Todd Palmer loves rock and roll. Todd Palmer reads Teenage Kicks. Todd Palmer shares his favorite albums of the year.
2007 was, in my opinion, a capital-G Great year for music. Hardly a week went by that I didn't hear something new that I loved and couldn't live without. Not to suck up, but Trip and Michael pointed me in the right direction a few times; I still remember pulling up TeenKicks at 9:30 on a Sunday morning and watching the Fratellis' "Chelsea Dagger" video. I immediately threw on my shoes and ran to Target to buy it (and found it for $9.99 which, also in my opinion, should be the government-mandated price for all single-disc CDs). I also saw some great shows this year including, most recently, a bang-up performance by America's next dead heart-throb: Dewey Cox. Walk Hard indeed. I know that Trip even got his elderly ass out to a show or two. I met him live and in person at a Two Cow Garage show near Philly on a steamy Friday night. Hey Teek: Best version of "Ohio" ever? And the "This Is American Music" mini-tour in the fall featuring Glossary, Grand Champeen, Two Cow Garage and The Drams may have been my favorite show ever. Anyway, thanks for appealing to my ego and letting me spout about my favorites. Maybe there will be something new for your readers.
10. Kanye West - Graduation I hate this guy; I'm sure that I couldn't stand to be in a room with him (if there was even enough room for me + him + his ego). You can't argue with the truth, though. The beats and lyrics are infectious, and the delivery and production are spectacular. Every one of his albums has been a gem and this one's no different.
9. John Doe - A Year In The Wilderness Doe's latest example of greatness. Lyrically adventurous and musically broad with solid production, this one stayed in the player for several weeks straight. "You are the lump in my throat, I am the ache in your heart."
8. White Stripes - Icky Thump I got this to pass the time on a car trip to Chicago with my family in July. I probably listened to it 4 or 5 times in a row, and finally figured it out. Before that, I never "got" the whole White Stripes thing. Late to the party, I know, but at least I showed up. It's a damn fine album, and I think Meg is a perfectly good drummer, thanks very much.
7. Fratellis - Costello Music Thanks TeenKicks. My whole family loves this disc. It cracks me up to hear my kids singing with a Scottish accent (spouting what I'm sure are Scottish expletives) in the back seat of the van.
6. Son Volt - The Search I really want to like Wilco better than Son Volt. Everything that I read tells me that I should. But I can't. I often have no idea what Jay Farrar is singing about, but even if I don't understand them, his lyrics move me. To me his voice is more like another instrument, and I love how he blends tone, inflection and turn of phrase with the music to really paint a sonic picture. "Methamphetamine" may be my song of the year.
5. Mendoza Line - 30 Year Low Top five is serious business. No album this year struck me with its passion more that this final, painful, garment-rending collection from an underappreciated little band that grabbed me at SXSW 2006. There's enough poison and angst in this CD to fuel a hundred divorces, and I, for one, am glad they got it in the recording and not at each other's throats. Try "31 Candles" on for size and see what it's like from her point of view. "31 candles don't a woman make, you know you never gave me nothin', always take take take." or how about "No you never met my mother, well so much for the better. But you'd say "Fuck me" if you saw her in a sweater." This album DELIVERS.
4. Two Cow Garage - III As my friend Pete calls them, 'my Cows' are commonly found at the top of my lists. They play straight rock with loud guitars and the songs are simple and straightforward. Live, they kick you in the gut and pound you in the head. III, however, shows a lot more diversity in its songs, including some ballads and acoustic numbers that show an improving range in their songwriting. "No Shame" and "Mediocre" are standouts, but there isn't a clunker on the whole album. And I love playing "The Great Gravitron Disaster" in the car, 'cause nothing beats the whole family screaming the chorus at the top of their lungs: "Na Na Na Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na Na Na Na-a, Na Na Na Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na Na Na Na." A classic.
3. Jason Isbell - Sirens of the Ditch I love the Truckers, so I was sad to see Isbell go, but if the first solo effort and subsequent tour stops are any indication, he'll be popping up on my best-of lists for a long time. Great slide guitar, a tight band and some great down-home lyrics combine for a diverse group of songs, sometimes rocking balls-out, sometimes emotional and introspective. "Dress Blues" may be the best anti-war song to spring from our current conflict and can make you long for January of 2009. "Grown" and "Brand New Kind of Actress" are rock songs that reward repeated listenings with surprisingly deep stories. See him live for the full effect.
2. Ike Reilly Assassination - We Belong To The Staggering Evening Again, thanks TeenKicks. Every track on here reeks of booze and bad intent, and I can't get enough. Earlier this year Teek sent me an Ike compilation. I shared it around the office and was promptly voted class president. "Broken Parakeet Blues" shines brightest here, with a lyrical tightness and acoustic sweetness that belies the fierceness of the subject matter. I own them all now, and Ike has bubbled up to the top of my "why won't he come to Nashville, dammit!" list. Maybe in '08.
1. Glossary - The Better Angels Of Our Nature Hometown favorites of mine, this is the album that I've kept going back to day after day. They released it for free on their website and are touring behind it for the foreseeable future. Old-time blues-rock, with a great new keyboard player, these songs are real workingman tunes. The pedal steel is a lot more prominent, Kelly's supporting vocals have been mixed more up-front, increasing the depth of the production and adding a ton of emotion to their performances. I've followed this group for a few years, and their growth as a band, as musicians and as songwriters only serves to highlight the amount of really great music that's out there beyond the radio and beyond the major labels. Get out to your local pub and support the bands that work hard every day so that they can live their dreams at night. I know it's late and you're tired and you have to go to work tomorrow, but it's always better to be sorry for the things that you've done rather than the things that you haven't done. Download this one today at www.glossary.us.