Sunday, December 30, 2007

My 42 Favorite Albums of 07 - Part One, Or: Random Thoughts and Bullet Points

List City, Man!

2007 was a good year for music. I'm nearly 80% positive that that's a true statement. Since I've been without a home computer for over a year now, I've gotten back into the habit of listening to CDs on actual stereo systems and boom boxes. It's been rather pleasant. Unlike last year, I didn't go through quite so many random downloading phases, so this year's list is a little more focused. Downloading is scarce for a brother without a computer, but that doesn't mean I failed to gorge myself on new tunes.

Now the reason I'm only 80% positive that 2007 was a good for music is this: Lots of "good" music sucked. There were some albums that were just plain unlistenable (I'm talking to you Wilco, Josh Ritter and Rilo Kiley!). Others were major disappointments: Over the Rhine went from "sophisticated" to "boring" on Trumpet Child, a fine line to be sure, but one they've skated triumphantly for some time now. And who would have thought Avey Tare & Kría Brekkan, the half-voices and half-brains behind Animal Collective and Múm, could thud so hard? Even when reversed back to normal, Pullhair Rubeye wasn't much to listen to. And Modest Mouse's big team-up with Johnny Marr? Not quite as middling as Good News for People Who Love Bad News, but that's not saying much.

One last note before we get into the grime: There were a few albums I completely ignored this year. This happens on an annual basis, really, and shouldn't be taken the wrong way. Some albums I need to just wait until the right time to hear and appreciate. So you won't see Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface, M.I.A., Beirut, White Stripes, Lucinda Williams or Kayne West on this list. Maybe next year, I guess. We'll see. Now, on with the show.

42. Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity: What more is there to say about Deerhoof? This: They are basically all that's left of anything resembling punk rock these days. In fact, they're actually too punk for punk rock. Cereal.

41. Dirty Projectors - Rise Above: Dave Longstreth has never really been a favorite of mine, and neither has Black Flag, but this album has legs, people. It's got legs and it knows how to use them.

40. Lucky Soul - The Great Unwanted: Girl pop is back! At least in the UK. They really are much hipper than us.

39. The Avett Brothers - Emotionalism: This album would have been in my top ten four years ago -- mellow, sweet sounds of country-ish/folk with occasionally off the wall subject matter. Like Whiskeytown fronted by a younger, happier version of Tom Waits. Sort of. I don't know. It's nice, I guess.

38. The Fiery Furnaces - Widow City: Will Fiery Furnaces ever release another album that makes me giddy all over for days at a time? Widow City is good times, but it's not hella good times, and that my friend, makes all the difference.

37. Stars - In Our Bedroom After the War: Maybe it is trite indie-pop for late 20-somethings, but I don't care dammit! Duets on almost every song! Sweet, suite serenades! Good for late, over-caffeinated nights while driving through New Jersey! Suck it, Pitchfork!

36. Jens Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala: I only downloaded this cause Ryan Schreiber told me to. I'm such a hypocrite. It's actually quite excellent. I should've ranked it higher. Sorry, Jens.

35. St. Vincent - Marry Me: Annie Clark is the new Karen O, only clever. So clever. "Jesus Saves, I Spend" is my fourth favorite single of the year. Also, she's the prettiest girl in indie pop at any given time. Like now. Or now. Maybe not now. But now. Yes, now.

34. The Bees - Octopus: The Bees play old-timey music, but not that old-timey, more like 66-72 old-timey. So not really old-timey at all, actually. I like it, though.

33. Blitzen Trapper - Wild Mountain Nation: The winner of the most fractured album of the year award, a field recording of dissociative identity disorder to the tune of country/folk/jazz/jam/fuzz/rock. That means nothing to me, either. Good night.

32. James Blackshaw - The Cloud of Unknowing: Yes! The prettiest album of 2007 that doesn't have lyrics! Take that you electro-ambient fiends! Acoustic guitar arrangements can rock your face off and lull you to sleep!

31. Shannon Wright - Let In The Light: Shannon Wright is like Tori Amos if Tori Amos were punk. Or good, for that matter. Oh crap. I just plagiarized myself.

30. Peter Bjorn and John - Writer's Block: I was burning "Young Folks" on my May 2007 mix waaaaaay before it became the theme song for Sears/JC Penney/Target/Wal-Mart! And now everyone hates it! But not me! I don't watch commercials! Internet-television rocks!

29. The Go! Team - Proof of Youth: Maybe not as fun as Thunder, Lightning, Strike, but neither is Vermont. And I'm still here. So I guess that says something.

