Tuesday, December 18

Mr Dogg's Top 25 of 07: 20-16

20) Smoke or Fire – This Sinking Ship
Serving up another batch of hardcore-sprinkled pop-punk, This Sinking Ship is a sharper and cleaner, but no less fierce sound for Smoke or Fire, whose first record Above the City was the best punk album of 05. While those who give the album only a cursory listen will not find much to distinguish SoF from any other punk band of the day, those in the know are aware of the socially-conscious-but-not-soap-boxing lyrical prowess of Joe McMahon and the band’s ability to write the kind of pop riffs that get stuck in the brain long after the CD is done spinning. Sure, maybe its just pop-punk, but listening to “The Patty Hearst Syndrome” or “This Sinking Ship,” one realizes that no one is doing it better than Smoke or Fire.

19) Liars – Liars
If ’06’s Drum’s Not Dead was peyote-fueled journey exploring the duality of the creative mind, Liars is the morning after, struggling to recover from the euphoric dreamscape before life and time catches up. This is a tense album; from the terror-striking drive of “Plaster Casts of Everything” to the calming resolution of “Protection,” Liars plays out like a man struggling to grip his own mortality. Turns out, Liars aren’t demi-gods after all. They are men. They bleed, feel, and worry just like you and I, and this record is a fantastic statement of that fact, both defiant and terrified. Needless to say, not a party album.

18) Band of Horses – Cease to Begin
Something is very right in the great woods of the Northwest where Band of Horses call their home. Back with more of their Neil Young-esque vocals and My Morning Jacket influenced expansive nature-rock, Cease to Begin finds Band of Horses taking there time and letting their songs breathe. Tracks take their time to develop, and blossom into masterworks that capture the simple beauty of everyday living (“General Specific” “Marry Song”). Still, the albums finest moments come when Band of Horses decided to pick it up and have some macho fun with their breathy jam rock. Tunes like “Is There a Ghost” and “Islands on the Coast,” while not as deep, are twice as fun and prove that Band of Horses is more than just indie-rock stoners.

17) Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – Living with the Living
For the last seven years, Ted Leo has been a pillar of sincerity decked out in trappings of pop hook catchiness and punk rock aesthetic. That reputation is maintained on Living with the Living, an album that walks the line between political and populous with great success. Besides one lame protest song and one poorly planned Clash rip-off, Living with the Living boasts some of Leo’s catchiest tunes since “Me and Mia.” The rollicking “Sons of Cain” and the classic rock-pop of “Who do You Love” are sure to get the people moving, while less apparent tracks like “La Costa Brava” and “The Lost Brigade” will yield new delights after repeat listens. And if you think you’re man enough, try to sit through the ball-smashing “C.I.A” without pumping a fist. Living with the Living never re-invents the wheel, but it makes for a great listen for the beach-bound or the socially minded.

16) The Go! Team – Proof of Youth
Some bands you really need to see live to understand. Artists like Man Man and Andrew W.K. are great on plastic, but you won’t really get it completely until you see it live. I’m tempted to throw The Go! Team into that category, but that would imply that Proof of Youth is only good live, which is a filthy lie. “Grip Like a Vice” grabs you and pulls you out the chair. “Doing it Right” laughs in your face when you try not to dance. “Titanic Vandalism” and “Keys to the City” scoff at your attempts to ignore their 70s funk samples and driving rhythms. An album best played at full volume to a room full of party people, listening to Proof of Youth is like being 8 all over again, finding joy in jumping rope and playing freeze tag with friends. Crack for the ears, it’s the kind of album that inspires, at the very least, smiles from all who hear it. Get up and dance.

Check Back Tomorrow for 15-10!

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