Top 10 Albums of 2007

Music throughout the 2000s have been a very mediocre decade, musically. As the years go by, it has gotten harder and harder to find the right music for us long time listeners of the media. As society cater more to the mp3 direction more so than the physical copies of albums, new artists and old names couldn’t match up to the greatness of music from previous decades. The 2000’s was a mediocre on for sure, however 2007 has got to be one of the best year of music ever. After a whole decade of obscure bands as the only good music (which is very hard to find) and horrid mainstream sounds, this is the year were there were more good happening in music in nearly all scene in music. Not only that they’ve released numerous albums, but many bands had their reunions, and we had the best number of live concerts ever happening in a single year. There are just too many good albums released in 2007 that made it one of the most difficult list to make for this site. It didn’t matter what music you were into, there was something good for you and some of the music genres you hate could still impress you because many of the active musicians given their best efforts in 2007. Wether you were downloading or buying songs, seeing these bands active in 2007, or watching music videos or seeing them perform on youtube, this was all music in 2007! This really is one of the best years of the decade and here are the best efforts that music had offer in this very year!

Number 10.  –  United Abominations – Megadeth

My major complaint with “The System Has Failed” will always be the lack of creativity and atmosphere outside of bashing the US Government, they did it again here in United Abominations but this time made it so imaginative that would make George Carlin smile. This was a major evolution to the band where they deliver some of the hardest riffs that they ever pulled off thanks to the new sound system they’re using. I mean the sound quality of this album is so earth-shaking that it’s madness, with songs like “Sleepwalker,” “Washington Is Next,” “Never Walk Alone,” and “Blessed Are the Dead.” I admit songs like “Gears of War” is just so commercialized and out of placed (plus it’s based on a crappy game series) and even the remake of “A Tout Le Monde” was worse. If you look pass those two songs, this is almost Dave Mustaine’s fantasy come to life. But I will get on a rant here because I’m upset that there’s only one song that’s exclusive in the pre-ordered version of United Abominations, “Black Swan.” “Black Swan” was so good that I could rank it in the Top 5 best Megadeth songs and it needed to be in this album. So just the pre-ordered version of United Abominations alone make it in the Top 5!

Number 9.  –  Cryptograms – Deer Hunter

I think what makes Cryptograms such an outstanding record is how hard it is to really… comprehend it. That might explain the relatively low rating and how long it took to hit me. Deerhunter have always had a distinguished talent for writing pop songs with strong melancholy undertones, often evoking feelings of wasted time, time passing by, loneliness and what not, but Cryptograms captures them at their most confused, hazy, inchoate and nebulous – and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s the sound of a wakening teenager caught in the maelstrom of adolescence, alarmed by the future and the ticking clock.  Whereas Microcastle succeeded in conveying all these themes of loneliness, fear and anxiety through the lyrics and the music, Cryptograms does this most successfully through the music; it just forces you into this ill-defined musical world governed by all kinds of sounds, ranging from dainty ambient tracks to the kind of infectious/melancholy pop tracks that the band are so good at writing, giving us a well-rounded view of their diverse range of tones. Time and memory seem to be the prevailing lyrical obsessions here. I can instantly connect with Bradford’s lyrics, because almost every time I listen to a Deerhunter track with vague suggestions of wasted time (I read on his blog once that he was fascinated with the Bill Fay line that goes ‘all my time is lying on the factory floor’ and that just surprised me because so was I) or time spent waiting for something to happen, I don’t know, I just relate in a way. I think it’s a fascinating lyrical recurrence.

