Dec 19, 2007

Best 50 Albums of 2007

The album. Such a historic sounding word now. Especially in these days of iTunes and Emusic and downloading, illegal or otherwise. Apparently the first album was released in 1909. Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite (It rocked, btw). It was actually like a photo album. 4 78 RPM discs in an album style book. 1948 saw the introduction of the 12 inch 33 1/3 vinyl disc. Fast forward to 2007. The term album is still used but many people don't seem to buy them as much. They cherry pick songs, only briefing stopping by to consume, not experience. Background music for their lives. As CD sales fall, I seem to be buying more and more of them. I just like the physical copy in my hand. I like to view the artwork and read the liner notes. I also definitely like to listen to an album from start to finish. Listening to the ebb and flow of the music, as the artist intended. Thankfully there are still many artists pushing the boundaries. Trying to make special music that can make you feel special.

I would have to say that 2007 seemed like a remarkable year in music. I was going to do a top 40, but I extended it to 50 as I was ruing that I would have to exclude more albums I liked from my list. In fact as I poured over many of the albums that I liked I could easily have gone to a top 100, but I might have lost all of my readership. So I stuck with 50 and I do believe that this list has far more depth than that of 2006. Just a few observations before I start.

-I have only just obtained a copy of Bon Iver's album. Well MP3s anyway. So far I love it, but to be fair I need more time to evaluate it properly. It is also getting a release on Jagjaguwar early in 2008. So maybe I can cheat and include it on a 2008 list.
-Other albums by Mice Parade, Vic Chestnutt, Scout Niblett, The Acorn, Oakley Hall, Underlapper, Castanets and Sleeping States are also new to my collection. Just really have not had the time to evaluate them.
-Every album reviewed here was purchased by myself. No freebies here. So there are sure to be albums that I have missed along the way. But I would like to think it is a good representation of the year in music.

1-Random Spirit Lover-Sunset Rubdown
Was there ever any doubt? I don't think so. This masterpiece stands alone as an original creation of supreme artistry. Complex and beautiful to the nth degree, it gets better with every listen. And I loved it after listen one. I have already written so much this year about the magnificence of this album, that I am running out of words to expound any further. Just know this, I consider Spencer Krug to be our generation's finest songwriter.
MP3: Up On Your Leopard, Upon the End of Your Feral Days

2-Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga-Spoon
Ah, Britt, how do you do it? How do you write such seemingly simple songs, which in turn, reveal themselves to be eternally complex? Whatever your secret is, keep doing it. I believe this is Spoon's finest work. Concise, taut and brimming with soul and melody, it is well rounded and full of heart. Not a bad song exists here. But having said that, Spoon do not write bad songs. The only shame is, a lot of the world is still ignorant of this fact.
MP3: The Underdog

3-Plague Park-Handsome Furs
For a while, I thought this would be number one. I love this album so much. Beautifully put together, with heart and passion and stark tenderness, just heart breaking. Dan and Alexei wrote a complex and complete album of isolation and longing. The bare feelings seep through the speakers. If only all music was made with this amount of heart and awareness. And I could listen to Dan Boeckner sing the phone book.
MP3: What We Had

4-You, You're A History in Rust-Do Make Say Think
This album was SO under rated. Elegant and sumptuous, majestic and serene. Blissful guitars that wept under the crush of humanity. The adept placement of vocals only added to the strength on display here. More feeling here in one guitar chord then most bands could produce in an entire body of work.
MP3: A With Living

5-Strawberry Jam-Animal Collective
Is there is a more creative, organic group of musicians on the face of the earth then AC? Marching to the beat of their own drums, they are so in touch with their muse, that I am constantly astonished at the genius they produce album after album. I have so much faith in them, that I am predicting that they will produce their true masterpiece in, oh say, 2012.
MP3: Peacebone

6-Person Pitch-Panda Bear
If Animal Collective are the drink of life, then Panda Bear is the straw. This album is a direct and unequivocal statement of beauty. Multi layered and emotionally resonant, the melodies shimmer and shine. Rising up and collapsing at the same time, this is music for all occasions as it represents the very sinew of life.
MP3: Bros

7-Boxer-The National
2007 became the year I fell under the spell of The National. "Alligator" went from being a sometimes played album to becoming a modern masterpiece. Then "Boxer" came out and its dark and earthy tones entranced me all year long. Matt Berninger's voice is a weapon of unrivalled beauty and the drumming is just exquisite. Songs that brood and hover, dark and delicious, sad yet full of pure emotional truth.
MP3: Apartment Story

