It is hard to remember a better year. Maybe there are fewer standout albums, but for strength in depth, 2007 has been a stunner. From over 150 albums reviewed, there was a strong case for about 50 making it to the Top 20... How to leave out Spoon and the Foo Fighters, Arcade Fire and MIA? In the end, these were my favourite ten albums of 2007, the ones I already go back to time and time again.
1. Stephen Fretwell - Man On The Roof
Britain's best singer-songwriter. This second album is a whole leap forward from his incredible debut, a remarkable achievement for anyone who started to doubt that this format could still sound fresh.
2. Delta Spirit - Ode To Sunshine
An album that makes you care about music, so effortless and enthusiastic in its rock, its folk, its nods to other bands. Think Cold War Kids but with a Lennon-McCartney writing team.
3. Bruce Springsteen - Magic
Not Springsteen's best, but for anyone who wanted a return to the rock sound, after the folk years, there is enough here to stun, please, and make you sing at the top of your voice.
4. Battles - Mirrored
A band that divide opinion with a sharpened axe, Battles make the most addictive genre-bending music, built around a rock-solid live drummer, and endless loops, samples and tunes. Prog rock for the year 2008...
5. Radiohead - In Rainbows
Radiohead's best album since OK Computer. Enough said.
6. Octoberman - Run From Safety
Like some Beck/ Bright Eyes hybrid, there is something familiar and something wonderfully new about Octoberman's second album - melancholy, melody, compulsive rhythm.
7. Southeast Engine - A Wheel Within A Wheel
If Wilco's your thing, but they can be a bit samey these days, throw in some Southeast Engine, a band from Athens, Ohio, which is almost willfully anti-fashion, but right on the moment. This album makes you feel good for having listened.
8. Will Stratton - What The Night Said
Iron and Wine disappointed this year. Will Stratton didn't - a simply gorgeous debut disc that any Snow Patrol, Jose Gonzalez or Sufjan Stevens fan would love from start to finish. Sensitive singer-songwriters keep getting better.
9. Jacob Golden - Revenge Songs
Like an on-form Jeff Buckley, Golden's voice can soar, whisper and haunt, while the songs are honed by living room shows, endless tours and wonderful observation. No album will make you ache the way this one will.
10. Dinosaur Jr - Beyond
Some way off to the left of Nirvana when Cobain was doing his thing, who could have hoped that Dinosaur Jr would make a listenable album in 2007. That they could make an album sound as though they'd never been away, despite a ten-year lay-off, was astonishing. Grunge never sounded better.
11. Akron / Family - Love Is Simple
12. Bishop Allen - The Broken String
13. White Stripes - Icky Thump
14. Beasts of Bourbon - Little Animals
15. Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
16. Annuals - Be He Me
17. Caribou - Andorra
18. Josh Ritter - The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter
19. Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation
20. The Boggs - Forts