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From Madison to Azerbaijan: Steve's Top Ten Albums of 2007

Post by Steven Schwerbel on 12/18/2007 12:00pm

theboxer121807.jpgThis top ten list comes from Steven Schwerbel who has written some music articles for Dane101, but is also one of the founders of Letters In Bottles. Steve is currently working for the Peace Corp and is stationed in Azerbaijan so this list reflects what he had with him or has been able to obtain through his limited resources.

1. The National: Boxer

There's not much to say about a perfect album, so I'll confine myself to saying that on a cold night in Azerbaijan, with a thin rain turning the round outside to a soupy mud, and a wood fire burning in a small stove, and a good book, and maybe a glass of strong black tea, the deep voice of Matt Berninger and the just slightly melancholic and yet somehow hopeful sound of The National fits gorgeously.

2. Modest Mouse: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank

An improvement over Good News for People who Love Bad News, this is a rock solid release, and a darn good one for Azerbaijan. Dashboard is right at home in any Peace Corps dance party; the album's high tempo keeps pace with the kamikaze mini-bus drivers who are the ubiquitous form of public transport; and slower songs like People as Places as People and Little Motel are great for background while I'm reading next to my stove at night. This album has almost become the soundtrack to my first six months here.

3. Pale Young Gentlemen: (self-titled)

Although quite short, this is still a highly versatile blast of home. I reviewed the album for Dane101 before it was released, and my opinion of it has only gone up since then. PYG deserve the same level of respect as the Decemberists or DeVotchKa.

4. Bruce Springsteen: Magic

I've always been a partisan of the Boss, so it blew me away when I found this album in a care package from home. Bruce has returned to his rock'n'roll roots here, and both he and the E-Street Band are in fine form throughout. The tracks here are wide-open rockers, but they're hardly shallow, leaving a solid message behind the rock. His style of blue-collar, everyman rock deserves a high place in the indie-rock pantheon.

5. Bloc Party: Weekend in the City

Their second release shows Bloc Party in a slightly more mature mood, reminiscing about girls (I Still Remember) and taking on more political issues (Hunting for Witches). But they've retained the uptempo sound and tight drumming of Silent Alarm. Whatever Pitchfork may think, the grand gestures continue working just fine here.

6. Arcade Fire: Neon Bible

7. Andrew Bird: Armchair Apocrypha

8. Architecture in Helsinki: Places Like This

9. Cloud Cult: Meaning of 8

10. Interpol: Our Love to Admire