoustic rock, or rock music period, of the last year. One of the better live shows I’ve seen, too. “Life is a Song,” “Here We Are,” “Saint With a Fever.”

Rilo Kiley – Under the Black Light. Jenny Lewis, Blake/Ronnie, and the rest of the group have another great album, but not as great as their earlier stuff and nowhere near as good as Jenny’s solo cuts. “The Moneymaker,” “Silver Lining,” “The Angels Hung Around.”

Arcade Fire – Neon Bible. The frenzy and panic of this record really struck me as a quasi-religious experience, as corny as it sounds. Furthermore, when I was watching There Will Be Blood, the overkill that Paul Dano poured into his false prophet Eli Sunday kept bringing this album back to me. Not as good as their last effort, but that’s better than most of their American counterparts. “Keep the Car Running,” “The Well and the Lighthouse,” “Intervention.”

Britney Spears – Blackout. Her year might have gone to shit, but who knew she could make such incredible music? This is by far her best album and it’s a pity she hasn’t bothered supporting it because it’s her best tracks ever. Some might say that the singles are overproduced, but those critics most likely can’t appreciate good pop and dance music. “Piece of Me,” “Break the Ice,” “Hot as Ice,” “Heaven on Earth.”

Tegan and Sara – The Con. These sisters never cease to amaze, and the production help from people like Death Cab’s Chris Walla and Weezer certainly upped their game with this album. Their cynical and angsty songs express every possible feeling and their youth astounds me every time they create a new album. “The Con,” “Nineteen,” “Back In Your Head.”

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