2007 is overrated : albums of the year
as the year winds down to a close, it's time to look back at the best albums of 2007. there were so many great albums released this year that my list is limited to 10 only because i just couldn't find time to write up more than that. but if i had to expand it, this is how it would have gone:
11. the white stripes - icky thump
12. feist - the reminder
13. aqualung - memory man
14. the fratellis - costello music
15. the go! team - proof of youth
16. the six parts seven - casually smashed to pieces
17. keren ann - keren ann
18. cathy davey - tales of silversleeve
19. explosions in the sky - all of a sudden i miss everyone
20. leslie and the badgers - leslie and the badgers (#20 with only a few weeks worth of listening!)
with that, here are my ten favorite albums of 2007 (tracks of the year: [1-10] and [11-20]):
armchair apocrypha emusic
fat possum records, march 20, 2007
|andrew bird's silky smooth voice and effortless delivery sometimes makes it seem like he's not really trying. but careful listens to armchair apocrypha reveal an album so dense, so elaborate, and so intricate that you could not possibly have heard in one listen. the guitar plays a larger role than on past bird albums and nicely complements the more familiar violin and glockenspiel, lyrical complexities abound, and of course there is the whistling. it's an album that requires a bit of an investment on the part of the listener, but the payoff is substantial--the man is outrageously talented and this is the best album of the year for me. there is a significant sentimentality factor to armchair apocrypha as well, as listening to it in the car provided the soundtrack to a really great stretch of my year. hearing these songs again sparks some very very fond memories--a priceless attribute to an already incredible album.|
the meaning of 8
rebel group, april 10, 2007
"your 8th birthday"
|this album came to my attention via charles at heartache with hard work, and is a prime example why his is one of the best music blogs around. initially i had this pegged at number 7 for the year, but after a brief revisiting i remembered why i loved this one so much. sonically and lyrically, it's as good as anything else released this year, and, after taking a look at the rest of this list, it's obvious that that is saying a lot. but conceptually, the album is far and away the most affecting undertaking of the year. it begins with the title, a reference to the universality of the human experience that is exemplified by the many but similar meanings of the number 8 across cultures and religions. printed in nontoxic soyink on the 100% postconsumer recycled paper that constitutes the digipak sleeve is a fine, comprehensive explanation that concludes: "the number 8 symbolizes the moment where death and rebirth collide. it is the place where life gives birth to death. it is the place where death gives hope to life." the album documents craig minowa's struggle to come to terms with his own moment where death and rebirth collided--the 2002 death of his infant son kaiden--in the process creating a fine example of how powerful music can be in the right hands.|
ga ga ga ga ga emusic
merge records, july 10, 2007
"black like me"
"don't make me a target"
|it seems improbable that an album with this much soul could come from a man so white and from austin, texas. but soul is exactly what ga ga ga ga ga is full of, and britt daniel's pop sensibilities, swagger, and nasty guitar hooks create an instantly catchy, intensely likable, infinitely enjoyable record that seems infinitely stuck in my car cd player. this one carries with it some sentimental value as well, having been purchased on a mid-summer trip to seattle that was one of my fondest experiences all year.|
the stage names emusic
jagjaguar records, august 7, 2007
"our life is not a movie or maybe"
|i had never really listened to okkervil river before the stage names, and on initial listens i thought it might end up being my favorite album of the year. unfortunately, some of the novelty greatly wore off when i went through the back catalog, especially black sheep boy and down the river of golden dreams. these two earlier albums, both examinations of relationships and, for me, more relatable topics, struck such a chord with me that the farther removed newer album couldn't quite compete. but it's still a fantastic album. will sheff's lyrical prowess borders on the ridiculous in the what's-next "plus ones", and he manages to sing about his life as an entertainer with as much emotion and passion as he's always sung about broken hearts and new addictions. it's a swirling adventure of an album that travels from place to place and time to time with an ease that underscores how immensely talented and visionary will sheff really is.|
wincing the night away
sub pop, january 23, 2007
"a comet appears"
|excessive hype and lofty expectations probably conspired to knock some of the luster off before it even came out, and an early-in-the-year release doesn't bode well for an end-of-the-year list, but there is no denying that wincing the night away is a damn fine album. a quick refresher reminds me why i was listening to this non-stop back in february and march--irresistible guitar hooks, imaginative tales of girls of all different flavors, and the razor-sharp wit and lyricism of james mercer. it's a shame that their live show did not impress, but wincing the night away was a clear step forward into death cab for cutie's indie limelight.|
beggars banquet, may 22, 2007
"start a war"
|it took me a long time to really get into boxer and, looking back, i really don't know why. the slow, dramatic build of "fake empire" had me from the first listen, but the rest of the album just seemed to initially fade into obscurity for me. perhaps it was just the somber way my year came to a close that really made me appreciate the timbre in matt berninger's voice, but just in the last few months i've found myself coming back to boxer again and again. and what i've discovered is undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year--rich with thematic complexity, full of challenging lyrics, and the most impressive percussive display i've heard all year. a few more months like this and boxer could easily be in my top 3 for the year, but placing it at 6 for now is a safe bet considering it wasn't really even on my radar a few months ago.|
ato records, october 10, 2007
"jigsaw falling into place"
|the most-hyped album of the year. did i buy into it just like everyone else? you bet i did. and do i still think it was all well-deserved? absolutely. radiohead shocked everyone in early october and put the record execs on notice with their pay-what-you-want download scheme. all of the excitement and commotion might have obscured a lesser record, but in rainbows was exactly what so many fans hoped it would be--a vindication that all of the waiting on baited breath for a new album, all of the hype and all of the anticipation, are worth it; a reassurance that, yes, radiohead is still the best band on the planet. sonically, in rainbows is easily one of the most impressive albums of the year, with phil selway's percussive work playing off of colin greenwood's bass lines, and jonny greenwood being jonny greenwood (in a word, amazing).|
favourite worst nightmare
domino, april 24, 2007
|whatever people say i am, that's what i'm not was one of my favorite albums from 2006, but when costello music came out in march, it seemed like the fratellis had done arctic monkeys better than arctic monkeys did themselves. but then a few weeks later favourite worst nightmare and put an end to all that nonsense. the trademark chops and swagger are still there, but this time around the band displays a vulnerability and maturity that supplement and complement the endless hooks.|
sky blue sky
nonesuch records, may 15, 2007
"hate it here"
|it must first be said that, except in years that radiohead actually releases a new album, wilco is my favorite band. and with sky blue sky being the first studio release featuring the peerless nels cline, it was easily my most anticipated album of the year. my first few listens produced mixed feelings. there were moments where cline's guitar seemed a bit overdone (say in "impossible germany"), almost to the point of showing off. but then there were other moments, like in the opener "either way" where everything simply fit, and the guitar seemed to elevate the tenor of the song to mesmerizing heights. but after everything was said and done, and after seeing them perform in august, i came to appreciate even those overdone moments and the guitar interplay between nels cline and jeff tweedy. and sky blue sky became just another in a long line of great wilco records.|
saddle creek records, april 10, 2007
|for some reason i've been having a really difficult time trying to figure out what to say about cassadaga. maybe that's a sign that it shouldn't be on this list, but all i can remember is that there was a long stretch of the year when i was in love with this record. conor oberst's lyricism is as sharp as ever, and i believe his ear for melody and his musicianship are continuously evolving. slap the heir-to-dylan labels on him all you want, but i think he's carving out a pretty good case for people to be looking for the heir-to-oberst.|