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Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Top 31 of 2007 - #5

Cale's Pick
Bright Eyes: Cassadaga
Released: April 10, 2007

My list has seen a lot of changes since I began compiling it months ago. #1s shifted constantly, an album that was once in the Top 10 didn't even make the list, and other crazy things went down too. Through all that, pretty much the only constant was Cassadaga, an album that started at #5 and stayed at #5. Conor Oberst's unique style of making music is so familiar to me now, that it's hard to be surprised by anything he does. I either like it or I don't, and that feeling is pretty concrete at the beginning so it rarely changes. Fortunately for Bright Eyes, I loved Cassadaga. It is, in my opinion, the best Bright Eyes album to date. Conor spends less time wallowing in sorrow, and more time dwelling on personal antecdotes or commenting on the state of the world (without using names...I hate when people use names). The songs are sometimes catchy (really?), sometimes touching, always poignant and relevant. As it is with pretty much Conor Oberst has ever been a part of, many people will be turned off by his admittedly horrendous voice (he does sing, "Well I could've been a famous singer if I had someone else's voice" afterall). But if you can suck it up and just take it for what it is, you'll walk away entirely satisfied. Hopefully.

For outdoing himself, Conor Oberst (and whoever else is in Bright Eyes) make it to #5.

The Top 31 Songs of 2007 - #5
"1, 2, 3, 4" by Feist, from the album, The Reminder.

Jill's Pick
Kanye West: Graduation
Released: September 11, 2007

I personally think that Mr. West is some kind of musical genius. (There's that word again and someday we'll talk about that.) I do. I can't help it. The beats are tight (to borrow a phrase from, oh, I don't know, NWA) and the lyrics tend to run on the smirking smart side. I always look to his lyrics for the cleverness, the subtle jabs, the oh-so-poetic groupings of words that either make me chuckle (like "...since OJ had Isotoners...") or snort out a "Oh, that's so true."

There's a lot to be said about Kanye West. To me, it's like he gets what Hip-Hop and Rap was and what it should be. If you don't like him, this album won't do a thing for you. If you do, you should be able to appreciate, as I do, the ways he forges ahead even further into his ego, his talent, and his production standards. That genius thing puts so much space between himself and other rappers that maybe he is as awesome as he says to be.

My favorite thing about this album is his use of Labi Siffre, a 1970's Folk/Jazz performer on the track "I Wonder". I like that rappers like Kanye West and Nas aren't afraid to push the limits of their genre by bringing in a little Jazz or Folk or Gospel, all things you wouldn't expect to hear on a Rap album.

The best track: "I Wonder"

My favorite tracks:
--"I Wonder"
--"Good Life"
--"Can't Tell Me Nothing"
--"Flashing Lights" (which really I think is my favorite song on the entire album)

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