Lists And Mixes

A Retrospective Top 33 and 1/3: Best Albums of 2007

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Let me tell you a story. In 2007 some notable things happened. I attended the annual music festival SXSW (the image above is of myself and The Lovely Sparrows’ Shawn Jones, taken by Abandoned Love Records/Virgin Of The Birds’ Jon Rooney), I grew a mustache, and I met a beautiful girl named Andi at the Capitol Hill Block Party. We hit it off and ditched the after-party to get a sprite (her) and coffee (me) at Denny’s in Ballard (sadly no longer there) at 1:30am. I still have the mustache and I’m still dating Andi. A lot of pretty notable things happened that year, and a lot of great releases came out…

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Ooops: Pulling Up Floors, Pouring On New Paint by The Lovely Sparrows

We begin tonight with an error, an accidental and tragic omission from 2006 as it was ultimately one of my favorites from the year; that being The Lovely Sparrows’ phenomenal EP Pulling Up Floors, Pouring On New Paint. 2007 was the first time I heard it live and it absolutely blew me away, just as the EP had many times over. Here it is, a track from my favorite show from 2007 (well, from their EP that is):

The Lovely Sparrows: Chemicals Change [mp3]

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1/3. Wizards Of Ahhhs by Black Kids

Black Kids were my #1 hype band of 2007. Shunning label and any released material, with exception to this here digital EP, the group took off with astounding force. Their debut LP didn’t quite live up to the hype, but was still pretty good. This year (2009) the album finally got a physical release, and it happened during the famed Record Store Day. The 10″ EP is sitting in my collection right now.

Black Kids: I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You [mp3]

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33. The Bird Of Music by Au Revoir Simone

You can view this band in two ways. At first glance, Au Revoir Simone’s make up is of three attractive nerdy women with Casio keyboards and an affection toward Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure. But the deeper you look into their music, the more you find that these three women are sirens and muses ready to swallow your soul in the most delightful of ways. You’ll practically beg for them to take it.

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32. The Stage Names by Okkervil River

I really love how The Stage Names concludes with “John Allyn Smith Sails”, a song that channels The Beach Boys’ classic “Sloop John B”. The Stage Names was part one of a conceptual pair of albums, the second of which, The Stand Ins was released in 2008.

Okkervil River: Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe [mp3]

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31. In Stormy Nights by Ghost

The experimental Japanese classical group Ghost is an interesting collective of artists. In Stormy Nights is, without question, among their more accessible releases. With sole exception to the 28 minute “Hemicyclic Anthelion”, the album was pretty cohesive in its piecing together of full songs. It wasn’t a musical rant of avant garde as found in that lone lengthy track. “Motherly Bluster” and “Gareki No Toshi” and “Caledonia” were actually catchy, a term not likely included in any prior mention of the band.

You can stream the entire album over at Drag City.

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30. For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver

Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago is an album of insurmountable beauty. Soft acoustics fronted by Justin Vernon’s pleasant falsetto made tunes like “For Emma” and “Flume” stand out. While not necessarily bedroom pop, the album included many of that subgenre’s sensibilities yet defied its true nature. Bon Iver is much too folky to be that.

Bon Iver: Skinny Love [mp3]

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29. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga by Spoon

Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is my favorite Spoon album since Kill The Moonlight. “Don’t Make Me A Target” and “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” hinted at that earlier album’s greatness yet took the band’s progression of the years between into account. Absolutely wonderful!

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28. Cold City by Eux Autres

Their sophomore release, Eux Autres continued to pump out quality lo-fi, French-influenced pop music. Raw and at times minimal, the brother-sister duo began to expand into a trio and add keys to the guitar/drums/vocals mix. “Molly”, “When I’m Up” and “Anne Boleyn” were early favorites, but “The City All To Himself” topped them all.

Eux Autres: When I’m Up [mp3]

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27. In Camera by Arthur & Yu

Hardly Art’s first release as a label, In Camera is an album that references Summer of Love and a decade’s old style of San Francisco folk-pop. There’s plenty here to love.

Arthur & Yu: Come To View (Song For Neil Young) [mp3]

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26. Red Bloom Of The Boom by Bear In Heaven

With Red Bloom Of The Boom, Bear In Heaven followed in the footsteps of freak-folk and pop artists such as Animal Collective, but their music is also likely to find itself in the crowd with AC spinoff Panda Bear. For fans of more avant-garde indie, Red Bloom Of The Boom is a must have for your collection.

Bear In Heaven: Bag Of Bags [mp3]

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25. The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly by Le Loup

When I saw Le Loup live at CMJ in 2007, I knew I needed their debut album from Hardly Art. Somewhat of a concept album, The Throne delves into the psyche and psychosis of Sam Simkoff. Spirits are at work here—light versus dark—and the result is a miraculous journey into a brilliant mind.

Le Loup: We Are Gods! We Are Wolves! [mp3]

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24. Autumn Of The Seraphs by Pinback

Slightly more rock-centric with a bit higher production value and a little less orchestration is how Autumn Of The Seraphs came to us. Pinback continued their pointed and oft angular sounds that has always made them a wholly unique band. I’ve been kicking myself for not picking up their albums before this one, as Seraphs was ultimately my introduction to the band.

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23. No Shouts No Calls by Electrelane

The last Electrelane album before their (hopefully not) eternal hiatus is without a doubt my favorite. From the singles “The Greater Times” and “To The East” to the epic post-rock “Saturday” and “Cut And Run”, No Shouts No Calls is truly a remarkable album.

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22. The Flying Club Cup by Beirut

Condon’s voice continues to mature, though one would think it impossible. Deep and rich, his vocals and trumpet alike fill the air with boisterous glee. The album also found Condon relinquishing some of his domination on the album (as Beirut’s entire debut was put together by Condon himself) to other artists, which was a welcome feature. The Flying Club Cup is a definite must-have from 2007.

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21. The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse by The Besnard Lakes

…Are The Dark Horse eluded me in 2007; I listened to it for the first time within 24 hours of publishing my original Best of 2007 list and was devastated I wouldn’t be able to include it. There are infectious pop moments thanks to Beach Boys-like harmonies, but the instrumentation is thick and atmospheric. This band is one of a kind.

The Besnard Lakes: And You Lied To Me [mp3]

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20. Parades by Efterklang

Parades blends the orchestrated pop sensibilities of Sigur Ros with a massive experimental orchestral pop sound. With emphasis on multiple vocal parts, immense percussion, and an intense horn section, Efterklang’s Parades took a sound similar to that of Anathallo and expanded it to epic proportions.

Efterklang: Cutting Ice To Snow [mp3]

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19. Everything Is A Miracle Nothing Is A Miracle Everything Is by Kickball

This pristine 10″ LP found Kickball outdoing themselves. Previously, ABCDEFGHIJ saw them capitalizing on a math-y, in-your-face style of lo-fi gritty emotive puck rock. Everything Is A Miracle Nothing Is A Miracle Everything Is took this sound to the next level, from opener “Underground Husbands” to epics like “Hotelsmotels” and “Sometimes”. It’s a truly beautiful piece of work, this album.

Kickball: Pocketknife [mp3]

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18. Eulogy For Evolution by Ólafur Arnalds

One wouldn’t expect classical music to make a list like this, but here it is, Ólafur Arnalds’ outstanding Eulogy For Evolution. As the album builds from the pleasantries of “3055” into “3326”, it goes from a calm hypnosis into tense strings. Then the album bows out with “3704/3837” hitting hard with an anthemic electric guitar. Arnalds is truly the modern king of classical composition.

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17. In Our Bedroom After The War by Stars

Stars always lag a bit when it comes to me. There’s a progression here that’s a bit strange, yet it’s consistent with all of their recent releases. At first, I’ll dislike the album completely. It’ll sit on my shelf for some time, possibly as long as a year or more. Then I’ll pick it up and it’ll blow me away. In Our Bedroom After The War was nowhere to be found on my original 2007 list, and I mistakenly added it toward the end of my 2008 list (oops!) and was called on the error. Yet here it is, now within the top 20. It makes me wonder what one, maybe two more years will do to it.

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16. Let’s Drag Our Feet by BOAT

D. Crane will likely remain at the forefront of my list of friendliest musicians. There’s something about his demeanor, party enhanced by his continual slight smile, that makes you simply know he’s a fun guy. It’s like he finds the world and life in general flat out amusing. And he injects that outlook on life directly into the heart of his music. “Period. Colon. Backslash” from this album was once dedicated to my mustache at a show in Seattle. Totally awesome.

BOAT: (I’m A) Donkey For Your Love [mp3]

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voxtrot-lp

15. Voxtrot by Voxtrot

I often say that nothing will top Voxtrot’s debut EP and so far nothing has, simply because of the power behind the two singles, “The Start Of Something” and “Raised By Wolves”. Their debut self-titled LP is a lovable album that includes many single-worthy tracks, bringing the band forward in indiepop with a broader, slightly more produced sound.

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14. Fleeting Frequencies by Patience Please

I love these guys; it’s no secret. Their songs fill me with joy, whether it’s the tribute to your parents’ sale of your childhood home in “Exclusively Windermere” or the choo-choo drums by Chris at the beginning and end of “Coal Enough For Steam”. Jordan and Ray’s lyrics are thoughtful and clever, and Keegan’s work on keys and backup vocals round out the quartet perfectly. It was sad they disbanded a few months after Fleeting Frequencies hit stores.

Patience Please: If You’re Sure [mp3]

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13. Challengers by The New Pornographers

Twin Cinema never caught on for me. Neither did Mass Romantic. There were several tracks off Electric Version that I fell in love with, but the album was never on constant repeat. Challengers changed all that. God this is a great album!

The New Pornographers: Myriad Harbour [mp3]

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12. Andorra by Caribou

“Melody Day” continues to be one of the top songs from 2007. Andorra was somewhat of a gracious tribute to 30th anniversary of The Summer Of Love, and it fits the 70s sound of psychedelic folk-pop beautifully. Fronted by Dan Snaith, who has a Ph.D. in mathematics, it’s obvious that this album is quite a trip!

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11. In Rainbows by Radiohead

The hottest of hot bands and most hype-driven and noteworthy artist of the past decade is Radiohead. Snubbing their record label and the following hurrah’s of a pay-what-you-want model, the band knowingly found themselves in the eye of a faltering industry. They shunned all ties to create a pave their own path with In Rainbows, favoring the aforementioned consumer friendly model with added promotional elements in various web-casts. In Rainbows was, obviously, like virtually the entire Radiohead library: an instant classic.

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10. Sound Of Silver by LCD Soundsystem

Sound of Silver is a more than viable follow-up to the self-titled release from a few years ago. This is obvious thanks to one of the best songs of the decade, “All My Friends”, as well as opening power trio “Get Innocuous”, “Time To Get Away” and “North American Scum”. Even the slower, more emotive tracks like closing tune “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” were awe-inspiring.

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9. Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? by Of Montreal

I remember first hearing “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal” – at a hair under 12 minutes, it was hard to miss. The song is one of Kevin Barnes’s most introspective and personal tracks yet, and the rest of the album compliments it well. “Suffer For Fashion” and “Cato As Pun” and “She’s A Rejecter” remain among of my favorites by the band. This furthered Barnes along the path toward icon status.

Of Montreal: Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse [mp3]

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8. Person Pitch by Panda Bear

Panda Bear’s relation to Animal Collective is obvious beyond the group’s makeup. Added to the bizarre nature of AC’s eclectic experimental folk sounds are Beach Boys-esque vocal patterns that make Person Pitch that much more unique. “Bros”, “Comfy In Nautica”: beautiful.

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7. Cryptograms by Deerhunter

It’s amazing to think how far Deerhunter has come since Flourescent Grey. Cryptograms found the experimental band solidifying their sound with some of the year’s best tracks, including the title track, “Lake Somerset”, and “Strange Lights”.

Deerhunter: Cryptograms [mp3]

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6. 23 by Blonde Redhead

23 is a tight-knit album, but it’s to be expected from a band as solid as Blonde Redhead. It works both as a cohesive unit and as individual songs. From “The Dress” to the title-track “23” to the album favorite “Publisher”, with 23, Blonde Redhead put yet another phenomenal album under their collective belts.

Blonde Redhead: 23 [mp3]

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5. Invitation Songs by The Cave Singers

Discovering great music is a wonderful feeling, but doing so by mistake is even better. I wanted to be in the front row for Grand Archives’ Capitol Hill Block Party performance so I showed up a performance early. And that’s when I was introduced to The Cave Singers. Invitation Songs is a glorious album of semi-religious folk tunes, dusty and gritty like a dust bowl-era wanderer.

The Cave Singers: Helen [mp3]

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4. All Hour Cymbals by Yeasayer

Likened to a barbershop quartet gone eclectic indie rock, Yeasayer’s All Hour Cymbals drew a lot of hype upon its release at the tail end of 2007. “Sunrise” and “2020” were instant favorites. Word on the street is that they’ve got a new one slated for early 2010; it’ll be interesting to see how the two albums stack up. All Hour Cymbals will be a very difficult one to top.

Yeasayer: 2080 [mp3]

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3. Friend And Foe by Menomena

I didn’t understand what was so fascinating about Menomena until I saw them live at Bumbershoot in 2007. The group added a choir in their backline, and the songs that made up Friend And Foe became instantly recognizable as awe-inspiring anthems. After that, I was absolutely hooked and I have been ever since.

Menomena: Wet And Rusting [mp3]

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2. Night Falls Over Kortedala by Jens Lekman

Night Falls On Kortedala took me by surprise. Lekman’s prior albums were strong with tunes about getting arrested, naughty words that begin with F, a few spanning a movie featuring Cher and Eric Stoltz, and the cool taxis of London. But none are as powerful as a whole as that of Night Falls On Kortedala. “Postcard to Nina” and “And I Remember Every Kiss” and “Sipping On The Sweet Nectar” and “Friday Night At The Drive-In Bingo” are all vastly memorable tunes. Add to it plush orchestration and you have Fense’s top album of 2007.

Jens Lekman: The Opposite Of Hallelujah [mp3]

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1. Albatross by Fishboy

Theif! Fishboy stole best album of 2007 from Jens Lekman. It was close to begin with, but it’s really no contest. Concept albums can be brilliant and Albatross is a prime example, perhaps the optimum example. The album tells the story of how the protagonist “failed to save the lone star state with the power of rock and roll.” Touring the country, Fishboy plays their so-called Rock Opera in its entirety from start to finish in what I hail as one phenomenal phucking performance! The story is fodder for a low-budget indie film. The day that film is made will be the day my life is complete.

Fishboy: Half Time At The Proper Name Spelling Bee [mp3]

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2 thoughts on “A Retrospective Top 33 and 1/3: Best Albums of 2007

  1. Awesome list. Have only heard about 2/3 of the bands and am curious to hear the others. Pretty accurate top 10 for sure, except Animal Collective’s “Strawberry Jam” should definitely be in there.

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