Number 8.  –  Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga – Spoon

This is a crisp, tight album that sees Spoon expanding their palette and experimenting a little (“The Ghost of You Lingers”) as well as crafting the best songs of their fantastic career (“Black Like Me”, “Don’t You Evah”). For those of you who don’t know too much about Spoon, they were around long before the Strokes, or the White Stripes considered making albums and they are more influenced by beat-driven dance-punk/post-punk than by new-wave or blues. They seem to be highly underrated by this website and I can’t help but wonder why, they write infectious songs and they have an extremely undervalued song writer in Britt Daniel. Give them a listen, they will likely carve a big place in your life if you let them. Ever since the album came out back in 2007, I found it to be quite a fun listen. Thus so, that now that I’m giving the record new spins, I happen to find all ten tracks to be highly enjoyable. The album as a whole seems to carry throughout its running time a rythmic vibe which manages to cheer me up. The rythm section is tight, and the band’s strongest point. There is really not much else to point out as outstanding, or different from anything else out there. What’s really to point out, is how these guys manage to properly make what they’re good at. Then of course, there are highlights; You’ve Got Your Cherry Bomb and The Underdog being my favorite ones. I mean, it always brings a smile to me to hear that line about “You’ve got no time for the messenger”, recall how I seemed to connect to it, and smile to myself at how off date it is only 6 years afterwards.

Number 7.  –  Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky – Earthless

I ordinarily have a hard time getting into instrumental rock music, especially the extra-jammy kind. And yet, I somehow find myself absolutely loving Rhythms from a Cosmic Sky, a release in which two thirds of the tracks are instrumental acid rock freak-out jams over twenty minutes long. It’s because there are just too many good moments in here to deny. Plus, the cover of “Cherry Red” sounds the way the original should have. Rhythems from a Cosmic Sky one can sit proudly right near the top of that particular pile. It’s a little bit japanese noise-psychedelia (High Rise, AMT, Mainliner etc), a little bit krautrock, and a little bit Cream/Jimi Hendrix Experience power trio jam-rock. So no, it’s not a strikingingly new & original (or seemingly very wise) take on heavy rock music, but holy crap these Earthless people have done a great job of stealing a few of the better ideas off their elders and running far away with them. You get controlled feedback drones & standard echo reverbspacey effects that morph gradually into prolonged stamina-requiring but surprisingly untedious guitar soloing. There are two of these 20-minute psych-metal monster tunes back to back, all capped off with a reasonably faithful cover of The Groundhogs “Cherry Red”, which is the only song to feature vocals. This style of rock music is a rare breed since music has evolved drastically over the years, but it’s a welcoming sound that has been missed by many listeners.

Number 6.  –  Sound of Silver –
LCD Soundsystem

The thing with Sound of Silver is that it manages to walk on familiar territory with such confidence. It’s often reminiscent of artists that came before them – but they put a new, fresh, exciting slant on it and they manage to add their own personality and distinctive style to it. As you listen to it, you hear Bowie, you hear Eno, you hear Kraftwerk. You can hear a whole host of influences but unlike a lot of artists, LCD Soundsystem aren’t simply plagiarising these artists and that’s why it was such a critically acclaimed and widely respected album where its legacy will only grow with time. There’s a fine line between regurgitating your influences to the point where it feels trite, derivative and dated and actually doing something interesting with those influences while putting a modern slant on it. LCD Soundsystem are always on the right side of that line. This is them at their best. I don’t want to point out individual tracks because generally, it’s not really my reviewing style. Though I occasionally decide to do track by track reviews, but it has to be said that ‘All My Friends’ is absolutely amazing. A truly incredibly and unforgettable song. One of the best ever written, but nothing else pales in comparison to it. This is where James Murphy’s punk, pop and electronic sensibilities meet to create something wonderful. It has so many different styles on here which is pretty fantastic, ranging from alternative rock, to electronica, to post-punk, to dance punk, to disco, to krautrock. In LCD Soundystem’s short career, this was their masterpiece. It felt like only yesterday that I first heard ‘Daft Punk Is Playing at My House’ playing a video game and now they’re finished – but at least they gave us this. Sound Of Silver is most definitely one of the best albums of the decade, a true classic.

