Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Top Ten Albums of 2007

Sometime in January or February, I was asked to provide a list of my top 5 favorite albums of 2007 for the website I used to write for, http://www.downtownmoneywaster.com/ , on which you can read reviews of the newest Sunset Rubdown and Fiery Furnaces records, as well as a review of the Les Savy Fav/Blonde Redhead/LCD Soundsystem/Arcade Fire mega-concert at Randall's Island in October of 2007....As you can see we have some catching up to do.

Later I will cut and paste the Top 5 albums I prepared for that feature, which was disincluded due to management oversights. Also not ever included was a review I wrote of the film "Control" which will be added shortly thereafter to this blog.

The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America
Did this come out in 2007? It did right? Early in the year maybe, March or April at the latest. While not as tight and focused as 2006's Separation Sunday, BAGIA has an abundance of great songs which played live as well as the rest of their oeuvre. It is a slightly more ambitious offering than they've attempted in the past, and highly successful. Still not their best in my opinion, but evidence that they are certainly one of the best (and most prolific) bands currently at work.

Fiery Furnaces - Widow City
Aforementioned in the DMW.com preface, Widow City holds up better than the Furnaces previous offering, Bitter Tea. Whether Blueberry Boat is better, I cannot say (but it probably is). Still, Widow City is almost like if their "EP" (arguably their single strongest release) were stretched out to a whole-album's length. "Ex-Guru" and "My Egyptian Grammar" and "Duplexes of the Dead"/"Automatic Husband" all point in a pop direction, while album opener "The Philadelphia Grand Jury" riffs on the typical FF songwriting approach (read: descriptions of weird jobs, Eleanor Friedberger making inane threats, paperwork and requirements at the municipal, state and federal level). "Uncle Charlie" might have been something on "EP" if they had written it earlier, a crazy drum-solo-opening scorcher which might be the best single song on the album (it is at least definitely the shortest). "Wicker Whatnots" contains my favorite single line on the album, which if you read my full review, will be referenced.

Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover
I gave this album 5 stars and said it might be better than OK Computer when I reviewed it. Okay, I may have been exaggerating a little bit, but it's epic and beautiful from beginning to end in the same way. Barely a wasted track, barely a wasted minute, still very long, very dense, not worth explaining any further, just listen to the first track and if you like it, buy the album. Likewise for the previous review, additional comments will be found at the full album review on the previously mentioned website.

Dinosaur Jr - Beyond
While it is not exactly "You're Living All Over Me" or what I used to regard as the best Dinosaur album "Where You Been," "Beyond" is an exercise in setting up a new template for an old band with an original lineup that may have never fully realized its potential. "Beyond" delivers on some of that-notably containing what must be Lou Barlow's best songs in the Dinosaur catalog. "Back to Your Heart" could pass for a Sebadoh song, but "Lightning Bulb" is the undisputed standout from this album, a vicious sarcastic vocal performance carrying the track into the catharsis zone. J Mascis's tracks are standard quality, "Almost Ready," "Been There All the Time," "Pick Me Up" are all very good, but it is not like listening to "The Lung" or "Out There" or "Freak Scene." You understand, but vs. Mission of Burma's The Obliterati (which could have nearly cracked the top 10), this new album from an old band wins out.

#6 (tie)
Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga; Interpol - Our Love to Admire

These albums are tied as they came out on the same day, are the most commercial releases from two indie rock powerhouses yet, I bought them at the same record store visit, and they are both very high quality albums (if you want to berate me for including Interpol, just be happy I didn't include the third crazy album to be released that same day in July last year, Smashing Pumpkins's "Zeitgeist," which may have been better than Machina, and I may have called it the best thing since Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, but which has proved a bit boring after just a few months). Spoon's album received praise for being their best yet, and in a way Spoon are just a very consistent quality band that doesn't put out bad albums. Oeuvre rule: I don't have "Kill the Moonlight" (except for the song "The Way We Get By" which is probably the best song for me to have off it), but "Girls Can Tell," "Gimme Fiction," and "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" solidify Spoon as an act deserving of the mainstream, but one which is clearly uninterested, as evidenced by their partnership with Merge.

