Top 10 Albums of 2007
The year wouldn’t be complete without Sophie Zine’s second annual Top 10 album battle between Kellen McGugan and Matt Lackey. Last year, Beruit’s Gulag Orkestar and TV On The Radio’s Return to Cookie Mountain topped their lists. This year, you’ll see some of the obvious and expected Top 10 name drops, but there are plenty of surprises ahead. Get ready to start talkin’ shit.
Forget what you’ve heard about anyone not being able to understand Liars. Sure their past few efforts have been eclectic to the 9’s, but their latest self-titled effort experiments without losing your attention. Awash with reverb, fuzz and a mess of other sounds you’ll never decipher, this long player will make you curious about their back catalogue, if you’re a first time listener. Bravo, Liars.
9. Devendra Banhart – Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
I’ve never been a fan of samba, nor do I claim to be, but Devendra and his band of weirdo’s really hit the mark with Smokey. This album takes you on a lazy journey to every back porch and haze-filled sitting room in California. Devendra still keeps his signature croon, whilst instigating his gobbledegook Spanish tongue freely on many key tracks.
8. Radiohead – In Rainbows
You can hassle me all you want for not placing this higher when you see me. This album is excellent, without a doubt. The band brings back some guitar snarl and stay true to some Kid A keys. The initial digital-only release is genius as well. My only quarrel is the lack of experimentation… WHERE IS IT? I need something new besides a rehash!
7. Black Lips – Good Bad Not Evil
The flower punk quartet from Atlanta finally bring it all together to produce a throwback album that’s as coherent as it is catchy. Striking a 50s vein that feels untouched in the music of today while mixing in gutter punk from whenever is what Black Lips have come to find as their most dangerous weapon. Be afraid!
6. Jens Lekman – Night Falls Over Kortedala
Dark horse record of the year! Sweet, sensual pop brought straight from the 70s, Lekman hardly gets it wrong on the album that will be sneaking onto Best Of lists all across the web. Be sure to check out “Sipping On The Sweet Nectar.”
5. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
The James Murphy-fronted LCD Soundsystem is easily one of the best dance records of the year. Never mind constant sampling and metronome monotony, LCD keep it real with rootsy beats and otherworldly keys back with James Murphy’s voice-of-the-people sneer. In ten years, this record will be remixed 1,000 times over, but no remix will sound as sweet.
4. Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
If this record hadn’t had so much time to be forgotten (it was released in early January), then there’s no doubt this would be a number one with many people. Kevin Barnes strikes gold with dark, sadistic lyrics backed by squeaky-clean funk from another planet. With the upgrade to a quite theatrical live show, Of Montreal flex their indie pop muscles.
3. Justice – Cross
Who ever thought that two Parisian boys with a few keyboards and a Mac could make an album that could top the dance giant LCD Soundsystem? Backed with Michael Jackson beat signature’s and immeasurable catchiness, Justice have given scene kids all across the globe something to dance about. Lesson learned: If you have a New Years party this year, put this on and be prepared to get arrested.
2. Jarvis Cocker – The Jarvis Record
The dirty uncle of Britpop gets it all right on his first record in a long long time. I honestly can’t remember a song I listened to more this year than “Don’t Let Him Waste Your Time” or “Black Magic.” This is digestible Britpop with the classic Jarvis frills plus everything addicting about a man who doesn’t need to prove himself yet continues to do so time and time again.
1. The Veils – Nux Vomica
Hats off for the most sincere and heart-wrenching record of 2007. Finn Andrews tortured throat spits earnest and difficult poetry (that you wish you had thought of five years ago) to bring the love of your life home to you. There is something in each and every one of the songs on Nux Vomica that will send a defiant chill of loss and love tumbling through your extremities. Though somewhat unnoticed, this is one record you absolutely cannot miss in 2007.
My distaste for 80s music almost rivals my disdain for all-to-obscure sounding vocals . But, with that being said, I still have faith that good music can come from either. This is a fun album with very catchy lyrics and melodies. Like to whistle? You’ll like “Young Folks” then. This may be the year of the reverb, once again Peter Bjorn and John rely heavily on vocals lost in reverb. That’s okay, though, it sounds good. And I love the drums throughout the whole album. The title is a lie!
9. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
I have a crush on Wilco, it’s true. Though it’s hard for Wilco to do me wrong, I’ll admit I was a little scared after their 2004 release of A Ghost is Born, but Sky Blue Sky has renewed my hope in my beloved Wilco. Jeff Tweedy is one of best songwriters of the past 15 years and continues to show that. There are a lot of solo guitar parts, but impressive ones. “Please Be Patient With Me” reveals how a once drug addict and rock star hopeful deals with his personal relationships. “Either Way” doesn’t really sound like any other of Wilco’s past tunes. This is not the best Wilco album, but it is a very good album indeed.
8. The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
The best word I can think of for the overall sound of this album is gigantic. There is no empty space left in Neon Bible, which isn’t a bad thing. The albums title track addresses some major issues that modern day “religion” faces. The next track, “Intervention,” opens with a booming organ, as if you just walked into church. “Windowstill” expresses other issues that face the current American mindset with lines like, “MTV what have you done to me? Save my soul, set me free,” “World War III, when are you coming for me? Been kicking up sparks to set the flames free.” Dark album some may say, but I appreciate it when someone has something to say.
7. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
Too much repetition in music drives me crazy, but LCD Soundsystem seems to have pulled it off. If you’re planing a dance party, throw this on the record player, and see what happens. “Someone Great” is an instant classic, and by far my favorite track. For the most part though, all I can think about when I listen to this album is dance, dance, dance!
6. Rogue Wave – Asleep at Heaven’s Gate
I listened to “Chicago X 12” at least 20 times in a row after the first time I heard it. Every song on this album is solid and well written, despite what some other reviews have stated. It has just enough overdrive and just enough pop to satisfy a wide variety of listeners. “Harmonium,” the albums first track is six minutes and 36 seconds of ups and down. “Christians in Black” is the most mellow track, showing their softer side of the album; not that there is much of a hard side to begin with.
5. Menomena – Friend and Foe
This is what happens when three guys are forced to stay indoors while the Pacific Northwest gets drenched: a high energy album with lots of banging drums, guitars, keys and bass, all looped together. Clever lyrics will be in your head for weeks after listening to this album, so heads up. Like Iron & Wine, Menomena conveys songwriting progression with the lyrics on this album . “There’s so much more left to do, well, I’m not young but I’m not through,” in “Muscle’n Flo,” expresses my deep down wishes for the bands future.
4. Iron & Wine – The Shepherds Dog
Is this Iron & Wine? I have enjoyed all of Sam Beam’s previous albums, but this album is the perfect progression. Bringing in a full band was a great move; there are plenty of different instruments used on this album, but the best part about it is that it still retains that same old time, country feel. “Carousel” features heavily layered vocals and beautiful keys. “Resurrection Fern” gives you your old Iron & Wine fix, and ” Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog)” has a strange hint of reggae. Best Iron & Wine album yet.
3. Papercuts – Can’t Go Back
Vocals lost in reverb and feel-sorry-for-me lyrics are usually annoying, but Papercuts pull it off in style. “A girl, she can look at you make you feel real good. But she can also treat you like you’re just a piece of wood,” you can’t help but feel a little sorry for him, right? The songs also display good variety, from pop to 50s rock. “Dear Employee” opens the album off to a more upbeat sound, and it fades up and down throughout the whole album. Very good live show to back up a very good album. “John Brown” is my favorite track on this album.
2. Okkervil River – The Stage Names
I have a really hard time listening to this album, because I find it difficult to listen to just one song. Every song on this album is great. It just flows right through and you haven’t even noticed you’ve just listened to the whole thing. “Savannah Smiles” gives you a much needed break from dancing to the first three songs. “Plus Ones” brings the tempo back up and leads to the best track on the album, “A Girl In Port.” Steel guitar never fit so well. I love albums that can make me dance one minute and cry the very next.
1. Radiohead – In Rainbows
A four year wait was well worth it. This album is not only the best release of 2007, but it also made a bold statement with its online release. There aren’t too many bands that seem to stand for much these days, and Radiohead’s attitue is refreshing. To me, this album seems like older Radiohead more than anything, but still new. “Bodysnatchers” was the song that stood out to me when I first listened to this album, bringing back some rock to their sound. Thom Yorke’s voice has never sounded so beautiful as it does in Nude. “Reckoner” is on my top 10 list of most beautiful songs ever. Everything about it is beautiful. Radiohead has proved once again that they are one of the best bands out right now and of all time.