Number 5.  –  The Shepherd’s Dog – Iron & Wine

The Shepherd’s Dog continues Iron and Wine’s foray into full-band mode in every imaginable way; by adopting a diverse and eclectic approach to songwriting, incorporating a wide variety of instruments, adding smooth transitions between songs, giving the record a gorgeous, lush production effort and so on. However, the core of Iron and Wine is clearly still Sam Beam; his songwriting, hushed vocals and simple guitar work. With the band’s new approach to instrumentation also comes a new approach to songwriting, with Beam writing in less traditional pop song structures and moving towards more through-composed ideas. Sonically, The Shepherd’s Dog is a much more percussive album, based far more on rhythm than either of the band’s previous LPs. The bouncy opener “Pagan Angel and a Borrowed Car” focuses on an upbeat rhythm as its center while its followers “White Tooth Man” and “Lovesong of the Buzzard” are thick, almost tribal pieces. Certainly though, tracks such as the gorgeous “Carousel” (complete with rotary-style vocal effects) deviate from this template. Closer “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” makes use of waltz rhythms while “House By the Sea” takes the band into dreamlike territory with delayed loops and atmospheric keyboard sounds. Beam’s lyrics come forward with their usual amount of rich imagery and are perfectly suited to the music he is creating. The lyrics booklet that accompanies The Shepherd’s Dog is designed in such a way that perfectly reflects the music contained on the disc. When held from afar, the lyrics simply look like a large (poster sized) jumbled mess; but closer examination is soon rewarding. In much the same way, the music contained on The Shepherd’s Dog is layered and seemingly messy at first, especially compared to the immediacy of earlier work. For anyone willing to give it a fair shot, however, it’s hard to imagine the album being a disappointment. Once and for all, The Shepherd’s Dog proves that Beam is worthy of the attention that he is given and actually a brilliant musical mind rather than some guy who got lucky enough to make a great album in his bedroom.

Number 4.  –  Mirrored – Battles

Battle’s debut effort is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Mirrored changes direction and time signature so often that it is hard to follow. I felt that as the listener, I needed to match the intensity of the music by moving my body in ways that seemed odd and foreign. At times I’m sure it would look to another party that I was convulsing. However, that is probably another appropriate response to this music. The strength of this music lies in its ability to capture and retain the attention of an audience. At no point did I have the urge to skip a track or shut off the album.Composing an album with an equal distribution of quality is smart when the quality is to a very high caliber. Although Battles attained a surprising degree of commercial success with this album – mainly through the song Atlas being used on a whole bunch of soundtracks for things – there’s no hint of them diluting their quirky math rock approach on this album. Having tried out a few different approaches on the preceding EPs, Battles have cooked up a catchy sound in which Tyondai Braxton’s eccentric vocals are subjected to so many effects they effectively become another instrument in the band’s arsenal. With addictive rhythms, manic performances, and intriguing compositions, Battles have produced an album which manages to be accessible without compromising their integrity. Everything is so incredibly varied and well judged. It has an awful lot of difference influences ranging from math rock, progressive rock, alternative rock, krautrock, electronica and the eclecticism just works. Mirrored contains fantastic keyboard and guitar lines (and riffs), analogue rhythms, interesting and really quite odd time signatures, shifts in temp, dynamic changes, weird distorted pitch-shifted vocals.

Number 3.  –  Souvenirs d’un Autre Monde  – Alcest

The translation of the album title, Memories of Another World, presents an ambiguous theme. For many, childhood is another world in itself, a land with miracles and magic abound where everything seemed brighter and greener. This obviously coincides with Neige’s inspiration, which is comprised of his own childhood memories of escaping into fantasy worlds. Like the ghost, the album could musically represent another life, propelled by the themes of fond remembrance, longing, happiness, sorrow, and an eventual gentle passing within Tir Nan Og. The music of Alcest defies description. It’s orchestral in scale and swells like a heart on the brink of exploding. Yet it’s claustrophobic, enclosed by a shroud of background noise which somehow manages to stay on the right side of musical. It’s easy to envisage the vocals being recorded in a gothic cathedral in the depths of a frozen winter. They have such a crystalline quality you can visualise the breath on the cold air. The fact everything is sung in French (although the title of the final track “Tir Nan Og” originates from Irish mythology) adds a further air of mystery and makes trying to nail down exactly what you’re listening to even harder. On this album Alcest is one man. Neige (Stéphane Paut) plays all the instruments, is responsible for virtually all the vocals and mixed and produced the album himself. Somehow he’s managed to create something both sinister and uplifting in equal measure. The shimmering wall of guitars (or what we call shoegaze) provides the perfect canvas on which to paint a fantastical, hallucinogenic world. It’s hard to imagine music founded on such an intense blanket of noise being termed beautiful, but Souvenirs d’un autre monde is exactly that. Really ethereal and unreal experience, very dreamy and sweet record. However, calling this band black metal in any sense is a disgrace to black metal music, there isn’t much black metal influence here other than the hazy guitar (which is more shoegaze really) and maybe some sparse vocals here and there, still a great shoegaze record. But the real highlight of this album will always be the final track Tir Nan Og, which is some of the most magical pieces of music ever recorded. From beginning all the way to the very end, Alcest succeeded in giving their listeners a huge breath of fresh air.

