Top 10 Albums of 2007

10. The National - Boxer
10. Magnolia electric Co - Sojourner

Ok, i had to add this album in after listening to it 4 times in the last 24 hours. I've only had it for a couple of weeks, and listened to it no more than 10 times, but i think it's safe to say this album deserves a spot on this list. It's truly under stated and stately, heavy and dour, hopeful and even occasionally celebratory. And his voice, is addictive - now i just have to spend some more time with the lyrics, are they really as good as they sound when they come through?

"I wanna hurry home to you
put on a slow, dumb show for you
and crack you up
so you can put a blue ribbon on my brain
god I’m very, very frightening
I’ll overdo it"

What's not to love with this box set, Jason Molina's never let me down, even when he's not blowing my mind on albums like Didn't it Rain or M.E.C. he's still crafting unique and memorable tunes, and with his turn towards more Youngian country rock, it seems he's found a sound that's proven quite fruitful. Sojourner collects 4 CDs worth of album cuts, alternate mixes and out takes from 4 studio sessions over the last couple years. All together it provides a solid over view of his work of late, surprisingly solid.

9. Arboretum - Rites of Uncovering

This one took a while to grow on me, on first blush i was a little miffed by their Oldham brothers worship (more on the Anomoanon side than the Palace bros), and the occasional lapse into guitar twiddling that didn't seem (at first) to go anywhere. Strange thing happened though, all those rough edges smoothed out and as winter has rolled in I've been going back to this one on my walks and drives. Think Sunn meets Palace meets The Dead.

8. Fiest - The Reminder

This album is probably on the most top 10 lists this year. This one i guess, is my Panda Bear. It's back to front a perfect collection of brilliant songs, running through hushed confessionals and bouncy indie rock - there's something for everyone waiting in line at Starbucks. Whatever, this was the year i started going to Starbucks i guess.

7. Neil Young - Live at Massey Hall

I love Neil... but his more recent output hasn't really hit the mark like i wanted them too. That's not to say i don't love him for coming out and railing against Bush and Co. Or just plain ol' continuing to do things the way he wants to, but after being spoiled like i have by his late 60's early 70's work, Impeach the president just doesn't cut it.
Hearing Live at Masey Hall for the first time was an amazing experience; The recording quality is absolutely fantastic, and its obvious he's at the top of his game. The emotional weight that he's able to bring down on tracks like Bad fog of loneliness can't be touched by anyone, and that means you, Dylan.

6. Yeasayer - All Hour symbol

This is a really cool album. Such an interesting amalgam of styles and sounds - 1 part, Animal Collective, 1 part TV on the Radio, 1 Part Phil Collins. Still here? Good. Cause it's really great stuff, and emotional to boot. The general theme is of bubbling anger, remorsefulness & resentment towards what we've done to the world and ourselves, and a sort of apocalyptic fearfulness of the future played out with big heavy changes electronics, hippy guitars, tribal drums, chanting and (this is where the Phil Collins comes in.) Really catchy 80's vocal stylings. Yes... they're from Brooklyn.

5. Wolves in the Throne Room - Two Hunters

Do i get extra points for having partied with these guys at their farm in Olympia years ago? Josh says yea, thanks Josh. These guys are where i go to for my black metal lately. Not that i'm a connoisseur of the stuff, I'd never make that wild claim. (put down the knife Chris Miller.) I really dig good Black metal, but what gets Two Hunters onto this list is what they bring to the table besides fucking brutal black metal. 1) Shoegaze! big heavy sad shoegaze.... why didn't Mayhem ever think of this? nothing makes your tracks heavier than if you drop into them after floating through some dank swampy aether for 10 minutes. 2) Ethos! Think corpse paint and spikes are hardcore? Try radical green anarchism.

4. Dungen - Tio Bitar

For some reason this album, as well as their last album remind me of Christmas time. There's something joyous and full about the melodies and the playing reminds me of energetic romps through snowy country hills. If you were a fan of their US debut, and chances are you were, you'll be pleasantly surprised here - on first listen the melodies take a little longer to emerge, but after repeated listens you'll be whistling the violins on Visar Vagen, or rocking out some serious air guitar to Mon Amour. You know it's fascinating that my favorite psych album is coming out of the great white north of Europe while my black metal is straight out of the pacific northwest. go figure.

3. LSD March - Constellation of Tragedies

This year was the year i finally got my hands on some LSD March - basically one guy out of Japan who writes these melencholic, smoky, echoing minimalist psychedelic dirges - and accentuates them with sparse bells, noises, whistles, cries and some of the best clean-electric guitar solos i've heard anyone play this side of On the Beach. (ok Nagisa Ni Te, you guys too.) I've heard them described as The VU meets Les Rallizes Denudes, and that comparison doesn't seem that far off - but make no mistakes, LSD March's sound is uniquely and subtly it's own - i could listen to this album, over and over again.

2. Studio - Yearbook 1

This one took me out of leftfield - i hadn't heard a single word about it, and it slipped under my radar up until about a month ago. Since then it's been on regular rotation everywhere i go. There's a track for every situation on this puppy. The Album itself is over 70 minutes, and consists of the duo's various 12" issues over the last year. How can i explain this properly. The duo describe themselves something like, Afrobeat electro pop... but to me it sounds more along the lines of like, if The Cure got into motorik tribal grooves and Robert Smith got laryngitis. Something like that... But to be honest its such an interesting combo of sounds and styles - given that Studio are just that, a studio experiment, you can listen and hear where they had one idea and strung it up against another, and then after a week or so of listening to say, Durutti Column, came back into the studio and layed down some killer minimalist guitar figure.
What makes Yearbook 1 so successful though, is that each idea is fully explored and delivered upon, there's not a single half baked song on the album, and some stretch out over 15 minutes, constantly growing a pulsing with krauty goodness... Now that's tasty.

1. Burial - Untrue

What can i say about Untrue - well, i'll repeat what i said about it on False 45th; This album takes the promise of his debut and delivers in ways i wasn't expecting. While on the self-title, the vocals often floated in and out and left me feeling that their presence was at best arbitrary, and at worst, unnecessary. I've never been a fan of vocals in dance floor oriented electronic music, to me, the synths fill this gap nicely without the need of cooing Hi-NrG mantras. Untrue brings the vocals to the forefront, and while on first blush i was skeptical, i quickly fell under their spell. Composed of samples of voice mail messages and melodic fragments, untrue introduces a layer of gauzy euphoria that floats like London fog over the razorblade hi-hats, woodblock snares, and meat packed bass hits.

All this adds up to an amazingly cinematic experience in headphones that's both warm and romantic and as cold and desolate as nuclear winter, all the while, my head is nodding and my foot is tapping. I think it's safe to say that in the world of electronic music, perhaps all music, you'll be hard pressed to find a more unique and beautifully crafted album this year.


Thanks for taking the time to read my top 10 of the year, please feel free to comment - link me to your lists, etc - also, over the next couple of days i'll be posting tracks from each album, so check back in! Thanks also to all of these artists for making 2007 a great year for music!


josh said...

The Cure getting into motorik tribal grooves and Robert Smith getting laryngitis? Yes, please!

emily said...

no bill callahan?

Tanner M. said...

you know, i wanted to - but i gotta say i wasn't completely sold on that album. Whereas "A river" was absolutely heartbreaking. This one felt sort of like a studio throwaway, there was some good tracks on it like diamond dancer and sycamore, but as a whole it was kind of a hodgepodge.

josh said...

Is there no justice in this list?

josh said...

Is there no justice in this list?

Tanner M. said...

yeah you know i thought about it, and it's a killer album, but i personally don't listen to it alot. I love it for pulling out tracks for mixes but back to front it's not a go-to for me.

jay said...

Glad to see someone else other than me liked the Arboretum album. The Yeasayer album is the only one on the list I haven't listened to yet. I'm not sure if I'll dig it because of the TV on the Radio comparison (I can't stand that band), but I'll give it a try.

Casey said...

Jay, I'm sooooo thrilled to find someone else who doesn't enjoy TV On the Radio!

Yeasayer are a good bit better than that. I hear some Tusk"-era Mac on there, even. But the David Byrne yelps really fucking annoy me.

When will music be enigmatic, sexy and/or rocking again? I tire of the 50-member bands from Canada or Brooklyn and their over-developed "earnestness." They can stuff their glockenspiels and early Springsteen records in their pasty-white butts!

Tanner M. said...

i'm with you on the enigmatic / sexy front Casey, when are we gonna get another bowie or Bolan, hell, i'd settle for a Neilson.

However i dig TVotR, i think they're way sexy - and unique.

josh said...

Hmmm...A band that sound like TV on the Radio AND Tusk-era FM? It is safe to assume there was massive amounts of blow being bumped in the studio, no?