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2007: The Year in Review from All Songs Considered

Host Bob Boilen talks with reviewers Carrie Brownstein, Will Hermes, Tom Moon and Meredith Ochs about the year's biggest surprises and letdowns in music. Hear their picks for the year's most innovative album, the best new band of 2007, the year's best song and more. Featured songs and artists are listed below.

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2007: The Year in Review

Levon Helm

Biggest Surprise: "I'm not sure why I was surprised it was so good, but it was so good. It's a collection of traditional stuff that's been handed down to him and contemporary songs... (Levon Helm) had throat cancer and for him to come back and sing like he does on this record is so tremendous." -- Meredith Ochs

Tabu Ley Rochereau

Biggest Surprise: "This is the first time in ages where (my biggest surprise) was an old record. It's some of the most beautiful singing that exists. It's just wonderful. There aren't many good compilations on Tabu Ley Rochereau that are worldwide and easily gettable. And this one is." -- Tom Moon

Flight of the Conchords

Biggest Surprise: "One night, it was late and I went downstairs. And I turned on the TV and this surprise has made me laugh all year long. I look forward to a full record from them soon." -- Bob Boilen

Alison Krauss and Robert Plant

Biggest Surprise: "It's amazing to realize (Robert Plant) is still a seaker and he's still searching out music to explore. And I was just surprised this was good and had a soul. I think Alison Krauss is immensely talented and when I saw she'd hooked up with Robert Plant I thought, 'yes!'." -- Carrie Brownstein

Iron and Wine

Biggest Surprise: "It did not strike me as being an Iron and Wine record and that's actually good. Sam Beam's records are usually hushed, quiet acoustic affairs. But for this record, it's a little louder it's a little feistier, it's a little psychedelic. The drums aren't played with brushes. So it surprised me as one of my top ten." -- Will Hermes


Biggest Letdown: "Is there anyone who wasn't disappointed in the Wilco record? The reason I love this time of year is that I go back and listen to things that other people love. So I've been going back over and over and listening to it. I'm not sure at what point I'll give up on it. Man oh man." -- Bob Boilen

The White Stripes

Biggest Letdown: "The White Stripes are a band I began really digging because they had this great schtick in their presentation and they had great songs. And now it sort of seems they have this great schtick that's getting a little weary, and I just didn't hear the songs on this record." -- Will Hermes

Joni Mitchell

Biggest Letdown: "Her first new record in a long time. She comes back with this record that sounds like parts that were assembled in various studios and thrown together in a computer. And almost every one of the tracts is a screed. This record we won't be going back at all unless we want to get yelled at." -- Tom Moon

PJ Harvey

Biggest Letdown: "She put her guitar down and that kind of disappointed me. I love her guitar playing so much and I guess I just miss that." -- Meredith Ochs


Biggest Letdown: "The disappointment is not in Radiohead as much as it is in myself. And Radiohead always reminds what a letdown I am because I never really get it. I cannot be the only person who feels that way. I like music that is difficult and challenging but there's this blankness that I can't get over." — Carrie Brownstein


Most Innovative: "What a great record. She put this album together largely on her own. She couldn't get into the U.S. because of immigration problems so she ended up going all around the world to other countries and putting together some of the most innovative backing tracks that anyone's done. Sampling. Bollywood. Beats that are the furthest thing from four-square." -- Will Hermes

Panda Bear

Most Innovative: "I suppose innovation is relative but I love how Animal Collective and the people that comprise the band have innovated the idea of solo projects. Most solo projects are stripped down acoustic affairs, but (this record) is a sprawling effort and I think more artists should shoot for Beach Boys-like stadium rally cries." -- Carrie Brownstein

Vampire Weekend

Most Innovative: "They're a rock band! But a lot's been made of their love of guitar lines that are obviously cribbed from African pop acts. But like hip-hop acts, they cobble bits from records and artists they like." -- Will Hermes

Blitzen Trapper

Most Innovative: "They sound a little like Grateful Dead meet Pavement. They're not afraid to destroy their songs in the middle of them. Everything unravels with this sloppy sledgehammer. They make me want to dance and I have to give them credit. I only had to hear the first four songs from this record to know they were my new favorite band." -- Carrie Brownstein

Lucinda Blackbear

Most Innovative: "They're led by Christian Gibbs, an incredibly talented guy. He's put this band together with the unlikeliest combination. He has this soaring falsetto. Then he's got this string section. The drummer is this hard-hitting drummer. So you have the strings, this guy singing a high, soaring falsetto and the strings. He's got this great sense of humor and it just works." -- Meredith Ochs


Most Innovative: "I don't even know if this can count as a band because to get these guys together to play a lot will be difficult. It's a collective built around Bill Frisell and Matt Chamberlain. They did three or four days of free association with tape rolling... They shaped this record that's really not a jazz record at all. It's really this swamp language that I found incredibly interesting and beautiful and very different." -- Tom Moon

LCD Soundsystem

Song of the Year: "It's such a difficult thing (picking a song of the year) it's almost ridiculous. But it had to be LCD Soundsystem's 'North American Scum' because any song that can make me laugh and shake my booty at the same time, that wins!" -- Meredith Ochs

Of Montreal

Song of the Year: "I'm just a sucker for a conflicted song. And I love a song that renders me useless and incapable of doing anything but listen to it. It's just a great pop song. I probably put it on more mix CDs than anything else this year." -- Carrie Brownstein

The National

Song of the Year: "I like to be spooked out a little. This song is about a guy walking around his friend's house, or perhaps an ex-lover's, while they're all partying and he's just there being a trespasser, wearing someone's green garden gloves. It's very weird." -- Tom Moon

Stephen Malkmus

Song of the Year: "I feel it's sort of cheating by choosing an old Dylan song as 'song of the year', but it's a pretty darn good song. That Dylan, he wrote some good lyrics. Steve Malkmus is like a cryptic, poetic songwriter very much in the Dylan tradition. On so many levels the themes of impersonation and mutable personas are flickering through that whenever I hear it." -- Will Hermes

Arcade Fire

Song of the Year: "It's a song about somebody who doesn't want to work in a building with planes coming down. But in essence it's also a song about someone who puts his children up on stage and makes money off them and that tear 'is it a good thing, is that a bad thing.' It's all about your beliefs. An amazing song." -- Bob Boilen