8-Friend And Foe-Menomena
As perfect a 3 song opening that you would find. Thankfully the rest of the album lives up to the quality of the start. Inventive and wildly creative music expressed with immense heart and courage. Startlingly beautiful and deeply moving, I wish all music had this much brains and heart.
MP3: Wet and Rusting

9-The Stage Names-Okkervil River
The work of a mature and great band. Will Sheff has never sounded better. Virtually peerless as a song writer, he has found new ways here to entertain and enlighten. As any great songwriter, he has many strings to his bow. Not content to produce a BSB II, he has instead created perhaps Okkervil River's most entertaining work yet. And that is saying something.
MP3: Our Life is Not a Movie, or Maybe

10-Neon Bible-Arcade Fire
No sophomore jinx here. If it were considered nigh on impossible to follow "Funeral", then this Canadian collective have done as fine a job possible. Darker and more intense then their debut, it has its fair share of anthemic moments, yet it contains quieter moments of power and beauty. Hopefully as this band becomes bigger and bigger they won't lose what made them so special in the first place.
MP3: Intervention

11-All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone-Explosions In The Sky
After a short hiatus, these sonic masters from Texas return with another triumph. If not quite the masterpiece level of their previous two albums, it is none the less a quietly brooding tapestry of instrumental sounds. Their sound is always so giving and tender, reaching emotional places where most other bands fear to tread. Glorious.

12-Pride-Phosphorescent
The crackle of human emotion. Feeling and substance overflow to create a tangible concoction of sublime and tender sounds. Matthew Houck's voice conveys a broken spirit, but the connection is so real, it is virtually impossible not to be moved by its depth.

13-Spirit If...-Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew
Kevin Drew embraces life. He sees all the blood, sweat and tears. He feels it. He gets it. Continuing in the tradition of BSS, this is a sprawling epic, full of vitality. Joy sits quite comfortably next to pain here. Grandiose and yet, oh so tender. A true celebration of music.

14-Becoming All Things-Zookeeper
A pure joy to listen to. Meshing many styles and sounds, this is quite a triumph. Raucous anthems are placed next to tempered ballads. A celebration of life, an affirmation of moving forward, this is a great debut.

15-Ash Wednesday-Elvis Perkins
So real, it hurts. Beautifully tender and remarkably honest, Elvis' voice crackles and murmurs over tales of real loss and sorrow. Pain never sounded so good.

16-Some Loud Thunder-Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
This is a very good record. Repeat, this is a very good record. In some ways more complex and daring then their excellent debut. The hype might have died but in its place is an excellent band writing excellent music.

17-Tears of the Valedictorian-Frog Eyes
Unique and startling. Blindingly original, Frog Eyes' existence should be applauded each and every day. Carey Mercer's songs of awe and inspiration require dedicated listening, but they are eternally rewarding. Gob smacked and bewildered, I am.

18-Wild Mountain Nation-Blitzen Trapper
An amalgam of sounds, a maelstrom of mischief. Straddling many genres there is a freshness and daring on display here, that is lacking in most music. New country for the new age.

19-The Flying Club Cup-Beirut
Boy genius goes French. His debut was startlingly good, but this is even better. Luxurious and elegant, this is music which is timeless and effortless.

20-My Ion Truss-Minus Story
Yes, Minus Story are the world's most under rated band. Their fractured pop tales reveal a quiet and inner beauty. Pop songs grow and flower, before bursting into mini anthems of pain and regret.

21-Love Is Simple-Akron/Family
Harmonies, vocals, melodies abound. Crazy and beautiful all at once, the human heart bursts forward here on this unique album. Experimental, yet immersed in traditional sounds. Transcendental.

22-Armchair Apocrypha-Andrew Bird
The whistling genius returns with a sublime collection of heartfelt and heart warming songs. Gorgeous strings combine with tender vocals to produce perhaps his best work yet.

23-The Submarine-Whitley
Australian album of the year. Gorgeous pop melodies and authentic sounds.

24-Challengers-The New Pornographers
If not as immediate as their previous work, just as good. More deliberate but still retains that pop charm.

25-Cotton Teeth-The Snake The Cross The Crown
One of my many trips this year into pure American sounds. Effective and true song writing. Pure country soul, deliciously good.

