I purchased my fair share of albums in 2007. As I mulled over my favorites for the year, I had no problem listing ten albums I spun the most, but it was tough to position them in a ranking order. There are a couple here that captured my attention and haven’t let go since. But the rest leave me wondering whether they will hold up in the years beyond. And so it goes…
A note about the list below: This year, I played the game the way it is meant to be played. I only considered full length albums physically released (and obtained) in the US in 2007. That’s right. No EPs. No albums released in past years. No advance copies (I saved Vampire Weekend for next year). Maybe I’ll compile a separate list for those. Just kidding.
10. Bishop Allen :: The Broken String [So Hood]
Released :: July 24, 2007
This band is one of my favorite discoveries this year. After reading about their ambitious task of releasing an EP for each month in 2006, I bought this album which is mostly comprised of songs within that catalogue. “Rain” is one of my favorite songs of the year.
9. Andrew Bird :: Armchair Apocrypha [Fat Possum]
Released :: March 20, 2007
This album is one of the most sonically accomplished albums I’ve ever listened to; headphones should be sold with the album. The overall feeling is fairly somber, though Bird’s voice certainly plays to the melancholy side of the spectrum as it is. The slew of instruments used is quite an impressive list, and it’s even more impressive knowing Bird himself plays most of them himself (coordinating the arrangements himself as well).
8. Office :: A Night at the Ritz[New Line, Scratchie]
Released :: September 25, 2007
Power-pop in all its glory. This album bangs from beginning to end with an energetic collection of driving beats, jumpy rhythms, keys, and hand-claps. The songs under three and a half minutes are best though, and therefore the album would possibly be more enjoyable with a shorter track listing (there are 13 songs on the album).
7. The Shins :: Wincing the Night Away [Sub Pop]
Released :: January 23, 2007
The third effort from one of the most heralded indie acts of all time, it took me a while to really get into Wincing the Night Away from the Shins. It’s their longest and most adventurous album to date, and only gets stronger with each listen. Definitely more musically advanced than the two before it, it showcases the band’s maturity and refusal to get swept up in the Garden State tide that put them on the map in the first place.
6. !!! :: Myth Takes [Warp]
Released :: March 6, 2007
When I first listened to this album in the spring, I quickly decided it was going to be a summer banger. Dance punk revivalists, !!! (Chk Chk Chk), set up camp and create an all out party with their tribal and hypnotic beats. It isn’t a lyrical masterpiece by any means, but the music more than makes up for it and leaves you yearning for a dry t-shirt. As Tim Sendra from All Music Guide put it, “The first three tracks are like opening a door and being blasted backward by a wall of flame and heat.”
5. Arcade Fire :: Neon Bible [Merge]
Released :: March 6, 2007
Perhaps one of the most anticipated albums of all time, Arcade Fire answered their sophomore jinx by compiling 11 songs full of dramatic passion. Never lacking theatrics (both in song and performance), the band takes their legacy to a new level with this album. If they were angst-ridden kids on Funeral, they’re all grown up and living in the real world on Neon Bible. “Keep the Car Running” could be the greatest song of year and I just about lose my shit when he howls in the middle of the song.
4. Amy Winehouse :: Back to Black [Republic]
Released :: March 13, 2007 (US)
Amy Winehouse has one of the most soulful voices since the Motown era, but her public battle with drugs and fame have overshadowed an album with so much style and potential. Tabloid issues notwithstanding, this album stands on its own and is one that will continue to be great in future years. A modern day jazz and R&B album that isn’t often executed properly.
3. Bright Eyes :: Cassadaga [Saddle Creek]
Released :: April 10, 2007
One of the most consistent albums of the year. Conor Oberst took his Bright Eyes act and created his most developed album to date. The album is full of his thought provoking lyrics of course, but it’s musically evolved into a glorious Americana package rife with pedal steel guitars, harmonicas and a dusty box piano.
2. The White Stripes :: Icky Thump [Warner Bros.]
Released :: June 19, 2007
I am frankly surprised how high up on the list this one landed. I picked up this album after having skipped everything after White Blood Cells, but Icky Thump brings the rock like no other in 2007. The album is 13 songs of the aggressive intensity that we’ve come to expect from the White Stripes. But it’s probably their most adventurous album to date complete with Spanish, Celtic and Blues influences. A solid album from start to finish.
1. LCD Soundsystem :: Sound of Silver[DFA]
Released :: March 20, 2007
The favorite of mine and many others this year is the second full length written and produced by James Murphy under his LCD Soundsystem moniker. There isn’t much more to say about this album that hasn’t already been documented. The album takes on an identity of its own with Murphy leading the charge behind the mic (believe it or not). Yes, Murphy is a beat maker first and foremost. But this album showcases his creative lyrical abilities as much as the beats behind it. “Someone Great” and “All My Friends” could stay on repeat for days and I’d be happy. Get Innocuous!
Best Non-Physical Album
Goose :: Bring it On [Skint]
Released :: February 5, 2007
This album is not available in the US (the band is from Belgium), but the electronic copy I obtained (thanks to Dave) continues to impress me upon each listen. It’s another dancy electronic pop album. “British Mode” is definitely a top 10 single for the year.
Best Album Released in 2006 I Didn’t Listen To Until 2007
Regina Spektor :: Begin to Hope [Sire]
Released :: June 13, 2007
Quite possibly the album I listened to most in 2007.