Number 2.  –  Alive 2007 – Daft Punk

While I don’t think Human After All was horrible, it was a massive dissapointment compared to Discovery. But I can’t simply ignore Human After All because it’s what made their tour in 2007 one of the best live concert experiences of all time! I fondly remember seeing Daft Punk playing their music inside a flashily pyramid mixing many of their best songs into a breathtaking experience which I’m glad it was released into a live album. Daft Punk go far beyond what’s necessary for their chosen profession, not only with their jaw dropping visuals, but with their crafty re-workings of old stand bys. What they’ve done here with their work, up to and including the weaker Human After All tracks, is nothing short of outstanding. There are an innumerable amount of highlights captured onAlive 2007, but nothing compares to the moment where “Rollin’ and Scratchin'” segues (or should I say, squeals) right into “The Brainwasher”‘s hyper House thump, causing such mass hysteria that the bat-shit insane Parisian crowd can’t help but be heard whooping and hollering all over the track’s paramount peaks. Moments like this brain eating cathartic monster are not simply sprinkled throughout Alive 2007‘s hour long set; they consume the entire record. From start to finish, this is an amazing release.  It’s like the illest greatest hits album imaginable, but made even better due to the fact that the songs are mixed together.  Not only are they mixed together sequentially, but little recognizable bits of Daft Punk favorites are interspersed with other songs, yielding – to use only one of the best examples – the “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” remix of “Face to Face.”  There’s some great reworkings of some of their classic material, as they make some of the lighter stuff from Discovery more beat-heavy and dancefloor-friendly and sort through the Human After All album to give us only the highlights.  These guys are brilliant.  Easily one of the best albums of 2007, an essential live electronic album, and the best possible recap of their ten years since releasing their debut Homework.  I don’t look at this live record as just a great album, but a celebration of Daft Punk’s legacy that totally beats their Alive 1997 album ten years ago

Number 1.  –  Untrue – Burial

Just when you thought that there would never be another album like DJ Shadow’s “Endtroducing…” along came one of the most atmospheric albums of all time. We as listeners listen to music for different reasons, and many of the majority say that they listen to the music for emotion. Sad driven albums can either make or break an album, and it all depends how the artist handle the limitations he/she has. If you’re looking for emotion, then why have you missed this album out? Its atmosphere is so magical that it has indescribable meaning to it while listening. It takes some of the best sampling to create such as stupendous work of music in ways I’ve never imagined. It flows like an original movie score, but Untrue remains faceless and largely anonymous, yet also acutely personal and introspective. You can just simply listen to this album on a rainy day and imagine someone in the world is in pain and you could just cry with them because it took you, as a listener.  Burial doesn’t take music as simply music but as an emotion, as sound. Not heavy nor intense sound. That sound that is made only for touching your heart and emulating emotions at any moment. Only music so esthetically beautiful could move you like this. And it was so unique and revolutionary in its epoch. The concept of taking the human voice and to stretch it so far as making it ghostly and body-less has already been invented but his own take is mindblowing. I already spent too much time reading about him, everything I could find and I understood that (in my sense) he represented music at its most important, the notion of music being emotional and no one else could make it better. Every time I listen to Untrue I’m so amazed by his genius that I become speechless, seriously. I feel so much of his talent that I can’t express it in words. Despite Untrue’s immersive melancholy the album never becomes oppressive, Burial’s moody, evocative sampling has an allure that always beckons the listener for one lonelier walk beneath its flickering streetlights.

Top Listed Albums of 2007

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7)     6)     5)  

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