Sunday, January 06, 2008

Sunless Shortlist: Albums 2007

I know I say this every year, but I really mean it this time. 2007 was an unbelievable year for music. Usually when I do this list, I struggle to put together a full list. Usually the last picks are filler.

This year I struggled to put everything I loved into this list. It's pretty amazing that Apostle of Hustle, Band of Horses, Bill Callahan, the New Pornographers, Of Montreal, Phosphorescent, and the White Stripes are not here. I loved their albums this year, but couldn't make room.

There are a couple of albums I wanted but didn't get (Sunset Rubdown, LCD Soundsystem, about fifty Robert Pollard albums). I guess that's a good thing for now.

This was also the year all my favorite bands sold out. You couldn't sit through any commercial breaks without hearing songs by Feist or Spoon or the New Pornographers or Wilco or Andrew Bird or Of Montreal, blah, blah, blah. That's fine. I like money too, so it's hard to blame them. Plus it's nice to hear my favorite bands at random moments throughout the day.

Anyhoo, on with the show:

Top 15 Albums of 2007

15. The Shins - Wincing the Night Away

The first great album of 2007. I always thought the Shins were a little overrated, but they killed it on this album. There are a couple of blah moments, but the rest of the songs are amazing. Their best album to date in my book.

14. The Apples in Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder

This is the Apples in Stereo’s masterpiece. It’s long (especially compared to their other releases) and at a couple times seems repetitive, but it is a wonderful album. A perfect summer album. It makes you feel great to listen to, but it’s moody and thoughtful as well.

13. The Fiery Furnaces - Widow City

The Fiery Furnaces keep getting more and more accessible with every release. Doesn’t matter to me, I love this band. I love the concept to this album: Make a modern-sounding album using only ‘70’s equipment. It works, and it is fierce.

12. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

So the new Wilco isn’t the best album of the year? Their two previous albums were my favorites of 2002 and 2004. This is still a great album, just not my flavor in comparison. Like I said when this was released, this album isn’t a step forward or a step backward. It’s a step sideways. It turned off plenty of people, but these are my boys. Well at least Sky Blue Sky gets the coolest album cover of the year, hands down.

11. Panda Bear - Person Pitch

Okay so I’m not cool enough to make this the number one album of the year. I’m not even cool enough to put it in the top ten. Doesn’t matter, I love this album all the same. It drones, but it’s never boring. It’s very complex and can be difficult to understand, but this isn’t a car stereo album. It’s a headphones album.

10. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

Not as good as Funeral, but this album really grew on me over time. They sound like they are holding back a bit, but they don’t sound nervous. I didn’t get that at first. These guys are as confident as a band can be right now. Why not? They are superstars now. But they deserve it. They are that good.

09. The Good, the Bad, & the Queen - s/t

Maybe the most overlooked album of the year. I’ve said it a million times before here: Damon Albarn can do no wrong. There were moments that knocked me out when I first heard them, and the rest came with time. I love this album.

08. John Vanderslice - Emerald City

Oh JV. How do you keep making albums I love? When will you do something I hate? I don’t think it’s possible. Another stunning album from the perfect studio rat.

07. Okkervil River - The Stage Names

It took me quite a while to truly appreciate this album. I liked it at first. I really liked it a month later. Now I love it. It’s not overly complicated. It’s a little simple, but not a pop album. Just.... just go get it.

06. Radiohead - In Rainbows

Since getting this album on January 1st, it’s completely taken me over. I’ll be analyzing this album more than any of their others since Kid A. This album is simply stunning. It’s hard to listen to when I drive because I get so lost in its sound. It’s the perfect Radiohead album. You can’t compare it to any of their other albums, but you can at the same time. Confusing, but that’s the point right?

05. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

I don’t know what else to say about this album. I’ve been talking it up since I bought it and immediately put it in my stereo. It’s Spoon at their pinnacle, but I’m guessing they’ll keep getting better.

04. Feist - The Reminder

The moment I stopped comparing it to Let It Die was the moment I could truly appreciate it. It’s a rollercoaster listening to this album, and it’s a blast the whole way. It’s fun. It’s sad. It freaking rocks. It’s just beautiful all around. She became a little overplayed as the year progressed, but she is still as charming as ever. She also put on the best concert I saw all year. And it was before the iPod commercial, so the high school girls in attendance were minimal. That’s good!

03. The National - Boxer

This was the year this band took over my life. I can’t remember the last time a band has made me obsess this much in just a couple of months. I’ve sucked up their discography and studied it at length. They are just amazing, and will keep getting better. I’m telling you, the National is the next Wilco. Yeah, actually that’s a good comparison.

02. Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha

Holy crap, this album shakes my bones. It’s so clever, I can’t help but laugh when I think about it. It’s so beautiful, I get goosebumps singing it to myself. In just a few years, Andrew Bird has flawlessly transformed himself from bit-player to headliner. This is the kind of mad scientist songwriter you write books about, except I think he’s a pretty normal guy. His concert I saw this summer was amazing too. It was almost dreamlike. Oh, you’re so cool.

01. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam

Okay, so I never thought I’d have an Animal Collective album at the top of my list. I never thought they’d ever be on one of these lists, period. I guess I was never cool enough to get them. Well I didn’t suddenly get cool this year, these guys just put out one amazing album. It’s weird and it’s sweet, all within a song. This was their year, with this album and Panda Bear’s solo album. They took over the world this year. They deserved to take over the world. To me, they transformed themselves from David Lynch-like (or overly pretentious) freakshows, to stunningly viable artists in a year’s span.


So 2007 was killer for music. 2008 has me pretty fired up too. New stuff coming from Cat Power, REM, James, and Weezer. Look at February 19 (American Music Club and the Mountain Goats) and March 18 (Destroyer and DeVotchKa)! Hell yeah!!