Sometimes I think it takes me waaay too long to come up with my Top 20 albums of a given year. There are a lot of internal debates and arguments that really have no right answer. Really, you reach a point where all the albums are good but how to rank them gets to be quite the challenge. This year was chock full of good music (not matter what the naysayers might groan). I counted something like 175+ albums worth mentioning in 2007, and that is only a tip of the iceberg when it comes to everything that was released in the year. However, I did whittle it down to 20... well, 22 if you count my 2 EP exception (EP's don't count as real albums).
If you're interested in some sub-lists, like my albums "with apologizes" (albums I didn't hear but should have) or "best imports" or "most disappointing" (hint, the band who made it rhymes with Milo Biley), check it out here.
So, here we go:
#21 The EP's - Two EP's made me happy this year, and really, they would be in the top 20, but it seems unfair to me to include EP's versus albums. They're both UK pop, and they're both brilliant in their own cute way.
Los Campesinos! Sticking Fingers Into Sockets (Thanks to igLiz for this band!)
Finding it much too difficult to decide upon my favorite albums this year, I've decided to go for a "best of" list that puts much more emphasis on physical appearances. These aren't necessarily my favorite albums of 2007 (you can't judge a CD by its cover), but I think they all deserve some recognition for the art pieces that decorate them. After all, there have been some pretty hideous covers this year.
10. "Twilight and Ghost Stories" by Chris Schlarb. I chose this one for its cute colors, bold lines, and its overall dreamy feeling.
I made a 'Best of '07' compilation for coworkers and thought I'd share my picks with you, in no particular order. Hope you've got a little time to spare!
All downloads have been posted with permission from the bands themselves. Thanks bands!
1. Nicole Atkins and the Sea: "The Way It Is"
I think this is my favorite song of the year. Here's the clip from Letterman.
2. Peter Bjorn and John: "Young Folks"
I'm such a sucker for whistling. And isn't this the most visually satisfying video ever.
OK, well, nobody likes to reflect and rank more than I do (I'm a scientist, I love to quantify), so here goes. I've got my favorite songs of 2007 - no, not best or most innovative, but rather the songs I liked ... lots and lots and lots. There is a little overlap from my forthcoming Best Albums, but also some curveballs. Enjoy!
- "Girls and Boys in Love" by the Rumble Strips
- "Sons of Cain" by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
- "Jack the Ripper" by the Horrors (special note: If the Horrors had a brain and released the original fast demo version of this song on their debut Strange House, it would have been an easy top 10.)
- "Ragoo" by Kings of Leon
- "Heart It Races" by Architecture in Helsinki
- "Geld Essen" by K.I.Z.
#10. "The Prayer" by Bloc Party from Weekend in the City - This song is one of the most interesting songs Bloc Party has recorded. Too bad the rest of the album (short of "Hunting for Witches") just wasn't as cool.
It’s always odd to revisit what you’ve reviewed over the course of a year. Sometimes, much can change – as after subsequent listenings, you realize that record you thought was pretty decent just blows (see The Killers’ Sam’s Town) or you come to love an album that you’d previously dismissed as mediocre (see “Into the Wild” soundtrack). The true test of a “best release of the year” is its stability, so I’ve tried to pick “long-haul” contenders—albums I’ll go to for months (or even years) to come, with no requirement for a set amount of finalists. Here’s what made the cut...
- LCD Soundsystem: Sound of Silver (this one sits significantly higher than the rest)
- Interpol: Our Love to Admire
- The Shins: Wincing the Night Away
- Eddie Vedder: "Into the Wild" soundtrack
- Minus the Bear: Planet of Ice
- Aqueduct: Or Give Me Death
And, topping the list of what sadly wasn’t as good as I expected:
Modest Mouse: We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
I’ll leave it at that. I can hardly fathom how disappointed I was by that output (mixing the quirky fire of Modest Mouse with legendary jangler Johnny Marr? How did it fall so flat?).
TOP NORTHWEST ALBUMS:
Not that NW artists don't count in overall, national polls! I just felt like making a separate list. To wit:
In absolutely no numeric order -- I could never pick favorites with a list like this!
- Jens Lekman, Night Falls Over Kortedala
- Throw Me The Statue, Moonbeams
- Cave Singers, Invitation Songs
- Okkervil River, The Stage Names
- John Vanderslice, Emerald City
- Arthur & Yu, In Camera
- Low, Drums and Guns
- J. Tillman, Cancer and Delirium
- Night Canopy, Of Honey and Country
- Tiny Vipers, Hands Across The Void
I'll toss my ratty Red Sox cap into the ring and put my top 10 list up here. Admittedly, I don't think that my selections are going to jibe with a lot of readers here, simply because my tastes tend to be a little more disjointed than most.
Here goes nothing....
10. The Gena Rowlands Band - Flesh & Spirits
9. Avey Tare/Kria Brekkan - Pullhair Rubeye
8. Grinderman - Grinderman
7. Mother and the Addicts - Science Fiction Illustrated
6. Alasdair Roberts - The Amber Gatherers
5. Electrelane - No Shouts, No Calls
4. Dizzee Rascal - Maths and English
3. Von Sudenfed - Tromatic Reflexxxions
2. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
1. Dungen - Tio Bitar
Comment, agree, disagree, and/or excoriate at will.
OK, the rain has let up a bit but I'm still not anxious to leave the apartment yet. Here's my 10 favorite local albums from 2007, complete with YouTube-y goodness - as best I could find it.
(I'm sure there'll be some continuity issues with the scores I've assigned - I wrote the reviews for four of the albums below. This is how I am ranking them at the end of the year.)
10. Fleeting Frequencies, Patience Please, Happy Happy Birthday to Me (song: "Bint"):
9. ...The Art of Becoming One's Own Shadow, Lillydale, Mt. Fuji (song: unknown, at least to me, but it was the only one I could find):
Golden Globes have been awarded (I guess I’m OK with Babel, but I still can’t believe Bobby was even in the running), Oscar nominations will be announced next week (I’ve a feeling the fun-but-flawed Dreamgirls will be up for Best Picture), and as we enter late January I’m probably the last major American film critic (hee) to post a best-of list.
But I’ve been busy, and ’06 deserves a bit more than a haiku intro.
Because it was a damn interesting year in cinema.
A look back at the gayest, most mysterious cinema year ever
I love that Brokeback Mountain is making such a hard gallop into the public consciousness, with all the Oscar® buzz and sold-out theaters and mammoth per-screen averages and all. I enjoyed Ang Lee's revisionist Western, and was thrilled to see Jake and Heath get it on (Bareback Mounting was the popular cheeky play-on-words title, though I preferred Crouching Cowboy, Hidden Penis). The praise is warranted, even if the film didn't quite penetrate my top ten.
Tropical Malady, my favorite film of the year, if not the (young) century, tells a very similar gay-on-the-surface story with its own pair of unlikely lovers and a completely different enchanted wilderness. Apichatpong Weerasethakul's audacious and painfully lovely film baffled me when I first encountered it at SIFF, but it quietly followed me home from the Harvard Exit that balmy night and has lived with me ever since. In the words of another critic: "Just as the crags and bluffs of Brokeback swallow up its star-crossed lovers, at once creating and destroying for them a false Eden, the Thai jungle to which Malady's young men retreat becomes both an erotic sanctuary and a literal fantasy world."