The Best Albums of 2007: #10-1

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3 jan. 2008, 5h22m

The Best Albums of 2007

The Best of 2007 finale. It's been a year full of great music and I hope you've enjoyed some of these as much as I have. Here's what has already been mentioned:

#50-41

50. Interpol - Our Love to Admire
49. Mel Gibson and the Pants - Sea vs. Shining Sea
48. Sylvan - Presets
47. Film School - Hideout
46. Ghost Brigade - Guided By Fire
45. Linkin Park - Minutes to Midnight
44. Hopesfall - Magnetic North
43. Red Fox Grey Fox - From the Land of Bears, Ice, and Rock
42. God is an Astronaut - Far From Refuge
41. Tiger Army - Music From Regions Beyond

#40-31

40. Damiera - M(Us)ic
39. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - In Glorious Times
38. Chevelle - Vena Sera
37. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Baby 81
36. Feist - The Reminder
35. Bat For Lashes - Fur and Gold
34. Holy Roman Empire - The Longue Durée
33. Paramore - Riot!
32. !!! - Myth Takes
31. Stateless - Stateless

#30-21

30. Maserati - Inventions for the New Season
29. theSTART - Ciao, Baby
28. The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
27. Minus the Bear - Planet of Ice
26. Anberlin - Cities
25. The Editors - An End Has a Start
24. 3 - The End is Begun
23. Ken Andrews - Secrets of the Lost Satellite
22. The Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist
21. Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet

#20-11

20. Chiodos - Bone Palace Ballet
19. Pinback - Autumn of the Seraphs
18. Sage Francis - Human the Death Dance
17. Nightwish - Dark Passion Play
16. The Birthday Massacre - Walking With Strangers
15. Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris
14. Blonde Redhead - 23
13. Kiss Kiss - Reality vs. The Optimist
12. Deas Vail - All the Houses Look the Same
11. The Dear Hunter - Act II: The Meaning of, and all things Regarding Ms. Leading

The Best Albums of 2007: #10-1

10.
Gavin Castleton - For the Love of Pete


No artist is able to keep me on my toes quite the way Gavin Castleton so frequently does. Since the futurock band Grüvis Malt has gone on hiatus, Castleton has been busy pushing his creative limits with all sorts of solo and collaborative projects. This year has seen two releases: Hospital Hymns tells the story of a deeply religious hospital worker in five hymn-inspired tracks; A Bullet, A Lever, A Key gives an account of Castleton's life in reverse-chronological order from his own death in 2054 to the present. 2008 will bring the next release from his action/adventure band Ebu Gogo as well the highly anticipated project known simply as "The Zombie Album". And so For the Love of Pete, an album of love songs written for his friend/former girlfriend seems outwardly blasé by comparison. But the beauty of this album is that he is able to be sincere without sounding mushy, and that he has been able to write about a personal subject without abandoning or neglecting the art in his music.
Song Highlights: I'm Not So Proud, Bad Rabbits, Hibernatal, Weathervane
Links: Homepage - Last.FM - Myspace

9.
Oh My God - Fools Want Noise


oh my god are a Chicago quartet who play some really unique rock music. It has the spirit and energy of punk-rock, but it isn't punk-rock. It's loaded with melody and is very accessible, but it isn't pop-rock. They can rock out pretty hard, but until releasing Fools Want Noise, never even had a guitar player. The band's career has been fueled partly by their reputation as one of the best live bands around, mostly due to front-man Billy O'Neil's quirky and engaging behavior on stage. Fools Want Noise is everything that the band's first four albums are, and then some. This unfamiliar stringed instrument fits in seamlessly with their traditional workhorse, the fuzzed-out rock organ. Guitarist Jake Garcia shreds at center stage on Put it in a Song (So Wrong), the best example of how they've adapted to this new dimension. O'Neil, always comfortable being himself and speaking his mind, is all at once outspoken and wise. Though the album is 16 tracks it still comes up a little short of 40 minutes long, making this oh my god's most compact album yet, and one that you'll find irresistible for several spins on repeat.
Song Highlights: Ancient Sanskrit Proverb (The Splendor of Beauty), Houston, Put it in a Song (So Wrong), But That's Just Me (Song for the Holidays)
Links: Homepage - Last.FM - Myspace

8.
Radiohead - In Rainbows


You gotta love what Radiohead did with the release of In Rainbows. After openly questioning the point of being shackled to a large corporate record label at this point in their illustrious career, the band made significant strides for independent music by releasing the electronic copy of their new record through their own website at whatever cost the consumer deemed worthy. And why not? They're Radiohead, and they can do pretty much whatever they want. And perhaps the most pleasant part of In Rainbows is that taking the same approach within their music hasn't led them astray. In fact, it's the knowledge that they can just sit back and play comfortable music that has made this album so enjoyable.
Song Highlights: Bodysnatchers, All I Need, Reckoner, Faust Arp
Links: Homepage - Last.FM - Myspace

7.
Circa Survive - On Letting Go


When Circa Survive released their debut album Juturna, their sound was that of a tight-knit, finely tuned group of musicians. Juturna was excellent, and while On Letting Go may not have surpassed it, it comes awfully close. Anthony Greene's voice still soars with his trademark pitch, and his lyrics are noticeably more lucid. The album guitar work is again impressive, as is the drumming. More than anything else, On Letting Go proves that everything great about Juturna was not a fluke, and that more greatness ought to be expected from Circa Survive in the future.
Song Highlights: Your Friends Are Gone, In the Morning and Amazing, Kicking Your Crosses Down, The Greatest Lie, Living Together, The Difference Between Medicine and Poison is In the Dose
Links: Homepage - Last.FM - Myspace

6.
Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank


Modest Mouse earned their stripes when the term indie was much more closely tied to smaller budget underground music. They are also one of the main reasons that indie rock has swelled in popularity this decade, particularly with their crossover megahit Float On from Good News For People Who Love Bad News. And with all due respect to Good News, this may be their best effort since The Moon and Antarctica. The album is impressively consistent with its share of catchy, cool guitar work and subtle creativity. Meanwhile, leader Isaac Brock is still as intriguing and quirky as ever.
Song Highlights: Dashboard, Fire It Up, Parting of the Sensory, Fly Trapped in a Jar
Links: Homepage - Last.FM - Myspace

5.
of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?


For years, Kevin Barnes and Of Montreal have been pioneers at indie/pop music's experimental frontier, and Hissing Fauna is another example of the troupe covering new ground. Despite the sometimes saccharine sound on much of this album, the lyrics are born out of a period of soul searching and struggle, which gives the songs a certain depth that makes the album all the more interesting. The culmination is the epic (not a word often associated with pop music of this sort) and trance-like The Past is a Grotesque Animal, a manically progressive twelve minute song where all of his emotions seem to boil up for all to hear. The rest of the album is much less tense; the music is catchy, fun, silly even. Pulling this kind of music off well is difficult enough without tackling such sticky subject matter, and that they do is quite impressive.
Song Highlights: The Past is a Grotesque Animal, Suffer For Fashion, Gronlandic Edit, A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger, Bunny Aint No Kind of Rider,
Links: Homepage - Last.FM - Myspace

4.
Strata Presents the End of the World


Strata's self titled debut was one that I really enjoyed quite a bit, but I never saw this coming. This California quartet has spent the past three years touring and soaking up the experiences of playing with some of the best bands in modern rock, and it really shows with Strata Presents the End of the World. Playing with dredg in particular seems to have left a strong impression. The music balances musicianship with versatile songwriting, including the insanely catchy Cocaine (We're All Going to Hell; the stunning, almost haunting Night Falls (The Weight of it), and the quiet and pretty closer Daylight in the City. The album's lyrics are well written, though they often hint at a state of concern and desperation. Vocalist Eric Victorino gives a brave and scathing critique of the war in Iraq in The New National Anthem (link: unofficial video), singing,
Broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight / you know those who stand to gain are not the ones who sacrifice / watching bombs burst in air from a comfortable chair / they just say, "in God we trust, and God trusts in greed, as long as they never show real blood on TV" / I tried hard to bite my tongue like a good American / but they recruited my little brother and they're shipping off my friends / so I'll support the troops by asking what they're really fighting for / and I think that's more patriotic than flying a flag from my front porch
Now, I wouldn't want to give the impression that this album is too serious to be fun. And though there is a moody quality to the disc, it is completely solid from beginning to end and will make for many worthwhile listens.
Song Highlights: Cocaine (We're All Going to Hell), Night Falls (The Weight of it), Hot/Cold (Darling Don't), The New National Anthem, Daylight in the City
Links: Homepage - Last.FM - Myspace

3.
Fair to Midland - Fables From a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True


The most exciting debut of 2007 is easily Fair to Midland's Fables From a Mayfly, a bombastic and epic adventure into an alternative/progressive metal wonderland. Almost everything about this record is stunning, from the intricately woven threads of power-metal, progressive rock, world music, and a host of other things beyond my ability to discern, to vocalist Darroh Sudderth's incredible range. If you've never heard them before, you're probably scratching your head right now, and you should be. Listening to Fables From a Mayfly is an intriguing and refreshing experience; you realize that you're listening to something different and unique, but it's also so very likeable. And rather than tiring out, further listens will surely amplify both of those qualities.
Song Highlights: Dance of the Manatee, The Walls of Jericho, A Wolf Descends Upon the Spanish Sahara, Kyla Cries Cologne
Links: Homepage - Last.FM - Myspace

2.
Aereogramme - My Heart Has a Wish that You Would Not Go


Aereogramme's My Heart Has a Wish that You Would Not Go is a bittersweet release in that it marks the endpoint of their career. Only a few months after the album's release the band announced that they would be going their separate ways due largely in part to a "...never ending financial struggle coupled with an almost superhuman ability to dodge the zeitgeist." The painful irony is that this is the record that really could have done it for them. Listening to the album, it's hard to figure out how this hasn't become an instant success the way Coldplay's Parachutes or Snow Patrol's Final Straw did. Perhaps it's because Aereogramme spent so much of their earlier albums confusing critics and listeners, hovering in between extremes of loud and soft, harsh and beautiful; always changing shape perhaps a little faster than most listeners could grasp. There is nothing obtuse about Heart however. The album begins with a wash of mildly distorted guitar and waves of piano. Lush string arrangements follow, beautifully accompanied by Craig B's voice. This big, cinematic sound continues through the radio single Barriers and on into the rest of the album. Nightmares presents the album's biggest mood shift, as thundering war drums pound in the distance and strings dance urgently in the background. It is followed by The Running Man, a dynamic and gripping piece with an attention grabbing electronic loop. 2007 will be remembered as a sad year for Aereogramme as they play together for the last time, but also as a triumphant one now that they've completed their masterpiece.
Song Highlights: The Running Man, Nightmares, Barriers, Dissolve, Conscious Life For Coma Boy
Links: Homepage - Last.FM - Myspace

1.
Kaddisfly - Set Sail the Prairie


Truthfully, I've been fully prepared and anxious to proclaim Set Sail the Prairie as album of the year for over 18 months. After hearing the leaked copy of Set Sail for the first time in 2006, I was shocked. Amazed. Kaddisfly, this group of humble musicians from Portland Oregon, had managed to take the sound that created a near-perfect rock album in 2005's Buy Our Intention; We'll Buy You a Unicorn and then outdo themselves by no small margin. For new ears, Kaddisfly play a kind of hybrid art-rock that utilizes the vitality of alternative-punk, the sophistication of math-rock, and the seamlessly applied gloss of catchy pop hooks. There's some heady stuff here that won't fully sink in for three, four, or more listens. Each song is dynamic, with the band placing emphasis on progression and concept. The album ties each song together in a year-long journey across the globe, with each of the 14 tracks represents a stay in a city across the northern hemisphere for one of the twelve months and the two solstices. Traditional instruments from each of those twelve cities are incorporated in the recording of the corresponding song, completing the effect. Even with all of this going on there's little to be intimidated by, because each song is distinct and features abundant use of rich, hooky melody. It's this juxtaposition of pop and progression that makes Set Sail so reapeatably intriguing. More than any other album in 2007, Kaddisfly have managed to create fourteen songs that mesh together on one disc, but stand apart from themselves as unique and memorable accomplishments. Simply put, for fans of fans of alternative rock, this is the 2007 album that must be heard and heard often.
Song Highlights: Campfire, Waves, Birds, Clouds, Empire, Snowflakes, Via Rail, Silk Road, Forest
Links: Homepage - Last.FM - Myspace

Commentaires

  • daydream_set

    i'm glad i'm not the only independent music fan who hasn't written MM off as major label sell-outs. even though i don't place them among my absolute favorites, i think that in many ways they get better with maturity. i couldn't get into [i]set sail the prairie[/i], but i can understand why it's so adored by fans of challenging/more complex alternative rock. however, empire made it into my nano mix quite often. should have been a huge radio hit. i think it's awesome how [i]hissing fauna[/i] seems to transcend musical genre. it really is a remarkable album. and i'm glad to see a sentence of sorts in kongsvinger in your favorite songs from that album too.

    3 jan. 2008, 6h07m
  • Thismanisdan

    I really should be checking out this Gavin Castleton character. I'm suprised to see Fair To Midland so high up on your list. Great release none the less. I'm really looking forward to seeing what direction they take next album. I'm still choked Aereogramme will not be around to release more beautiful albums like this one. At least they quit while on top.

    4 jan. 2008, 3h20m
  • Mrozikos667

    Fables... isn't FtM's debut! They had two albums before. Anyway, it's my album of the year :)

    6 jan. 2008, 17h43m
  • spectre1982

    Debut in the sense that this is the first release after being signed. Glad you liked i too

    7 jan. 2008, 0h27m
  • richtaylor521

    No Swallow the Sun or Future of Forestry?

    10 jan. 2008, 14h54m
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