26-Sky Blue Sky-Wilco
They might have mellowed, but the great songs are still there.

27-Cassadaga-Bright Eyes
It might contain a couple of weak points, but this is still a great collection of songs. Conor still has it.

28-Icky Thump-The White Stripes
Jack White still has it too, no doubt about it.

29-Two Gallants-Two Gallants
Their most subdued effort yet, but a testament to their great talents.

30-We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank-Modest Mouse
Maybe the true glory days are gone, but there are many great songs here.

31-War Elephant-Deer Tick
A great young talent produces blood curdling and heat stopping songs.

32-The National Anthem Of Nowhere-Apostle Of Hustle
Sultry and sophisticated, mature and majestic.

33-The Pretender-We All Have Hooks For Hands
Precocious and exciting, full of life and love. A pure joy.

34-Children Running Through-Patty Griffin
Classically beautiful. A glorious voice that will melt your heart.

35-The Reminder-Feist
You know the songs, I will never tire of them. Glorious vocals.

36-Emotionalism-The Avett Brothers
An apt title, heart and passion abounds here. Pure country gold.

37-American Hearts-AA Bondy
See above. A delightful discovery, true and honest.

38-The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse-The Besnard Lakes
A glorious and sumptuous record, aims high and mostly gets there.

39-The Broken String-Bishop Allen
Vastly under rated, if only all Pop music had this amount of heart.

40-Cease to Begin-Band of Horses
Ben Bridwell's voice is enough to elevate this album above good.

41-No One Will No Where You've Been-The Roadside Graves
More American gold. A rollicking road trip through the States.

42-Voxtrot-Voxtrot
Flawless EPs meant this had unrealistic expectations, but this is very good.

43-Cruel Guards-The Panics
J Award win was well deserved. Quintessentially Australian.

44-Sing The Greys-Frightened Rabbit
These Scottish pop maestros concocted an album of great staying power.

45-Raven And The White Night-Odawas
Glorious and original, soars to strange and wonderful heights.

46-Wincing The Night Away-The Shins
Didn't measure up to their first 2 masterpieces, but it is still a fine album.

47-Five Roses-Miracle Fortress
Blissful and brimming with sunny moments. A mini pop masterpiece.

48-Copia-Eluvium
Designed to calm you and give you serenity, it achieved its aim.

49-Less Talk More Paper Scissors-The Paper Scissors
A raucous and soulful effort. Full of fun and passion, a great debut.

50-The Meaning of 8-Cloud Cult
Complex and passionate. Would have finished higher, with some editing.

9 Comments:

  • At December 20, 2007 , Blogger James said...

    Wayne,

    Very comprehensive list - you have excellent taste. Glad to see several of my lesser known favorites on here as well (Bondy, Graves, Deer Tick) - they are all remarkable records.

    Well done,
    James

     
  • At December 20, 2007 , Blogger James said...

    Wait! No Radiohead? What the?

     
  • At December 20, 2007 , Anonymous James S said...

    No real surprises with your number one mate hahahaha. An excellent list though.

    Not sure I can list any more than my top 5's for the year though. Too exhausting to even do that, let alone a top 50!

     
  • At December 21, 2007 , OpenID bill1410 said...

    Great list as usual, Wayne. Obviously I agree with #1 and that will be on my list coming out next week. I gotta agree with james, though, and say I don't have the energy to put up 50! albums. Well done.

    (By the way, I haven't finalized my list, but I think about 6 of our top 10 will be the same)

     
  • At December 21, 2007 , Blogger Christopher said...

    Blogger James said...

    Wait! No Radiohead? What the?

    December 20, 2007

    Thank God!!!

    Animal Collective is the sound of the future.

     
  • At December 22, 2007 , Anonymous anne said...

    this is a great list! I don't think I need to argue with you on any of the rankings...haha. but yes where is radiohead?

    your beirut description made me laugh. =)

    oh yeah, I was just going to tell you that Spoon was coming to the AU, but seems like you already know!

    ~ anne

     
  • At December 22, 2007 , Anonymous ro said...

    Someone has been a very busy man...but very impressive list there Wayne!

    I wish I had spent more time on Sunset and Phosphorescent.

     
  • At December 29, 2007 , Anonymous Moshable Music said...

    I like the list ..I really appriciate your work . its really awesome.It would be better if you would have added some pics here.

     
  • At January 01, 2008 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    best albums city....
    http://sergica.miniville.fr/sec/

     

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