Every year I make a list of my favorite albums of the year and post them here. This is immediately followed by the Top 100 songs of the year. This year was especially great, with releases by most of my favorite bands. It was hard to make a list, and I was forced to leave many great albums off, but I think I included the best twenty. Here are links to the old lists, if you're interested:
Top 20 Albums of 2006
Top 20 Albums of 2005
Top 10 Albums of 2004
So, without further ado, the Top Albums of 2007:
20. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Baby 81
I have a problem. I can't get enough stoner blues-rock. If you make an album with gritty, distorted guitars and heavy drums, and then sing raspy lyrics about rebellion, I'm sold. See: The Black Keys. See: Brian Jonestown Massacre. See: Led Zeppelin. On Baby 81, BRMC have again proven that they can make a bad-ass stoner-blues record. “Took Out A Loan” opens with a blues guitar riff, complete with overloaded fuzz and string-bending that shouldn't even be possible. The lyrics, “I took out a loan on my empty heart, babe” don't even really mean anything, but they fit perfectly. “Berlin” kicks it up a notch, straight from the Iggy Pop handbook. Single “Weapon of Choice” has a phenomenal chorus, “I won't waste it, I won't waste my love on a nation.” Anti-establishment? Check. Rebellious? Check. “Killing the Light” (dangerously close to a defunct Wilkes-Barre band of the same name) roars through the pre-chorus with a wall guitars, and then drops into the “Oooh”s of the chorus. The only beef I have with this album is that many of the hooks and riffs sound borrowed. I hear pieces of Fun House, parts of Rubber Factory, and patterns from Give It Back. BRMC have carried on the stoner-rock tradition with Baby 81, but I don't think they have carried it to a new level. Which is fine with me. I have a new record to drive around to with a cigar and aviators come July. Rock and roll.
19. The Field - From Here We Go Sublime
I was never into techno. Songs created strictly for dancing always seemed pretty cheesy, and the beats were never that creative. I avoided techno like the plague. Here come The Field. I was trying to write my final paper for technical writing and I was stressed beyond belief. Surely this techno project wasn't going to help. Was I ever wrong. The Field has created the most soothing, calming music using intricate dance beats and lots and lots of crescendos and decrescendos. I can't even pinpoint a single song on this album. The whole album flows like an ocean, morphing from one song into another with subtle changes. I can only say that this album works as a whole. It's relaxed me during finals week, and soothed me to sleep for the last few weeks. It's great driving music. It's great background music. I guess some may call it trance, though I never really knew what trance sounded like. Some surprises are evident on this album. It ends with the title track, which flows into a reverb-heavy version of The Flamingos' “I Only Have Eyes For You.” The second track, “A Paw In My Face,” relentlessly drives a guitar sample until it slows into Lionel Richie's “Hello.” Of course, these samples only invoke a twinge of familiarity. I was forced to do some research to find out, “Just where did I hear that before?” From Here We Go Sublime truly lives up to its title. If the word “sublime” had connotations with it, other than a reggae-punk band from the 90's, this would be it. Smooth. Perfect. Calm. Subtle. The Field.
18. The Go! Team - Proof Of Youth
This was the first album by The Go! Team that I listened to intently. Needless to say, I was pretty impressed. Horns are prominent over child-like gang vocals. There is no prominent vocalist, and the lyrics are layered into the depth of the music, instead of on top. Xylophones and tambourines are in every song, and guitars and synthesizers carry each song as if it's carrying an all-night party. The one-two punch of “Keys to the City” and “The Wrath of Marcie” is the best part of Proof of Youth. “Keys to the City” is driven by a dark guitar line and a wailing trumpet. “The Wrath of Marcie” bursts into a bright fanfare and an enthusiastic chorus. The pseudo-hip-hop and child-like vocals of the Go! Team remind me of cartoons of my youth. Each song on Proof of Youth could have easily been the theme song to a Nickelodeon show. “Flashlight Fight” even features Chuck D, a surprising change from the high-pitched vocals we're used to. Instrumental outro “Patricia's Moving Picture” is carried by horns and glockenspiel, and is again reminiscent of a commercial for the Letter A on Sesame Street. This album is well-rounded. Each song is extremely youthful and happy, and the only abrupt change comes in the acoustic “My World.” I enjoy the Go! Team because they make me feel like I'm eight years old again.
