2007 was an incredible year of music and there were so many albums I really liked that didn’t make this list. I noticed that most of the lists I pay attention to were very similar to one another this year as opposed to last year. Also, I’ve found myself in more of a disagreeance with those lists than last year. If there is any theme to be taken out of this list, I think it’s that I feel like too many great albums were underrated by the blogosphere elites, and that they were way in love with some albums I think are overrated. This list represents my personal assertions more so than the rest of the Ohmpark crew, but I worked hard to get every one’s opinions and influences in this thing. Feel free to comment on how much you hate or love it. I feel like every album on this is an essential one from last year, so go listen to some new music:
50. Gazpacho : Night
This was the hardest spot to decide because there were so many great albums that just missed the list, but in the end, I thought this was the coolest one. Atmospheric prog-rock that just sounds so pretty. It may seem a little too subdued at times, but that is because this is a record for serious chillaxing.
49. Smashing Pumpkins : Zeitgeist
Ok, before you freak out that Zeitgeist made my list, hear me out. When I first saw them in Asheville this summer, I hadn’t really heard the album, and while not being familiar with the music detracted me from enjoying it as much as I could have, the new stuff sounded really good to me in a live setting. After this I started listening to Zeitgeist like crazy, and it took me numerous listens before I could really figure out whether it sucked or was awesome. Sure, if you hate Billy Corgan, or you want it to sound like the popular Smashing Pumpkins records, this isn’t for you, but if you take the time to get on Zeigeist‘s level, which I think is very much an acquired taste, you’ll find a truly amazing album that showcases Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlain at their very best. If you only gave this a few casual listens and discarded it, I totally understand, but if you take the time to really get to know this album and put aside any preconceptions or prejudices, you’ll find something completely worthwhile.
48. Cloud Cult : The Meaning Of 8
This album just snuck on the list in the last couple weeks after I discovered it high on some other lists so this band is new to me, but I really like what I hear. The thing that sticks out to me the most is how much attention to detail is paid on every song. There is certainly a ton of bands you could derive this bands influences from, and the indie rock normalcy is probably the biggest knock against this album, but just how well they nail it sounds like something special to me.
47. Behold The Arctopus : Skullgrid
This record is an awesomely challenging listen, even for someone familiar with this kind of technical madness. The three-piece instrumental band released two EPs using a drum machine (Entitled We Need A Drummer and Arctopocalypse Now… Warmageddon Later in search of completing the band) before Charlie Zeleny (Blotted Science) joined. It is technical math metal that takes on an array of tones and rips you through 33:33 of textures that demonstrate this band’s total command. -Ichuda
46. Justice : Cross
Of all of the hipster-approved dance music to come out this year, I think this album stands out above the rest. I think what sets it apart is that there is always something interesting going on. This album never really gets boring and its so much fun that anyone can find something on here to enjoy. Cross achieves a high level of innovation while setting the dance floor ablaze, so make sure to throw this in your party album arsenal.
45. Liars : Liars
The first time I listened to Drum’s Not Dead last year I had loved it, but the first few times I gave this self-titled release a listen I hated it. After revisiting it a few times and giving it more of a chance, I’ve come to dig it. I think this album’s biggest problem is that its best moments seem to overshadow the rest of the album, but as challenging a listen as this album has been for me, there may still yet be more for me to learn from it. At minimum, they’ve created the poppiest noise album I’ve heard in a long time.
44. Caribou : Andorra
This album has the psych-’60s sound that sort of reminds me of Peter Bjorn And John, but with much thicker arrangements. Andorra has a very low-key, modern demeanor under the retro-melodies that define it, giving you songs that sound great on initial listens and still have layers upon layers to dig into.
43. Minus The Bear : Planet Of Ice
I first got into Minus The Bear when Menos El Oso came out. I really liked it, but thought it seemed more like a great display of potential more than anything else. Two years later, everything I thought could have been better about that album was improved 100 fold on Planet Of Ice. They’ve gone from simple alt-rock radio songs to complex, prog-rock that is amazingly accessible at the same time.
42. Bat For Lashes : Fur & Gold
If you’re a fan of good female singer/songwriters like I am, this album is one of the best of those in 2007. Every song on Fur & Gold is a brilliant and beautiful piece of art. She wears her influences on her sleeves and the album is a little lacking in cohesion, but those aren’t always necessarily bad things, and I think they work for this album particularly.
41. Ghost : In Stormy Nights
This album is only for the most adventurous and open-minded of listeners. In Stormy Nights lives up to its title well in this dynamic piece that switches from calm ballads to noise-jams wrought with tension. An album like this can be so much fun, throwing you completely out of your comfort zone and riding the roller coaster of sound. If you’re looking for something to really trip out your friends, grab this one.
40. Wilco : Sky Blue Sky
A small boy watches the sky, a twenty something thumb scrolls her iPod, Harry sparks ANOTHER joint, your parents celebrate another anniversary and they can all hear Sky Blue Sky. The most accessible Wilco effort yet shelves the previous two albums Tweedy-centric experimentalism for a true band collaboration that proves Wilco can do it all, and they can do it well. Fans of the band won’t be surprised that this is the same band (albeit with different members) that created A.M. and Summerteeth. This is the first studio album to contain lead guitarist Nels Cline and his riffs are a particular high point, especially on the incredible “Impossible Germany”. Songs like “Either Way” and “On and On and On” showcase all parts of the whole in perfect harmony with no member particularly owning a song. Wilco doesn’t take themselves too seriously including the lighthearted romps “Hate It Here” and “Walken”. I’ll put this on my shelf next to the Beach Boys and Beatles records but it won’t collect as much dust. -Biggie C
39. 31 Knots : The Days And Nights Of Everything Anywhere
You can chalk this up to the very underrated category. The thematic album is able to successfully pull off its concept while at the same time holds a collection of great songs that all seem to sound engaging and each stand alone strong. I think the way they pull off both of these spectrums so well at the same time has confused some critics or something because I can’t understand how someone can listen to this album and not enjoy it.
38. Yeasayer : All Hour Cymbals
Yeasayer‘s debut album is another brilliant sound experiment from New York City, the best city in the world for music experimentation. They combine classic and modern aesthetics seamlessly and create an entirely new and unique sound. The biggest problem with this album is that it drags in some spots, but when this album is on, it is amazing. If this band can improve and learn to master their sound, they have limitless potential.
37. The Cinematic Orchestra : Ma Fleur
I remember the first time I listened to this album was on a flight to Chicago. I was watching the ground below and the clouds in the air while my mind drifted through Ma Fleur. It seemed surreal how lush and gorgeous this recording sounded and I felt a rush of happiness flow through my body. What could have been a boring wait on a plane turned into an unforgettable experience thanks only to a great album.
36. Dirty Projectors : Rise Above
This album was probably the hardest for me to put a value on. I don’t know Black Flag much, and despite getting Damaged this year, I’ve yet to really get into it, so its hard for me to grasp how well the concept of this album is achieved. Based solely on the music itself, though, this is still a very interesting and entertaining listen and many out there think this is one of the best of the year, so if you haven’t checked it out, you should.
35. Between the Buried And Me : Colors
I’ve been lucky enough to have seen this band several times over the last 6 years and they have gotten better every time. As far as their diversity of sound, the prog-metal comes off better than the grind, but they do some technical and, for them, ‘classic’ stuff with all the chugga-chugga that I can dig. Brave, warped, and talented enough to pull it off, the band have been attempting to establish themselves as the next barometer in progressive metal, scoring a slot on an already legendary “Progressive Nation” tour next year with Dream Theater and Opeth. This record sees them reach even further out of their normal bag of tricks, swinging from thick, Queen-esque vocal arrangements to blast-beat displays of technicality. It will mark a turning point for their future, as Colors was a huge step up from their last three records. -Ichuda
34. Explosions In The Sky : All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone
Explosions In The Sky is the band that made me fall in love with post-rock and I think that this is their greatest album so far. The biggest knock on this album is that EITS‘s sound has not really evolved. EITS is such an influential post-rock band, and can take a lot of credit for pushing this genre into what I would consider the style most in its prime right now. The concept of post-rock itself has been innovated so hard that its lines are blurred, and in the context of the limits other artists have been pushing in the past few years, EITS come off somewhat of a dinosaur already. But the reality is that this piece of work is so good that the context doesn’t matter, and EITS‘s perfection of their own sound still sounds better to me than almost everyone else out there.
33. Sea Wolf : Leaves In The River
This is one of those albums that doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, but is just a plain and simple stunning collection of songs that are an immense pleasure to listen to. Every song from front to back is high quality. I’m a big fan of avant-garde and all, but it is always a pleasure to listen to a straight-up great sounding record and this is one you should most definitely not miss.
32. Cocorosie : The Adventures Of Ghosthorse And Stillborn
This is easily one of the most underrated albums of 2007. This album was my first exposure to this duo, and since going back and learning their past works well, I’ve come to believe that this is their best so far. The lyrics are hilarious and the songs bounce between their various strengths giving you something completely different and enjoyable each few minutes. My guess is that critics were put off by the over-the-topness of this piece of work, but i think that’s exactly why this is such a great release.
31. The Nels Cline Singers : Draw Breath
When Nels Cline joined Wilco, I was really blown away by his guitar playing and have really enjoyed his contributions to that band. This newest solo effort, from a vast discography I didn’t even realize existed until recently, has him paired up with a jazz trio as The Nels Cline Singers. This is an adventurous instrumental trip that brings you everything good about jazz and this exceptional musician.
30. 65daysofstatic : The Destruction Of Small Ideas
This album feels to me like if you got the best studio musicians and producers in the world and told them to make the most badass post-rock album they possibly could. They use the entire arsenal of pop music and the full palette of rock to make a gorgeous and massive opus that just blows you away. Even for those who aren’t really into this genre, it’s worth a good listen.
29. Iron And Wine : The Shepherd’s Dog
The newest Iron And Wine record is another great installment in the upwards trajectory of singer/songwriter Sam Beam. Despite the conservative nature of doing folk, he makes music so beautiful that it remains timeless and even the more progressive of tastes can at least appreciate the quality of what Iron And Wine is. Nu-folk enjoyed a banner year in 2007 and its good to see the usher of that movement show why he is still king.
28. Dan Deacon : Spiderman Of the Rings
What I love about this album is that it is such an innovative dance record and at the same time sounds better than every other dance record to come out this year. Dan Deacon brings true artistry to fun listening.
27. Queens Of The Stone Age : Era Vulgaris
This is another hugely underrated album of 2007. This is one of those albums that are just packed full of nuance, and that every time I listen to it, I hear different things. I think because QOTSA are so radio-ready that people don’t give them enough credit, but Josh Homme is an amazing musician and this work showcases all of his strengths better almost everything he has done before.
26. No Age : Weirdo Rippers
No Age take the power-duo concept and up the ante in their first full-length. Weirdo Rippers is really a best of album from the various EPs they have released since forming in 2005, but the album sounds good as one piece of work. This album is a fun and adventurous jam that shouldn’t be missed.
25. Baroness : Red Album
This album is gaining hype all over the place; it was Revolver magazine’s #1 Album of 2007 after the band signed to Relapse just a few months ago. This was a notable list to dominate, considering that the issue reportedly “also came with a Slipknot calender, soooo sicccck”…. Baroness‘ Red Album is a sensible progression for them after establishing some sense of their stoner and prog ideal in their first two EPs. This record takes on some new influences and defines a unique space in the sonic spectrum for them, using post-rock styles as well as a conscious avoidance of metal cliche to create surprisingly universal appeal. – Ichuda
24. Earlimart : Mentor Tormentor
This album was way underappreciated this year. I think it’s because on the surface the album seems too conventional and bland, but if you keep listening, you get wrapped up in the beautiful melodies and Elliot Smith-esqu aura. This is one of those albums I could listen to over and over and still be excited each time a new song began, as if it was the first time hearing it. Give this one a few more listens and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
23. Cyann & Ben : Sweet Beliefs
This is a very overlooked album from this year that I think is fabulous. Their wikipedia page describes them as a Parisian Post-rock and Dream pop band, and I think they fit that description pretty much perfect. The only knock on this album for me is that they sometimes borrow too heavily from their influences, but regardless, they have created a beautiful and epic hybrid of styles I really love. Make sure to check this one out.
22. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez : Se Dice Bisonte, No Bufalo
Why the hipster taste-maker elites cannot get on The Mars Volta bandwagon is beyond me. They are easily in the conversation for the best band to emerge from this decade, and are somehow so polarizing. This solo effort from the TMV genius sees him taking on new and different directions and the results are ever so slightly less cohesive and on point than the proper TMV albums, but that’s to be expected on an exploration like this and is an amazing listen regardless.
21. St. Vincent : Marry Me
St. Vincent has crafted one of the most eccentric and original releases of the year. It’s no surprise this pun loving Texas native named this, her debut album after a line from the double meaning filled TV show Arrested Development. This album is so very varied you’d think Annie Clark has multiple personality disorder. “Now, Now” leads the album off strongly and in it’s four plus minutes it goes from sweet childish sing along to guitar freak out. Although she is a great multi-instrumentalist her primary weapon is the guitar and it shows on the striking “Your Lips Are Red.” “Paris Is Burning” is the best song on the album and one my favorites of the year. If this album had a few more songs like the first five it would have made it higher on our list but unfortunately the second half of the record she plays it a lot safer with some soft piano songs. If this record has a fault it is that those songs should have been spaced more evenly on the record so that it doesn’t lose momentum. Nevertheless Annie Clark is sure to have an amazing career ahead of her and I can’t wait to hear what she does next. -Biggie C
20. Modest Mouse : We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
“Oh, it could’ve been, should’ve been worse than you would ever know.” But it wasn’t. After 2004′s Good News for People Who Love Bad News many fans gave up on Modest Mouse completely, writing them off as yet another band past their prime. Regardless of how you feet about that album, there is no denying the “Steam Engenius” of this one. On Modest Mouse‘s fifth proper studio album they live up to their high potential yet again. Modest Mouse have grown into a truly amazing full band that warrants their large revolving cast of members. Drummer Jeremiah Green is back and Johnny Marr makes a wonderful addition to the band, playing straight man to Isaac‘s stooge. In the song “Education” Eric Judy boasts the best bass line of the year. “People As Places As People” and “We’ve Got Everything” bring back memories of older Modest Mouse. “Little Motel” is a soft, sweet, and beautiful song that captures new territory. Brock is still the amazing lyricist he always has been, one example is in “Parting of the Sensory” where he sings “Some day you will die and somehow something’s going to steal your carbon.” If you haven’t heard this album our have simply written it off as not as good as previous Modest Mouse releases, then you have “truly missed the boat.”
19. Do Make Say Think : You, You’re A History in Rust
An indie rock band from a prolific region of Canada, Do Make Say Think continue to refine their attack. Impressive in their always expansive approach, they use vocals quite often on this record, which accompany the record’s use of themes as means of differentiating this band from the sonic real estate of their peers. Atmospheric and convincing, You, You’re a History in Rust has intermixed moodiness and excitement in an organic way. – Ichuda
18. Blonde Redhead : 23
This is one of those albums that I didn’t really like the first couple times I listened to it, but the more I jammed it, the more I fell in love with it. The songs here may not seem as ambitious as some of their previous work, but if you take the time to get to know this one, you’ll find a purely beautiful piece of work. You won’t see this high on many other people’s lists, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook this one too.
17. Sunset Rubdown : Random Spirit Lover
This has been one of the more challenging listens for me this year, but that is something I enjoy when the album is as good as this one. I’ve been becoming a big fan of Spencer Krug and this is probably him at his pinnacle so far. The thing I most enjoy about this album is that it makes you feel really large emotions while at the same time the music is so off-kilter that no emotion ever feels comfortable enough to hold on to, and it yields a very unique experience.
16. Thurston Moore : Trees Outside The Academy
As Sonic Youth has been moving from noise to pop throughout this decade, it is amazing to see a band that’s been around for over 25 years keep blazing new territory and conqueroring it. Thurston‘s solo effort is the most accessible release from him to date and sort of showcases every element of his sound in a stripped down, acoustic and easy to listen to form. For me, listening to this stellar album feels like I’m looking at an old Sonic Youth scrap book, and that is pretty cool.
15. Phosphorescent : Pride
The singer/songwriter nu-folk thing is something I enjoy, but its rare that something in that general area of tunes really blows me away. Clocking in at barely 41 minutes, every moment on this album is pure ecstasy, and is a great example of how a short album can be so much better than a long one stuffed full of filler. Singer songwriter Matthew Houck has created a tower of beauty and mood unlike anything else to come out this year.
14. Animal Collective : Strawberry Jam
Probably no band had a better year than Animal Collective, and through their various killer releases they have shown they are the real deal and very much in the argument for best band to emerge from this decade. What I love about this band is that I like them more and more each time I listen to them. I had been really hesitant to jump fully on the AC bandwagon, but Strawberry Jam is just another undeniable badass album from a group that seems as prolific as they are amazing, so count me in the hipster parade.
13. PJ Harvey : White Chalk
This album was probably the biggest surprise of 2007 for me. I’ve been a long time fan of PJ Harvey and had thought two things about her: 1. Her best work was behind her 2. She is somewhat one dimensional as a musician. White Chalk has shown how wrong I was on both of those thoughts. Old school PJ fans may not like that the hard-edged rawness is pretty much absent on this record, but if you take it for what it is, it is one of the best albums to come out this year.
12. Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew : Spirit If…
I didn’t finally get around to listening to this until a few weeks ago, but have fallen for this album hard. There are so many songs on this thing where I was like “Wait, I need to listen to this song ten more times in a row”. The sound that Kevin Drew commands here seems to match up to my personal tastes so close and the flow of the album itself is top-notch too. I can’t recommend this one enough, so check it out if you haven’t.
11. Porcupine Tree : Fear Of A Blank Planet
Last year was the first time I really started getting into this band, after getting a copy of In Absentia, but I didn’t become a full-time fanboy until hearing Fear Of A Blank Planet. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to Steven Wilson, but what I do know is that this is a great album from a legendary band. The only real knock against FOABP comes with its lyrics, but I don’t understand why teenagers can’t have great music that speaks to their experience. We need to be getting the kids on board with good music. Just because most bad music has surfacy content, doesn’t mean you can’t do wholly accessible music artfully, and that’s exactly what Porcupine Tree achieves with this spectacular composition.
10. Menomena : Friend and Foe
This phenomena(l) album has landed on most peoples lists as it should. What’s great about these guys is that their music has a sort of mass appeal while at the same time lives up to almost any critic’s expectations, and if radio stations weren’t run by idiots, they would be playing tracks off this album full of great singles. Friend and Foe is the sort of release I would expect any regular reader of this blog to enjoy, so make sure you have a copy of this.
9. Fiery Furnaces : Widow City
I became a fan of Fiery Furnaces the first time I saw them live. I caught them at Coachella not really knowing who they were, and was blown away by the psychedelic pop complete with rampant time changes, amazing hooks, and a set that was basically one long song. Fiery Furnaces is the sort of band that many people are not going to like, so I can understand why this doesn’t show up high on a lot of other lists. They are also the sort of band whose fans are going to greatly disagree with one another as to what their best stuff is, but Widow City is both the best approximation of them live and now my favourite Fiery Furnaces album.
8. Akron/Family : Love Is Simple
You won’t see this phenomenal album on many lists because Akron/Family employ the sounds of the ’60s and ’70s almost exclusively. If this album had been created back in those times, it would be considered a classic masterpiece. But if you can get past the unhipness, what lies within Love is Simple is one of the best crafted albums of the year. It is the paradigm of the “take you on a journey album” and so good I just can’t get sick of it.
7. Battles : Mirrored
This is an obvious top ten album that was high on many lists and rightfully so. This is probably one of the most exciting primarily instrumental albums to come out in a long time. Feats of technical ability are weaved and looped to piece together slowly-building songs. This album blends everything cool about post-rock with innovation, shredding and electronic sounds. That’s a tasty recipe right there.
6. Panda Bear : Person Pitch
This is another album that I didn’t really like or “get” the first few times I listened to it. After coming back and really examining this thing, it has totally floored me. Since this landed on top of many lists, I won’t go on and on about it, but if you haven’t gotten hip to this yet, it is time.
5. Deerhunter : Cryptograms
This is an obvious top 5 album for us, As we are ATLiens and we love Deerhunter. Despite our biases, though, I think its hard not to love this album. It’s artful and a pleasure to listen to. There’s really not much else we have to say about this album, by now you’ve either bought into the hype or not. If you haven’t heard this album, go get it now.
4. Deerhoof : Friend Opportunity
When I first got into this album back at the beginning of the year, I really enjoyed it, but it sounded so foreign to me that it was difficult to figure out exactly how good it was. Once I put it away for a while and then came back to it, I felt like it was the first time hearing it again because the musical language seemed more familiar to me and then I could really dig into it. Once you get past the “out there”-ness of this band, it is obvious why this is indeed one of the very best albums to come out this year, so break out your headphones and go jam this one.
3. Marnie Stern : In Advance Of The Broken Arm
This is a beast of a debut album. Marnie Stern combines finger-tapping shredding with awesome lyrics and vocals to create a truly unique sound. Critics across the Internet have yet to buy into this album like I have, mostly complaining that there is not enough variation on it. One rule of music that I hold to be true is that when someone says “all of *Insert artist/genre here* sound the same”, 99% of the time it means that person is too unfamiliar with the musical language to discern the differences. If you don’t know how to speak French, you’re gonna think people who speak French all sound the same. Marnie Stern has developed an entirely new aesthetic and sound that took me many listens to become versed in, and in the end, this album is near perfect. If there’s one album on this list that I want everyone who reads this to check out, it’s this one.
2. Of Montreal : Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
If I was at the Baskin-Robbins of music, the flavor I would order above all others would be “melodic yet dark”. This album is the archetype of that sound. On top of that, it is one the most interesting concept albums ever produced. On top of that, it is ridiculously accessible while being an exquisite piece of art. For most of the year, I had anticipated this being my album of the year, but while it may have only ended up at my number 2, it is near impossible to find any fault on this album.
Album Of The Year:
Radiohead : In Rainbows
No surprises, I’ll go on a In Rainbows love-fest. Radiohead fans come in different shapes and sizes, so I’m going to preamble you with my personal Radiohead fandom. I was barely a teenager when “Creep” first started playing on the radio, and despite liking it at first, I got sick of it fast, and after not hearing any other songs from them, I sort of wrote them off as a one hit wonder. Because of this, I totally missed The Bends. When the music videos for OK Computer started playing on MTV, I came back to the band and became a fan. I know that OK is heralded as their greatest album and all that, but while I really enjoyed it, it wasn’t as life changing for me as it has seemed to be for others. It was Kid A that blew my mind and made me fall in love with this band. When it comes down to it, what I value most in music is being experimental and progressive, and I think Kid A really tore down boundaries farther than OK Computer. And if there is any one moment or album that I would cite as the beginning of the current music revolution I hold so dear, I think Kid A is that turning point.
Now I’ll throw you a curve. When Amnesiac first came out, I really dug it, but after seeing them live at the base of Stone Mountain for that tour, something just clicked, and ever since, Amnesiac has been my favourite Radiohead album and they became one of my favourite all time bands. Despite its impact on the history of music being much less than their previous works, there is just something about the sound of that album that I can’t get enough of.
After the slight detour of Hail To The Thief, In Rainbows has seemed to encapsulate everything I loved about Kid A and Amnesiac, in a purer form. I remember at some point there was a rumor that Ok Computer and In Rainbows matched up as one super album that you would switch between tracks on each album. One night we listened to the two albums together, and while the rumor didn’t turn out to be true, the listen really illuminated to me why I think In Rainbows is so superior. In terms of production, OK Computer is easily one of the best albums ever. I noticed listening to an In Rainbows track next to each OK Computer track the obvious stripped down nature of the newest album relative to OK‘s thick arrangements. But, what struck me is, Radiohead doesn’t need all these bells and whistles anymore. They don’t need the ghost house sound effects, they don’t need the wall of sound. They’ve tapped into a musical sweet spot so impressive that they can let their songs stand naked and still sound better than almost anything else. See, as I mentioned above, great experimental music is my favourite, but for me, great experimental music means that the experiment leads to some great discovery. Just ambling around without results doesn’t impress me enough.
What In Rainbows is, then, is the reward of a career of successful experimentation and exploration. They no longer have to search for anything at this point. They found it. And it sounds so damn good.
- Posted by Davy Minor on January 4, 2008 at 5:56 pm