Interpol, on the other hand, are no longer on Matador, but Capitol, and "Our Love to Admire" is the major-label debut. When Sonic Youth put out their first album (Goo) on a major label they wanted to call it "Blowjob," and in the same way Interpol put out their most lyrically subversive album. The upfront subject matter of "No I in Threesome" is kinky sex and "Rest My Chemistry" is about doing cocaine and groupies that are "so young." However, unlike Spoon, Interpol is not going to shy away from ambitions to reach the masses. Seeing them live at Lollapalooza last year proved the point, with thousands singing along to every line of every song played. Pitchfork may have slammed the album with a mediocre review, but they also said "Turn on the Bright Lights" was the best album of 2002 (which it wasn't). Their review of "Antics" was spot on, and in my opinion, like Spoon, Interpol is an extremely consistent high-quality band. This album does drag in a couple of spots, and to be honest "Antics" is probably a better album from top to bottom (and it is also probably better than TOTBL though people will castigate me for this belief), but it is just as fresh and original as Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Maybe it is heavier and sadder and more bloated, but that just makes it a big, messy, overstated clunker of an album that is better than it actually seems. It's just too bad that "The Heinrich Manuever" wasn't secretly a song about Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich.

Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
A very personal album, filled with fragility and bitterness, strained down into a mad pop album. It comes complete with one of the hallmark singles of 2007, "Heimdesgate Like a Promethean Curse," and the furious epic "The Past is a Grotesque Animal." This is a very over the top album, but successful for being completely unique in its own regard. The companion piece EP, "Icons, Abstract Thee" is equally as good as the album.

Deerhunter - Cryptograms
Certainly one of the most interestings bands to come out in recent years, Deerhunter played some of the most crushing flat-out noise rock, some of the druggiest ambient instrumentals, and some of the saddest, sweetest pop songs of 2007. The stomp of "Cryptograms" and "Lake Somerset" sits alongside the ebb and the flow "Providence" and the "White Ink" and "Red Ink" pieces, while "Strange Lights" and "Hazel St" take the album to its highest peaks. The companion EP "Flourescent Grey" is equally as good as the album, and it contains what is probably their best song, "Wash Off."

Radiohead - In Rainbows
Well any Radiohead album is bound to be good, right? But in truth I found "Kid A" and "Amnesiac" to be a bit boring, and while I thought "Hail to the Thief" was a step in the right direction, there were still a lot of songs I'd skip on it. I don't want to do that as much with "In Rainbows." Every song is nearly perfect in its own way. "Bodysnatchers" reclaims that nervous crazy loud rock that Radiohead used to play on occasion and is probably my favorite song by them since "Paranoid Android." "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" and "Videotape" put Thom Yorke at his clearest and most fragile, and surprise surprise, he pulls it off perfectly. "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" sort of sums up the best parts of the album--it's not dumbed down, it just rocks more, and its more fun to listen to.

Panda Bear - Person Pitch
Panda Bear has eclipsed all the work Animal Collective with "Person Pitch" easily the year's most beautiful album. It is difficult to say much about the album without representing it incorrectly. Many people say it is very Beach Boys, but it is completely its own thing to me, and if there is one word that could sum up the album it would be: warmth.

LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
The consensus choice for 2007 album of the year, and it totally deserves it. I'm not going to say something different just to be different. This album deserves to be recognized as the best thing that came out this year. "All My Friends" is arguably one of the greatest songs of all time, and many people seemed to say "Someone Great" is great (but I find it annoying that the exact same song, minus the words, is part of "45:33"), no matter, "Get Innocuous" is an amazing album opener, and "North American Scum" is still a very popular single (I heard it on the radio yesterday morning 103.1 in L.A., at 6:50 AM) a year after its release. The lyrics are excellent, the beats are flawless, the musicianship is superb, and in general the only thing that sucks about this album is that you can listen to it a lot and then want to listen to it more and then decide that you're listening to it too much, and finally you're sick of it, and you only care about it again when mentioning that it was your favorite album in 2007.

No comments: