Man, this year really went fast, didn’t it? Seems like I’ve been saying that every year since I was about twenty, but it just seems like it doesn’t take as much time as it used to get around the sun.
I’m a year older, a year smarter, and have heard a year’s more music. And, because 1) I couldn’t think of anything to write tonight, and 2) I had the 2007 “best of” list already completed, you’re getting it today instead of Friday. Anyway, a Thursday post gets more exposure than a Friday one, after all. So, without further ado, I present my top thirteen (yes, thirteen) albums of 2007. Check it out:
13. The National – Boxer
12. Los Campesinos – Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP
11. Panda Bear – Person Pitch
I don’t tend to get a whole lot of “alone time.” I go to work, I go home, I enjoy my “together time” with my wife and daughter and friends. Sometimes, in between all the together time, I get a little piece of time to call my own. This year, I can recall a time when I was walking on the beach, not alone in truth, but alone enough for my noise-canceling headphones and this album cranked loud enough to make it seem blissfully so. I walked along listening to “Take Pills,” watching the sunlight glint off the water as it capped and frothed while forming swells. And I thought, for a minute, how cool it would be if it wasn’t glimmers of reflected sunlight at all, but thousands of little underwater people instead, blinking their tiny underwater flashlights or flashing the flashbulbs on their tiny underwater cameras.
Person Pitch was made for these snatches of “me time.” This is not an album you’d want to socialize too, unless you’re getting together with a bunch of your buddies at the opium den. This album is for your ears, and your ears only. Do them a favor and play it while you hide in a dark closet, removed from all other human interaction.
10. Caribou – Andorra
9. BC Camplight – Blink Of A Nihilist
8. Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
Once again, I am forced to eat my words. Sometimes, when I’m grooving to this album, cranked up to insane volumes, I wonder, “Do I really like this?” If you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll likely be familiar with my issue here. Did I just follow the other lemmings off the Animal Collective cliff? What happened between this entry and this list?! Well, for both Panda Bear and this record, I have to believe that I had some sort of awakening. Have to believe this, see, because, otherwise, I’m just a no-good poseur… and, I don’t want to be a no-good poseur.
But, you know what? The more I listened to this album, the more I realized how good it is. Yes, it’s different than what normally draws my ears, but that’s a good thing. It’s all “tingly” and full of seemingly misplaces warbles, bleeps, and unidentifiable noises – but it really pulls together into a nice bouncy pop record. You can actually bob you hear to the rhythm, scream along with the vocals, enjoy yourself. So, if you’re old like me, and perhaps set in your ways, I urge you to get this album and give it a fair chance. It’s good, I promise, despite what you think on your first, or second, or Nth listen… you’ll get it eventually.
In closing. Yes. I admit it. This album is good. Quite good.
And besides, in some small way, actually liking it (I do, right?) gives me renewed faith in both my youth and my golden-ear. So, there’s that too…
7. The Most Serene Republic – Population
The Most Serene Republic has released two albums before Population, and each one has ended up on my year-end lists. So, in keeping with tradition (not my tradition of ranking them highly, rather their tradition of making outstanding music), here they are again. The Most Serene Republic’s music is like tightly controlled cacophony, melodies forced more by a tidal wave of sound rather than a single instrument. The busyness suits me well, but I know it tends to confuse and overwhelm some folks, which is why I think this band may often get ignored on a many otherwise respectable year-end lists. It is indeed awash in musical goings-on, but the tunes are brilliant, the themes are grand, the choirlike harmonies ring, and the horns are oh-so shiny and brass. Don’t let that limpwristed sentence fool you, either, this is rock record… for sure. Anyway, go get it… spend a few hours mentally unknotting the dense layers, you’ll be smarter and happier for it.
6. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
5. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
4. Andrew Bird – Armchair Apocrypha
3. The Shins – Wincing the Night Away
2. Radiohead – In Rainbows
Really though, when news broke on the ‘net that Radiohead were about to release what fans called “LP7” online, and that I could name my own price for it, and that it was coming out in ten days… it really threw me for a loop. I can remember putting on my headphones as I lay down for bed the night it was released, anxious to hear this new piece of work. Didn’t take but a few bars of “Nude” to make me realize that Thom and crew had done it again. In Rainbows is 100% Radiohead… and 100% deserving of the #2 spot on 2007’s list.
You have to have this album. When, after watching Behind the Music, the ‘00s on VH4 one day in 2024, your kids will want to know, “Dad (or Mom), did you used to like Radiohead? VH4 said they were ‘vanguards’ of your generation. Dad (or Mom), what’s a ‘vanguard?’”
The battle for #1 went the full ten rounds this year, but, in the end, the next album won out by narrow decision… Vegas oddsmakers still contest the controversial judgment. But there it is.
1. Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
This music makes me want to be something completely different than I am. Someone completely different, even. I hear the plodding rhythm of “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal” and I want to be this guy: floating through Scandinavia on the verge of breakdown, experimenting with drugs and sex, trying to figure out God and love and women. Timeless themes of good music, archetypal rock and roll struggles set to the bounciest glampop/rock that’s been put on wax in recent memory. I sometimes think, if I can just turn it up loud enough, it’ll somehow mix with the resultant blood from my ears and burrow into my head, where it can be my memories, where I can be the story. The brilliant neurosis of this lovesick nomad could be mine, could be me. I could’ve been there falling in love with Meg, flirting with Gods, battling for control of my own personality. It’s an inspired album, a story to get swept away in.
Get it. Bounce to the beats, but listen to the words too. You won’t be sorry.
Well, that’s it my friends. Another year gone and another year-end list done. This year, I made iPod playlists for all my past years lists, just to see how well my picks have weathered. I gotta say, not bad.
Hope you enjoyed it. Until next year’s list, keep listening. Goodnight.