17. Black Moth Super Rainbow - Dandelion Gum
I was introduced to this band no more than a week ago. I was told, “It's all analog synths and vocoders; you'd love it.” Truth to be told, this made a last ditch effort to be one of my favorite albums of the year. I've also heard it described as a psychedelic version of Air. BMSR uses droning analog to their advantage. “Forever Heavy” opens with a steady pulse around a lazy rhythm. Layers and layers of synthesizers smother the already-muffled vocodered lyrics. Supposedly, this album is about witches making candy in the woods. I guess I can see that, but it doesn't even really matter. The dreamy delay and reverb on some tracks (“Drippy Eye”) is accompanied by groovy bass-like synth lines and maracas on others (“Melt Me”). Instrumental “Lollipopsichord” joins a Daft Punk dance beat with ultra-delayed vocals and the occasional gong blast. What may sound like full orchestration is merely synthesizers with different settings. Somehow, merely depending on these cheap sounds is what makes this record work. “Sun Lips” is the standout track here, with a hypnotic melody under “I want to be with you, and the sun will rise.” At seventeen tracks, Dandelion Gum will at least get you through that road trip or late night research paper. It doesn't get dull or uninteresting either, and that is the best part. Had I listened to this a little bit earlier in the year, it might be a lot higher on this list. Needless to say, it's fresh and I will probably listen to it well into 2008.
16. Minus The Bear - Planet of Ice
Since high school, Minus The Bear has represented summer, relaxation, drinking, and cruising around at night. Highly Refined Pirates was my youth anthem. “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” played at the pinnacle of the Kill The Lights! Tour. Menos El Oso, while a step down from the first, was still impressive. Finger-tapping and “Sunday Blood Sunday” drumming was prominent on both releases. This year's Planet of Ice is a departure from traditional song titles and actually showcases a mature sound while remaining true to Minus The Bear fans. The finger-tapping and technical drumming has taken a backseat to synth drones and catchy hooks. Opener “Burying Luck” surprises the fanbase with some spacey off-time fuzz, and then breaks into the rocking drum and bass groove we're so used to, with a chorus that is driven by drumming on rims. The album is not groundbreaking, for Minus The Bear, but it is not disappointing either. “Part 2” is this album's “We Are Not A Football Team,” and “When We Escape” layers the line “You must be an illusion” over arpeggiating guitar. Minus The Bear shows hints of slipping into prog territory, but stays in the familiar song structures. However, closer “Lotus” is an eight minute space jam that starts with a traditional Minus the Bear structure, and flows into a heavy guitar and drum duel with intense finger tapping. Halfway through, we see a fallout into a Dark Side of the Moon coda, complete with overloaded reverb and organ. The end of the album culminates into a rock masterpiece, with driving drums overtop changing rhythms. The album ends at the pinnacle of this wall of sound, leaving us hungry for the next Minus The Bear album, which will hopefully expand on the prog ideas hinted at on Planet of Ice.
15. Liars - Liars
I didn't get Drum's Not Dead at first. Last year, it was omitted from my year-end list and it wasn't until a camping trip where I played the album around the campfire that I realized its brilliance. Drum's Not Dead dominated my summer, and I anticipated this year's self-titled album much more as a result. That said, Liars is a great follow-up album. Still percussion heavy, the fourth album by Liars manages to resurrect lo-fi garage rock with loads of reverb and distortion. One of the best opening tracks on any album, “Plaster Casts of Everything” drives a brutal guitar riff over the lines “I wanna run away, I wanna bring you too.” Directly afterwards, “Houseclouds” drops into a funky keyboard and tambourine jam that allows you to pick up the pieces of your face that were rocked off after the first track. Creepy drones like “Sailing to Byzantium” are sandwiched between screamers like “Cycle Time,” “Clear Island,” and the almost-too-happy (for Liars) “Freak Out.” Overall, this album makes the next logical step in the Liars' discography. It is serving as a transition between the tribal drumming of last year and whatever distorted, heavy synth-rock is in store for the future. One thing is certain, though. The next release by Liars won't sound anything like this one.
14. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Living With The Living
Since the sno-cone fiasco of 2004 when we played with Ted Leo, I've been more than slightly obsessed. Hearts of Oak and Tyranny of Distance were in rotation for a long, long time. Shake The Sheets was surprisingly amazing. I anticipated a new Ted Leo release for a few years before hearing a few new tracks in the summer of 2006 performed live. Living With The Living is different. There's no stellar standout track, but as a whole the album is great. He stays political, with “Army Bound” ripping apart today's military and “Annunciation Day/Born on Christmas Day” is a two part ode to young soldiers who died young. The message seems much louder on this album than it was on Shake The Sheets. Crunchy and bitter, “Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.” may even overstep the political line, where the message here is more dire than the songwriting. At the same time, non-political songs make a strong impression. “La Costa Brava” is a six minute jewel about traveling through Europe. The chorus is poetic: “Down by the beach, there's a small cafe where we'll hang on for Joan and drink Bonet all day.” As I'm writing this, The Sun Also Rises is on television and I can't help but make a comparison to the beauty of this song. The rest of this album makes a strong impression as well. “The Unwanted Things” is Leo's closest tribute to reggae thus far, and “A Bottle of Buckie” can't hide Leo's Celtic side, with tin whistles making a prominent appearance. Ted Leo refuses to disappoint me. This album is consistent and expands upon his past work. If he ever breaks into the mainstream, he may be the Dylan of our time. His call-to-arms lyrics and catchy songwriting are too strong to ignore.
13. Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity
What do you get when you mix off-time percussion and dissident chords with a small Asian female singer? Friend Opportunity was everything I've wanted to hear from Deerhoof. “+81” starts with a horn fanfare and a marching band snare before that wailing guitar takes over. “Believe E.S.P.” uses cowbell and a groovy bassline to set the tempo. However, an abrupt drum fill and some sound effects that sound like I just got a one-up in Mario Bros breaks up the song for an interesting few seconds. “Choco Fight” is a lazy rhythm under the lyrics “Come overseas, my greet will cure your great soul.” Of course, there are some tracks that are just too far out in left field. “Kidz Are So Small” repeats the line “If I were man and you a dog, I'd throw a stick for you” as an off-tempo beat, accompanied by metallic clicks, occasional synth notes, and even dogs barking. However, tracks like “Matchbook Seeks Maniac,” are almost in the vein of a mainstream pop song, with the lyrics, “I would sell my soul to the devil if I could be the top of the world.” The masterful songwriting is sprinkled all around this album, it's just immersed in a sea of noise and off-time rhythms. The combination of these makes for a great album. Opener “The Perfect Me” is a perfect example. The intricate percussion supports the screaming guitar and organ as we build into the chorus of “Cry out! Cry out!” This album makes great use of supplementing catchy riffs with a weird array of random noises and rhythms. Signature Deerhoof. I wouldn't have it any other way.
12. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga
Spoon has been notorious for making albums with three or four great songs and a lot of filler. I was generally unimpressed with 2005's Gimme Fiction and expected to hear a few great songs on Ga Ga Ga Ga, but not a great all-around album. After five albums, they finally proved me wrong. This one is great, beginning to end. Gritty opener “Don't Make Me A Target” sets the pace for the rest, with a driving guitar line, something that is continued on keyboard in “The Ghost of You Lingers.” Perhaps the title Ga Ga Ga Ga is an echo of this repeated rhythm. Standout track “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” echoes horn fanfares during the chorus over bouncy drums and tambourines. “The Underdog” brings back this horn combination between sleigh bells and hand clapping. In between these, there are three tracks chock-full of groove. “Rhythm and Soul” especially proves Spoon's ability to write a laid-back piano melody. In “Black Like Me,” we see a beautifully written acoustic song aided by maracas and the occasional piano, crying “I'm in need of someone to take care of me tonight.” Building into drums, bass, and backing vocals, this is truly the pinnacle of Spoon's career. It is both heart-wrenching and joyous. Spoon is coming into their own. Although no track on Ga Ga Ga Ga can compete with “The Way We Get By” or “The Beast and Dragon Adored,” this album is finally cohesive. No track is boring or uninteresting, and I think it shows a promising future for this band.
11. Devendra Banhart - Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
My 22nd birthday present to myself was a Devendra Banhart concert at the TLA. The king of freak-folk played with an entourage of almost ten, and each musician had the chance to play a song from their own project while also helping out Banhart. He also pulled an audience member up to play one of his own songs on stage, a feat almost never seen at live shows today. After Nino Rojo and Cripple Crow it was easy to see how Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon could disappoint. It is hard to live up to standards already set by your past work. On this album, Banhart attempts to tackle many different styles, from gospel (“Saved”) to doo-wop (“Shabop Shalom”) to samba (“Samba Vexillographica”). While these songs are light and interesting from Banhart's perspective, his expertise remains folk. Stellar “So Long Old Bean” uses acoustic guitar and wood blocks to piece together a great mellow folk song. “Tonada Yanomaninista” is a thunderous anthem about chasing a stork through the South American jungle. Centerpiece “Seahorse” is a three part crescendo from slow acoutic guitar, to a dark jazzy piano and flute riff, and finally into a screaming guitar ending over the lines “I'm scared of ever being born again if it's in this form again.” This album is long, at sixteen tracks, but proves its worth, especially after seeing it performed live. Where Devendra may falter in unfamiliar territory, he makes up in his own. Great album, great performer, great songwriter.
10. Kanye West - Graduation
Did you realize that you were a champion in their eyes? Kanye's answer is “Yes I did,” and his ego is well-deserved. Graduation, the third release by West fails to disappoint, even after his first two masterpieces. Bypassing the Daft Punk-aided smash hit of the year “Stronger,” the other twelve tracks live up to the hype as well. “Good Morning” opens the album lightly, introducing Mr. West and his inevitable graduation in the three part trilogy. Samples from Steely Dan, Michael Jackson, and Elton John make appearances along with accompaniment by Chris Martin from Coldplay, T.I., and John Legend. The songs are better than ever, with the egotistical “Champion” and “Good Life” supplementing the heart-breaking “Homecoming.” Kanye even displays vulnerability in his struggle with fame and fortune in “Can't Tell Me Nothing.” Dropping the skits, Mr. West proves that he is still at the top of his game. Annihilating 50 Cent on record release day only enforced his reign as king of hip hop. I'm still waiting to be let down by a Kanye West album.
9. Apples In Stereo - New Magnetic Wonder
Honestly, the most interesting part of this album is not the music. It is still a great pop album, and one of the year's happiest, but what solidified this for me was Robert Schneider's Non-Pythagorean Scale, which was outlined in an earlier entry (and it's on Wikipedia, if you're that lazy). As a producer who loves analog recording, Schneider became an inspiration for me this year. Mellotrons and vocoders are everywhere. Single “Energy” is flushed with vocal reverb, and remains one of the most euphoric songs of the year. Short transitions like “Joanie Don't You Worry” showcase the Apples' ability to layer electro-pop for about thirty seconds before breaking into their next composition. The keyword on this album is catchy, as “Sun Is Out” and “Can You Feel It?” have been stuck in my head almost all year. “Open Eyes” is a fuzzy stoner-rock anthem amidst the electronica, and the four part “Beautiful Machine” is a pop extravaganza, flowing from bubblegum to acoustic to group vocals and finally the synth-heavy outro. While a fantastic pop album, it feels like the Apples will come into their own once they utilize the Non-Pythagorean Scale more and not just throw it in minute-long snippets that don't really make musical sense just yet.
8. Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
2004's Funeral established Arcade Fire as one of the best orchestral arrangers, with Owen Pallett from Final Fantasy composing strings and percussion players performing on motorcycle helmets, magazine pages, and trash cans at live performances. This year's Neon Bible, recorded in a church, brings back the enormous extravagance of a symphony, from the organ in “Intervention” to the barreling finale of “My Body Is A Cage.” Springsteen-esque tracks like “Keep The Car Running” and “Antichrist Television Blues” bring a new focus to this versatile band, who have proven that they can span multiple genres. The re-release of “No Cars Go” is one of the many highlights of this album, with horns, strings, accordion, and the double vocal line of Win Butler and Regine Chassagne. This album flows beautifully from beginning to end, never sacrificing orchestral arrangement for filler tracks. It's a great sophomore release and well worth the wait.
7. Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
I think when word went around that Johnny Marr joined Modest Mouse, everyone expected the new album to have a completely different, Smiths-influenced sound. Since the sound remained generally the same, and most of Marr's contributions were subtle, this album went generally unnoticed among critics. However, I think this album made a strong impression for 2007. Modest Mouse didn't step backwards in their progression, even if this album isn't as good as the last few releases. The drum and vocals at the end of “Parting of the Sensory” shows Isaac Brock's ability to use freak-folk to his advantage, with a wailing fiddle coming in to supplement. “March Into The Sea” is a great opener, with bellowing waltz drums behind Brock's “Ha! Ha! Ha!” Single “Dashboard” may be the most produced Mouse song to date, with horns and strings under the driving rhythm. While fans of Lonesome Crowded West may be turned off by this production, the direction is interesting and the next Modest Mouse album has potential to be really good or really bad because of it. James Mercer of The Shins highlights “Missed The Boat” and brings a mellow smoothness to Brock's jagged vocals. “Florida” is, in my opinion, the highlight of this album. Bouncing vocals and guitars are broken up by the line “Even as I left Florida.” The end of the song, a half-time jaunt with Brock's ever-rugged lyrics keep pace until the last fall out. We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank is not a great Modest Mouse album. There is a lot of filler (“Education” and “Steam Engenius” leave much to be desired) and it is nowhere close to LCW or Moon and Antarctica. Despite this, a sub-par Modest Mouse release is still better than a lot of the crap out there today. The good songs are great, and make up for a lot of the filler. Besides, this is Marr's first album. Give him some time to leave his mark.
6. Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
What a great album! My first huge surprise of the year. This album is upbeat, dancey, and littered with synthesizer and processed drums. Magnificent “Suffer For Fashion,” bounds through aforementioned instruments at “130 BPM, it's not too slow.” Despite the happiness and giddiness of the synth-pop music, the lyrics on this album have a subtle darkness, evident in “Suffer For Fashion” in the line “If we've gotta go out, let's do it together. Let's all go down together.” Pop masterpiece “Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse” is a cry for help about drug dependency, sung in the tune of the catchiest synth line I've ever heard: “Come on, chemical-al-al-als!” Disco-inspired “A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger” builds into a 70's dance beat for a minute before beginning with the lyrics, “I spent the weekend on the verge of a total breakdown while living in Norway.” Having these depressing lyrics stuck in your head with the happiest music behind them has been an odd phenomenon that occurred pretty often this year. Twelve minute “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal” finally stops hiding behind the happy pop music. This is a dark, driving, vengeful opus. “At least I author my own disaster” or “Let's tear this shit apart, let's tear the fucking house apart” or “Somehow you've red-rovered the Gestapo circling my heart” are made even more emotional by frontman Kevin Barnes's screams. There are some serious issues that inspired much of this album. At the same time, there are funky basslines and guitar riffs (see: “Faberge Falls For Shuggie” or “Labyrinthian Pomp”) that can only be the result of pop geniuses. This album excels in both the disco-pop that Of Montreal is so good at, as well as lyrics that make you wonder just how bad was that breakup?
5. LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver
“I don't know where to begin, we are North Americans. And for those of you who still think we're from England, we're not. No.” Could have fooled me. The advanced dance beats and song structures on the sophomore release by LCD Soundsystem point straight to Europe. Opener “Get Innocuous” takes roughly two minutes to get started, layering beat after beat to reach a perfect driving dance rhythm complete with the deep harmonic vocal line “When once you had believed it, now you see it's sucking you in.” This album cascades into emotional highlights like “Someone Great” and dance masterpieces like “Us v Them.” Filter manipulation is evident in almost every song, tickling my analog affections. “New York I Love You” waltzes the album to a close in a mess of guitar, piano, and phasors. Halfway point “All My Friends” is the culmination of James Murphy's career, lamenting the rock and roll lifestyle and searching for his real friends. "When you're blowing eighty-five days in the middle of France, Yeah, I know it gets tired only where are your friends tonight?” Sound of Silver truly captures the talents of LCD Soundsystem, from their impeccable dance rhythms to their pure emotional ballads.
4. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
In 2005, Animal Collective released Feels. The first half of the album was an eclectic mix of pop and percussive loops with Avery Tare's screaming on top. Strawberry Jam has taken this style to the next level. “Chores” bounds along between a fast-paced versed fueled by the “Never ever ever....(x32)” and the drawn-out bridge “When there's nooo one waaaatchiiinngggg.” Noah Lennox's brilliant samples float each song through a whimsical world while the lyrics bring them down to earth. “Unsolved Mysteries” croons, “And what a surprise to look in those eyes and find suddenly he is Jack the Ripper.” The one-two punch of “For Reverend Green” and “Fireworks” complete the album, with the off beats and gritty vocals of the former leading into the smooth melodies of the latter. Opener “Peacebone” may also be candidate for song of the year, with a mess of synthesizer noises progressing into a driving rhythm. Strawberry Jam enforces the Animal Collective style of consistently pushing the envelope of music. If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of someone running on gravel as a rhythmic beat. The ideas are endless and this group is so far ahead of the curve. I can't wait to hear what's next.
3. The White Stripes - Icky Thump
Raw guitars and heavy drums. The formula of my youth. I will always have a special place in my heart for pure rock and roll. The White Stripes are no exception, and there's good reason why 2005's Get Behind Me Satan was the best album of that year. After their streak of amazing albums, it was hard to believe that Icky Thump would live up to the past releases. By the middle of the title track, I was dead wrong. This album is even better than the last, with a superb rendition of Patti Page's “Conquest” at the centerfold, complete with mariachi trumpet. “You Don't Know What Love Is (You Do As You're Told)” and “I'm Slowly Turning Into You” showcase Jack White's ability to write phenomenal breakdowns, while “Bone Broke” drives an amazing drum beat over fuzzy vocals and guitar. Experimentation does indeed happen on a White Stripes album, and this time it happens to be bagpipes in the Celtic duo “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn,” and “St. Andrew (This Battle Is In The Air).” Spoken word comedy about taking used junk is abound on “Rag and Bone,” perhaps one of the coolest songs of the year, and closer “Effect and Cause” is a light three-chord tune about taking responsibility for your actions. This album is great from start to finish. Another classic by a fantastic duo.
2. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
Upon first listen, this album was much too intricate to dissect. I know it made me want to keep listening to it, though I didn't know why. When I hiked through Bald Eagle state park in July and played it on my iPod, I finally got it. Noah Lennox of Animal Collective has created a work of art. One track on this album cannot stand alone. The Beach Boys-influenced vocals, with heavy reverb and harmonies, are accompanied by strange percussive loops and random sounds of clocks, water, subway stations, owls, and machinery. Repetition is evident, with two tracks clocking in at over twelve minutes, but nothing gets boring. “Comfy in Nautica” starts off with an almost Kumbaya-sounding rhythm, and reminds us to “Always have a good time.” Each time I heard this opening track, it made me smile and agree. Fading into the start of “Take Pills” led to a loop of machinery with a prominent tambourine and celestial vocals. This builds into the second half, which might as well have been pulled right off of Pet Sounds. Panda Bear croons “I don't want for us to take pills anymore,” as hand claps and flowing water fill in the gaps in the reverb. With the hoot of an owl comes the twelve minute “Bros.” Harmonies and “Whoa-oh-oh”s trade off with screams, a creepy laugh, and a crying baby. The percussion picks up and the vocals fade away to make room for more layers of loops. Tribal metallic drumming is evident and delayed vocals change the pace for the weird, but the main guitar riff is still there, keeping us sedated throughout the freak sounds. Panda Bear manages to combine the weird with the familiar. It is almost like he took an unreleased Beach Boys album and added random noises to make it his own. The harmonies and vocal melodies are euphoric and catchy, while the loops remain weird and abrupt. I still can't get enough of this album. I hear something new every time I listen to it. The layers are endless and the structures, while repetitive, have enough subtle differences to keep the listener wanting more. This album is well out of the mainstream, but it is pretty accessible if given the chance. I know I haven't even gotten close to sick of it yet.
1. Radiohead - In Rainbows
Ah, the culmination of 2007. The highlight of the year. The discbox. The pay-what-you-want distribution. The four year wait. It was all worth it. Ten tracks of perfection. We must have listened to this album five times a day for at least a month. It was the only thing worth listening to. The insane 15/8 rhythm of “15 Step.” The flowing majesty of “Nude.” The masterful lyrical patterns of “Faust Arp.” Every song is completely different and completely amazing. The drum delay in “Videotape” works beautifully with the piano line. The percussion-heavy “Reckoner” just emphasizes the dropout into a crafted string section. “Bodysnatchers” is the most rocking Radiohead song since “Electioneering” and the most dancy since “Idioteque.” The bassline was the best. “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” showcases the most interesting acoustic guitar I've heard on a Radiohead song, building into Thom Yorke's wailing “Come on and let it out!” Most of the songs on this album build to a thunderous ending, the signature Radiohead move. “All I Need” is the beautiful, depressing Radiohead song we've been looking for, complete with glockenspiel and waves of white noise. This album is happiness and sadness. It is both hope and despair. It encompasses everything Radiohead has defined, and pushes into new territory never before explored. Sitting around on that release date with ten other people and listening to the album on repeat brought some of the most insightful listening I've ever encountered. Drummers noticed odd beat patterns. Guitarists noticed insane processing. Non-musicians noticed the pure bliss of the entire album, and we just wanted more. Surely this wasn't the best Radiohead album. How could it compete with OK Computer or Kid A? Still, the majesty of the album as a whole could not be ignored, and it surely blew away the rest of the competition. For as much of my year was spent listening to Person Pitch from January to October, that amount of time was doubled in the last three months for In Rainbows. It is perfection. Radiohead continues to dominate music, both in talent and industry. The cultural shock felt by In Rainbows was hard to ignore as well. Where will the music industry stand in a few years? They are raising the bar for artists, and many have followed in their footsteps. My hat is off to you, Thom Yorke, Johnny Greenwood, Phil Selway, Ed O'Brien, and Colin Greenwood. So long as you keep making music, my life will be that much better.
That said, I'd like to recognize a few albums that were close to making the list, but just couldn't cut it. Here were some close calls of 2007:
Battles - Mirrored
Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings
Feist - The Reminder
Loney, Dear - Loney, Noir
M.I.A. - Kala
Menomena - Friend and Foe
The National - Boxer
The Shins - Wincing The Night Away
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
So until next time, I will be graduating college, moving away from Penn State, and starting a new life. Tune in at the end of 2008 for next year's list.