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The 100 Best Albums of 2007

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The 100 Best Albums of 2007

Every fall, Paste’s staff piles into the conference room to hash out our favorite records of the year. Feelings get hurt. One staffer’s favorite record is inevitably the bane of another’s existence. Most come ready to champion a personal darkhorse and see how far they can spur it up the chart. People raise their voices and gesticulate nervously. Hours go by. Pizzas are purchased. Feelings get hurt some more. And eventually the releases are ranked. We now humbly present you with the fruits of our fighting, the best albums of 2007.

But first, a state of the union from the venerable Geoffrey Himes...

It bothers me that Sam Baker’s Pretty World is my favorite album of the year. Not because it’s anything less than an amazing record. No, what bothers me is that Baker’s music has been heard by so few that it’s hard to have a conversation about it. Of course, it’s not your fault that you haven’t heard this selfreleased, poorly distributed gem any more than it’s my fault that I haven’t heard the obscure disc that’s your favorite album of the year.

This is the inevitable result of the music business’s ongoing decentralization. More and more of us are obsessed with our own private discoveries, and fewer and fewer of us connect with the shared experience that puts the “pop” in pop music. Much has been gained by the withering of music monopolies and the democratization of recording, but something has been lost, too.

On one hand, the collapse of the old paradigm—where a few record companies determined what got recorded and what got heard—means that it’s easier for a Texas construction worker to make his own record and for me to stumble across it along some forgotten byway of the Internet. It’s easier for you to discover a Cleveland skatepunk band on MySpace or a bootleg burn of a new rapper from Baltimore.

On the other hand, there was a distinct pleasure in sharing the same music—whether it was Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Prince or Nirvana—at the same time with millions of other people. That’s a pleasure that DIY recording, long-tail marketing and cyber-word-of-mouth hasn’t been able to replicate.

Baby-boomers like to claim that pop music was better in the ’60s than it was before or since. After 40 years of reviewing records for a living, I would argue that there is more or less the same amount of great music in any given year. The only thing different about the ’60s was that more of that great music was prominent on radio, television and the charts. What has changed, in other words, is not the quantity of terrific music but rather its visibility. And today, as a panicky music industry tries to defend the fortress crumbling around it by making ever more conservative choices, the most interesting music is often (though not always) pushed to the margins while the least interesting is set under the spotlight.

Sure, it’s good news that the margins have grown so broad and fertile, but we also need a strong center we can share. Somewhere out there in some dorm room or suburban bungalow or cramped apartment is the person who’s going to figure out how to rebuild that center in this decentralized environment. And that person is going to change the course of pop music forever.

Geoffrey Himes is a Paste senior contributing editor.

Next Page: Paste's Top 100 albums of 2007

[TOP 100 ALBUMS OF 2007] [STAFF PICKS] [WRITER PICKS]

1. The National - Boxer
2. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
3. Bruce Springsteen - Magic
4. The White Stripes - Icky Thump
5. Feist - The Reminder
6. M.I.A. - Kala
7. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
8. Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
9. Band of Horses - Cease to Begin
10. Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog
11. Radiohead - In Rainbows
12. Avett Brothers - Emotionalism
13. Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
14. Loney, Dear - Loney, Noir
15. Kanye West - Graduation
16. Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
17. Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
18. Miranda Lambert - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 
19. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists - Living with the Living
20. Blonde Redhead - 23
21. Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
22. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
23. Black Lips - Good Bad Not Evil
24. Patty Griffin - Children Running Through
25. Over The Rhine - The Trumpet Child
26. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
27. Derek Webb - The Ringing Bell
28. Mary Gauthier - Between Daylight and Dark
29. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
30. Björk - Volta
31. Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
32. Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha
33. PJ Harvey - White Chalk
34. Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
35. Peter Bjorn & John - Writer's Block
36. Joe Henry - Civilians
37. Eleni Mandell - The Miracle Of Five
38. Olof Arnalds - Vid Og Vid
39. The Perishers - Victorious
40. Damien Dempsey - To Hell Or Barbados
41. Brandi Carlile - The Story
42. Lifesavas - Gutterfly
43. The Everybodyfields - Nothing Is Okay
44. Norah Jones - Not Too Late
45. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - 100 Days, 100 Nights
46. Justice - †
47. Linda Thompson - Versatile Heart
48. The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour
49. Carolina Chocolate Drops - Dona Got A Ramblin’ Mind
50. Battles - Mirrored
51. The Frames - The Cost
52. Thurston Moore - Trees Outside the Academy
53. Fionn Regan - The End Of History
54. Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew - Spirit If...
55. Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover
56. Kate Nash - Made of Bricks
57. The Clientele - God Save The Clientele
58. Romantica - America
59. Imperial Teen - The Hair The TV The Baby & The Band
60. The Broken West - I Can't Go On I'll Go On
61. Prince - Planet Earth
62. Joseph Arthur - Let's Just Be
63. Explosions In The Sky - All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone
64. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
65. Caribou - Andorra
66. Apples In Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder
67. St. Vincent - Marry Me
68. Office - A Night At The Ritz
69. Bat For Lashes - Fur & Gold
70. Ween - La Cucaracha
71. Josh Rouse - Country Mouse City House
72. Bettye Lavette - Scene Of The Crime
73. Warm In The Wake - American Prehistoric
74. Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
75. Great Lake Swimmers - Ongiara
76. Okkervil River - The Stage Names
77. Jeremy Fisher - Goodbye Blue Monday
78. The New Pornographers - Challengers
79. Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity
80. Akron/Family - Love Is Simple
81. Art Brut - It's A Bit Complicated
82. Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings
83. Deerhunter - Cryptograms
84. Liars - Liars
85. Menomena - Friend and Foe
86. Ruthie Foster - The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster
87. White Rabbits - Fort Nightly
88. Do Make Say Think - You, You're A History In Rust
89. Anat Cohen - Noir
90. Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
91. The Fratellis - Costello Music
92. Jesse Sykes - Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul
93. Lori McKenna - Unglamorous
94. Suzanne Vega - Beauty & Crime
95. The Good, The Bad & The Queen - The Good, The Bad & The Queen
96. Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare
97. Marissa Nadler - Song III: Bird on the Water
98. Dinosaur Jr. - Beyond
99. The Fiery Furnaces - Widow City
100. Stars - In Our Bedroom After The War

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