BEST ALBUM OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS (2007)

Chooglin'

The group's handle, taken from a Creedence Clearwater Revival song title meaning "to ball and have a good time," appeared on the album's cover in that goofy font made famous by the band Chicago. In other words, Chooglin' announced no need to be taken seriously, and a growing audience obliged them. Yet the presence of two former members of the sublime Midnight Evils—guitarist/singer Brian Vanderwerf and drummer Jesse Tomlinson (now playing Telecaster)—should have been a tip-off. With an in-house brass section called "the Horns of Eleganza," Chooglin' bring "Take Mine Down" to unanticipated heights. Their rave-up R&B punk is the kind of huge and natural sound that few have bothered trying to re-create since Rocket from the Crypt. The rest of Chooglin' is just as addictive and unstoppable—a bender that's too good to park in rehab.

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