28. Frontier Folk Nebraska - The Devil's Tree EP: I have no idea when this EP came out, so maybe it doesn't even fit here. Do you like dusty folk? Do you like folk, Dusty? Do you like folk that no one else has heard of? Ever? Then go here. You too, can be as cool as me. Try it today!

27. Caribou - Andorra: Caribou lights fires in me that I never knew existed. It's sunny music for late nights. Where have you been all my life? To the north!

26. Feist - The Reminder: I liked "Mushuboom", but this takes the cake. Yes, cake. Go to Leslie Ann Feist. She is yours and you are hers! Her banner over us is love!

25. The New Pornographers - Challengers: Okay, this album possibly sucked. But when you think of it as a follow up to The Slow Wonder, you might really start to like it. I mean it. Burn the drum slowly. See where it goes. What have you got to lose?

24. Battles - Mirrored: Is this math rock? Post-rock? Prog rock? Well, your mom is prog rock. Oh crap. Now I'm plagiarizing internet trolls.

23. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver: When I first heard this album, I thought, meh. I think my heart wasn't calibrated correctly. Were the batteries out? Then "Time to Get Away" became my second favorite single of the year. This album is the boss hog, sister. The. Boss. Hog.

22. The National - Boxer: I keep telling everyone I know -- these guys write the songs that U2 wish they still had in their brains, but don't, because they made Rattle and Hum and all heaven and earth came crashing down in the terribleness that was 1988. It's not like Boxer's all signature delay; and Matt Berninger sounds nothing like Bono. But still, U2 are sooo jealous of these guys. Because this album sounds great. And moving. And cathartic. And oh, you know, relevant.

21. Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings: "WHAM City" is my single of the year. Dan Deacon is my golden elephant of shiny, flickery, jump-up-and-down happiness. I don't understand half his electro-beat stuff, but that's okay. We're still prominent friends.

20. Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon: Disappointing? At times. Unfocused? Oh, yes. But I'm sofa king retarded for DB. "Seahorse" might just be my most favoritest moment of his career so far. Careen! Yes, Karen, you have a phone call.

19. Taken By Trees - Open Field: From the voice of the Concretes, only more Glasgow. Quiet and pretty as all get out. And better than I'm giving it credit for here.

18. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam: You rock, rock! I took a nap one night when I could have seen them live. I don't regret it. I regurgitate it.

17. Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog: If I didn't have to skip the first two tracks every time I put this one in the CD player, it could've have been a top 10 contender. Sam Beam has stolen my heart and hidden it under Joanna Newsom's couch. Gross.

16. Múm - Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy: Another album that grew on me after a while. Sure, it's nothing like Yesterday Was Dramatic – Today Is OK, but don't sweat it. Just go with the flow. Hey, Flow! These guys are with you! Thanks!

15. Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha: I listened to this album way more than I should have. I kind of hate it now. But for most of 2007, it was one of my favs. Andrew Bird is such a nice, young boy. Good mannered. Excellent whistler. Enjoys his tea bitter and his women bitterer.

14. Patty Griffin - Children Running Through: Seeing her live was kind of terrible, but only because I was the only person who looked like me at the theatre. I never knew she had so many old, old fans. One of my true, true loves, even if my fellow Fatty Pans (thanks Liz!) are all collecting Social Security checks.

13. The National Lights - The Dead Will Walk, Dear: Oh, jeez. Seriously, the prettiest quiet album of the year. No kidding. If not for Sonya Cotten, I wouldn't be able to stand it anymore (another album I overplayed this summer). But whenever she chimes in on these sunny songs of murder, rape and mayhem, I go all melty.

12. Pharoahe Monch - Desire: I missed alot of hip-hop this year, but not Monch's return. Well-worth it? Well answer me this, what hath God wrought. That's right: "Body Baby." I can't believe this isn't everyone's album of the year. Including my own. We're all bastards!

11. Menomena - Friend and Foe: This is the closest thing I'll ever get to jam-bandiness, outside of the Akron/Family's New Age Love-fests. But if all jam bands jammed liked Menomena, who aren't really a jam band at all, then the world (especially Vermont, oh God Vermont!) would be a much better place. I'm not kidding. People listen to crappy music around here. It's kind of depressing.


Ha! You didn't think I was going to give you the whole list today, did you? Never! I need time to recollect my thoughts, and collect album art work, and call my physician. Albums one through ten will have to wait. No flipping!

No comments: